Entering motorcycling, these light and nimble machines can set things straight for you

A motorcycle with an upright riding position, lacking plastic fairings for that narrow lane splitting ability, and lightweight construction for the ease of flickability is what we are looking for folks entering the world of two-wheels.

Providing confidence before they can get on the big guns, these motorcycles are the perfect choice for urban hooligans, making it easier than the rest to move around traffic and obstacles. Small mistakes on these machines could be classified as affordable and will be a perfect linear learning curve onto becoming a responsible motorcyclist.

Yamaha MT-03

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YAMAHA MT-03
MSRP: $4,599

That baby is Yamaha’s latest new addition to their naked lineup, ready to take on new riders into this segment. This is a stripped-down version of the YZF-R3 machine and runs on the similar liquid-cooled 321cc parallel-twin with 44 hp and 20 lb-ft of peak torque. The MT gets an upright riding position, outfitted with taller tubular bars rather than the R3’s clip-ons, LED lighting, LCD instrumentation, and more.

It carries over the same diamond-type tubular steel frame as the R3 but gets a KYB 37mm inverted fork and cast-aluminum triple clamp give the bike both a sportier look and feel. A two-pot, piston-and-anvil caliper bites a single, 298 mm front disc, and a one-pot caliper binds the 220 mm rear disc. ABS is standard on the MT-03. MSRP: $4,599.

BMW G310R

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BMW G310R
MSRP: $4,845

Although it is the smallest bike from BMW, when it comes to performance, it is anything but small. Perfect for a handful of folks new to motorcycles, it is a rocket trainer for the experienced purists and is sure hell lot of fun for everyone riding on this machine around town. This engine will deliver 34 bhp at 9,500 rpm, with a 10,500 rpm limiter, and a stated maximum torque of 21 lb-ft at 7,500 rpm.

The suspension is well-calibrated and uses the KYB 41 mm inverted forks and a mono-shock. 5-spoke alloy wheels wearing 110/70R17 and 150/60R17 tire keeps un-sprung weight down at the axles. Stopping this is by ByBre (Brembo’s Indian subsidiary) 300mm single disc front brake with radially bolted 4-piston fixed caliper and 240mm rear disc brake with a 2-piston floating caliper. In-house dual-channel ABS is a standard feature. This baby BMW is priced starting at $4,845 (including ABS).

Honda CB300R

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HONDA CB300R
MSRP: $4,949

After the success of their liter CB1000R Neo-Café, Honda North America gave us their baby naked, the CB300R. Like the CB1000R, it showcases a whole new flavor of Honda, and it looks brutishly handsome with the sharp looks of a naked sports machine and that retro flair of a modern café-racer. Powering it will be an all-new liquid-cooled, 286cc, single-cylinder engine bolted onto the tubular pressed-steel frame.

The CB300R, although comes in as an entry point to the motorcycling segment, gets kitted up with high specification 41mm USD forks, radial-mount 4-piston front brake calipers and several other features more usually found on much larger machines.LCD instrument display, LED lighting and IMU-based ABS are also in play here. It will be priced at $4,949 MSRP, with a $300 premium for those who like the notion of ABS.

KTM Duke 390

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KTM DUKE 390
MSRP: $5,299

It not only gets sharper styling but also an additional ride by wire throttle and a new exhaust system. The first in segment TFT instrument cluster and LED headlight is swanky and opens up a lot more user experience for you to go through. It will continue with the same 373cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder engine which is capable of producing about 44 bhp @ 9,000 and 26.5 lb-ft of torque @ 7,000 rpm.

At the front, the Duke comes fitted with open cartridge adjustable 43mm inverted hydraulic telescopic forks, while at the rear, it comes with a fully adjustable hydraulic mono-shock with rear aluminum swingarm, both of which are sourced from WP. In development with Brembo, KTM has developed a powerful and excellently adjustable brake system. The pads are now sintered, and at the front, the bike gets a 320 mm disc and a 230 mm unit at the rear. The ABS is made by Bosch and is switchable. KTM USA has raised the asking price of the Duke 390 to $5,299, a $300 upwards from the previous edition.

Husqvarna Vitpilen 401

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HUSQVARNA VITPILEN 401
MSRP: $6,299
Source: Image Source: husqvarna-motorcycles.com, Photographer: R. Schedl

Designed to strike, these machines have pure and progressive styling cues from the future. They get sleek and aggressive bodywork forming clean lines and carries a unique single element body panel. The 401s’ have their internal organs and the bone structure similar to the KTM Duke 390s’ with 43.5 hp and 26 lb-ft of torque.

WP suspension products float the Vitpilen front and rear with a pair of 43 mm USD forks and a coil-over monoshock that give up 5.6 and 5.9 inches of travel, respectively. A single 320 mm disc and four-piston, ByBre caliper hauls down the front wheel with a 230 mm disc and single-pot caliper to slow the rear. Bosch supplies the safety equipment with a two-channel ABS system ready to intervene when a wheel-speed differential due to over braking/poor traction is detected. MSRP on the Husqvarna Vitpilen 401 is $6,299.

Kawasaki Z400

Top Speed Top Six Naked Streetfighters to consider for beginners Exterior
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KAWASAKI Z400
MSRP: $4,799

The 400 is sportier, more aggressive, and more fun to ride than the lesser cubed Ninja 300 it replaces. This made the Z400 as the brand’s entry-level super naked having greater performance, better-structured chassis, better features, more rider aids, and top-quality fit and finish compared to the Z300 it replaced. It is also much lighter. The newly built 399cc powerplant will pump out 45 hp of peak power and gets a new Assist & Slipper clutch.

Like the Ninja 400, the naked version will also run on 41mm forks to give the rider precise feel and action. The bike comes equipped with the latest ABS unit from Nissin, clamping down on a 310mm semi-floating disc (the largest in its class). Adding to the lightweight program will be the 5-spoke wheels, which give improved lateral rigidity and cornering stability. The Z400 will also get fatter rear rubber with 150/60R17 tire ratings. MSRP: $4,799.

Sagar Patil
Motorcycle industry expert since 1997! - sagar@topspeed.com
Over the years, a deeper conscience of machines moving body and soul has given him a crisp grasp over the concepts of motorcycling. A sucker for details and common sense, he loves getting his hands dirty every once in a while. His love affair with motorcycles ushers in the specialist skillset making Sagar our go-to expert for everything on two-wheels.  Read More
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