Here are the 15 newest naked bikes you need to know about.
Ultra-exotic Italian bike maker Bimota has long promoted chassis designs without the usual telescopic front fork. The firm's latest attempt at car-like, hub-center steering is a wispy naked model based around an 803cc Ducati V-twin engine. CNC-machined alloy plates bolt to that engine, as do structural carbon tubes that make up the front and rear swingarms.
If a Ducati is just too pedestrian for you, then another Italian bike builder can help out with an exotic streetfighter powered by a Ducati Diavel engine. Bimota's Impeto takes that torquey cruiser motor and bolts it to a trick composite frame of CNC-machined billet aluminum and oval steel tubing. And if you still need more, Bimota is working on a compact supercharger kit for the bike.
BMW is diversifying once again, this time with a 313cc machine aimed at learners and small-bike fans. It makes a claimed 34 horsepower and, for improved agility, the single cylinder is tilted rearward with the head spun 180 degrees and the exhaust port out the rear. ABS is standard equipment.
Here is Ducati's new super-naked to challenge the KTM 1290 Super Duke and the Aprilia Tuono 1100. With 160 horsepower, the 2016 Monster 1200 R is the most powerful naked Ducati ever made. And there's a chassis to match, with fully adjustable Öhlins front and rear suspension, a steering damper, and forged Marchesini wheels to reduce the bike's weight by five pounds, to 397 pounds dry.
Even affordable bikes are getting R&D investment these days. Honda's versatile middleweight standard CB500F got a facelift for 2016, giving the bike a more modern, edgy look. The former, simple cylindrical exhaust canister has been replaced with a modern, sleeker version that's said to give a better sound. The bike gained LED lighting and fork preload adjusters. The sporty, full-fairing R model and X model adventure bikes, also built around basically the same 471cc parallel twin, received similar and welcome updating as well.
Long known as a dirt-bike manufacturer, Husqvarna is expanding its lineup and marking a return to street bikes. While showing off this large-displacement single-cylinder concept bike, the firm announced that two smaller, single-cylinder street bikes are already headed for production. The simple, minimalist design on the 701 is the result of a great effort by designer Maxime Thouvenin, and the major detail is "the split," a thin high-viz diagonal line dividing the front and rear of the motorcycle.
Kawasaki brings another competitor into the U.S. middleweight naked category by importing its four-cylinder Z800 this year. For $8400 you get a fuel-injected, 16-valve, double-overhead-cam, liquid-cooled screamer and standard ABS to slow it down. And it's all wrapped in edgy streetfighter styling.
This year, KTM's long-running Duke benefits from many of the features seen on the brand's big bikes. Riding modes and traction control are optional on the base Duke and come standard on the higher-spec R model, which also has the Bosch cornering ABS able to manage aggressive mid-corner brake application—a first for a bike in this segment. The 2016 model features a redesigned 690cc, single-cylinder LC4 engine, which now boasts 73 horsepower in standard trim and a little more in R-spec.
When you put a 1290 Super Duke and KTM's PowerParts warehouse together, you get this Special Edition R model, with a titanium Akrapovic exhaust, stiffer triple clamps to improve the bike's already precise steering, and highly adjustable brake and clutch levers. Wavy discs, carbon engine and clutch covers, and special seat foam round out the package.
MV Agusta, the small Italian manufacturer that trades on "motorcycle art" has a new interpretation of its middleweight Brutale naked bike. Up front, the headlight is a large, striking elliptical design and fully LED. In back, the seat has its own chassis formed in light alloy. A trio of slash-cut exhaust pipes hugging the rear tire screams three-cylinder.
A Lewis Hamilton / F1 World Champion signature model? Well, AMG, the Mercedes high-performance division, also has a stake in MV Agusta. So, this wild take on the 798cc three-cylinder Dragster features carbon bodywork, a quilted Alcantara saddle, red-anodized spoke wheels, an assortment of Hamilton's panther logos, and his racing number, 44, in several spots.
The circular-headlight SV is back. The first two generations of SV650s were renowned as terrific, affordable all-around bikes – and then Suzuki replaced them with the Gladius and its polarizing name, styling, and Daliesque headlight. Coming later this year, as an early release 2017, is a third generation of SV650, with numerous updates to the engine and chassis, 76 horsepower, a new digital display, and clean naked-bike styling. It's about 20 pounds lighter than the Gladius, too.
With the top-of-the-line Bonnevilles now packing 1200cc, the new entry-level Triumphs have gained new, larger 900cc liquid-cooled engines while still starting at $8700. And that includes modern tech like ABS, traction control, ride-by-wire throttle, and even a USB charging socket underneath all that classic British street bike style.
After Yamaha unveiled its ground-breaking YZF-R1 superbike in 2014, we wondered how long it would take for a naked version to appear. Named the MT-10 it launched at the Milan show as a 2016 model, though not yet confirmed for the U.S. market and not with all of the R1's performance tricks. But with hard, angular lines that culminate at the maniacal face, the MT-10 looks as aggressive as any bike on sale, while promising more street-going comfort to go with the upright riding position.
Triumph's big, bug-eyed naked bikes received much upgrading for this year, starting with all-new, more compact 1050cc three-cylinder motors. The signature single-sided swingarm remains, but now there's a more advanced electronics package with adjustable ABS, traction control, ride-by-wire throttle, and a choice of five riding modes. The upgrade R model boasts Öhlins suspension and a helping of carbon fiber parts.
Ty van Hooydonk is the vice president of communications for the motorcycle industry council. He's a former racer and a veteran motorcycle journalist.