Beasts, Not Beauties: 2014 Big-Bore Naked-Bike Comparison Test

Five of the top big-bore naked bikes bare all in this year’s clash for class supremacy - Aprilia Tuono V4R ABS, BMW S 1000 R, Ducati Monster 1200 S, Kawasaki Z1000 ABS and KTM Super Duke R

2014 big-bore naked-bike comparison test

Charisma generally refers to a person with a special magnetic charm or appeal. But what underlying qualities render a bike charismatic? Does charisma come from an irresistible torque curve, polarizing looks, flexible chassis, or from a combination of these attributes? Better yet, when parked alongside a group of bikes that are nearly identical in terms of performance and design, can one bike be charismatic enough to be considered “the best”? This month we pooled five new-or-updatedfor- 2014 big-bore naked bikes and ventured onto the Southern California roadways to find out which of the five beasts—not beauties— has the wherewithal to answer that question with a definitive “yes!”

“Wait, go back. Did you say there were only five bikes?”

To answer this and the other questions already tormenting you: Yes, there are just five bikes in this comparison. No, there's no MV Agusta Brutale 1090, Triumph Speed Triple R, or Honda CB1000R, three legitimate nakedbike offerings; and yes, we did consider them. Where are they, and why weren't they invited to this literbikes-bare-all party? To answer: MV Agusta's US press fleet was not registered for street use in 2014, and, well, we weren't about to send a Brutale 1090 ABS to impound nor did we have plans to head to the racetrack. More heavily missed are the Triumph Speed Triple R, which primarily lost parts during its latest makeover—forged aluminum wheels (side note, it did gain some fairings, woo!)—and the Honda CB1000R, which received zero updates in 2014. What we have here are the five bikes that are either brand new or updated in a way that'd increase around-town appeal.

But which of those five candidates is best? Read the capsule for each bike to find out:

An Expensive but Charismatic Champ
Let us be clear, the KTM Super Duke R isn't for everyone. At $16,999 it's roughly $2,000 more expensive than the less charismatic yet exceptionally good BMW S 1000 R. And depending on where you live, it could be a nightmare to find a dealer capable of keeping up with your parts request—let alone a dealer with a Super Duke R on the showroom floor. If you can't accept either of these drawbacks or can't bring yourself to spend the money, go and buy the BMW. You'll love it just as much as you love the money in your pocket.

But what about those who are willing to overlook the drawbacks associated with the mighty Duke? Well, let’s just say you won’t be left disappointed. This is, without question, the one bike with enough charisma to be called “the best.”


Age: 24
Height: 6'3"
KTM's Super Duke R is the best bike in this test. I don't doubt that. Nevertheless, I'd buy the Tuono. Yeah, it might be just as difficult to find a reliable Aprilia dealer as it is to find a KTM dealer, but I tend to forget about that or any of the Tuono's other shortcomings (suspension and brakes) once that thing comes to life. The V4 R is one of the most entertaining bikes I've ever ridden, a result of its power characteristics and sound, and I simply can't help but to laugh whenever I'm on that bike and turn the throttle to the stop. And that's what riding a big-bore naked bike is all about, right?

Age: 43
Height: 5'4"
Choosing a winner from these five big-bore naked machines is a tough job. But if it were up to me, I would have a brand-new KTM 1290 Super Duke R sitting in my garage right now. The combination of an ultra-torquey motor, quick steering, excellent brakes, and aggressive good looks make it the one I would want to own. The Aprilia Tuono V4 R has an incredible motor and super-advanced electronics package, but the lack of initial bite from the front brakes and harsh suspension hold it back from being my top pick.

Age: 70
Height: 6'1"
All these bikes are really good, but I'd seriously consider buying the Duke before anything else. It just hauls ass, and I like that. To be honest, I don't exactly remember how good it was in the corners, but that's because all I remember is wanting to get on the gas and it never doing anything to make me feel uncomfortable, so that's good. The Super Duke looks the best too. It's not a cookie-cutter motorcycle. It stands out. The Kawasaki felt a little heavy in the front, the BMW felt like it steered heavy, and the Ducati's footpegs are enough reason for me not to buy it.

Age: 53
Height: 5'8"
Yes, the Aprilia's electronics are more transparent than the KTM and BMW, and the BMW's DDC suspension works better on the street than either the Tuono V4 or KTM. But the disappointing brakes, plank of a seat, harsh suspension, and frustratingly nonintuitive electronics navigation of the Aprilia and the comparatively soft midrange power of the S 1000 R were too much a deal breaker for me. The 1290 Super Duke R simply puts all the attributes that you'd want in a bike like this in a package that is supremely rowdy yet easy (and most of all fun) to ride. And that makes it worth the price in my book.

Age: 48
Height: 6'0"
When riding these bikes, I think to myself, what happened to just getting on a bike and your only option was to ride it? I always thought of naked bikes as old-school, run-of-the-mill commuting bikes—no scrolling through ABS options, wheelie control settings, power modes, and electronic suspension. Then I reluctantly tried said options and boom, suddenly options are the best thing ever! And while my top two picks, the Aprilia and the BMW, have plenty of options and while all bikes put up a good fight, my 48-year-old body chose the BMW, for comfort, speed, and, yes, options.


Bike 2014 Aprilia Tuono V4 R ABS 2014 BMW S 1000 R 2014 Ducati Monster 1200 S 2014 Kawasaki Z1000 ABS 2014 KTM Super Duke R
MSRP $14,499 $13,150 ($14,950 as tested) $15,995 $11,999 $16,999
Type Liquid-cooled, DOHC V-4, 4 valves/cyl. Liquid-cooled, DOHC inline-four, 4 valves/cyl. Liquid-cooled, DOHC V-twin, 4 valves/cyl. Liquid-cooled, DOHC inline-four, 4 valves/cyl. Liquid-cooled, DOHC V-twin, 4 valves/cyl.
Displacement 999cc 999cc 1198cc 1049cc 1301cc
Bore x stroke 78.0 x 52.3mm 80.0 x 49.7mm 106.0 x 67.9mm 77.0 x 56.0mm 108.0 x 71.0mm
Compression ratio 13.0:1 12.0:1 12.5:1 11.8:1 13.2:1
Induction Weber Marelli EFI, 48mm throttle bodies, dual injectors/cyl. BMS-X EFI, single-valve 48mm throttle bodies, dual injectors/cyl. Mikuni EFI, 53mm throttle bodies, dual injectors/cyl. Keihin DFI, 38mm throttle bodies, single injector/cyl. Keihin DFI, 56mm throttle bodies, single injector/cyl.
Front suspension 43mm Sachs fork adjustable for spring preload, compression, rebound damping, 4.7 in. travel 46mm Sachs fork adjustable for spring preload with DDC semi-active suspension control, NA in. travel 48mm Öhlins fork adjustable for spring preload, compression, rebound damping, 5.1 in. travel 41mm Showa fork adjustable for spring preload, compression, rebound damping, 4.7 in. travel 48mm WP fork adjustable for compression, rebound damping, 4.9 in. travel
Rear suspension Sachs shock adjustable for spring preload, compression, rebound damping, 5.1 in. travel Sachs shock adjustable for spring preload with DDC semi-active suspension control, NA in. travel Öhlins shock adjustable for spring preload, compression, rebound damping, 6.0 in. travel Showa shock adjustable for spring preload, rebound damping, 4.8 in. travel WP shock adjustable for spring preload, compression, rebound damping, 6.1 in. travel
Front tire 120/70ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa 120/70ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II 120/70ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II 120/70ZR-17 Dunlop Sportmax D214 120/70ZR-17 Dunlop SportSmart2
Rear tire 190/55ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa 190/55ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II 190/55ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II 190/50ZR-17 Dunlop Sportmax D214 190/55ZR-17 Dunlop SportSmart2
Rake/trail 25.0°/4.2 in. (107mm) 24.6°/3.9 in. (99mm) 24.3°/3.7 in. (94mm) 24.5°/4.0 in. (102mm) 24.9°/4.2 in. (107mm)
Wheelbase 56.9 in. (1445mm) 56.7 in. (1440mm) 59.5 in. (1511mm) 56.5 in. (1435mm) 58.3 in. (1481mm)
Seat height 32.9 in. (836mm) 32.0 in. (813mm) 30.9–31.9 in. (785–810mm) 32.1 in. (815mm) 32.9 in. (836mm)
Fuel capacity 3.9 gal. (14.8L) 4.6 gal. (17.4L) 4.6 gal. (17.4L) 4.5 gal. (17.0L) 4.8 gal. (18.2L)
Weight 470 lb. (213kg) wet; 446 lb. (202kg) dry 461 lb. (209kg) wet; 433 lb. (196kg) dry 475 lb. (216kg) wet; 447 lb. (203kg) dry 491 lb. (223kg) wet; 464 lb. (211kg) dry 472 lb. (214kg) wet; 443 lb. (201kg) dry
Fuel consumption 28–37 mpg, 32 mpg avg. 32–37 mpg, 34 mpg avg. 34–43 mpg, 37 mpg avg. 35–41 mpg, 39 mpg avg. 28–39 mpg, 35 mpg avg.
Quarter-mile 10.40 sec. @ 137.4 mph 10.34 sec. @ 138.4 mph 10.48 sec. @ 132.8 mph 10.76 sec. @ 126.1 mph 10.56 sec. @ 133.7 mph
Roll-ons 60–80 mph/2.76 sec.; 80–100 mph/3.34 sec. 60–80 mph/2.45 sec.; 80–100 mph/2.65 sec. 60–80 mph/2.76 sec.; 80–100 mph/3.24 sec. 60–80 mph/2.58 sec.; 80–100 mph/2.82 sec. 60–80 mph/2.73 sec.; 80–100 mph/3.28 sec.

Related articles: