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Top 10 Big Fat Streetbikes

If these bikes were a weapon they would most likely be an elephant gun, Visordown counts down the best of the capable all rounders to the lairy sports baiters

Monstrous machines that require the upper body strength of a bear to hang on to, these motorcycles are some of the most traditional that can be found flexing their muscles on the streets.

Hang on as we countdown through the Top 10 Big Fat Streetbikes, click next to begin...

10. Ducati Monster S2R 800

10. Ducati Monster S2R 800

Engine: 803cc, 4v, injected v-twin
Power: 77bhp
Torque: 54ftlb
Weight: 173kg
Top speed: 130mph
Insurance group: 13
Rating: ????
Used prices: £5,200 - £3,300

The Monster’s been on sale for 15 years in myriad forms but we like the S2R best with it’s torquey, elegant air-cooled engine, nifty single sided swing arm and sharp looking stacked cans. Dismissed by some as a poseur’s tool, the Monster’s a fine handling machine that’s surprisingly versatile too. Pillion comfort aside it’ll fill most roles plus it’s got genuine panache dynamically and visually.

If you want more power a 1000cc version was released in 2006 with 95bhp and even more low down thrust. Reliability is actually pretty good although wet weather can upset the electrics. Servicing isn’t cheap but can’t be avoided as a snapped cambelt is generally a bad thing...

Click next for no.9

09. Suzuki GSF1250 Bandit

Engine: 1255cc, 16v, injected four
Power: 97bhp
Torque: 80ftlb
Weight: 229kg
Top speed: 145mph
Insurance group: 13
Rating: ???
Used prices: £4,900 - £3,500

The original low cost bad boy has mellowed over the years into a low cost relaxed but rapid all rounder. It’s had more facelifts than Cher but the most useful came in 2007 when it got the super torquey 1250cc engine. Liquid cooling adds weight but the bike carries it well. It’s far too soft to be sporty but responds well to smooth input and it’s still a capable machine which does everything well. Reliability seems excellent and it’s got just enough edge to not be bland. There’s loads of competition but perfect fuelling and competitive pricing mean the big Bandit’s a wise if not exciting option. If that sounds like you, you can’t really go too wrong with one of these.

Click next for no.8

08. Yamaha FZ1

08. Yamaha FZ1

Engine: 998cc, 20v, injected four
Power: 150bhp
Torque: 78ftlb
Weight: 199kg
Top speed: 160mph
Insurance group: 16
Rating: ???
Used prices: £7,000 - £4,500

Some bikes add up to more than the sum of their parts. Sadly the FZ1 is just the opposite and seems less than the spec would suggest. The previous FZS1000 had a massive following but this successor is bland, needs revving harder, is less comfy and has a worse fuel range. It may punt out big horsepower but its lacking grunt below 4,000rpm and early bikes had a snatchy throttle response. 2007 on machines were better but down on power.

Although prices are low for such a new machine (some used bikes were sold under £6K) there’s still no good reason to buy one. Opt for the more practical faired version or go European for more fun and better personality.

Click next for no.7

07. Honda CB1300

07. Honda CB1300

Engine: 1284cc, 16v, injected four
Power: 113bhp
Torque: 86ftlb
Weight: 224kg
Top speed: 145mph
Insurance group: 15
Rating: ????
Used prices:  £5,500 - £2,650

Step forward Honda and show the rest of the class how it’s done. CB1300 drips quality from every pore. Like the Kawasaki ZRX1200, not especially  fast and rather heavy, but bikes like this are about kick-back torque and easy riding. The paint is about an inch thick and looks gloriously retro, the exhaust is way too quiet and the size of a dustbin, but sort that out and you’ve got a seriously cool Sunday tool on your hands. They did a faired F-model that also looks great and makes the CB more useful for longer distances, but it’s the old-school streetbike muscle look you really want. Benefits hugely from a Power Commander and lowering the gearing a tooth at the drive sprocket.

Click next for no.6

06. Aprilia Tuono

06. Aprilia Tuono

Engine: 998cc, 8v, injected v-twin
Power: 126bhp
Torque: 75ftlb
Weight: 185kg
Top speed: 155mph
Insurance group: 15
Rating: ?????
Used prices: £6,200 - £2,600

The first and only real factory streetfighter – i.e. a sports bike minus the plastic with high bars. And it’s a superb ride. The engine’s still sports bike lively and the suspension and brakes haven’t been softened either. The Tuono’s a wild machine but it’s capable of taking it easy too, although it doesn’t really like doing it.

Faults? Electrical gremlins are common and the starter clutch sprag can fail which will be more expensive to fix.
R and Racing are posh versions of the MK I bike. In 2005 it got a subtle updates. In 2006 the MK II version is released and this time the R model is the base spec and the Factory’s the posh one, just to confuse matters a bit...

Click next for no.5

05. Suzuki GSX1400

05. Suzuki GSX1400

Engine: 1402cc, 16v, injected four
Power: 105bhp
Torque: 93ftlb
Weight: 226kg
Top speed: 145mph
Insurance group: 14
Rating: ????
Used prices: £5,100 - £2,200

Another typical Japanese big naked. It’s an exposed all rounder, not a stripped down sporty tool. But the GSX has two things going for it. First it makes stupendous torque from very low revs and secondly it’s got the look spot on with its barrel chested engine and just the right amount of bling. Slightly soft suspension but it’ll still drag a peg in tighter corners.

The bike got a subtle but useful update for 2006 including improved mapping, a single exhaust can and a key based immobiliser. The Final Edition has a badge and Yoshimura end can but is otherwise standard. Rear shock adjusters can seize, causing oil leaks if forced. Almost definitely going to be a future classic, though.

Click next for no.4

04. Kawasaki Z1000

04. Kawasaki Z1000

Engine: 953cc, 16v, injected four
Power: 127bhp
Torque: 70ftlb
Weight: 198kg
Top speed: 155mph
Insurance group: 15
Rating: ???
Used prices: £5,200 - £2,600

The plan was to put full sports performance into a naked bike  – something no Japanese manufacturer had done for years. Unfortunately the Z1000’s suspension was just too soft with superior bikes like the Tuono, Speed Triple and Monster to compete with.

The engine was fine but lacked the Kawasaki character and the styling didn’t impress everyone with its weird looks. The four-into-four exhausts were almost cool but even they’re too obviously styled-up twin cans. Significantly updated (and uglier) for 2007. Reliability’s good but the gold finish can rub off the original exhausts and they’re quite susceptible to corrosion. Excellent VFM on the used market.

Click next for no.3

03. Triumph Speed Triple 1050

03. Triumph Speed Triple 1050

Engine: 1050cc, 12v, injected triple
Power: 127bhp
Torque: 78ftlb
Weight: 189kg
Top speed: 155mph
Insurance group: 14
Rating: ?????
Used prices: £7,000 - £4,250

The most refined of sporty / lairy big naked bikes. Years of development plus a highly addictive, three cylinder engine make the Speed Triple a tough act to beat. Yes, it’s up for stunting, track days and other shenanigans but you can also commute, potter or even tour (one up).

Problems are relatively few although we’ve heard of clock failures on more than one bike and if the brake lever comes all the way back to the bar, new pistons may be required. Be wary of ‘tribal’ graphics which look like an outdated tattoo. Used prices remain high. The only reason this isn’t in the No 2 slot is because they remain pricey and they’re rather common on the road.

Click next for no.2

02. Kawasaki ZRX1200R

02. Kawasaki ZRX1200R

Engine: 1164cc, 16v, carb’d, four
Power: 123bhp
Torque: 82lbft
Weight: 223kg
Top Speed: 155mph
Insurance group: 13
Rating: ????
Used prices: £4,800 - £2,200

70s styling which still looks fresh. Underneath there’s a big and very competent bike. It’s too heavy to chase well-ridden sports bikes but it’s extremely capable at everything else.

Quick-rot mild steel downpipes changed to stainless on the final bikes and they’re worth having. Check brake calipers for seized pins and the black plastic diamond shaped spacer in the middle of the radiator guard can rub and cause leaking.

‘S’ model (2001-2004) has a useful frame mounted fairing which makes it more practical. There’s an unfaired version too but it’s extremely rare and less desirable. 1100 version was 1997-2001 and is very similar but 1,052cc.

Click next for the no.1

01. KTM Super Duke

01. KTM Super Duke

Engine: 999cc, 8v, injected v-twin
Power: 118bhp
Torque: 73ftlb
Weight: 184kg
Top speed: 155mph
Ins grp: 16
Rating: ?????
Used prices: £7,000 • £5,800 • £4,100

Purpose built naked nutter is the lairiest of the lot. KTM’s hard-riding dirt competition heritage is obvious in this stubby, focussed little machine. Ace at stunting, genuinely capable of giving sports bikes a bloody nose below 100mph and always fun.

Significantly updated in 2007 including a larger fuel tank (good) and slower steering (bad according to some purists). The ‘R’ model was released in 2007 with cosmetic changes and better suspension. In 2008 it got 12bhp more too. Single make race series in 2005/06 so be wary of machines which saw action. Be suspicious of any bike which runs badly, especially at tickover.

Continue by clicking next for some hot tips

Hot tips

Hot tips

BIG power mods

Nitrous
Cost: £200 - £3000
Power gain: 5-50%
Pros: cheap speed, bragging rights, looks bloody cool to have twin bottles on the bike
Cons: bottle needs frequent refills, hardly ever work as planned, can melt your motor if not set-up.
Where from: www.bigccracing.com

Turbo/supercharger
Cost: £1000 - £10,000
Power gain: 25-150%
Pros: big power right across the rev-range, outrageous performance, turbo whistle
Cons: hideously complicated, you’ll spend as much time fixing the bike as riding it, burns oil, blows up
Where from: www.holeshot-racing.co.uk

Big bore kit/fat cams
Cost: £250-£2000
Power gain: 5-40%
Pros: Often a nice, torquey delivery, monster midrange, rideable and with no silly gimmicks to blow up. More affordable and beneficial for road-riding conditions
Cons: Can burn oil like it’s going out of fashion
Where from: www.tts-performance.co.uk

Buying one

Naked bikes are as diverse as their owners.The unspoilt, more traditional style of a bike enjoyed in their younger years results in older riders with low mileage minters practically giving away barely run-in bikes. On the other hand, bikes such as the Superduke, Speed Triple and Tuono also appeal to younger riders all keen for a slice of their stunting abilities, even if their own skills don’t quite match up.

Keep this in mind when buying and look for any clues that give away the kind of rider you’re buying from. Check head bearings, chains and sprockets for signs of wheelie abuse. In short, clean, standard bikes are always the ones to go for.

Anything European won’t have the reliability of Japanese so if you’re buying, main dealer bikes with full service history are safest.

If you do buy privately, check out the owner. Try and find a monied older gent who’s cosseted his bike.
These bikes stunt easily. Check head bearings for play and wheels for dings. Also check clutches for wear (with a big handful of revs in a high gear).

Loud exhausts are popular but many owners take them off to sell separately and some won’t return the mapping back to standard. Ask what cans or system a bike’s been running on and if the ECU/carburettor jetting has been altered to go with it.