Top 10 Supernakeds – Part 1
There was a time when “naked” motorcycles were considered the poor man’s superbike. Indeed, they were cheaper because they were sans fairings and all the fancy entrapments of superbikes. But everything changed since the Triumph Speed Triple in 1997. It is basically the undressed Triumph Daytona T595, with the signature twin headlamps and tapered handlebar. Supernakeds are in their own segment now, having blasted into the market with their distinctive looks and gosh-oh-my performance.
There still exists naked standards and naked sportbikes. However, supernakeds are fire-breathing beasts. Most share their engines and chassis with their pedigree sportbike brethren, albeit tuned for more wheelie-inducing torque instead of all-out top-end power.
Here we present the first five of the Top 10 Supernakeds of 2018, in no particular order. It’s still early in the year and the 2019 models have not hit the showrooms yet, so we should be forgiven (grin).
1. Suzuki GSX-S1000
The Suzuki GSX-S1000 was a latecomer to the segment. Although it isn’t as technology-laden as its rivals, its pricing makes it an attractive option. It is based on the older (and legendary) 2005 Suzuki GSX-R1000 K5, so it inherits the long-stroke, torquey engine which produces 148 bhp. Chassis duties are handled by fully adjustable KYB suspension and Brembo brakes. There is also a half-faired variant called the GSX-S1000F.
2. Kawasaki Z1000
The current Z1000’s “Sugomi” styling was considered controversial when the bike first appeared in 2014. But we soon got used to it as newer bikes started appearing with similar styling. Its 140-bhp engine is based on the ZX-9R’s. Despite its butch looks, it isn’t meant to be an outright performance bike. Rather, it was squarely a road bike. But that doesn’t mean it is bad. It has got Showa Separate Function Big Piston forks (SFF-BP), four-piston monoblock front brake callipers, slipper clutch. The Z1000 shares the same platform as the Ninja 1000SX sport-tourer.
3. BMW S 1000 R
One of the best supernakeds, hands down. Based on the BMW S 1000 RR superbike, the engine is tuned for fatter torque and 160 bhp, but this is one fast beast. The base variant features two ride modes and traction control. However, the Sport variant adds more ride modes, DDC electronic semi-active suspension and wonderful extras. The bike has great road manners: smooth and controlled when slow, but goes bonkers with big twists of the wrist. It is the most accomplished supernaked along with the Triumph Speed Triple and new KTM 1290 Super Duke R.
4. Triumph Speed Triple
The Speed Triple looks ‘ard (hard) but that’s being unfair. Triumph is the master of building great all-round bikes, endowed with smooth throttle response, predictable mannerism and bicycle-like agility (we kid you not!). The 148bhp 1050cc triple provides plenty of low-down to midrange torque with an unforgettable warble. Suspension consists of fully adjustable Öhlins forks and shock, while brakes are Brembo.
5. Honda CB1000R
The original 2008 CB1000R looked nothing if not controversial. Never mind the CBR1000RR Fireblade-derived engine and single-sided Pro-Arm swingarm, it was either disliked or hated it. So, Honda redid the bike by starting a new line-up called “Neo Sports Café”. The styling combines some classic and contemporary elements. The engine comes from the older CBR1000RR but tuned to produce more midrange torque. It produces 143 bhp. Componentry include Showa BPF forks, single-sided swingarm and LED lighting.
Do you agree with this list so far? For five more, go to Part 2: