01 Sep Starter naked motorcycles(Last Updated On: September 12, 2017)
The term ‘naked motorcycle’ covers a lot of different types of bikes that only really have one thing in common: they all come without fairing. For newer riders, who tend to drop their bike a few times in the first years of riding this is definitely something to look out for. A bit of scratch on the engine or having paint chipped off from the chassis is always better than a cracked fairing (not to mention the price of new fairing plastics). Many of the motorcycles listed here come in a supersport variant as well (same engine, same dimensions but different style), check out our beginner sportbike guide. Another thing to consider when deciding between faired vs unfaired models is high speed handling. At highway speeds having fairing significantly reduces wind drag compared to naked bikes. This also means the sense of speed you’d have on a naked just isn’t there, which is a considerable risk factor.
We have some very different configurations in the naked lineup, anything from a parallel 250 to a single 660cc engine is listed here. Their common quality? They’re all great starter motorcycles.
KTM Duke 390
Since its first debut in 2013 we’ve seen 2 generations of the Duke 390 with the second one coming out in 2017. Aside from visual elements and the updated LED info screen not much else has changed from a technical perspective. The bike features a punchy, single cylinder 373 cc engine making around 45 hp. For years it has been one of the most popular and critically acclaimed small-displacement bikes on the market. Although being obviously outpowered by 600s, its lightweight chassis and excellent power-to-weight ratio makes for an enjoyable, thrilling little machine. Although not aimed to be a commuter, the Duke is excellent in navigating city traffic. Due to its size it isn’t the best options for taller riders. The bike is manufactured in KTM’s Indian facility, and gets all the extras that are considered premium for a beginner bike, like stock ABS, Bybre (Brembo) brakes, adjustable levers, etc.
Honda’s answer to the A2 licence regulations was the CB500 line introduced in 2013. They are all powered by the same 471cc twin engine that is making 47 hp more comfortably than other single cylinders in the segment. In terms of economy/efficiency and level of enjoyment, the CB500F is the best of both worlds. With a claimed fuel consumption of 3.3 l/100km (or 71 mpg) and the all-around reliability of a Honda motorcycle it puts the owner at a peace of mind.
Beginners motorcycles have never been present in BMW’s lineup, but with the new 2017 models, that has come to a change. The newly released 310R and its cross-touring variant, the G310GS, are both serious contenders in the starter bike segment. Powered by a single cylinder 313cc engine making 34 hp the new BMWs are somewhat under the power limit set by the A2 licence restrictions as well as some other competitors. Based on looks alone, the 310R takes after its bigger brother, the S1000R. Everything about this bike from the 31 inch seat height to the friendly power delivery is designed to suit new riders. ABS is standard and it also features a full LCD dash with gear indicator, trip functions and other handy extras that a full sized BMW would.
You may remember the 660cc naked/supermoto/street bike hybrid from 2006 that was the first generation of the MT-03. Years later, Yamaha decided to release a new motorcycle under the same name as the smallest member of their naked lineup. Aside from the name however, the 2016 MT has not much in common with the old one. With both engine and chassis size significantly reduced it is now a motorcycle clearly aimed at beginners. Making 42 peak hp at 11,000 RPM it falls in line with the higher powered bikes in our list.
Consider this the perfectly scaled-down version of Kawasaki’s top end supernaked, the Z1000. Although the power figures are behind what some other bikes in this category achieved (39 hp), the Z300 offers a cohesive package and the feel and looks of a proper sport bike. The 296cc twin engine lacks power down low, but revs all the way up to 13,000 RPMs, where it really comes alive. Being as small and agile as it is, there’s no doubt, that city roads is where the Kawasaki excels at. For longer rides however there are better options.
Suzuki Inazuma 250
Suzuki’s 250cc parallel twin motorcycle does not align with the rest of the motorcycles listed here. Making only 24 horses the Inazuma falls way under the rest of the bikes. And although peak hp is only a number, Suzuki designed this machine with different principles in mind. For all intents and purposes the Inazuma 250 is a workhorse. An ideal choice for someone looking for a low maintenance, economical commuter rather than a fun way to spend weekends.
In a lot of ways, the NC700 (or the entire NC series for that matter) shares a lot with the Inazuma 250. The main purpose of this one is also being an economical commuter, only in a much larger size. With a 700cc engine (coming from the 1.4l Honda Civic) producing 47 hp it is obviously not a bike aimed high performance. However, we can expect excellent lifetime and great long term reliability. The NC700 is by far the heaviest and most planted bike with a very low centre of gravity.