Entering the world of motorcycling can be fun and exciting but also overwhelming, especially when looking for the perfect bike to start your journey.
Naked motorcycles, also known as Streetfighter or street motorcycles, are an excellent choice for beginners because they offer a more upright riding position, versatile performance, and a stylish minimalist appearance.
As a beginner, you may be wondering which naked bikes would provide the perfect balance between accessibility, performance, and affordability. There’s a wide range of options available, from the compact Yamaha MT-03 to the powerful, yet approachable KTM 390 Duke.
I’ve put together below some of the best naked bikes for beginners like yourself to hopefully help you navigate the market and give you some pointers to ensure you get the best motorcycle for your needs and particular riding ability.
Understanding Naked Motorcycles for Beginners
Naked Bikes vs Sports Bikes
Naked motorcycles are a great choice for beginner and intermediate riders. They typically have less bodywork and fairings compared to sports bikes, which makes them more affordable and easier to maintain.
In terms of performance, naked bikes usually have a more relaxed power delivery and a more forgiving nature, making them friendlier for new riders when compared to their sports bike counterparts.
That doesn’t mean to say that naked bikes are just for beginners. Many of the top sport bikes produce a naked version for those who want the power without the uncomfortable ride. Counted amongst the absolute bonkers naked bikes are the Ducati Streetfighter V4 S, one of the best Ducati bikes of the last 60 years and the MV Agusta Brutale 1000 RR, both of which produce over 200hp and should be left to the most experienced riders only.
Upright Riding Position
One of the main advantages of naked bikes for beginners is their upright riding position. This comfortable and natural posture allows you to have better visibility and control over your motorcycle.
An upright riding position also eases the strain on your wrists and back, reducing fatigue and giving you a more enjoyable riding experience.
Lightweight and Practical Design
Naked motorcycles typically have a lightweight and practical design, which makes them easier to maneuver and handle, especially for novice riders. The lightweight nature of these bikes often results in better fuel efficiency and improved handling.
Now, when I say lightweight I mean compared to a touring motorcycle or any Harley Davidson bike built in the last 50 years. As a general rule, the smaller the CC engine size, the lighter it will be. The Yamaha MT-07 bike weighs 406lb while its smaller sibling the MT-03 weighs in at 373lbs.
A 33lb difference is not much but for females or young riders buying their first motorcycle it could be the difference between an hilariously fun ride and being put off biking for life.
A practical design also means that they have accessible, user-friendly components, making maintenance tasks simpler for you.
Some popular beginner-friendly naked bikes include the Yamaha MT-07, Suzuki SV650, and Kawasaki Z400. These motorcycles offer a good balance of power, lightweight design, and comfortable riding position, making them ideal for anyone new to the exciting world of motorcycling.
Top Naked Bikes for Beginners
Yamaha MT Series
The Yamaha MT Series includes some of the best naked motorcycles available including a couple suitable for beginners, the best selling middleweight naked Yamaha MT-07 and the smaller Yamaha MT-03.
With excellent handling and a comfortable chassis, these bikes make it easy for you to find your footing in the world of motorcycling.
The MT-07’s 70 horsepower and the MT-03’s 321cc engine are manageable for new riders, making them accessible options for those just starting.
Kawasaki Z400 ABS
If you’re looking for a bike with a mean and moody look, the Kawasaki Z400 is a great choice. Offering an aggressive design and a 399cc parallel-twin engine, this bike gives you ample power and torque while managing to remain one of the best naked bikes for beginners.
It’s street focused with a lightweight chassis ensuring easy maneuverability, perfect for navigating through the city streets.
If you love the Z400’s aggressive naked looks but looking for your first big naked then the bigger Kawasaki Z650 could be for you.
Smooth yet strong power is available at the twist of your wrist, however, the bikes tuning means that it inspires confident connected handling for riders making the Z650 a great first bigger bike.Emily
Honda CB Series
Honda’s CB Series is known for its user-friendly naked bikes that cater to riders of all levels. With options like the Honda CB300R and CB500F, you’ll be able to find a bike that suits your preferences in terms of power and handling.
Whether you’re a complete beginner or have some experience under your belt, these bikes are designed to be forgiving and enjoyable to ride.
The Suzuki SV650 is a reliable naked bike perfect for both beginners and as well as older riders looking for for something more practical and a bit easier on the back and wrists.
Its 645cc V-twin engine offers smooth power delivery and torque across the rev range, making it an excellent choice for riders looking for a well-rounded motorcycle. The comfortable seat, rider position, smooth throttle and lightweight build make it a firm favorite with motorcycle training schools.
If you prefer a retro styled naked motorcycle the Yamaha XSR700 is a versatile and approachable motorcycle that is well-suited for novice riders. It is a bike that is designed to be easy to ride and control, making it an excellent choice for those who are relatively new to motorcycling.
One of the key features of the XSR700 is its lightweight and nimble chassis. This makes it easy to maneuver in traffic and around tight corners, which can be especially helpful for novice riders who are still learning how to handle a motorcycle.
Additionally, the XSR700 has a low seat height, which makes it easy for riders to put their feet down and maintain balance at stops.
The XSR700 is also equipped with a range of features that are designed to enhance rider comfort and safety. These include adjustable suspension, a comfortable seat, and advanced braking systems.
The bike also has a smooth and responsive engine that provides plenty of power without being overwhelming for novice riders.
Another retro naked bike option is the Kawasaki Z650RS which is unashamedly a throwback to the original Kawasaki KZ650 of the 1970’s.
With its agreeable ergonomics, lightweight chassis, and the same friendly motor as the Z650 it makes an ideal middleweight for those stepping up to a bigger bike.
The Z650R is plenty feisty having the Z650 but in a friendly manner, with a motor that has a sporting characteristic that welcomes a strong hand.Cycle News
Overall, the Z650RS is a good option for novice riders due to its manageable size, approachable power delivery, and easy-to-ride nature.
KTM Duke Series
KTM makes the legendary Duke Series, an exciting range of naked motorcycles and a couple of them are suitable for beginners, one of them being the KTM 390 Duke. This lightweight bike is powered by a 373cc single-cylinder engine that offers ample torque and top speed.
Its agile handling and nimble design make it ideal for city commuting and introductory track days. As you gain experience, you can explore the more powerful Dukes culminating in the bonkers KTM 1290 Super Duke R.
Triumph Trident 660
The Triumph Trident 660 is an excellent choice for riders looking for a mix of style and performance. This attractive naked motorcycle boasts a 660cc inline triple engine which sounds amazing. It offers a smooth and predictable power delivery, ideal for beginner riders.
With its confidence-inspiring ride and strong handling characteristics, the Trident 660 will help you improve your skills while enjoying every twist and turn.
Aprilia Tuono 660
Finally, the Aprilia Tuono 660 offers an exciting blend of performance and advanced technology for those new to the world of naked motorcycles. With a 660cc parallel-twin engine, you’ll have plenty of power at your disposal without being overwhelmed.
The bike’s advanced electronics package, including multiple rider modes and traction control, allows you to customize your ride and grow your skills at your own pace.
Selecting Your First Naked Bike
Engine Displacement and Power
When choosing your first naked bike, consider the engine displacement and power. For a total beginner who’s experience is limited to an MSF basic rider course, a smaller bike between 250cc and 500cc is ideal, as it offers enough power without compromising control.
For example, the KTM 390 Duke has a manageable 40 horsepower, making it perfect for novices.
Handlebar and Seat Height
Your comfort is crucial when on the road, so pay attention to the handlebar and seat height of your potential new naked bike. Make sure you can reach the handlebars easily and that you can plant both feet flat on the ground when stopped.
A bike such as the highly popular Yamaha MT-03 has a 30.7-inch seat height, making it suitable for most riders.
Weight and Control
Heavier motorcycles tend to be more difficult for beginners to handle. Opt for a lighter motorcycle to help you build confidence and skill. Examples of lighter naked motorcycles include the Kawasaki Z400 ABS and the Honda CB300R.
Cornering and Riding Feel
If you have some rider experience and looking at moving up to one of the naked middleweight bikes make sure you are happy with the overall riding feel and cornering ability when you take it out for a test ride.
Good beginner bikes in the middleweight market like the Yamaha MT-07, offer predictable and manageable acceleration, responsive brakes, and a chassis designed for confidence-inspiring cornering.
Another good middleweight option is the Suzuki SV650. It’s a great price, it’s reliable and power delivery is non-threatening but not boring either and it’s mote than capable around town or on the highway.
Aesthetics and Design
Lastly, consider the aesthetics and design of the motorcycle. You will want a bike that is not only functional but also visually appealing. Look for a design and style that matches your personality and preferences.
As you visit each of your local dealers trying to decide on which motorcycle to purchase and you cannot walk away without turning around for another look as you walk away then it could well be the one for you.
Some options include the aggressive styling of the Kawasaki Z650 or at the other end of the scale is the classy lines of the BMW G 310 R.
Ultimately, selecting the right naked bike boils down to your preferences and motorcycling goals. Focus on the factors above but prioritize your comfort and safety, while also considering your desired aesthetics and design.
Important Features and Technologies
When choosing a naked bike for beginners, it’s essential to consider the essential features and rider aids that enhance your experience as a new rider. In this section, we will explore some of these key features, including Slipper Clutch, Traction Control, TFT Display, Cruise Control, and Bluetooth Connectivity.
Assist and Slipper Clutch
An assist and slipper clutch is an important feature on a modern naked motorcycle, particularly for beginners. This clutch system helps prevent back-wheel lockup during aggressive downshifts, leading to improved stability and control.
As a beginner, it’s essential for you to have a responsive and smooth rider experience, and having a bike equipped with this technology can make a significant difference in your journey to becoming an experienced rider.
Traction control on a motorcycle helps to prevent the back wheel from slipping and losing traction, which can cause accidents. It achieves this by controlling the power delivered to the rear wheel and reducing the chances of drifting.
When it detects the back wheel slipping, it cuts the power being delivered to slow down the rear wheel and match the speed of the front wheel, preventing the motorcycle from losing control.
Another useful feature found on most modern motorcycles is a TFT (Thin Film Transistor) display. This advanced instrumentation display provides clear, easily readable information about your bike’s performance, such as speed, fuel level, gear indicator, and more.
When starting, it’s crucial to have this information readily available as you learn to navigate and understand the workings of your motorcycle.
Cruise control might not be the first feature that comes to mind when thinking of a naked motorcycle, but having it is a valuable addition, especially for beginners. It allows you to maintain a steady speed, minimizing distractions during long rides and helping you concentrate on your road skills.
Comfort is essential when you begin your riding journey, and this feature can enhance your experience if you plan to cover plenty of highway miles.
Lastly, Bluetooth connectivity is quickly becoming a popular feature in the motorcycle world. It enables you to connect your phone to your motorcycle, allowing for easy access to music, phone calls, and navigation information.
As a beginner, ensuring that you know your way around and can safely take a phone call on the move (using a helmet intercom) adds convenience and confidence to your riding experience.
In conclusion, consider the importance of features and technologies such as slipper clutch, TFT display, cruise control and Bluetooth connectivity when choosing a beginner-friendly naked bike.
These features add safety, comfort, and convenience, ultimately making your journey more enjoyable and less intimidating as you learn the ropes.
What to Expect from the Manufacturers
Yamaha offers a range of motorcycles geared towards beginners, such as the Yamaha MT-03. This bike provides an excellent balance between performance and ease of use, making it a great option for those new to riding. It includes features like:
Smooth but responsive engine
When looking into Kawasaki’s offerings, you’ll come across the Kawasaki Z400 ABS, an excellent beginner-friendly bike. Some of its key features include:
Honda is known for its reliable and user-friendly motorcycles and the CB500X is regarded as one of the best naked bikes for beginners currently available. You can expect:
Affordable price point
The Suzuki SV650 is a popular choice for new riders, offering a comfortable riding experience and approachable power. Some highlights include:
V-twin engine for low-end torque
Versatile design for various riding styles
Rider-friendly features like adjustable levers
The KTM 390 Duke is an excellent naked bike for newer riders, offering a lightweight, fun machine at a very reasonable price. Some of its standout features are:
40 horsepower, making it approachable
Excellent chassis for precise handling
Eye-catching, aggressive design
Lastly, Triumph’s great naked bikes cater for all levels of experience. From the entry level Triumph Trident 660, the intermediate Street Triple 765 and finally the Speed Triple 1200, a bigger bike which is best left to more experienced riders.
As your experience progresses, you may find these British motorcycles to be excellent options for their:
Known for their great handling
Premium build, features and components
Making the Right Purchase
As a beginner looking for the perfect naked bike, there are several factors to consider before making your purchase. In this section, we’ll guide you through the process, discussing new vs used, budget and financing, and the legal requirements and insurance for your new ride.
New vs Used Naked Motorcycles
When it comes to buying a bike, you might be wondering whether to opt for a brand new one or a used one. Each option has its pros and cons.
Come with a warranty and are less likely to have hidden issues
Offer the latest technology and features
Can be more expensive upfront
Are more affordable
May have more wear and tear or hidden maintenance issues
Allow you to try out different models without investing too much
Consider your budget, preferences, and willingness to potentially deal with maintenance when making your decision.
Budget and Financing
Determining your budget is crucial for narrowing down your options. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of:
Protective gear, such as helmets, jackets, and gloves
Maintenance and repairs
If you need financing, many dealerships offer options to help you afford your dream bike, but be sure to review the terms and interest rates before agreeing to any loans.
Legal Requirements and Insurance
Before riding your new bike, it’s essential to be aware of the legal requirements in your area. Some key things to consider include:
Getting a valid motorcycle license or endorsement
Registering the bike and getting a title/ownership document
Acquiring proper insurance coverage
Having the proper documentation and insurance will not only keep you on the right side of the law but also protect you and your investment in the event of accidents.
Remember, taking the time to research and consider these factors will help ensure you make the best purchase for your needs as a beginner rider. Now you’re one step closer to enjoying the open road on your new naked bike!