Middleweight champs | Top 10 BEST Mid-Size Naked Motorcycles [600-999cc] of 2023

Mid-range doesn't have to mean mid-standard with a raft of stellar naked and roadster motorcycles between 600-999cc - this is our pick of the bunch

Aprilia Tuono 660

Have you noticed how, all of a sudden, there’s now more brilliant ‘roadsters’ or ‘nakeds’ available than probably since the 1970s (when all bikes were like that and they were just, well, ‘bikes)? 

V-twins, parallel twins, triples fours and more and from not just the Big 4 Japanese manufacturers but from Triumph, Ducati and KTM – and that’s just in the ‘middleweight’, 600-999cc category! 

Now, middle may sound, well, middling so think of these bikes as the tasty filling in a sandwich…

Which is fitting because the 600-900cc category represents the bread and butter of many manufacturers, blending affordability, that bigger bike experience and - if you’re coming from a smaller model - that feeling you’ve upgraded your wheels.

In short, middleweight motorcycles are big business… but which are the best? Without further ado...

10. Honda CB650R [from £7399]

We’ve always had a soft spot for the Honda CB650. It’s an enticing way into four-cylinder ownership and it’s dressed in some handsome neo-retro attire, which has aged well on a model first unveiled to the world in 2014 with its chunky proportions and quality detailing still pleasing to the eye.

It’s smooth, easy, feels like a bigger motorcycle and practical, but the CB650R is however beginning to seem somewhat dated - both against rivals and next to newer models in the range - while its position straddled between rivals as the Yamaha MT-07 and Yamaha MT-09 is as much a drawback as it might be an attraction.

It means the CB650R looks pricey and cheap depending on which rivals you are comparing it against, but if you can look beyond this segment ambiguity then there is still a handsome Honda to enjoy with all that reliable, engineering know-how that comes from ‘Big Red’

However, if you can wait a little longer, it might be worth waiting for the incoming Honda Hornet, which will be a more focused twin-cylinder rival to the MT-07 and Trident.

9. CFMoto 700CL-X [from £6299]

Is this the moment many manufacturers have been fearing? Are we finally looking at a Chinese-manufactured full-size motorcycle that is both desirable AND competitive?

The answer is… yes. A cautious one, but it’s a yes all the same.

We have long been expecting CFMoto, one of the better sorted and more European-centric of the countless many motorcycle brands to be pouring out of China over the last decade, take the fight to its western rivals and it hasn’t disappointed with its new CL-X range.

Launching with the Heritage, a smartly-detailed retro-theme roadster, it will be joined by a more dynamic looking Sport version very soon too.

The Heritage variant is not the first word in modern and it’s a bit of a mongrel underneath with its Kawasaki engine, BMW switchgear and KTM-assisted design, but it comes together in an attractive and excellent value package chiming in at just over 6 and a half thousand. 

It’s a promising sign of things to come.

8. Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 [from £6039]

You out there can’t seem to get enough of Royal Enfield right now.

A darling of the Indian market, Royal Enfield’s stripped-back, no-nonsense motorcycles dripping in lashings of retro charm from a bygone era are making it something of a surprise global sensation now too.

Having shaken off its more bargain basement image, models like the Interceptor 650 - one of the UK’s best-selling motorcycles - gets the balance just about right when it comes to simple yet charming.

Whereas the Triumph Bonneville and Yamaha XSR are - let’s face it - modern motorcycles in a Peaky Blinders costume, the Interceptor 650 feels more genuine towards its brief and it’s this honest image that has won over so many customers.  At its heart is a throaty 648cc twin producing 47bhp at 7150rpm and 52.3Nm of torque at 5150rpm, which while not the most refined or sophisticated unit around, it is - as with any Royal Enfield - easy to love.

Even before you consider it costs little more than £6,000

7 - Kawasaki Z650 [from £7,049]

Speaking of retro, the Kawasaki Z650 recently stepped out in new accessories with the launch of the attractively evocative RS variant.

It adds a dash of panache to a model that is otherwise ageing somewhat in standard guise, though as with most Kawasaki motorcycles, there is very little really to criticise in what is a well-rounded, practical and good value package.

The Z650 is a classy and well-finished, has a willing 67bhp on tap and handles perfectly well. In fact, its biggest problem is its impressive rivals, with the MT-07 and Trident offering more fun, or shall we say, ‘chutzpah’ than the Z650.

6 - Aprilia Tuono 660 [from £9,700]

While the naked version of the all-new mid-size 660cc platform may not have created as much of a buzz as the slinky RS sportsbike when it hit these shores, the Tuono 660 is nonetheless the ‘bread winner’ of the the Italian firm’s triple-pronged mid-weight salvo.

Admittedly, you get the impression the 660 platform was designed with a sportsbike in mind, so while the Tuono gets the same eager dynamics, sprightly engine and class-leading tech, it certainly doesn’t feel quite as special.

Then again, push on and the Tuono 660 is a hoot to ride compared to the company in this list and there is never any doubt you’re wrapped around a distinctly premium product.

However, at a starting price of £9,700, you buy the Tuono 660 because you want a Tuono 660, not because you’re comparing it to rivals that are more than £2000 cheaper.

5. Yamaha MT-07 [from £7,000]

More than 125,000 examples of the MT-07 have been shifted since 2014, so it’s fair to say the central pillar of Yamaha’s Masters of Torque line up is kind of a big deal.

The latest version introduced this year giving a slightly roomier riding position, Euro5 compliance (without losing any of its 73bhp performance) and stronger brakes… it also gets Yamaha’s latest styling direction, but we’ll leave it to you to decide whether that is a good or a bad thing.

Put simply, the MT-07 does a great job of offering more for a lot less than most - it’s easy enough for novices to glean confidence from, yet lively enough to keep the seasoned biker happy.

In many ways, no-one knows nakeds like Yamaha… which might explain why they’re just so darn popular!

4. Kawasaki Z900 [from £9,399]

Much like the Z650, the Kawasaki Z900 is one of those motorcycles that is hard to fault.

While we may counter that by saying it doesn’t necessarily exceed in any area versus rivals, it’s more likely there will be something on the Z900 to particular please each potential buyer.

With 123bhp, quality suspension, classy build and a lighter, H2-inspired, tubular steel frame, the Z900 blends classy and sporty and wraps it in a green bow

On the downside, it blends into its own range alongside the Z650 and Ninja 1000 SX… or you could just go for the glorious Z900 RS variant which for many beats anything hands down on this list on looks alone.

3. Yamaha MT-09 [from £9,100]

Yamaha’s all-new 900cc triple proved a revelation when originally launched in 2013, both for its brilliant blend of grunty, punchy three-cylinder performance in a nimble yet affordable package and also for being the pathfinder for Yamaha’s all-new family of modular ‘MT’ machines. 

The MT-07, Tracer and XSR families and more all owe their existence to that success of that first MT-09. An SP version with uprated suspension followed in 2019 and now have a total makeover for 2021 with a new, lighter Deltabox frame, Euro5 compliance, 4bhp extra taking peak power up to 117bhp, new electronics and more.

The result is the best MT-09 yet – fun, involving, reasonably practical and affordable, with (£10,202) SP version now a ‘real world’ supernaked that makes you wonder why you’d need anything more for the street. 

The looks have been somewhat divisive but they aren’t anonymous… and best of all, at around £10K, they’re both, still, a steal.

2. Triumph Street Triple [from £9,300]

For those mourning the demise of the Triumph Daytona, rest assured its spirit lives on in its naked counterpart, the Triumph Street Triple.

A roaring success for the British firm, the Street Triple is a handsome, well-engineered premium product that superbly blends sport and quality, without being priced out of the margins.

There is great range in its offerings too, with the entry-level Street Triple R benefiting from the firm’s sweet sounding and very usable 765cc triple-cylinder engine and still come in at under £10,000.

For those who prefer their Triumphs more honed, the RS is a worthwhile expense to get your hands on top notch Ohlins suspension, Brembo brakes and 121hp.

1. Triumph Trident 660 [from £7,395]

A triumphant - geddit? - debut into the roadster category, the nifty Trident 660 naked has been such a sales success for Triumph that you have to wonder why they left it until 2019 to join the fray.

Nonetheless, it’s better late than never, Triumph successfully distilling all of the Street Triple’s grandeur, including the engine which has been squeezed down to 660cc, into a compact, sporting package at a tempting price.

Much like its bigger brother, the Trident makes a strong case on the back of its understated but handsome styling, eager 81hp engine, sprightly dynamics and that enticing feeling that you’re riding something a little bit special.

If you don’t take our word for it, check out the sales charts, which see the Trident already listed as the fourth best-selling motorcycle over 500cc in the UK.

We’d say they’re onto something…