Mid-weight naked shootout – MT-09 vs Z900 vs Street Triple RS

Visordown puts the cream of the mid-weight naked class through their paces

Triumph, Kawasaki, Yamaha shootout

THINK of middle-weight naked motorcycles that match looks and performance, and the three bikes named above are probably near the top of your list. Each machine mixes sportsbike handling, naked bike appeal and over 100hp into a nimble, ride-everyday package. But which is the best mid-weight naked you can buy?

If you’re looking for affordable thrills, the mid-weight naked sector is brimming with talent. Take these three, for instance, each can be sat in your garage for around £10,000.

Kawasaki Pricing and PCP

To start with, the Kawasaki is the most affordable of the bunch coming in £8,899. On a £2,000 deposit and pegged at 4,000 miles a year, the Z900 would cost £104.36 over 36 months.

Yamaha Pricing and PCP

Next up is the is the Yamaha which in SP-spec is £9,745. Again, with a £2,000 deposit and 4,000 miles per year, the MT-09 comes in at £110.57 over 36 months.

Triumph Pricing and PCP

Finally, we have the Triumph which has a list price of £10,300 which is almost the same as the outgoing model. While no PCP information for the 2020 version currently released, we only have the previous model to go by, and that was £121 per month on the same details.

With each bike nipping under the 1,000cc and over the 100hp, it’s clear that they are all more than capable machines. But what’s interesting to me is how they go about creating their power.

Kawasaki Engine

The Z900 uses a fairly well known and low-stressed four-cylinder unit that has been used in various flavoured ‘Zeds’ for some time now. It’s a thumping good engine though, with a chunky mid-range that makes it feel unlike a lot of inline fours. Putting out 124bhp and 72ft-lb of torque, the Kawasaki is the most powerful bike of the bunch. And having ridden all three of these machines a great length – it’s also the most refined.

Yamaha Engine

Yamaha’s engine of choice is, of course, the CP3 inline three-cylinder. Its crossplane crank makes the most of the bike’s 113bhp and 64ft-lb of torque. Out on the road, you definitely don’t notice the lower output, with the MT-09’s stocky chassis and sit-up-and-beg geometry making it feel superbike-quick up to about 110mph.

Triumph Engine

Sticking with the three-cylinder theme we have the Street Triple, which for 2020 has been fettled with by Triumph’s Moto2 engine development team. The result is the smallest bike of the bunch producing a punchy 121bhp accompanied by the lowest amount of torque here at 58ft-lbs.

If this were a three bike road-test, the riders would all be talking about how you have to rev the Triumph harder than the rest of the machines. Moto2 engine development is great but it will always favour a peaky top-end that makes a bike like this so much fun on the track.

As with any naked bike, part of the deal is being good in the corners – and there isn’t one bike that disappoints on that front. Although there is one that is more usable in the real world.

Kawasaki Suspension and Handling

The suspension on the Z900 a set of 41mm upside-down forks and a horizontal back-link rear shock, both of which feature rebound damping and spring pre-load adjustability. On stock settings on the launch in Catalunya, I found the Z900 to be a perfect blend of performance and comfort, with more than enough support to allow for some fun without compromising on luxury. Of the three bikes here I’d say this was the plushest and most forgiving without feeling wallowy.

Yamaha Suspension and Handling

With probably the trickest looking suspension of all three, the MT-09 wears some blingy looking KYB fully adjustable forks and an Öhlins rear shock complete with a remote adjuster. The MT-09 is a darting thing to ride, with the firm suspension rewarding a rider that can take the bike by the scruff of the neck and show it where to go. It may be down to the geometry of the bike but I always found the front end of the MT-09 SP to be on the move, not worryingly so, but just enough to let you know this is a very lively little motorcycle.

Triumph Suspension and Handling

The Triumph is shod with some of the best quality suspension this side of a full-blown sportsbike. We have fully adjustable Showa Big Piston Forks and an Öhlins STX40 rear shock. With a frame and chassis that is almost identical to the Daytona supersports bike, it’s no surprise for me to say that this is, in my mind, the best handling bike here. It’s telepathically quick to turn, requires almost no effort to ride fast and is just comfortable enough to make its way in the real world.

Kawasaki Equipment

If you opt for 2020 Z900 in your garage this year, congratulations; you own the bike that Visordown believes has the best TFT dash in the business. Along with the extremely easy to read TFT, you’ll also get some riding modes, switchable traction control, and Bluetooth connectivity via the Kawasaki Rideology app.

The bike also features an assisted slipper clutch, dual throttle valves, and all LED lighting.

Yamaha Equipment

The MT-09, by comparison, has a slightly less high-tech dash in the form of the reverse LCD item is shared with bikes like the MT-10 SP. It’s easy enough to read but doesn’t have the same levels of adjustability as a full TFT item. It does though have endlessly adjustable suspension and an assisted slipper clutch for creamy cornering.

The MT-09 does have an added plus though in the form of a quickshifter as standard fitment – given that or a TFT dash, I know what I’d choose!

Triumph Equipment

The Street Triple to is fitted with a quickshifter and slipper clutch as standard although on the Triumph it facilitates up and downshifts not just upshifts as on the MT-09. The Triumph also gets the latest TFT dash, with five riding modes, multiple styles, views, and more options and settings then you can shake a stick at.

The Triumph also has something no other bike in this video has; proper top-drawer stoppers, in the form of Brembo Monoblock calipers. If you’re into true performance riding, that really means something.

The Best Naked Motorcycles of 2020 | Visordown.com


As ever, choosing between these three bikes is extremely tricky and is a testament to how competitive the mid-weight naked class is. For us though the group can be split into two, with one bike taking the crown as a true all-rounder. It has performance, comfort, and equipment sitting on an even footing and it is the Kawasaki Z900.

If you prefer your naked mid-weight with a little more track focus and don’t mind forgoing a little comfort in the deal, the Triumph Street Triple RS is arguable the bike to go for. If sharp handling and track performance are top of your list of priorities, there are many bikes that can match what the Street Triple does.