Naked bikes used to be fairly mundane commuters. Devoid of soul, they were the workhorses of the two-wheeled world whose purpose in life was to hack through traffic or provide stress-free commuting.
Aside from a set of bar muffs and a topbox, modifications were rare and a loud pipe generally meant rot had caused it to spring a leak. But in the mid 1990s all that changed.
MCN MODEL GUIDES
Specifications: 997cc, 184kg, 131bhp, 820mm seat height
- Dealer £4000-£5500
- Private £3000-£4500
- This one £3891, 17,840 miles
The original Tuono is essentially a stripped-back RSV with a set of flat bars. The Tuono’s thumping V-twin motor and sportsbike chassis make it hysterical to ride. There are two generations of V-twin Tuono; the single pipe and updated twin-pipe models.
The twin-pipe also comes in high-spec Factory guise with lightweight OZ wheels and Öhlins suspension. The twin-pipe is the more reliable machine and £4000 can secure you a lovely base model from a dealer or a slightly worn Factory in a private sale.
Riding a well-serviced Tuono is a joy, riding one that has been neglected is a nightmare and results in reliability issues and a terrible throttle connection due to unbalanced throttle bodies. The overly tall sidestand often results in bikes falling over (it can be swapped for a 2004-2007 Fireblade’s).
Worn sprag clutches caused by duff batteries failing to turn the motor over aren’t uncommon, so listen for a slip or squeaking sound when you hit the starter. If you want extra thrills, lower the Tuono’s gearing (the speedo is unaffected) by adding two teeth to the rear and taking one off the front sprocket.
Specifications: 803cc, 179kg, 77bhp, 800mm seat height
- Dealer £4000-£5000
- Private £3500-£4700
- This one £4000, 9187 miles
Ducati have built over 40 variations of this naked bike, but there are a few overlooked gems; like the S2R 800. Powered by an air-cooled desmo (with a single overhead cam and two-valve head like all good Monsters), the S2R adds a bit of welcome spice thanks to a single- sided swingarm and stylish twin- stacked pipes.
Always give the starter motor a careful inspection as its location under the front cylinder leaves it exposed to road crud, causing the positive feed to corrode and snap, which often requires a new starter.
The belts have to be changed every two years, so ask for some service history. Check the single-sided swingarm’s eccentric adjuster isn’t seized and also look for any cracks around the pinch bolts as these are often over-tightened, potentially damaging the hub.
Specifications: 1157cc, 237kg, 160bhp, 820mm seat height
- Dealer £3700-£4700
- Private £2750-£4000
- This one £3995, 36,000 miles
In 2005 BMW unleashed the K1200R onto a largely unimpressed world. Despite its headline- grabbing spec, the R isn’t all about performance, it’s about torque. Its inline four has so much grunt you can just stick it in top and roll the throttle to churn out the miles. It’s comfortable and you get a lot of bike for your money with the K1200R due to its unpopularity.
The first-generation models were blighted by terrible fuel injection, so check it has the latest fuel map and update. If it has ESA fitted, check the shock is working as you can’t service it and new units are over £600.
Blocked or rotten radiators are common so look for leaks and ensure the bike doesn’t run hot in traffic. BMW recommend the brake fluid is swapped every two years. The gearbox is clunky and can be fragile, so avoid any bike with an aftermarket quickshifter fitted.
Specifications: 1050cc, 189kg, 131bhp, 815mm seat height
- Dealer £4000-£5000
- Private £3500-£4500
- This one £3999, 7000 miles
The Speed Triple has been around since 1994, so you have a few models to pick from but with £4k you can snap up a first-generation 1050, which is a great bike. Totally updated in 2005, the 1050 was the first Speed Triple to be designed specifically as a naked bike. It has bags of grunt and a wonderful sound while the new chassis adds far more agility and the radial brakes are good.
The gearbox is pretty clunky. The suspension linkages need stripping and re-greasing every 12,000 miles, but this is often skipped, leading to seized bearings. As with any single- sided swingarm bike, check the hub isn’t seized and watch out for sticking brake caliper pistons and warped discs, a common ailment on this generation that was sorted out in the updated model.
Specifications: 1203cc, 179kg, 103bhp, 775mm seat height
- Dealer £4500-£5500
- Private £3250-£4250
- This one £4250, 16,000 miles
Brain child of Erik Buell and powered by a modified Harley Sportster motor, there are two engines; the 984cc XB9 and 1203cc XB12. Buells carry their petrol in their frames and oil in their swingarms. Prices for the sporty half-faired Firebolt are cheaper than the flat-bar Lightning, but as they struggle to sell, deals can be had so if you really want the naked one, haggle hard.
The belt drive has a fixed tensioner system and this puts too much stress on the belt, causing it to snap. Swap the tensioner for an aftermarket one. Buells also eat wheel bearings, so always check for play, and ensure the oil pump drive gear has been updated on any pre-2006 model.
Find your next two-wheeled companion at MCN Bikes for Sale.