One of the hottest and most exciting areas in motorcycles right now is the middleweight naked category. In fact it's been this way for years, with amazing new bikes coming out in a steady stream!
With so many great bikes on offer, it's hard to pick just 10 stand out models but in this blog I'm going to do my best to cover a wide variety of the very best naked motorcycles on the market in 2020.
So what is a middleweight naked bike? Well if you aren't sure - it's exactly what the name suggests, a fairing-less bike that sits squarely in the middle ground when it comes to power, performance and weight. These bikes aren't quite as hair raising as super nakeds like the Aprilia Tuono or BMW S 1000 R but still pack a mean punch and offer more exhilarating performance than their lightweight counterparts like the MT-03 from Yamaha or the 390 Duke from KTM.
So with the intro out of the way, here are 10 of the very best middleweight naked motorcycles in 2020!
Yamaha MT-09 SP
Well why not start with a bang? The original MT-09 pretty much turned this category on its head when it first arrived back in 2013. Yamaha introduced a new breed of torquey hyper-naked that proved to be such a huge hit, it caused a chain reaction throughout the industry with everyone stepping up their game to provide new models that could compete with it.
In 2020 there are now 2 variations to choose from with the MT-09 SP being the deluxe, definitive edition. It basically takes the already outstanding base model and adds a shed load of features on top: Ohlins rear shock, quick shifter, assist and slipper clutch, traction control, ride modes and a tasty new paint-job to name a few.
The best thing about this MT-09 SP is that despite the upgrades, it still only comes in at a grand more than the original - £9,745.
Definitely one for more experienced riders, the 113hp performance is no joke, especially with its 87.5Nm of torque at 8,500 rpm. If you are looking for a true hooligan bike that can put a smile on your face, this is one of the best out there, able to wheelie in second gear but still with plenty of luxury and quality of life elements. This is a bike that has it all - looks, performance, fun-factor and reliability.
|Engine Type:||3-cylinder, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-valves|
|Front Suspension:||Telescopic forks|
|Rear Suspension:||Coil spring/Gas-hydraulic damper|
|Front Brake:||Hydraulic dual disc, Ø298 mm|
|Rear Brake:||Hydraulic single disc, Ø245 mm|
|Weight:||193 kilos (wet)|
The Kawasaki Z900 has been given its first update for 2020 and introduces some key new features, including switchable traction control and rider modes. The visuals have also been given a slight update with the Z Sugomi styling looking better than ever and now a complete set of LED lights. The final addition is a new full colour TFT instrument panel to help you keep track of some of these new features.
One thing that hasn't changed is the engine - the same 948cc in-line four powers this beast and with 124hp it is approaching super naked territory. What keeps this motorcycle in the middleweight category is its linear power delivery which aims to provide smooth acceleration across the rev ranges, meaning it's actually less of a hooligan than some of the other bikes here despite them being smaller on paper.
I mentioned earlier the new ride modes added, one of them being a low power mode. Another feature that keeps this in the middleweight category, this mode will reduce the power output of the bike by around 55%. Pretty nice when the weather is bad or if you simply want to build up your confidence before letting it off the leash.
The Kawasaki Z900 starts at £8,899 and makes for a top contender in this competitive market.
|Engine Type:||Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke In-Line Four|
|Front Suspension:||41 mm inverted fork with rebound damping, preload adjustable|
|Rear Suspension:||Horizontal Back-link with rebound damping, preload adjustable|
|Front Brake:||Dual semi-floating 300 mm petal discs|
|Rear Brake:||Single 250 mm petal disc|
|Weight:||212 kilos (wet)|
Triumph Street Triple R
Triumph's beloved Street Triple R has just been freshly updated for 2020 and gets a new two-way quickshifter, improved aggressive styling with an LED headlight setup and comes fully Euro5 compliant without sacrificing any of its 116hp performance.
Despite the improvements, the big news is that this bike is actually cheaper than the previous version! That's right, the Street triple R comes in at £8,900 and is every bit as good or better than before. The way Triumph have managed this feat is by cutting costs on parts like the full colour TFT screen which has now reverted to a more traditional LCD panel. According to them, market research showed bikers would rather focus on the actual performance of the bike and save money than have some luxury gadgets!
The Street Triple R retains its high quality components with Brembo breaks and fully adjustable Showa suspension, it also still boasts one of the best power to weight ratios in the class with its 166 kilo dry weight. For the vertically challenged among us, there is now a Street Triple R Low version with a 780mm seat height as well.
|Engine Type:||Liquid-cooled, 12 valve, DOHC, in-line 3-cylinder|
|Front Suspension:||Showa 41 mm upside down separate function big piston forks (SF-BPF), Adjustable compression damping, rebound damping and preload adjustment.|
|Rear Suspension:||Showa piggyback reservoir monoshock, Adjustable compression and rebound damping and preload adjustment.|
|Front Brake:||Twin 310 mm floating discs, Brembo M4.32 4-piston radial monobloc calipers|
|Rear Brake:||Twin 310 mm floating discs, Brembo M4.32 4-piston radial monobloc calipers|
|Seat height:||825mm Low version: 780mm|
|Weight:||168 kilos (dry)|
KTM 890 Duke R
KTM unveiled their 790 Duke in 2018, nicknamed the scalpel for its razor sharp handling and torquey performance, two years later they bring us the 'super scalpel'. In KTM's words, it takes everything riders loved about the 790 Duke and ''turns it up to 11''.
The idea is to provide a true middleweight Duke experience and this bike delivers. Firstly the new 890cc engine puts out 121hp and an enormous 99Nm of torque and when combined with its new lower weight of 166 kilos (dry) this thing is going to fly!
On top of the increased power, the 890 Duke also adds in all the luxury components to help it compete with the other premium bikes in the category. There is now fully adjustable suspension, traction control, Bosch ABS and Brembo brakes as well as the slipper clutch, ride-by-wire, full colour TFT display and ride modes.
With all these improvements the price has also climbed up to £10,399 which puts it in direct competition with the likes of the Street Triple RS Yamaha MT-09 SP. This one is still brand new and definitely another one for experienced riders but it will be interesting to see how it performs in the showrooms!
If you love the style of this bike but are looking for something a bit less intimidating, the 790 version is still available and a very good bike too!
|Engine Type:||2-cylinder, 4-stroke, parallel twin|
|Front Suspension:||WP APEX 43|
|Rear Suspension:||WP APEX Monoshock|
|Front Brake:||2 x Brembo Stylema Monobloc four piston, radially mounted caliper 320mm|
|Rear Brake:||Brembo single-piston floating calliper, brake disc 240mm|
|Weight:||166 kilos (dry)|
BMW F 900 R
BMW have produced some very popular motorcycles over the last few years but most of them occupy the high capacity market. I have always wondered why they didn't produce some kind of middleweight version of their S 1000 R for example and it seems the time is now.
The German manufacturer has made it no secret that they are after a slice of Yamaha's pie but the F 900 R does things in a very different way to the MT-09. For starters we can see from the bike's stats the impressive maximum torque is available much lower in the rev ranges - 92Nm at 6,500 rpm. The idea is to create a bike with a smooth and constant power delivery resulting in a motorcycle that is less of a hooligan and a bit more accessible than some of its rivals.
The engine is a 895cc in-line 2 cylinder with a maximum power output of 105hp so despite it lacking some of the aggression of its top rivals, there is still plenty of power and performance on offer. It comes down to basically what type of ride you are looking for. A smoother bike with steady delivery that can still reach impressive top speeds, or a bike with a little bit more mischief that will keep you on your toes!
As it's a BMW you can expect some premium features such as ride modes, LED lights, automatic stability control, ABS, adjustable rear suspension and the same full colour TFT screen with multimedia connectivity as the S 1000 R. There is also a deluxe SE version available with even more gadgetry. The starting price for the BMW F 900 R is £8,660.
|Engine Type:||water-cooled 4-stroke in-line two-cylinder engine, four valves|
|Front Suspension:||Upside-down telescopic fork, Ø 43 mm|
|Rear Suspension:||dual swing arm, central spring strut, spring pre-load hydraulically adjustable, rebound damping adjustable|
|Front Brake:||Dual disc brake, floating brake discs, Ø 320 mm, 4-piston radial brake calipers|
|Rear Brake:||Single disc brake, Ø 265 mm, single-piston floating caliper|
|Seat height:||815mm, low seat option 790mm|
|Weight:||211 kilos (wet)|
For this one, I wanted to include something a bit more beginner friendly, although as a middleweight this is still plenty of bike for any type of rider! Just know that if you wanted something a bit more ferocious, the larger brother of this motorcycle, the XSR900 is still one of the best nakeds out there but the 700 gets the place on this list for the sake of variety and because it is one of the very best 700cc motorcycles on the market.
The XSR700 first arrived in 2015 as part of Yamaha's sport heritage range, aimed at the exploding neo-retro scene. It takes the excellent MT-07 foundation and gives it a beautiful new redesigned style.
In 2020 the bike remains a fantastic option and with the new Dynamic White and Tech Black paint schemes, it looks absolutely gorgeous. There is a lot more to this bike than its looks however. The XSR700 is powered by the same 689cc 2 cylinder engine found in the MT-07 and with its 68Nm of torque at 6,500rpm, offers the same nippy and responsive performance that made the 07 one of Yamaha's biggest sellers of all time.
There isn't a ton of deluxe features on this motorcycle, which is actually in keeping with the retro style but there is ABS as standard and everything here does its job surprisingly well. The upside of this stripped down approach is a very competitive price of just £7,445 brand new.
|Engine Type:||2-cylinder, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-valves|
|Front Suspension:||Telescopic forks|
|Rear Suspension:||Swingarm, (Link type suspension)|
|Front Brake:||Hydraulic dual disc, Ø282 mm|
|Rear Brake:||Hydraulic single disc, Ø245 mm|
|Weight:||186 kilos (wet)|
Honda CB650R Neo Sports Café
The CB650R was released at the tail end of last year and makes for another great budget option that is a little more beginner friendly than some of the other beasts in the category.
Honda have always made great, reliable middleweight nakeds but they didn't always have the style factor present in other manufacturer's machines but all that has changed with the CB650R. Branded as the 'Neo Sports Café' its another neo-retro designed motorcycle and although it doesn't have much in common with a cafe racer it makes for a very nice upright naked.
The engine is a 649cc inline-4 and makes for one of the more laid back bikes on the list. The power delivery is smooth rather than torquey and aggressive, but this is not a slow bike by any means, there is still plenty of go in it.
When it comes to premium features the CB650R keeps things fairly basic but it does have ABS and some nice Showa USD forks. The result however, is a very attractive price of £6,999 which makes it a solid budget option that is friendly to beginners as well.
|Engine Type:||Liquid-cooled 4-stroke 16-valve DOHC inline-4 cylinder|
|Front Suspension:||Showa separate function fork (SFF) USD|
|Rear Suspension:||Mono with 10 stage pre-load adjuster, Aluminium Cast swingarm|
|Front Brake:||310 mm x 4.5 mm disc with four piston caliper|
|Rear Brake:||240 mm x 5 mm disc with single piston caliper|
|Weight:||202 kilos (wet)|
MV Agusta Brutale 800 Rosso
The Brutale 800 from MV Agusta has always been difficult to squeeze on to these kinds of lists due to its 'boutique' nature. Don't get me wrong, it has always been a fantastic bike and when it comes to looks there might not be anything cooler on the road, however the colossal price has made it difficult to justify choosing one of these over one of its much cheaper rivals.
In 2020 that has changed somewhat with the release of the new Brutale Rosso edition. For those looking for that boutique option, the RR is still there but now MV have managed to produce a version that is actually more in line with the rest of the market.
The new Brutale Rosso keeps the same 798cc engine with a maximum 110hp performance and even squeezes in as much tech as possible with multiple rider modes, switchable traction control, Bosch ABS and quickshifter. It also still looks drop dead gorgeous.
With all this being said, the bike is still one of the most expensive on the list at £11,990 but compared to the 16 grand you would normally spend on one of these, it makes very little compromises!
|Engine Type:||Three cylinder, 4 stroke, 12 valve|
|Front Suspension:||USD Telescopic fork rebound-compression damping and spring preload external and separate adjustment|
|Rear Suspension:||Progressive Sachs, single shock absorber with rebound and compression damping and spring preload adjustment|
|Front Brake:||Brembo radial 4 piston Double floating disc Ø 320 mm|
|Rear Brake||Brembo 2 piston Single steel disc Ø 220 mm|
|Weight:||175 kilos (dry)|
Husqvarna Vitpilen 701
In 2020 Husqvarna have given their middleweight nakeds, the Vitplilen and Svartpilen, their first update and while the changes are relatively minor, the price point has also lowered making these bikes much easier to consider.
For this list I'm looking at the Vitpilen 701, It definitely has one of the more unique designs out there: part cafe racer, part modern naked, there is a lot of attention to detail here and the newly adjusted frame and paint-job for 2020 really do look great.
The problems start to arise when you compare it to the XSR700 which has similar performance stats whilst being almost 2 grand cheaper! The Vitpilen 701 does have a lot of luxury parts on it to justify the £8,899 price tag however. Brembo brakes, Bosch ABS, quickshifter and adjustable suspension are all present and are features usually only reserved for the most premium models in the category.
I think with the reduction in price and the amount of spec on this bike, combined with its unique cafe-racer styled design the Vitpilen is definitely worth a look!
|Engine Type:||1-cylinder, 4-stroke engine|
|Front Suspension:||WP APEX 43|
|Rear Suspension:||WP APEX Monoshock|
|Front Brake:||Brembo four-piston radial fixed calliper, brake disc|
|Rear Brake:||Brembo single-piston floating calliper, brake disc|
|Weight:||157 kilos (dry)|
We've been hearing how electric vehicles are the future for a while now, with the UK government pledging to phase out traditional engines by 2035 but whether that will come to pass remains to be seen. Still, the Zero SR/F represents something of a giant leap forward for electric bikes and actually boasts comparable performance to its petrol counterparts.
As far as the stats go, its difficult to compare them on paper. The electric motor functions completely differently, so where its 140ftlb (190 Nm) of torque would seem colossal on a normal bike, here it translates into some average middleweight performance. Although to be fair, average in this category is very good!
There is no gearbox so it wont be quite as fast off the mark or have that ferocious pull that some of the bikes on this list have but the upside is extremely smooth power delivery, especially through the midrange. The top speed is 124mph and the bike has all the same tech you would expect from a regular premium motorcycle with Bosch ABS, traction control, drag torque control and a host of rider modes.
There are still some downsides to bear in mind with electric bikes. Firstly the battery. While on an urban commute it may last 100 miles, the fact that this motorcycle has such high performance does mean you are going to want to push it a bit harder at times and then it's more like 50 miles. There are docking stations popping up all over the place these days but it is an added hassle to bear in mind.
Finally, perhaps the biggest factor barring entry is the price, at £18,990 it is double the cost of some of the other bikes here and the 'premium' version is another 2 grand on top! Still, if you are serious about your carbon footprint, this thing can give you all the fun of a traditional Naked and looks pretty cool too!
|Engine Type:||Z-Force 75-10 enhanced thermal efficiency, passively air-cooled, interior permanent magnet AC motor|
|Engine controller:||High efficiency and power dense, 900 Amp, 3-phase AC controller with regenerative deceleration|
|Front Suspension:||Showa 43 mm Big Piston Separate Function forks, with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping|
|Rear Suspension:||Showa 40 mm piston, piggy-back reservoir shock with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping|
|Front Brake:||dual J-Juan radial 4-piston calipers with radial master cylinder, 320 x 5 mm discs|
|Rear Brake:||J-Juan single piston floating caliper, 240 x 4.5 mm disc|
|Weight:||220 kilos (wet)|
|Range:||City riding - 161 miles / Highway, 55mph - 99 miles / Highway 70mph - 82 miles|