Looking to get naked? You’ve come to the right place. These five bikes represent the great diversity and big fun to be had in the ever-expanding naked-bike class. As the new Yamaha FZ-09 demonstrates with its 847cc Triple, the term “middleweight” is broader than ever. But don’t forget about bikes like the Honda CB500F, a lightweight, low-cost standard that’s reinvigorated the smaller-displacement part of the segment.
What’s so great about these bikes? The attraction to sit-up machines sans bodywork is this: In real life, sadly, not every road is a yellow-striped serpent sneaking through the hills. So why not be comfortable on your sportbike as you grind out the straight-up-and-down commute?
MV Agusta Brutale 675
It’s pricey, but the MV pegs the cool-o-meter: Single-sided swingarm, quick shifter, etc.
It was love at first sight with the smallest Brutale. Just look at it. Its sensual angularity beckons you, as does its promise of performance.
The riding position is sweet and natural. I felt poised and well-connected to this compact, narrow beauty. Until I twisted the throttle. Low-rpm fueling and response in any of the three riding modes was exceptionally poor.
In the real world, while your bike is fluffing off idle, the guy on the 848 Streetfighter just clicked second gear in a one-handed wheelie about 60 feet ahead. He’d flip you the bird, but he doesn’t have to. This engine rips after its initial hiccup. Power (and sonic glory) from 8000-12,000 rpm is fantastic.
Chassis-wise, the Brutale 675 is awesome, with angels-singing cornering response, a firm-but-not-harsh ride and a light, agile feel that suggests you can do no wrong. In case you do, traction control is there. We’d suggest a rack of Dell’Orto pumpers, but we’re pretty sure the TC wouldn’t work. Sigh.
|MV Agusta Brutale 675||
Triumph Street Triple R
Both Street Triples, R and plain, come with ABS.
Few bikes bridge displacement categories as well as this 675cc Triple-powered naked. As a matter of fact, quite a few of us around the Cycle World offices prefer the Street R to the 1050cc Speed Triple.
It all comes down to balance: The Street Triple has just the right mixture of horsepower (94), light overall weight (393 lb.), great brakes and excellent suspension.
On paper, those numbers may not seem that impressive, but in motion, the Street T delivers unadulterated fun. Around town, nimble steering lets the bike filter through congestion with ease, while on-highway ride quality and wind protection are quite good for a naked. But it’s on a twisty road where the flickable chassis and torquey engine talk to us. The $9999 Street Triple R is definitely one of our all-time favorite bikes, middleweight or not.
|Triumph Street Triple R||
Moto Guzzi V7 Stone
Authenticity is a trait we like in motorcycles, and the Moto Guzzi V7 Stone has it in spades. It’s not trying to be retro; it is what it is, a faithful update on the first V7 of 1967, and it’s built in the same Mandello del Lario factory where Guzzi has been making motorcycles since 1921. What’s more, priced at a reasonable $8390, this simple, no-frills Italian with the trademark air-cooled V-Twin won’t break the bank.
Sure, the injected 744cc powerplant sends only 41 horsepower to the alloy rear wheel and the bike tops out at an underwhelming 100 mph. But the V7 isn’t a numbers bike; rather, it’s a reasonably light everyday runabout blessed with superb style, good low-end torque, a broad seat, decent brakes and a large 5.8-gallon fuel tank. Ride it for fun, not to strafe every apex, and you’ll soon find that its pleasant mechanical nature puts you in a good mood. Indeed, the V7 Stone is one of those bikes that really makes you want to go for a ride, even if you’ve got no particular place to go. And that, in a nutshell, describes the real power of this entry-level Guzzi.
|Moto Guzzi V7 Stone||
It’s not that bad. Really. When I first hopped onto the CB500F from the Triumph Speed Triple R I’d been riding, it felt gutless, ill-suspended and poverty-stricken. Then I remembered to twist the throttle harder—since this is a 471cc Twin, not a 675 Triple—and that 45-horsepower bikes don’t need supersport suspension to get you from point A to point B. Shortly afterward, it occurred to my highly calibrated buttocks that the $5499 Honda is, in fact, considerably more comfy than the $9999 Triumph in the daily grind, where you can only go so fast anyway, and soon I was back to happy clamhood. There’s a counterbalancer in the all-new eight-valve Twin that encourages you to wring the piston rings off it, the six-speed gearbox is perfectly adequate (if not CBR1000RR perfect)—and the twin-piston Nissin caliper up front is excellent and powerful (ABS for $500 more). The harder you flog it, the more the 500F likes it. Cheap thrills are what we’re all about.
Back in black, the SFV650 packs a menacing new look that suits its performance.
Introduced in 2009 as the blue/white Gladius, Suzuki’s 645cc, liquid-cooled V-Twin sport naked has returned to the model lineup with a new name and a good dose of bad-boy attitude. Naked “hooligan” bikes paint a certain image in the mind and the SFV certainly plays to this.
What hasn’t changed is the versatility the SFV offers. Its natural upright ergos, comfy saddle, little engine vibration and linear torque all lend well to daily general use. While the trellis-frame chassis has sporting geometry suited to spirited romps in the twisties, the suspension calibration favors comfort over hardcore apex strafing, with provision for shock spring-preload adjustment only.
Smooth clutch engagement, slick shift action and excellent fuel mapping make the SFV a breeze to operate. Its modest 31.3-inch saddle height and nimble handling make this a viable choice for novice riders, but a bike you won’t soon outgrow. Particularly with its tough new look.
You might say the SFV650 is a shadow of its former self, in a very good way.
|MV Agusta Brutale 675||Triumph Street
|Honda CB500F||Suzuki SFV650|
|DRY WEIGHT||387 lb.||393 lb.||409 lb.||396 lb.||426 lb.|
|WHEELBASE||53.8 in.||55.4 in.||56.6 in.||55.6 in.||57.3 in.|
|SEAT HEIGHT||31.7 in.||32.2 in.||31.4 in.||30.8 in.||31.3 in.|
|FUEL MILEAGE||36 mpg||39 mpg||45 mpg||61 mpg||47 mpg|
|0-60 MPH||2.9 sec.||3.3 sec.||5.3 sec.||4.8 sec.||3.3 sec.|
|1/4-MILE||11.14 sec. @ 120.55 mph||11.41 sec. @ 120.75 mph||14.31 sec. @ 90.55 mph||13.77 sec. @ 93.20 mph||12.11 sec. @ 106.56 mph|
|HORSEPOWER||97.1 hp @ 12,200 rpm||93.8 hp @ 11,890 rpm||40.7 hp @ 6290 rpm||45.0 hp @ 8450 rpm||68.9 hp @ 8600 rpm|
|TORQUE||44.9 ft.-lb. @ 9030 rpm||45.6 ft.-lb. @ 8390 rpm||39.8 ft.-lb. @ 3100 rpm||30.3 ft.-lb. @ 6900 rpm||44.0 ft.-lb. @ 7830 rpm|
|TOP SPEED||139 mph||140 mph||100 mph||106 mph||123 mph|
Aprilia Tuono V4 R
The naked superbike that gives you almost all the outright performance of an RSV4 superbike but with much-increased riding comfort. Incredibly fast and agile, it’s also comfortable. It’s so good, it was last year’s Best Superbike and scored an Honorable Mention this round.
Ducati 848 Streetfighter
The Streetfighter is a better-balanced motorcycle than the discontinued-in-the-U.S. 1098 version, and its 849cc, 11-degree, Testastretta Twin possesses perfect fueling and a broad spread of power. With upright ergos and a nimble chassis, the 848 SF is incredibly fun.
Moto Guzzi Griso 8V SE
You want classic Italian flair? The Griso’s got it, highlighted by Guzzi’s trademark fuel-injected, eight-valve, longitudinal 90-degree V-Twin. With its soul-stirring torque, rock-solid handling and excellent cornering clearance, the comfortable yet sporty Griso is a naked to remember.