Upper middle fast | Top 10 Sporty Naked Motorcycles of 2023 [sub 1000cc]

If sportsbikes are going out of fashion, then the 'sporty nakeds' are very much in vogue right now... but which are the best sub-1000cc options right now?

2023 Triumph Street Triple 765 RS II.jpg

If you’re in the market for a brand-new 2023 naked motorcycle right now, then we have good news because you’re very spoiled for quality choice right now.

With manufacturers increasingly blurring the lines between what defines a mid-size naked from a large one, the outcome is there are now myriad options available in pretty much every capacity bracket now.

But what if you’re in the market for something more fun or a little bit special… perhaps, even a sporty naked? After all, why should you be denied a spine-tingling splash of sporting zest just because you want a naked motorcycle rather than a spine-bending sportsbike?

With the latest generation Triumph Street Triple 765 RS and Ducati Monster SP wading into the mix this year, it’s time to find out if they earn Visordown’s coveted seal of approval in our Top 10 Sporty Naked Motorcycles of 2023 [sub 1000cc]...

Scroll to bottom to directly compare key specification and technical details of each model

10 - Energica EsseEsse9+

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat HeightFuel Cap.

Even if electric doesn’t rev your motor, regular visitors to Visordown will still have likely become familiar with Energica, the Italian firm having worked its way to the forefront of the snowballing EV movement with accomplished models like the Experia sports tourer and Ego sportsbike.

You may have even come across its streetfighter, the Energica Eva, but what about the Energica EsseEsse9+, the company’s more affordable entry-level electric neo-retro(ish) roadster?

Though derived from the Eva, Energica has since dropped that title from the EsseEsse9+ prefix to elevate it to standalone model status, one that - though not strictly a performance model per se - will still electrically out-drag any of its rivals here, surging to 60mph in just three seconds, or 2.8secs if you opt for the flagship RS variant.

Indeed, while you may not be sold on electric just yet, the EsseEsse9+ makes a good case as a sporty little number thanks to its 21kWh battery kicking out around 109bhp propelled by lashings of instant torque, while it’s arguably one of - if not ‘the’ - most attractive EV/s out there with its carved half-fairing and blunt rear-end.

However, those EV motor niggles remain hard to ignore in this company. At 260kg, it’s a bit too hefty to throw around with vigour and despite its entry-point status, the EsseEsse9+ is still eye-wateringly expensive at £24,590.

9 - BMW F 900 R

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat HeightFuel Cap.
£9,090895cc105bhp92Nm @6,500rpm211kg815mm13 L

For a company that has cultivated such a legendary reputation for its sporting prowess on four wheels, BMW certainly took its time injecting a bit of grunt into its Motorrad range.

However, after persevering for so long with just the S 1000 RR, BMW is finally branching out with its new ‘M’ range, starting with the M 1000 RR and now joined by the M 1000 R naked. However, at £19,480, it doesn’t quite qualify for inclusion here.

Instead, whether you’re after a regular mid-to-large capacity naked BMW or a sporty one, the choice is exactly the same, with the BMW F 900 R having to fulfil both briefs by being available in just a single trim level.

So while it is perhaps more tepid to the touch than its warmed up rivals here, the F 900 R still leans into a sportier alter ego if you push on, with agile handling, strong power delivery and sharp - if a touch generic - looks.

Better still, at £9,090 it comes in cheaper than the less powerful Aprilia Tuono 660 Factory and if you’re not convinced the F 900 R could be wolf in sheep’s clothing, then be sure to check out the new BSB-supporting F 900 R Cup debuting this season.

8 - Kawasaki Z900 SE Performance

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat HeightFuel Cap.
£11,229948cc123bhp99Nm @7,700rpm212kg820mm17 L

Given Kawasaki’s rich sporting pedigree, it’s a touch disappointing its popular Z900 range lacks a sizzling racing-inspired variant beyond the reheated Kawasaki Z900 SE Performance trim.

That said, given the Z900 in standard form already looks athletic and generates the same power across its variants, perhaps Kawasaki has just nailed this brief at the entry-point.

Regardless, it is the top-of-the-range Z900 SE Performance that gets the track-sourced upgrades, adding a larger diameter fork for greater adjustment, trick Ohlins rear suspension, chunky Akrapovic exhaust and Brembo brakes.

Moreover, even with its understated appearance, it’s still among the most powerful options here thanks to its punchy 123bhp 948cc in-line four engine… it’s just a shame it doesn’t look or feel special enough to justify its ‘Performance’ moniker.

The Visordown REVIEW | Kawasaki Z900 [2020] 

7 - MV Agusta Brutale 800 RR

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat HeightFuel Cap.
£15,590798cc140bhp87Nm @10,250rpm188kg830mm16.5 L

While certainly not in the first flush of youth, it’s a testament to MV Agusta that the Brutale naked has required just the odd nip-and-tuck since 2011 to maintain its status as the segment’s most exotic and desirable offering.

Though the three-pot 800 variant lacks the muscular impact of its 1000cc big brother, the Brutale showcases stunning attention to detail, from its triple exhausts and pronounced bison hump, plus the recently introduced flared nostril, tight winged aero devices.

While those on a budget should look at the entry-level £12,200, 110bhp Brutale Rosso trim, it is the Brutale 800 RR that measures up more succinctly in this company, though at £15,590 it is the most expensive model in this ranking, with exception to the Energica EsseEsse9+.. 

Boasting 140bhp, the MV is at least the most powerful model here too, a status that presents itself on the road with its keen handling and delicious engine note, traits so irresistible they might just force your swooning heart to overrule your cost-conscious head.

The Visordown REVIEW | MV Agusta Brutale 800 RR [2018] 

6 - KTM 890 Duke R

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat HeightFuel Cap.
£11,599889cc119bhp99Nm @7,900rpm175kg834mm14 L

While we wait patiently for KTM’s return to the large sportsbike arena with its all-new, in development RC 990, the KTM 890 Duke R remains the Austrian firm’s most athletic mid-size model.

Dubbed the ‘Super Scalpel’, the KTM 890 Duke R carves an image (literally) as the segment’s ‘bad boy’ with it unashamedly brazen Kiska design traits, from the stripped-back profile to the razor-sharp bodywork that while not pretty, sure packs a punch.

Asking for a £1000 premium over the mid-range GP trim, the 890 Duke R justifies the upgrade by being marginally more powerful (119bhp) and offering more torque (99Nm), while it also comes with adjustable suspension, more track-day appropriate tyres and a sportier engine map.

With its tuneful parallel-twin 889cc engine providing the soundtrack and only weighing in at 179kg, the KTM 890 Duke R might be a touch too raw for some, but it’s a riot to ride.

5 - Yamaha XSR 900

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat HeightFuel Cap.
£10,600890cc117bhp93Nm @7,000rpm193kg810mm14 L

While we’d normally exclude so-called ‘Modern Classic’ or ‘Retro’ models from a countdown such as this, we’re making an exception with the latest generation 2022 Yamaha XSR 900.

A model we’d (confusingly) describe as ‘contemporary retro’ in style, the XSR 900 draws on inspiration from Yamaha’s 1980s racing heritage for its most recent overhaul, right down to its Legend Blue colourway and decals that pay homage to its original Deltabox bikes.

With its cafe racer-inspired riding configuration, while the XSR 900 is more refined cruiser in practice, push on and it will reveal a cheekier side befitting of its ‘Faster Sons’ philosophy, one that takes advantage of Yamaha’s excellent 890cc triple-cylinder engine boasting a frisky 117bhp.

If you want a sporty Yamaha that will fuel your adrenaline, get the MT-09 SP. If you want a sporty Yamaha that will make you feel like a million dollars, get the XSR 900.

The Visordown REVIEW | Yamaha XSR 900 [2022] 

4 - Aprilia Tuono 660 Factory

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat HeightFuel Cap.
£9,250659cc100bhp67Nm @8,500rpm181kg820mm15 L

A bit of a wildcard in that it gives away both cylinders and a fair chunk of cubic capacity to its contemporaries here, the Aprilia Tuono 660 Factory nonetheless goes a long way to prove that less can sometimes mean more.

Developed on Aprilia’s marvellous new mid-range twin 660cc platform, the Tuono joins its RS 660 sportsbike brother in punching above its weight among hefty company here.

Topping out at 100bhp in flagship Factory specification, what the Tuono 660 loses in power to its rivals it makes up for by maximising every one of those ponies to achieve a pure form of riding pleasure.

Complemented by a sophisticated electronics package borrowed from its Tuono V4 sibling, the Tuono 660 feels faster than it reads on paper, while no other motorcycle here handles with as much precision.

At £9,250, though the Tuono 660 Factory demands a significant premium over rivals like the Yamaha MT-07 and the Triumph Trident 660, here it is definitely a bargain… just be prepared to accept it for what it is.

The Visordown REVIEW | Aprilia Tuono 660 Factory [2022]

3 - Ducati Monster SP

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat HeightFuel Cap.
£13,995937cc111bhp93Nm @6,500rpm186kg840mm14 L

The recently unveiled Ducati Monster SP is the Italian firm’s answer to those who might have feared the current iteration of the rorty roadster has lost some of its bite.

Indeed, while the latest generation Ducati Monster - launched in 2021 - has certainly softened some of its predecessors’ rawness, the new flagship Monster SP is an attempt to sharpen its edge once again.

Attempting to achieve this with Öhlins fully adjustable suspension front and rear, powerful Brembo Stylema callipers, a steering damper, attractive Termignoni end can and a paint job inspired by Ducati’s title-winning MotoGP bikes, they are welcome upgrades for a bike that - even in standard trim - is a tour de force on the road.

Brimming with Ducati’s signature electronic goodies, the Monster SP handles nimbly and offers plenty of poke from the 937cc Testastretta engine, even if it is a shame it is no quicker than it is in - £2000 cheaper - standard trim. 

Indeed, with a price tag of £13,995, the Ducati Monster SP is pricey, even for a Ducati.

The Visordown REVIEW | Ducati Monster SP [2023]

2 - Yamaha MT-09 SP

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat HeightFuel Cap.
£11,300890cc117bhp93Nm @7,000rpm190kg825mm14 L

A stalwart of the mid-to-large naked segment, the Yamaha MT-09 has established itself as a perennial class favourite over the years with its majors in quality, comfort, easy-of-use and value. 

However, while that’s all well and good, they aren’t exactly traits that will get the pulses racing… enter stage left, the Yamaha MT-09 SP, its beefier brother.

Underpinned by Yamaha’s brilliant 890cc triple-cylinder CP3 engine, while the MT-09 SP is no more powerful at 117bhp, the Japanese firm has - rightly - sacrificed headline-grabbing numbers at the top in favour of prioritising more linear torque in the middle.

The result is genuinely effective pull at low revs, a strength that elevates the MT-09 SP’s sporting credentials in an unexpected way. The same goes for it R1-type 6-axis IMU, lean-sensitive electronic rider aids, fully adjustable 41mm front forks and Öhlins rear shock.

Add that to the MT-09 aforementioned fundamentals - plus stealthier bodywork that helps disguise some of the design’s more divisive features - and the Yamaha MT-09 SP comes across as a well-rounded quality product, albeit one with an alluring dark secret 

The Visordown REVIEW | Yamaha MT-09 SP [2021]

1 - Triumph Street Triple 765 RS

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat HeightFuel Cap.
£11,295765cc128bhp80Nm @9,500rpm188kg836mm15 L

While you might take one look at the new 2023 Triumph Street Triple 765 RS and assume the British firm adopted an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach with the latest generation, on this occasion the devil is actually in the detail.

Truthfully, there wasn’t much wrong with the outgoing RS, being quick, fun to ride and well-built, which might explain why it hasn’t - on the surface anyway - tinkered too much with a winning formula. Look closer though and you’ll note its sharper, more aggressive design tweaks - while subtle in images - are more impactful in the metal. 

It’s out on the road though where the upgrades become more evident, the 2023 RS feeling lively, eager and racier, almost as though Triumph started with what could have been a Daytona and simply stripped away the fairing.

Better still, while the engine architecture remains unchanged, Triumph has squeezed the RS’ power output to 128bhp, making it the most powerful mainstream option in this class. Not only that, the triple-cylinder unit has clearly benefited from data procured from Triumph’s Moto2 engine supply deal, in that it certainly feels more responsive.

Throw in premium component upgrades - including Brembo Stylema brakes, Showa front suspension and Ohlins STX40 rear shocks - and the 2023 Triumph Street Triple 765 RS looks good value at £11,295.

If you can’t stretch for that, then the Street Triple 765 R - priced at £9,595 - is no booby prize, sharing most of the RS’ features and still packing a potent 118bhp punch.

But if the RS just isn’t special enough, you can also invest in the limited run Triumph Street Triple 765 Moto2 Edition [pictured above], which adds bespoke detailing, unique Ohlins forks and a more lurid colour scheme at £13,795.

The Visordown REVIEW - Triumph Street Triple 765 RS [2023]

*prices correct at the time of publication [March 2023]

 Top 10 Sporty Naked Motorcycles of 2023 [sub 1000cc] | Key Specifications and Technical Details Comparison

 PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat HeightFuel Cap.
10Energica EsseEsse9+£24,59021.5kWh109bhp207Nm260kg790mmN/A
9BMW F 900 R£9,090895cc105bhp92Nm @6,500rpm211kg815mm13 L
8Kawasaki Z900 SE Performance£11,229948cc123bhp99Nm @7,700rpm212kg820mm17 L
7MV Agusta Brutale RR 800£15,590798cc140bhp87Nm @10,250rpm188kg830mm16.5 L
6KTM 890 Duke GP£11,599889cc119bhp99Nm @7,900rpm175kg834mm14 L
5Yamaha XSR 900£10,600890cc117bhp93Nm @7,000rpm193kg810mm14 L
4Aprilia Tuono 660 Factory£9,250659cc100bhp67Nm @8,500rpm181kg820mm15 L
3Ducati Monster SP£13,995937cc111bhp93Nm @6,500rpm186kg840mm14 L
2Yamaha MT-09 SP£11,300890cc117bhp93Nm @7,000rpm190kg825mm14 L
1Triumph Street Triple RS£11,295765cc128bhp80Nm @9,500rpm188kg836mm15 L