Top 10s

Top 10 naked bikes 2017

Back to basics to taste the essence of motorcycling

NAKED bikes. It’s an enormous class that covers a huge array of machines in different sizes, styles and capabilities, which makes selecting a definitive top 10 a near-impossible challenge.

To thin the field a bit we’re turning a blind eye to retro-styled nakeds – don’t worry, they’ll be covered separately soon – and to small-capacity bikes models which, while perhaps perfect for learners, don’t have a wider appeal to full-licence-holders.

Even with those self-imposed limits in force there’s still a huge selection of enormously capable bikes out there, with prices that range from ‘bargain’ to ‘how much?’

But here goes…

10: Suzuki GSX-S1000

Can you believe it took this long for Suzuki to grasp the nettle and build a naked roadster based on the GSX-R1000? Perhaps it was burnt by its experience with the B-King, but finally there’s a naked GSX-R on the market. Well, sort off. The GSX-S actually shares its roots with the classic 2005 K5 generation of GSX-R1000 – a good bike, sure, but also one that’s a far cry from the latest and greatest. As a sporty, naked road bike, though, the GSX-S1000 works exceedingly well.

READ OUR SUZUKI GSX-1000 REVIEW.

For many, the essence of a naked bike has never been distilled more effectively than in Ducati’s Monster, and the Monster 1200 is the best version there’s ever been. With 147hp from its Testastretta V-twin (or 152hp if you splash out on the R version), plus the hunchbacked Monster looks that are so instantly recognisable, it’s a stunner. Opt for the S for Ohlins suspension, or the R for the ultimate Monster experience, but even the base version isn’t going to disappoint.

READ OUR DUCATI MONSTER 1200 S REVIEW.

Kawasaki’s old ER6 has long been a favourite among middleweight nakeds. Friendly, easy to ride and endlessly reliable, it’s amazing that Kawasaki was able to improve it by such a big margin when it transformed into 2017’s Z650. As well as the new name, there’s a steel frame that helps make it an unbelievable 17kg lighter that before – if bikes were up for slimmer-of-the-year prizes, the Z650 would be a shoe-in. Added lightness makes for more sparking performance on all fronts.

READ OUR KAWASAKI Z650 REVIEW.

Stand Triumph’s Speed Triple up next to the latest-and-greatest superbike-based naked machines and you might expect it to come up short. And while the 138bhp, 1050cc triple can’t match up to them on sheer power, it endows the latest version of the Speed Triple with a room-filling character. Throw in a lovely chassis, particularly in ‘R’ form with Ohlins suspension, and this becomes a bike that outperforms its own spec sheet by a mile.

READ OUR TRIUMPH SPEED TRIPLE REVIEW.

The MT-07 is right at the cheap-and-cheerful end of this list but in its own way it’s still a remarkable achievement. Coming on the heels of the hugely-successful MT-09 triple, the twin-cylinder MT-07 is arguably an even greater achievement. For a tiny outlay it’s a reminder that bikes can be fun without spending a fortune, in a world where so many cheap workhorses are studiously humourless in the way they go about their business.

READ OUR YAMAHA MT-07 REVIEW.

If the MT-07 is the epitome of cheap-n-cheerful fun bikes, the Tuono is deadly serious. It’s a proper superbike, simply stripped of its bodywork, and given that it’s derived from the devastatingly fast RSV4 it’s able to embarrass plenty of full-on race replicas on both the road and the track.

READ OUR APRILIA TUONO V4 REVIEW.

KTM has made a point of backing away from building superbikes. They’re too fast for the road, according to boss Stefan Pierer. But that doesn’t stop them from making the certifiably-insane 1290 Super Duke R. Because the world has been crying out for a 1301cc, 174bhp, mad-as-a-box-of-frogs naked bike, of course. Fortunately, it’s tamed by the latest electronics from Bosch, including cornering ABS, which means that even normal humans can enjoy the experience. In a year or so there will also be a mad Husqvarna 1301 Vitpilen, based heavily on the Super Duke, vying for a position on this list.

READ OUR KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R REVIEW.

While Europeans BMW and Aprilia have shamelessly based their naked offerings on out-and-out superbikes, the Japanese have been slow to follow suit. Suzuki’s GSX-S1000, Kawasaki’s Z1000 and Honda’s CB1000R are all derived from older-generation machines, toned down to suit their nakedness. Not Yamaha, though – the MT-10 is pretty much a current-generation R1 romping in the nude, and all the better for it. The naked ergonomics take the edge of the R1’s superbike feel, and make it tamer and calmer without neutering it completely.

READ OUR YAMAHA MT-10 REVIEW.

BMW’s S1000R is a close match for the MT-10, and if you’re in the market for the maddest of naked bike’s we’d certainly suggest you try both, along the Tuono and Super Duke R, before putting your money down. But the BMW just edges it, with fractionally stronger performance and brakes compared to the Yamaha and that buying confidence that comes with a BMW. The styling might put you off, though – it’s certainly not the best looker in its class.

READ OUR SUZUKI BMW S1000R REVIEW.

No, the Street Triple isn’t out to compete with the naked superbikes that fill the next few spots on this list. Nor is it really a direct competitor to any of the others – because Triumph has chiselled out a niche with its three-cylinder middleweight over the last decade that nobody else really competes in. Sure, there’s the MV Brutale 800, but is it really a rival? TGo be honest, the old 675cc Street Triple would probably have topped this list, and its latest 765cc form, the Street Triple is simply in a class of its own.

READ OUR TRIUMPH STREET TRIPLE 765 REVIEW.

NOW CHECK OUT OUR TOP 10 BIG-CAPACITY SPORTS BIKES OF 2017.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE VISORDOWN TOP TENS. 

Comments

Comfysofa's picture

To which im almost happy in a way as i dont see many of them around and once theyve been on the dyno (theres a big restriction hidden in the ecu) they make a good 150 at the rear wheel.

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