Test naked bikes Aprilia, Benelli, Ducati, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki and Yamaha

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Naked bikes from Aprilia, Benelli, Ducati, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki and Yamaha

Seven naked bikes in a comparison test

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Naked bikes with a special reputation meet for a showdown. Powerful, muscular, close to madness or style-defining they were in their time. The aged players are still setting accents against what is currently perhaps the best naked bike?

D.he half-life of sporty motorcycles roughly corresponds to that of an average Hollywood actor. A business that, according to general statements, is supposed to be quite merciless. Many mimes dream of advancement and the big stage. Some surf a trend wave for a while and celebrate one or the other success. Soon afterwards, however, they disappear again in the muddy gray pulp. In any case, the dream factory does not deliver true character actors every day. Whether an actor becomes a real star depends, regardless of his play and talent, on his charisma and the current mood of the audience.

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Naked bikes from Aprilia, Benelli, Ducati, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki and Yamaha
Seven naked bikes in a comparison test

Kawasaki Z 1000

How far the development in the two-wheeler sector has advanced since 2003 can be clearly seen in the example of the Kawasaki Z 1000. About 15 years ago the “Zett” was a real mugger. Characterized by its aggressive styling, engine and brakes from the super sports car ZX-9R and equipped with a chassis with an upside-down fork, it provided a lot of sales arguments. In any case, the Kawa was like sliced ​​bread, and there are Z-models in abundance on the used market today.


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Kawasaki Z 1000.

What was “state of the art” in 2003, today only provides the hint of a benevolent smile. 131 donkeys and a fighting weight of 223 kilos can hardly seduce sports drivers to cheer. In addition, the cultivated running row quad goes to work with little motivation on medium tours and needs speed to generate thrust. So the adrenaline output is kept within limits. On our test track in the winter domicile in the south of France, as always at this time, we take an old hill climb under our wheels. The Conti SportAttack 3, which was specially developed for this test story on all machines, gives the Kawa a reasonably balanced handling and, above all, ensures good grip. But in comparison with the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory, which is currently the hottest iron in the naked bike segment, the Z 1000 feels at best like an active power cruiser with limited lean angle.

The driver sits upright and comfortably on the Zett, but inactive because of the low seating position and the narrow handlebars. This is a hard way to get the Kawa on race. The thousand drives comparatively wide lines and has to be balanced around the corners from a certain speed due to their soft chassis. To top it all off: A feeling for the forehead wheel or crisp, sharp brakes on par with the Tuono are not even rudimentary. After all, those interested in a Z 1000 of this year of construction get a machine with a powerful engine in the upper speed range and a design that has aged gracefully in the best sense of the word. The sharpness from back then does not come across today.

Benelli TNT 1130 Sport

Tea Benelli TNT 1130 is more exclusive in every respect. Anyone who has the opportunity to try this Italian iron should definitely take it. The TNT was available from the year of construction 2004 in different variants and expansion stages. The centerpiece is always its robust three-cylinder engine with a displacement of 1131 cubic centimeters and 137 hp. After getting to know each other for the first time, the suspicion arises that the model name TnT must stand for trinitrotoluene and designate a highly explosive explosive, that’s how robust the three-cylinder goes. “A grumpy, viciously hissing triple that pushes like an ejection seat from 6000 rpm,” said ex-PS man Robert Glück in a 2006 comparison test.


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Benelli TNT 1130 Sport.

The rough engine has lost none of its fascination. However, the total work of art TnT needs to be moved by a skilled hand, because the Benelli is not that easy to drive. Its muddy clutch without anti-hopping function was difficult to adjust even when it was new, as was the bony gearbox. The slippery footrests offer little grip and the restricted seating position limits freedom of movement.

Thanks to the wide handlebars, the TNT bends in without great effort, and the generous steering angle enables turning in one go on the narrowest of streets. At the same time, however, the handlebar positions the driver relatively far away from the front wheel. If you don’t have a feeling for the same, you have to trust the rubber in deep inclines. It’s good that we pulled the Contis over to the Benelli, whose abbreviation “TNT” does not primarily stand for explosives, but for “Tornado Naked Tre”.

The fact that the three-cylinder engine goes hard on the gas and continuously clouds the driver with unburned hydrocarbons via the exhaust pipe under the rear must be understood as part of the fascination of the Benelli TNT 1130. As a bread-and-butter bike for the way to work, the Italian three-cylinder falls out, because the driver should change clothes or apply a lot of perfume after every ride so as not to smell as if he had been on vacation in the Gotthard tunnel for a week.

In any case, the TNT demands a strong declaration of love and then rewards with its unique, strong as a bear and angry hissing triple. Visually, the machine offers spectacular details such as the frame and rocker arm made of thick, red-painted tubular steel, an eccentric for adjusting the chain tension or the fans attached to the side of the front paneling parts. The front mask leaves no doubt where Hollywood director Michael Bay found inspiration for his Transformers films.

The idea for the round button in the Benelli‘s cockpit with the label "Power Control" is quirky. If you press it, the same thing happens as it did in 2006. Nothing at all. Anyone who thinks: "Of race, that’s how it works with electronics on Italian motorcycles ", is not entirely correct. An Aprilia Tuono, for example, has all the electronic driving aids as standard today, as well as an excellently and reliably functioning pit limiter, cruise control and a Bluetooth multimedia system with which you can listen to music or take phone calls while driving.

Suzuki B-King

There are motorcycles like the Benelli TNT that look light and are surprisingly tricky to move. And there is the opposite of that in the form of the Suzuki B-King. Our rental machine has a Yoshimura exhaust system (fine tingling sound, great!), Which significantly slimmed down the rear compared to the series monster bags. What is left still looks like half of a small car due to the sheer accumulation of mass. “The B-King is such a big ship that gross register tons would be the right unit to classify it,” wrote PS boss Uwe Seitz in 2007. In truth, the Suzuki “only” weighs 259 kilos.


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Suzuki B-King.

Still a lot of wood or metal, but the B-King skilfully conceals its kilos while driving. If you were to drive it blindfolded, looking at it afterwards you would hardly believe that the driving experience and this sight belong together. The motorcycle monument goes around the curves lightly and smoothly. In addition, the B-King takes the gas gently, shifts cleanly and precisely. The mighty Hayabusa engine runs in a cultivated manner and, with its 1340 cubic centimeter displacement, makes big cheeks from low revs. At the latest from 8000 rpm, the bomber then lifts the front wheel when loading through. Due to the high vehicle weight, the acceleration experience is not more spectacular than with an equally powerful and much lighter Tuono 1100. In addition, the B-King electronically locks off propulsion in fifth and sixth gear at 9000 and 8400 rpm, respectively.

In an interview, the designer Satoshi Isokari told Uwe Seitz at the time that he wanted to create a combination of the strength of a buffalo – massive and potent – and the speed of a muscle-packed sprinter. In addition, he would have been inspired by medieval, western armor when designing. Anyone who drives a B-King must definitely be a proud and solid character of knightly stature in order to be able to hold their own alongside their two-wheelers.

Yamaha MT-01

Normally PS is not concerned with heavy thick ships. But if they can be fired as violently as the Suzuki B-King or pursue such a crazy concept as Yamaha implemented with the MT-01 in 2006, things will be different. In contrast to the Suzuki, the Yamaha does not hide any pounds.


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Yamaha MT-01.

That thing is bold, and right! The Brummer weighs an impressive 267 kilos. What should be cool about it? The motor! The 1.67 liter air-cooled V2 originally did its job in the cruiser Road Star Warrior. For use in the MT-01, the engineers slimmed it off by 20 kilos. The gimmick of the matter is the turbodiesel-like power delivery. The engine delivers a stable 100 Nm from the first revolution of the crankshaft practically from a standing start. The peak is then reached with a nominal 90 hp at 4750 rpm and 150 Nm. PS author Glück noted more than ten years ago: “This engine doesn’t run, it shakes! Every turn of the throttle is accompanied by acoustic and mechanical eruptions that make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. ”The drive sounds funniest when it is held at around 2000 rpm. The Akrapovic alpine horns under the stern, which were part of an MT-01 special series at the time, trumpet with deep bass. A compressor should actually start at 3500 rpm, because turning the MT-01 down to 4750 rpm does not generate any further forward thrust. However, the wear pattern on the flanks of the rear wheel reveals that the Conti has to endure quite a bit when exiting a curve in an inclined position. The Yamaha just doesn’t like quick changes of direction. She acknowledges the command "zigzagly fold" with a deep V2 snore. With its sturdy chassis, sufficient lean angle and the elephant-like twin stamping with the shower open, the MT-01 nevertheless offers a special kind of driving experience that a Tuono can never offer.

KTM 990 Super Duke R.

If you halve the displacement of the MT-01, you get quite close to the volume of the Austrian Sport V2 of the KTM 990 Super Duke R. The R version was the last expansion stage of the Super Duke with a 990 engine. With some donor organs from the super sports car RC8 R and an Akrapovic manifold as a standard part (the pots on our rental machine are from the accessories), the naked bike achieved 132 hp according to the factory. Due to the idea of ​​sport, it was also only available as a single-seater. No other naked bike appeared in horsepower tests more often between 2008 and 2011 than the Austrian. The 990 achieved test victories without end. "The Duke’s engine is a choleric, with the slightest twist of the throttle it rages off as if there was no tomorrow," wrote one editor. “The epitome of a fun bike, you can’t have more fun,” the next one stated. But it also said: "If you are looking for an everyday motorcycle, you have to look for something else."


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KTM 990 Super Duke R..

KTM builds different bikes today. By no means worse or slower, on the contrary. But more sociable and easier to drive. The 990 R is an extreme, rough driving machine. The higher the speed, the better it works. Drifts, as practiced by PS stunt driver Jo Bauer, are certainly not something the machine can do by itself. Everything has to fit for the action shot: No slipper clutch on board, which protects the rear wheel from rattling when downshifting violently and lets it slide cleanly into a slide. The point of contact of the clutch lever is shorter than the firing pin of a hand grenade. "The last braking drift was just before a highsider," admits Jo.

For country road conditions, the KTM‘s chassis is rock-hard and the seat cushion is only for hobby masochists or part-time fakirs. The V2 engine has a broadly usable power range with homogeneous power delivery, but it accelerates so hard at low to medium speeds that the motorcycle’s accuracy almost suffers. The KTM lies brilliantly in bends and it drives the tightest radii on command, but demands body tension from its driver when changing lean angles quickly from left to right or vice versa. A much stronger Tuono is less demanding and is as easy to ride as a children’s bike compared to the Duke.

The best way to imagine the KTM is like a rowdy Hollywood diva: You can hardly get enough of her and you may spend the night of your life with this exciting thing, but at dinner you find that she shows table manners like a pig. Anyone who can accept such practices will not want to part with their 990 R..

Ducati Streetfighter 1098 S.

It is also rough in the saddle of the Ducati Streetfighter. The model name fits like a fist on the eye, because the driver sits very front-heavy on it in a fighting position. Her expressions of life stand out from the crowd when she comes to life with her dry clutch with a loud rattle.


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Ducati Streetfighter 1098 S..

The Testastretta engine only runs smoothly at 3000 rpm. Until then, the clutch requires concentrated, precise metering. Accelerating is connected with not to be underestimated effort, but then the Duc coughs its driver rattling and clattering brutally forward. With a firm kick in the cross, the engine goes like a beast in the middle and easily leaves the KTM gold Benelli behind! Her brake grabs awesome, but at the corner entrance the Streetfighter suddenly shows itself stubborn. She just doesn’t want to give in!

PS editor Robert Glück put it in 2009 about the Italian fighter: “Their consistency makes the would-be anarchists from Japan look like painted schoolboys!” And that’s exactly how it is. Only the Streetfighter was so consistent (also consistently expensive) that it did not sell particularly well and Ducati discontinued the machine after a short construction period.

Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory

The factory version of the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 plays the hero role in this film. Whatever positive properties others produce, the Aprilia has been around for a long time. She does everything better and yet remains independent. Both electronically and mechanically, it embodies the current state of the art.


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Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory.

With it, the knee touches the ground in every curve as if by itself, completely effortlessly. This is what happens when a racing department is allowed to build a street motorcycle without limiting interventions. The Tuono also plays the young hour of her birth in the cards because her fellow campaigners have already worked one year or another and unwound the one or the other kilometer. With older material, a clutch slips here and there, the gearbox shifts poorly or even completely quits the service.

What role the Tuono will play in a few years remains to be seen. Aprilia does not manage to sell particularly high numbers of them. Maybe because she has to stand around in the Piaggio showroom between some scooters. Let’s bring it to an end with tragedy: In Hollywood, legendary status only beckons after death and, in the case of motorcycles, often after the end of their construction period.

Tire choice – Conti Sportattack 3

Since used motorcycles are already fitted with old tires that either do not match the motorcycle due to their properties or are simply worn out, we decided on the Conti SportAttack 3 as a standard tire.


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Conti Sportattack 3.

Especially the cold running behavior as well as handling, accuracy and stability make it a sports fan on dry roads. Above all, it was observed that it consistently helped the older test bikes to achieve predictable handling characteristics and a high level of neutrality. Contis are made in Germany. The SportAttack 3 is available for 17-inch bikes in all common dimensions.

PS says thank you

With test stories with an impressionistic character like this one, we always need help, because of course the manufacturers and their official importers usually only have the latest models in their fleet.

A big thank you goes to the Herold company from Nuremberg (www.auto-herold.de/motorrad), who entrusted us with their Benelli TNT 1130 Sport. Jan Breckwoldt from Suzuki Germany was so friendly and completely selflessly slow us his private B-King. And three of the other motorcycles, namely the Ducati Streetfighter 1098 S, the KTM 990 Super Duke R and the Kawasaki Z 1000, we received from Exakta GmbH (www.dermotorradladen.de) from Nienburg an der Saale, most of them over 150 used motorcycles of all Brands and exhibits them for sale in their large hall. Sales manager Sydney Lee Rost himself likes to wrinkled the southern part of France in his free time, showed great enthusiasm for our project and slow us his bikes for this story in a friendly and unbureaucratic way. Thanks a lot for this!

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