by Joe Appleton
Naked bikes aren’t simply de-tuned sports machines with the plastics removed – they’re so much more than that. They come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and they’re capable of a wide range of tasks, but which ones are the best? Which ones offer the most bang for your buck? And most importantly, which ones offer the most versatility?
Versatility is the keyword when it comes to naked bikes. If you want an out and out sports bike, you should buy a sports bike. If you want something for touring, you should buy a tourer. And if you’re looking for a rock steady commuter, then you’ll buy yourself an urban-focused run-around. But what about when you need one bike to perform a variety of tasks? Well, these modern naked bikes can do all you want and more.
Since there are more models in the naked bikes category than you could possibly count, we’ve decided to narrow our choices down to 10, and we’ve cut out modern-retro themed machines which have become popular recently, and we’re also cutting out small capacity machines too. The modern-retro-naked category is worth a list in its own right, and we can say the same about small capacity learner-focused naked bikes too, so they won’t feature on this list. Our list will feature the best naked bikes on the market, geared towards experienced riders who need a “multi-tool” motorcycle that excels at whatever task you set it to.
Good on the track, great on tour, useful in traffic, and with bullet-proof reliability, these are our top 10 naked bikes on the market. One bike to rule them all, one list to find them…right? Let’s get this show on the road…
10 Of The Best Naked Bikes For Any Type Of Rider
#10. The Kawasaki Z650
When it comes to versatile naked bikes, Kawasaki know a thing or two. For years, the classic ER6 was the standard bearer for the do-all, middleweight category and since it was such a beloved motorcycle, we were curious to see how Kawasaki could improve it when they morphed the old ER6 into the new Z650. How can you make something already good even better? Against all odds, Kawasaki did it.
Still powered by a torque 649cc twin cylinder that we already know and love, Kawasaki actually managed to transform the bike’s behavior by replacing the frame with an all-new steel unit that weighs a whole 37 lbs lighter than it used be. The weight reduction allows for superior handling than before and better performance. Throw on some aggressive bodywork and you’ve got yourself one of the coolest naked bikes on the road. The Kawasaki Z650 comes with an MSRP of $7,399 with ABS, or $6,999 without ABS.
#09. The Ducati Monster 1200
The Ducati Monster is a modern icon: it’s instantly recognizable, it’s obviously a Ducati, and to some it’s one of the best examples of a naked motorcycle there is. For over 20 years, the Monster has been a permanent fixture on roads and highways all over the world, and for good reason. While the platform boasts a wide variety of different engine sizes, the range topping Monster 1200 is clearly the best of the bunch, offering the healthiest balance of sports performance, practical usability, and offering the burliest road presence.
Powered by Ducati’s 1200cc Testastretta V-twin engine, base model boasts a maximum power output of 147 hp and 91 lb-ft of torque, an enjoyable ride experienced is always guaranteed on one of these naked bikes. However, if you really want to get the most out of your Monster, you should consider investing in the “S” version which comes with Ohlins suspension, or the range-topping “R” model, which boasts a massive 152 hp. It’s easy to see why this is a fan favorite among commuters, and a regular track motorcycle for enthusiasts too. Prices for the Monster 1200 start from $14,695 for the base model, $16,995 for the S variant, and $19,395 for the more powerful R model.
#08. The Suzuki GSX-S1000
Next up we have the Suzuki GSX-S1000 – the naked version of the legendary GSX-R1000. It took Suzuki a long time to see the benefit of having a re-tuned, naked version of their flagship sports bike in their line-up, but the firm finally got their act together. You could argue that the B-King already filled that niche, but the B-King isn’t nearly as practical (or attractive) as the GSX-S1000. The latest GSX-S1000 features the same engine more commonly found on an older generation GSX-R1000 but with a more road friendly tune.
The power is up to 150 hp at the wheel, and features an increased torque output from 78 lb-ft to 79.6 lb-ft. The power upgrade is thanks to new ventilation holes in the crank case, making it one of the most potent and powerful naked bikes out there. And to make things even better, Suzuki have given the GSX-S1000 a slipper clutch for a superior riding experience. Prices for the GSX-S1000 are $9,999, or $10,499 if you want the ABS option.
#07. The Triumph Speed Triple
The Triumph Speed Triple is arguably the first example of modern naked bikes to arrive on the scene. When it first arrived in 1994, and it has been impressing riders ever since. Always powered by a typical Triumph triple cylinder engine, the Speed Triple has made a name for itself as a powerful superbike-based naked machine that excels on the track just as well as it excels on the streets.
The most recent version of the Triumph Speed Triple comes powered by a 1050cc engine that’s capable of producing an impressive 148 hp at 10,500 rpm and 86 lb-ft of torque at 7,150 rpm. As a versatile ride, you can do a lot worse than the Speed Triple, as it performs just as well at high speed as it does going slowly, and that’s why it has been a the heart of Triumph’s bike line-up for nearly 25 years. The most recent edition comes in the standard “S” version, or a slightly higher-spec “RS” model that comes with some sleek, weight-saving parts. The base model “S” variant has an MSRP of $14,350, while the “RS” prices start from $16,350.
#06. The Yamaha FZ-07
The Yamaha FZ-07 (and MT-07, since the USA is finally going to adopt the global name for the MT-series of Yamaha naked bikes) is one hell of a fun, playful, but incredibly useful naked roadster. While many other middle-weight commuter bikes feel a bit plain and underwhelming, the FZ-07 is sharp, responsive, powerful, and full of character and charm. Try to find a review of the FZ-07 that isn’t overwhelmingly positive – because they’re few and far between, and it’s not hard to see why.
Powered by a slim 689cc liquid-cooled, inline twin cylinder engine, the FZ-07 offers outstanding power for its size, with a total of 74 hp on tap, 50 lb-ft of torque, and can achieve a respectable top speed of 133 mph. Put that punchy engine in a compact and lightweight frame that allows for nimble and agile handling, and you’ve got a recipe for success. What makes the FZ-07 such a great bike is its torquey nature, thanks to an engine that feels similar to a v-twin, the quick throttle response, and the fact that prices start from as low as $7,599 – which is absurdly cheap for a naked motorcycle of this caliber.
#05. The Aprilia Tuono V4
Naked bikes don’t always have to be tame, and the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 is the perfect example of just how fearsome a naked motorcycle can be. While many naked bikes are unfaired and de-tuned versions of their sports bike brethren, the Aprilia Tuono V4 is still very much a sports bike in its own right. To call it an RSV4-light would be a disservice, because it’s an absolute track-destroyer when you let it off the leash.
You see, the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 boasts a powerful V4 engine that’s capable of producing no less than 175 horses and 89 lb-ft of torque put into a race-derived chassis, complete with top-end suspension and strong brakes – but it manages to be an exceptionally powerful race bike without compromising real-world comfort for those who need a comfy and easy daily ride. Armed with all the riding aids you’d usually associate with a class leading sports machine such as cornering ABS, a bi-directional quick shifter, cruise control, a pit lane speed limiter, and advanced aerodynamics, the Aprilia Tuono V4 isn’t for the faint hearted. Coming in two flavors, the 1100 RR which has an MSRP of $14,999, and the 1100 Factory, which comes with an MSRP of $17,499.
#04. The KTM 1290 Super Duke R
To some, the KTM 1290 Super Duke R is the king of the naked bikes category, and it’s not hard to see why. KTM might not be in the business of making production sports bikes at the moment, but the 1290 Super Duke R has enough “sports” in it to keep us occupied. While most nakeds err on the side of caution when it comes to squeezing performance out of their engines, KTM decided to go in the opposite direction – while it might not look like it on the surface, the Super Duke R is the most powerful LC8 engine ever made by the Austrian firm.
The 1301cc unit produces an insane 177 hp, 103.99 lb-ft of torque, and can hit 60 mph in less than 2.6 seconds. In short, it’s an absolute beast. But what makes it even better is the fact that KTM have made it ride-able for the average motorcyclist. Thanks to some gadgetry from Bosch, and the application of cornering ABS, lean angle sensitive traction control, selectable ride modes, ride by wire, and the option of having a quickshifter. The electronics help tame this wild beast and make it more accessible, and better suited to the casual rider. Prices start from $17,999 for one of these beastly naked motorcycles.
#03. The Yamaha FZ-10
For our second Yamaha on the list, we have Yamaha’s class leading hyper naked bike, the FZ-10 (or MT-10 as it’s soon to be known as). The FZ-10 is easily one of the most instantly recognizable naked bikes currently on the market thanks to its aggressive and stylish front-end, but while its aesthetics are certainly intriguing, it’s the performance specs that really set the Yamaha FZ-10 apart from the other Japanese naked bikes out there. You see, the GSX-S1000 from Suzuki isn’t based around a modern GSX-R engine, it’s built on top of an older generation power plant and de-tuned accordingly. Same for the Kawasaki Z1000, and Honda’s CB1000R.
The Yamaha FZ-10, however, is pretty much the modern Yamaha YZF-R1 crossplane just wearing as few clothes as possible. The lack of aerodynamic fairings and the relaxed ergonomics are the reason why the FZ-10 feels a little less-aggressive than the R1, and the engine really hasn’t been touched all that much. To make sure it’s as competitive as possible, Yamaha have treated the FZ-10 with traction control, ABS, adjustable suspension, cruise control, and full engine control. All of that in a package with prices starting from $12,999.
#02. The BMW S1000R
Very much like the Aprilia Tuono V4, KTM 1290 Super Duke R, and Yamaha FZ-10, the BMW S1000R isn’t a sedate machine by any stretch of the imagination. The most recent iteration is blessed with the same chassis found on the top-class S1000RR, and comes complete with the same 999cc inline-four engine too. In real life, that translates of 165 horsepower, 83 lb-ft of torque, and a top speed of 160 mph. It’s all very race-inspired and aggressive, but the S1000R is also a great bike for getting around the city on too and a great choice for those looking for a practical ride for Monday to Friday but need something sharp and fierce for the weekend.
Armed with Race ABS, ASC, a quickshifter, and two selectable riding modes as standard, the BMW S1000R has very few downsides. Well, apart from the looks. While most of it is nice and sleek, with a heavy similarity to the S1000RR, the front end on this one is a touch on the ugly side. That asymmetric, split-face is a face only a mother could love (pictured at the beginning of the article). However, if you can appreciate the S1000R and all of its quirks, then this is easily one of the best naked motorcycles that money can buy. Talking of which, prices start from $13,995.
#01. The Triumph Street Triple 765
The all-new Triumph Street Triple 765 isn’t the fastest of the naked bikes listed here, nor is it the most powerful, but it’s arguably the best middleweight weapon that offers an exceptionally high standard in almost every single field. It’s got more than enough power to satisfy even the most aggressive riders, it’s light enough to throw around a track, it handles like a dream, and it looks the part too. The new version is what we’re talking about, but even the old version would’ve done the trick too. Powered by a new Triumph 765cc “Daytona” derived triple engine that offers a maximum of 126 horsepower and 59 lb-ft of torque at the wheel in its class leading “RS” form, no competitor comes close to the Street Triple with regard to sports performance, every day ride-ability, and general practicality.
You could argue that the MV Agusta Brutale is close, but in reality the Street Triple RS is a far superior machine. Equipped with Brembo brakes, Ohlins and Showa suspension, five selectable ride modes, a quickshifter, switchable ABS, traction control and a whole lot more. For the top level Triumph Street Triple RS, prices start from $12,500. For the Speed Triple R starts from $11,200, and the base model Street Triple S retails for $9,900. The RS is obviously the best, but you can’t go wrong with any of them.