The first Speed Triple, the 900, was a sales success for Triumph when it was released back in 1994. But it was the second generation bike, the 1997 885cc T509, that really put Triumph back on the map. After years of producing bikes for retired old men, the T509 ushered in a new exciting era for the Hinckley-based manufacturer. With flat bars, a new 108bhp motor and a short wheelbase, the Speed Triple quickly became the hooligan’s bike of choice.
Over the next decade a range of competitors entered the market offering more power and track focused dynamics, but the Speed Triple managed to remain a market leader. How did Triumph achieve this you might ask? Well, it managed to strike a fine balance between performance and everyday usability. One of the bikes that struck this balance perfectly was the lower-capacity 2008 Triumph ‘Street’ Triple 675 R.
The Street Triple combined the brilliant riding position of its bigger brother (the Speed), with the torquey and lightweight 675cc engine from Triumph’s brilliant sportsbike, the Daytona. As a result, the 675 R was an absolute blast to ride on country roads, while still being flexible enough to perform the weekly commute. The R version also came with uprated four-pot Nissin front brakes, Magura handlebars and fully adjustable Kayaba suspension. It’s a truly brilliant machine which can be yours for under £5000.
It’s easy to forget that not that long ago BMW motorcycles were strictly the reserve of the slightly older gentleman, and the kind of rider who loved heated grips, owned multiple reflective yellow jackets and enjoyed riding everywhere at the speed limit. In the mid-2000s BMW realised that it desperately needed to re-brand itself. Bikes like the BMW R1100 S Boxer Cup and K1200S went some way to achieving this, but it was the naked K1200R that showed BMW was prepared to build truly mad sportsbikes.
Upon its release in 2005, the K1200R blew the automotive press away. The bike was heavily based on the ballistic sports tourer, the K1200S, so it received the same 1200cc engine, albeit detuned to 167bhp and 96lb ft of torque. Still, this was enough to give the K1200R a 0-60mph time of 2.6 seconds and the title of ‘most powerful naked bike of all time’.
Despite the incredible levels of power, the bike was surprisingly easy to ride. With innovative Duolever front forks - designed to reduce diving under braking - electronic suspension to keep the weighty 211kg bike under control and 320mm front discs to bring everything to a stop, the K1200R was a brilliant all-rounder. It could do the bonkers Sunday blast, but it was equally adept at European touring. £5000 will secure you a clean example.
There are two types of people who buy naked bikes. The first are those guys who have ridden sports bikes for years and who want a machine that’s fun but not manically fast, thus helping them keep hold of their driving licences. Then there are the people who want something a bit mad. KTM built the Super Duke for the latter. In fact, when KTM released the 999cc, V-twin, 120bhp Super Duke in 2005, it changed the naked bike sector forever. The Super Duke was the first naked bike designed solely for mad men. With its upright riding position, torquey engine and short wheelbase, the Super Duke was a wheeling animal.
That’s not to say it was a one trick pony, however. The WP suspension is truly brilliant, the four-piston Brembo brakes have some serious bite and that 999cc V-twin engine is wonderfully tractable. When new, the bikes were £8495. It’s now possible to pick up a clean, low milage example for under £5000. Thank the lord for depreciation.
If you want an entry-level naked bike that’s equally adept in the city as it is on country roads, look no further than the Yamaha MT-07. Easily the cheapest bike on the list at £5349 on the road, the MT-07 (or FZ07 in the States) offers serious bang for your buck. Granted, with just 74bhp and 50lb ft of torque, the little Yamaha isn’t going to tear your face off, but the bike weighs just 179kg fully fuelled. As a result the MT-07 handles brilliantly and there’s enough grunt to loft first and second gear wheelies - who needs a KTM after all?
The MT-07 is also surprisingly good on long journeys. With low-foot pegs and relatively wide bars the bike is seriously comfortable. The little Yamaha also returns a highly impressive 68mpg, giving it a theoretical range of over 200 miles on a tank (14 litres). 2014 bikes can be picked up for around £4000, but we’d stump up the extra cash and buy a new one to get that stunning 2016 Night Fluo paint. Oh and throw in the Akrapovič Full System exhaust while you’re at it.
The Honda CB1000R is best described as the sensible man’s naked bike. Criticised for lacking character and being a bit boring, the Honda is often forgotten about by second hand buyers. And that’s a big mistake. Yes, the CB1000R is not the most exciting unfaired machine, but that’s simply because it’s so dynamically polished.
With a detuned 130bhp, 2007 CBR1000RR engine putting out 100lb ft of torque, the CB1000R is approachable enough to be a great starter bike, while still having enough poke to keep experienced riders entertained on a Sunday morning blast. The bike also receives brilliant 2008 FireBlade forks and brakes which have been retuned for road riding. And because it’s a Honda, reliability is outstanding. As an all-rounder, it’s hard to do much better.
If you want a naked bike with some exotic charm, give the Aprilia Tuono 1000 a look. With the torquey 78lb ft V-twin engine from the RSV1000 Mille, the Tuono has brilliant roll-on performance. A jerky throttle response and slightly dodgy fuelling however can make the bike difficult to ride smoothly around town. But if you like the occasional track day, the Tuono is the perfect naked bike.
Ergonomically, the Tuono is set up for aggressive riding. The rider sits up high making fast transitions a breeze, but the extremely hard suspension can be a little too uncompromising on bumpy British back roads. If you have the money, we would recommend that you hunt down a Factory with its upgraded Öhlins suspension. But if your budget can’t stretch that far, a standard Tuono is still a brilliant bike. Italian class for £5000…where do we sign?