It's probably safe to say that up until recently, naked bikes (or "standard" bikes, if you prefer; we'll define a naked bike as one with an upright-ish riding position with no fairings or windscreen) were the red-headed stepchild of the motorcycle industry.
Sportbikes, cruisers, ADV bikes, these made up the bulk of production types and sales. It's easy to see why. People love their bells and whistles, which in the motorcycle world come in the form of heated handgrips, saddlebags, electronically adjustable windscreens, and maybe some flashy fairings. We tend to like bikes that come with a whole lot of stuff. Naked bikes, on the other hand...they're basically an engine on two wheels. But therein lies the beauty - and fun - of a naked bike.
With several manufacturers putting out noteworthy nakeds (we like the BMW R NineT, Yamaha's FZ-07 and FZ-09, have high hopes for Honda's CB300F and eagerly await the American debut ofKTM's 390 Duke), it's time to sing the praises of the most basic of streetbikes. Here's 5 reasons you should think about getting one.
Naked Bike Costs
The economics alone should make you consider owning a naked, but purchase prices can be appealing, especially to new riders - that aforementioned CB300F will retail for just under $4000, the Yamaha FZ-07 lists at $6990, and you can pick up a Ducati Monster 696 for just over $9,000. (Of course, if you feel like dropping money on a naked, the BMW R Nine T will set you back about $14,900.) And less stuff on the bike means fewer things to fix or replace. (Looking at you, fairings.)
This is not the kind of naked bike you want.
This is generally not a concept that most people associate with motorcycles. Minivans? Practical. Sporty and fast bikes? Not so much. But there's a lot to say for a naked bike being a legitimately viable means of transportation. First, they're small - and most of us don't live in mansions. They fit nicely in a small garage and for those without garages are easy to park on the street.
Second, fuel economy: motorcycles in general save you money at the pump, and nakeds in particular are gas-sippers.
Third, if you're an urban or even suburban rider, nakeds are fantastic in traffic. A naked's size makes it easier to maneuver down a busy street, and the upright seating position gives the rider a great view of what's happening in front of him or her.
PERFORMANCE AND HANDLING
These speak for themselves, and we'll combine the two since they go hand in hand. There's a lot to say about why naked bikes are such a hoot to ride - they're lightweight and quick, with a low rake to make it easier to fling them through corners. But it's probably easier to show you rather than tell you. Which would you rather take down a twisty canyon - one of these?
Or one of these?
Yeah, us too.
THE FUN FACTOR
I've been a surfer for many years. There's very little in the way of safety equipment, but the one thing that we surfers do have to make our rides a bit safer for us and fellow surfers - a leash, one end attached to the board, the other wrapped around an ankle, there to keep the board from flying towards the beach or the rocks if and when we wipe out. The first time I surfed without one, I was a bit jittery. Not wearing a leash has no effect whatsoever on the actual act of surfing - you paddle, pop up on, and turn the board the exact same way as you would if wearing one. But it FELT different; for starters, if I made a mistake, I'd be swimming a few hundred yards to the shore to recover my ride. But more than that, it felt like surfing without a leash was surfing in its purest form. I had to rely on my skill alone to keep my board under my control. And consequently I had one of my best surfing days in years.
What does that have to do with riding a bike? To me, naked bikes offer riders the distilled essence of street riding. An engine attached to a couple of wheels, no ABS, no traction control, the wind punching you in the chest, gut and face, nothing else to worry about but the ride itself. There's a lot to be said for that kind of experience; it's one that comes with riding a naked bike, and it's one that every rider should have.
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