Top 10s

Top ten naked motorcycle we rode in 2019

With 2019 being a bumper year for naked motorcycles, Visordown goes through the top ten naked bikes we were lucky enough to ride in the last 12-months

THE naked motorcycle market in the UK continued to go from strength to strength. Aside from the ever-present adventure bike segment, naked bikes make up a massive proportion of the machines sold, in the UK and abroad.

This sustained growth has meant the variety of machines on offer from all the major manufacturers is huge, we had everything from the small but mighty Kawasaki Z125 learner legal machine, to the fantastically OTT Triumph Rocket 3. We’ve been lucky enough to attend pretty much every new naked bike launched this year, so we thought we’d rundown our pick of the bikes we rode in 2019 and that you can buy in 2020.

Triumph Street Triple RS (2020)

The big news for the street triple RS for 2020 is the refreshed styling and new for this year's headlight arrangement. Beneath the skin, the bike remains very similar to the previous version, although Triumph have of course had to fiddle with the bike's engine and exhaust to get it through Euro5 emissions regulations.

On the track launch at Cartagena, we were impressed by the bikes responsiveness, braking stability and the engine eagerness to rev, thank in no small part to some engine development garnered from the Moto2 engine supply program.

In our eyes, it is still one of the best sub-1000cc naked bikes you can buy today.

Honda CB650R

The Honda CB650R takes the mid-weight naked Honda down the Neo sports café design route, with clean lines and neat detailing replacing the futuristic-looking machine of before. With around 93bhp on offer, the CB650R isn’t the most powerful naked money can buy, but it is supremely useable, excellent fun to ride and is backed up by that typical Honda reliability and build quality.

Yamaha MT09

Since its launch in 2014, the MT09 has been making waves in the naked class. It’s mixture of aggressive styling, silky smooth three-cylinder CP3 engine and sit-up and beg riding style make it a delight to hammer down a decent road on a sunny afternoon. The only real fly in the ointment is slightly underdamped suspension, something that can be easily rectified by opting for the tricked-out SP version.

KTM 790 Duke

Nobody does hooligan bikes quite like KTM, and the 790 Duke delivers on pretty much every front. Its punchy 790cc parallel-twin engine has a raucous character to it, popping and banging off the throttle and launching you at the end of the road faster then a bike of this capacity should!

It is slightly compromised though, the levels of comfort are on a par with a motocross bike, and its use over distance is limited. It does though deliver more smiles per hour than most other bikes available today.

Suzuki Katana

Suzuki’s re-boot of the iconic Katana was one of the most talked-about machines of 2019. Using the GSX-S1000 as a base but wrapping the machine in a modern take on the classic Katana’s styling.

The new Katana mixes performance with retro-styling and the result is a very good bike. The press riding launch for this bike was a damp affair sadly, although the weather did dry in the afternoon allowing us to stretch to the bike’s legs a little. With solid handling, decent brakes and that lovely, re-tuned GSX-R1000 K5 engine, the new Katana is nearly the complete package, with only a 12-litre fuel tank letting the side down.

Triumph Speed Triple RS (2019)

One of my favourite bikes of last year wasn’t actually an all-new model, it was the Triumph 1050 Speed Triple RS. I said in my review of the machine that I don’t think I’ve ever felt so at home, so quickly on any other bike before. Picking the 1050 from the factory I felt totally at ease and able to push on very rapidly from the word go. This is mainly down to the trick Öhlins suspension and Brembo brake set up that. While the suspension is not the plushest around, it does make for confidence-inspiring corning and a very planted feeling overall.

Ducati Cafe Scrambler Café Racer

The Ducati Scrambler Café Racer has all the looks of a retro bike from back in the day, I just wish it had some more of that modern-day rideability and power! It’s a neat enough machine to go nipping into town for a coffee with the other cool hipsters but get it on a B-road and start to push on and the chassis and 75hp engine will quickly find the limit.

Triumph Rocket 3

One of the biggest bikes of the 2020 launch season is Triumph’s 2500cc Rocket 3, a bike that many thought we’d lost to Euro emissions regulations. All along though, Triumph had been working away in the background, re-designing from the ground up.

The result is a 165bhp, 163ft-lb monster, that is as happy cruising down the motorway as it is at carving its way up a mountain pass. It’s not what you’d call light, weighing in at over 300kg, but it is manageable, thrilling to ride and turns heads like nothing else on two wheels!

Kawasaki Z900

Our favourite naked of last year had to be the Kawasaki Z900. As naked motorcycles go, it’s a complete package, with sweet handing, great styling and more than enough power to get you into and out of trouble as needed.

The press launch in Spain was a wet affair, but it did give us the chance to try out the new-for-this-year electronics suite, that includes multiple riding modes, traction control and the best TFT we’ve had the pleasure of using.

If a naked roadster is on your wishlist for 2020 – this is definitely a machine you need to go out and test ride.

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