Five Reasons to Ride a Naked Bike

Here’s why you should lose the flashy fairings, heated handgrips, and adjustable windscreens.

Until recently, no one wanted to ride a naked bike. Also called “standard” bikes, they were upright-ish, stripped down, raw, and they were the redheaded stepchildren of the motorcycle industry.

Sportbikes, cruisers, ADV bikes—these made up the bulk of production models, and it’s easy to see why. People love gadgetry, which in the motorcycle world manifests as heated handgrips, saddlebags, electronically adjustable windscreens, and flashy fairings. Naked bikes done properly are basically engines on two wheels. But therein lies the beauty—and fun—of a naked bike.

With several manufacturers putting out noteworthy nakeds (we like the BMW R NineTYamaha’s FZ-07 and FZ-09, have high hopes for Honda’s CB300F, and eagerly await the American debut of KTM’s 390 Duke), it’s time to sing the praises of the most basic of street bikes. Below, five reasons you should think about getting one.

1. The price is right

Purchase prices can be appealing, especially to new riders—that aforementioned CB300F will retail for just under $4,000, the Yamaha FZ-07 lists at $6,990, and you can pick up a Ducati Monster 696 for just over $9,000. (Of course, if you feel like dropping money on a naked, the BMW R Nine T will set you back about $14,900.) And less stuff on the bike means fewer things to fix or replace. (Looking at you, fairings.)

2. It’s practical

This is generally not a concept that most people associate with motorcycles. Minivans? Practical. Sporty bikes? Not so much. But there’s a lot to say for a naked bike being a legitimately viable means of transportation. They’re small enough to fit nicely in a normal-size garage, and those of us without garages can park them on the street. They’re also even more fuel-efficient than most motorcycles.

3. Traffic sucks

If you’re an urban or suburban rider, nakeds just seems to flow in congested traffic. Since it’s smaller, it’s easier to split lanes (where that’s legal) and to maneuver down a busy street. Also, the upright seating position gives you a great view of what’s happening ahead.

4. Speed matters

There’s a lot to say about why naked bikes are so fun to ride—they’re lightweight and quick, with a low rake that allows for easy tossing in the corners.

5. Why not?

It’s sort of like riding a surfboard. There’s very little adornment—it’s just you, the board, the leash, and the wave. But the truth is that surfing without a leash is the sport in its purest form. You rely on skill to keep the board under control.

What does that have to do with riding a bike? To me, naked bikes offer riders the distilled essence of street riding. An engine attached to a couple of wheels; no ABS; no traction control; the wind punching you in the chest, gut, and face; nothing else to worry about but the ride itself. There’s a lot to be said for that kind of experience; it’s one that comes with riding a naked bike, and it’s one that every rider should have.

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Photos by BMW