Top Naked Streetfighter Motorcycles
Stripped of bodywork and power, can these naked streetfighter bikes be as much fun as out-and-out sports bikes? Here’s a list of top 10 naked streetfightersby Harry Fisher, on
At one point in history, all motorbikes were naked, but that all changed as the 1980s came around. Putting an aerodynamic fairing on was a good way of getting more performance without the costly development of the engine. Fast forward to the 2000s, and manufacturers are busy taking the fairings off their superbikes to create naked streetfighter models, which are much more practical and suitable for everyday use, while being just as dynamically impressive. This is our list of the top ten naked streetfighters available in 2022.
Triumph Speed Triple - 155mph
The odd-one-out in this list because it is a model in its own right and not a naked version of a faired superbike. Not that it matters as it is so good. It is also the slowest, but when a bike is this good, top speed is largely irrelevant
Updated for 2022 to 1200RS specification, it adheres to the usual Triumph trait of being measurably better in every department than the outgoing model, the Speed Triple R 1050. The Triumph Speed Triple 1200RS might lack the light-the-blue-touchpaper-and-stand-well-back nature of the Streetfighter V4 or KTM 1290 Super Duke R but what it does is combine the best elements of many of the bikes on this list into one brilliant package.
Beautifully made, with a superlative chassis and stunning triple-cylinder engine, all tied into a whole cohesive package with excellent electronics and near-perfect chassis. Great riding position and comfort and such flexibility combined with a stunningly linear urge from the engine. Triumph resisted the temptation to play in the top speed playground alongside KTM and Ducati, concentrating instead on ride-ability. It worked. Triumph was clever enough to realize that top speed is academic and concentrated on real-world performance. As superb on track as it is on the road.
|Top Speed||155 mph|
Ducati Monster 1200 S - 158mph
Perhaps a little out-gunned in this company, but the Ducati Monster 1200 S makes, in the latest 1200 S guise, a good case for being included. With 145bhp, it matches the Honda CBR1000R and the traditional trellis frame, Ohlins suspension and Brembo brake setup provide plenty of dynamic, safe, and fun behavior.
The fact that it isn’t a stripped-down superbike is in its favor, just like the Triumph. Unlike the Triumph, however, the Monster doesn’t pretend to be a track day expert and neither is it as frantic or nerve-shredding as any of the others.
If anything, the Monster 1200S is civilized, classy, and calm, with typical good looks and build quality, something that Ducati has clearly worked hard on in recent years. Some might call it an old man’s V4 Streetfighter but the only response to that is: we all get old but not all of us want to stop riding. It’s as simple as that.
|Top Speed||158 mph|
Yamaha MT-10 - 160mph
Brutal styling and performance are hallmarks of the styling were divisive, and the chassis dynamics were deemed to be a little underwhelming, not coming up to the promise of the engine. All that changed with the SP version which gained semi-active suspension that sharpened up the handling. The ergonomics were the right side of comfortable for such a hardcore machine, so much so that Yamaha saw fit to create a ‘touring’ version, complete with panniers and screen!
With the Streetfighter concept being largely the preserve of European manufacturers, the MT-10 was Japan’s first entry into the hyper-naked class and matched the Europeans right out of the box, while undercutting them on price.
The new-for-2022 version improves the inline four-cylinder engine’s mid-range performance and the electronics are second-to-none. The cross-plane crankshaft gives the most intoxicating and gruff howl and anyone who thinks that 164bhp is not enough really needs a dose of reality injected into their bloodstream.
|Top Speed||160 mph|
BMW S1000R - 161mph
While the S1000RR superbike took the fight directly to its rivals with stunning success, the S1000R hasn’t been so successful. Where you’d expect the naked version of a superbike to have a slightly more irreverent, playful side to its nature, the BMW S1000R is just as Teutonically efficient as its faired sibling.
Not that that’s a bad thing: the S1000R is still a devastatingly effective sports bike, with 165 bhp on tap via a full suite of configurable electronics, including adjustable engine braking control. Front-end styling that was as awkward as on the RR has given way to a single headlight that somehow manages to be completely bland in this company.
So, great engine, brilliant dynamically, easy to live with and comfortable, but just lacks personality.
|Top Speed||161 mph|
|Price||$14,545 (Base), $18,345 (M-series)|
Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory - 165mph
It might not be as common as the KTM, Ducati, or Triumph, but the Tuono V4 has long been considered one of the very best naked streetfighters. Right from the get-go, it seemed as if Aprilia had found the perfect balance between outright speed and chassis behavior, giving the Tuono V4 the best, most accessible real-world performance of any of the super nakeds.
It might be getting a little long in the tooth but there can be no doubt that it is very definitely an experience riding the V4: it sounds incredible, goes like stink, and has super-sharp handling, while the Factory tag adds semi-active suspension and other goodies that have trickled down from Aprilia’s MotoGP effort, which means class-leading electronics and top-line components.
The Tuono V4 1100 factory is widely regarded as the most impressive sports bike money can buy and that is some reputation to live up to but the Aprilia has got what it takes, including exclusivity. It simply ticks every box you might need to tick.
|Top Speed||165 mph|
KTM 1290 Super Duke R - 170mph
The bonkers one! This is the bike for which the phrase ‘hyper naked’ was coined. Of course, that’s all hyperbole, but it has come to describe a certain section of the naked streetfighter market.
Launched in 2013 with ‘only’ 160bhp, it has since been upgraded to 180bhp, and a new frame and suspension to make it what many consider to be the ultimate track weapon. But, it’s much more than just a one-trick pony. The 1290 Super Duke R is aggressive in its styling and power delivery but will also happily trickle around town with a lovely burbling soundtrack and lack of snatch from the throttle.
That’s such a waste of its abilities, however. The KTM is all about its explosive performance and razor-sharp handling, helped by its lightweight. The latest generation has had some of the sharp edges rounded off a little and is much more refined but it still remains a benchmark machine. Finish tends to be a bit plasticky and they’re not known to be the most reliable bike out of the box.
Ducati V4 Streetfighter - 175mph
Insanity on two wheels! 205bhp from the 1,103cc V-4 engine as used in the Panigale V4 superbike. The V4 Streetfighter replaces the 2009 Streetfighter 1100 with its V-twin engine and, despite the huge power hike, it’s a much more civilized machine while still being an absolute monster (pun intended!)
Brilliant dynamically and, thanks to a longer swingarm than the Panigale V4 donor bike, stable and, dare we say, practical? Electronics are incredible and endow the bike with multiple characters, depending on your mood/skill level.
The engine is incredible, with a screaming redline nothing like the V-twin Ducatis of old, but also docile at low speeds thanks to improved low-RPM torque. The whole machine is very Jekyll and Hyde - refined yet insanely fast and dynamic.
Despite being Italian, not the most beautiful of motorcycles which at least matches the rest of the bikes on this list, none of which are known for their voluptuous beauty. The price is a bit eye-watering, but it is an awful lot of motorcycle for your money. Is it twice the bike than, say, the MT-10, though?
|Top Speed||175 mph|
Honda CBR1000R - 175mph
Honda has traditionally been so sensible about building bikes, despite some of the insane ideas, that they have struggled to enter fully into the madcap world of the naked streetfighter.
Despite being fast, the CBR1000R has always flown under the radar and you get the feeling that Honda only produced it to keep up with its rival manufacturers rather than believing it was a good idea.
More than the other manufacturers, Honda really de-tuned the Fireblade engine for the CBR1000R when it was introduced in 2008. 130bhp was deemed a little weak, and for the 2021 update, power was upped to a still-inadequate (in this company) 143bhp. The engine is still typically Japanese, however: ultra smooth and lacking any real character. The bike is good, but it just doesn’t set the heart racing as it should.
In the looks department, it is just all so safe and bland and this is matched by the performance, which is relatively lacking in punch or excitement.
However - and this might be the most important factor for a lot of owners - it’s very easy to ride well, being refined and forgiving. It’s beautifully put together and you just know it’s never, ever going to let you down. In any real-world situation, it’s plenty fast enough and the chassis copes extremely well with the power. It’s just that the Honda doesn’t shout about its abilities or, rather, shout loud enough in this company!
|Top Speed||175 mph|
Kawasaki Z H2 - 176mph
Taking the fairing off the supercharged H2 should have created the most insane naked streetfighter out there, with a personality to match; and, it did.
Whereas the H2 is more a sports tourer than an out-and-out superbike, the Z H2 has the madness that many wanted the H2 to possess. Aggressive styling with a soundtrack to match, the supercharged engine just blasts it towards the horizon, stretching arms and credulity along the way. But, it’s also incredibly smooth and user-friendly, as at-ease at town speeds as it is at warp speed on the open road.
While perhaps not as track friendly as some rivals and the styling, like all the bikes here, is divisive, it is tempting to think of the Z H2 as an older rider’s bike: one that appreciates comfortable ergonomics and a spacious riding position. But, with 197bhp available and a price tag of $18,000, it’s an awful lot of bang for your buck.
|Top Speed||175 mph|
MV Agusta Brutale 1000 - 180mph
Italian exotic that is even more exclusive than the Ducati or the Aprilia. MV’s history is checkered, especially in recent decades but new ownership seems to be bringing stability.
The Brutale 1000RR is aptly named - the styling is brutal but not without its beauty and elegance. That brutality is, however, translated to the riding position which is the most ‘superbike’ of all the nakeds on this list. MV really has simply taken the fairing off a superbike and left the rest of the bike alone! It’s more cafe racer than sit-up and beg super naked.
Huge power that matches the Ducati V4 Streetfighter but the riding position is so extreme that you could only ever get the best of it at the track. However, with a price tag such as MV is asking, it is unlikely that many owners will risk taking it anywhere near one.
Look past the price and the paintwork lovingly applied over the extravagant styling, and this is a very capable motorcycle: involving, raw, angry, and will turn heads like no other. There’s very little low-down grunt so you’ll need to rev its heart out but when it sounds this good, that’s not really a problem! Be prepared for the price and running costs.
|Top Speed||180 mph|
|Price||$33,800 (base), Serie Oro: $37,798, Rush: $47,300|
History of Naked Streetfighter Motorcycles
There was a time when every motorcycle was naked: fairings did exist but they were after-market purchases and the first attempts at rider weather protection from the factories met with limited success as they were just too radical for the conservative buying public.
Gradually, fairings became the norm as motorcycle manufacturers realized the rather obvious - that a fairing not only protected the rider but also made the bike much more aerodynamically efficient, in effect giving them a free speed advantage.
There were many bikes that were still sold without fairings, of course, but it wouldn’t be until the 2000s that the idea of a naked performance bike - effectively, a naked version of a previously faired sports bike - would gain traction.
If you think about it, it was a brilliant idea: you’re getting two bikes for the price of one, in terms of development costs. Ironically, having gone to the trouble and expense of designing a fairing, manufacturers found that there was a ready market for the bike without one! You just can’t win sometimes.
The ‘Streetfighter’ is almost the modern equivalent of the 1960s cafe racer, where the owner would strip it down and modify his bike in his garage to re-purpose his machine. In the 1960s, it was to build a race replica, and in the 2010s it might have been to hide accident damage, where the fairing had suffered the most. Taking it off was much cheaper than replacing it, and, wasn’t the bike the same underneath? Thus a new style was born.
Just as cafe racers have moved from the home garage to the manufacturer, so have naked Streefighters, with every manufacturer with a faired sports bike having a naked version in the catalog.
Here’s our top ten list of the best naked street fighters available in 2022. Of course, ‘best’ is subjective, and, to be honest, they’re all good, so we’ve ranked them in order of top speeds, which we thought was appropriate: