If you’re in the market for a middleweight motorcycle, say, in the 400cc to 650cc range, chances are you find yourself wavering from one category to another. Perhaps on some days, you find yourself fancying a middleweight adventure bike like the Honda CB500X. Its sharp styling and go-anywhere capability allures you — the thought of going on adventures off the beaten path captivates you. Then you see a friend of yours on social media post a photo of his new KTM RC 390, and now, all of a sudden, you crave that sportbike life.
Indeed all categories of motorcycling have their own respective niches — areas where they shine the brightest. Adventure bikes are perfect for long-haul trips to places where paved roads are an uncertainty. Sportbikes are a blast to ride on track, or on short spirited stints on mountain roads. Cruisers munch up highway miles with ease, style, and comfort, and dual-sports give you mountain bike agility and off-road fun. However, there is one segment of motorcycling that aims to be the be all end all — especially for those who are looking for practicality and versatility, as well as remarkable value for money.
A blank canvas
Alas, a blank canvas on which you can tweak to suit your applications is undoubtedly found in the naked bike category. Coming in all shapes and sizes, naked bikes are arguably the best compromise between all segments of motorcycling. Let’s take the KTM 390 Duke, as an example. A street bike out of the box, this corner rocket can easily be tweaked to make for a potent track weapon. Simply upgrading the brake pads, and slapping on a set of grippy tires will shave your lap times by seconds. Conversely, you could fit a set of Pirelli Scorpions, slap on a nice top case, and fit a windscreen, and you’d have an adventure-ready machine.
An agreeable companion
The benefits of naked bikes go well beyond their versatility, as well. For starters, naked bikes often come with very friendly ergonomics. As opposed to their fully-faired counterparts, naked bikes make for much easier daily riders. When comparing, say a Kawasaki Z650 to the Ninja 650, we’re pretty sure if you were to pick one bike to ride on a daily basis through hellish EDSA traffic, it’d be the former. Adding to ease of use and comfort, naked bikes oftentimes come with adequate passenger accommodations in the form of a decently-sized rear seat. Granted, of course, pillion comfort on an adventure bike or sport-tourer all but trumps that of naked bikes, however, their weight puts daily commuting in heavy traffic out of the question.
Baby steps to wrenching
For those of you who are aspiring mechanics, the thought of having to dismantle a motorcycle’s fairings, along with fanangling with all the electrical components attached to said fairings, can be a daunting task. We’ve all heard a story of one of our buddies ruining their fairings simply by over-tightening a bolt. Not to mention, it can be all too easy to get confused about all the wirings for the turn signals, headlights, and instrument panel. As such, most naked bikes give you access to the bike’s engine right from the get-go. This makes menial jobs such as oil changes, coolant flushes, spark plug replacements, and even just cleaning your engine, a lot easier. That means you can go right ahead and learn basic maintenance skills without the added complexity of dealing with plastic bodywork.
At the end of the day, a big bike is indeed an emotional purchase. If you were to ask us what bike to get, we’d definitely encourage you to get the one that pulls on your heartstrings the most. However, if what you’re looking for is a bike you can take anywhere — be it the race track, country roads off the beaten path, or long highway runs — and still get back home in time for dinner, no doubt, the naked bike will probably tick the most boxes and still will be a joy to ride on.