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You Can’t Be Naked in the Rain

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Well, you can be, but it won’t be comfortable. MD has two of the best, most powerful nakeds ever produced in its test stable, the KTM 1290 SuperDuke R and the Kawasaki Z1000. MD is one of the few online publications to have tested both bikes previously at their press launches (see these links for the Kawasaki and KTM).

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A rare, powerful SoCal rain storm has passed (you can see the Z1000 staring longingly out the garage door), and a quick romp on the SuperDuke has cleared the senses. Stay tuned for some very interesting, in-depth reviews, and stunning photography of 2 amazing motorcycles.

70 Comments

  1. Jim says:

    40 days & 40 nights?

  2. Jabe says:

    This KTM and Kawi look stupid, and I want them both!

  3. VLJ says:

    I have to wonder, how many of these people who constantly go on about “horrible buffeting at freeway speeds” and “tired arms after a couple of hours” have actually spent any real time on a naked bike at normal freeway speeds? I’ve owned traditional sport-touring rigs like the ST1100 and ST1300, too many pure sportbikes to count, and quite a number of upright nakeds. My usual rides are never less than three hundred miles and often in excess of five hundred miles, quite a bit of which is, of course, on major highways and freeways. Lots of straight-line droning at 80-85 mph, in other words. In order to get to and from most worthwhile roads, one must often suffer through many hours of freeway slogging.

    Probably 100,000 of my freeway miles have been done on nakeds; some, like the Bandit 1200S and V-Strom 1000, with vestigial fairings; others, like my SV650, SV1000, R1100R, R1200R, and Street Triple R, with no windscreens at all. My two-up trip up the west coast and across Canada and back was on an upright, unfaired SV650, and obviously that little 5,000-mile jaunt included buttloads of freeway droning.

    Wind buffeting on a naked is simply not an issue. As long as there is even the slightest forward lean to counteract the “sail” effect, you stop thinking about the windblast almost immediately. Not once have my arms ever grown tired due to wind-fatigue, and there is never any buffeting. Of course there isn’t. Why would there be? A rider of a naked bike experiences nothing but a smooth, clean flow of air, blessedly free of the sort of annoying turbulence so often experienced on uprights that do have windshields. In fact, it was the noisy, headache-inducing buffeting caused by those windshields that finally drove me back to pure nakeds, and now I doubt I will ever want a windshield again. Or clip-ons either, for that matter.

    Keep in mind, we’re not talking racetrack speeds here. Nope, we’re only talking real-world sportbike speeds of, oh, 110 mph or less. Anything above 120 mph and no, I wouldn’t want to spend extended time on a naked. On public roads, however, 99.9% of the fun is had well below such speeds, and for that type of riding an upright naked is the ideal tool for the job. They’re every bit as fast as a pure sportbike (often faster, actually, due to their lower gearing/broader torque-spread), quite a bit more flickable due to the increased leverage provided by those higher, wider bars, and infinitely more comfortable on the long ride back home.

    Style-shmyle. It’s not about the “street fighter” look. That’s just marketing effluvia. Seriously, once you’re past your early twenties or whatever, who really cares about such silly crap? More often than not, nakeds simply work better on public roads. That is their main appeal.

    • Blackcayman says:

      Right On – Right On – Right On

      but I still want an FJR-09!

    • tori zimbalis says:

      It depends heavily on how you want to ride…..naked or not…

      Its a good idea to have wind protection on a motorcycle at freeway speeds.. most prefer it actually…thats why motorcycles have evolved over the years to have them as common place

      ever ride when its raining ?

      • VLJ says:

        Yes, I have, many times. And guess what? You get wet while riding in the rain whether you have a windshield or not. The only way to combat it is by wearing proper gear. A windshield is not a roof. You’re still going to get wet.

        • tori zimbalis says:

          Wet yes…but unable to tuck in from the spray and wind..thats a bad combo on a long ride

          I understand the intended use of naked bikes……but I wouldnt get on the soapbox about them being better suited to freeway or elevated speeds…maybe better low speed manners and balance yes

          leverage from the higher bars might be better..but now there’s also less weight on the front wheel because your sitting farther away from it ….so there is less feel from the front….

          But then again there’s no accounting for taste….

          • VLJ says:

            No one an an extended freeway ride in the rain is “tucking in from the spray and wind,” windshield or otherwise. Provided the seating position offers a modicum of forward lean, wind is a nonissue on a naked, and one can’t tuck in to dodge water spray on any type of bike. Trying to do so would look absolutely ridiculous while also proving to be equally pointless. If avoiding getting wet is one’s primary concern, he or she has only two choices: 1. Don’t ride in the rain. 2. Wear proper waterproof riding gear.

          • tola says:

            i tuck in during a long rainstorm, and being behind a shield provides some relief, if only from boredom. yea, there IS no accounting for taste…

    • Mark W says:

      I completely agree VLJ! Fairings do a great job at deflecting the wind and whatever is in it away from your core and focusing it in your face and shoulders (bugs, rain, dirt, etc). Perhaps a gold wing type provides full protection, but then why not sit in a cage with AC? Naked bikes are great everywhere below 120mph.

  4. Jim says:

    That kaw isn’t in the same league as the KTM.

    • Gary says:

      You’ve rode and lived with them both?

      • Blackcayman says:

        130 HP vs 180 HP

        I’d say they are not in the same league

        • Hot Dog says:

          Not many of us can use over 100 HP. It’s the old “Mine’s bigger than yours” marketing ploy that many fall prey to.

          • Blackcayman says:

            there is a thrill to pulling back on the throttle and feeling a gigantic rush of acceleration that is hard to put a value/price on.

            Some get it and some don’t

  5. xlayn says:

    Pardon my ignorance, what is in the volume in front of the alternator and front cylinder on the duke? it’s also present on the 1190 adventure, the housing seems to be just left located as the exhaust go in the other side.

  6. stinkywheels says:

    I can’t keep the front wheel firmly on the ground with my 75hp Monster or my 100+hp 1125CR. I don’t know what sort of deal all these guys have with the local constables but I’d buy the book. I don’t ride in the rain on purpose and don’t expect these guys to do it either. A 10 minute ride turns into an hour+ cleaning session (especially if you’re around a camera). I can look like shit, my bike can’t.

    • MGNorge says:

      I don’t purposefully ride in the rain either. I usually keep my bikes many years and want them to look cleaned up as I do our cars. I know some riders wear their road grimed bikes like a badge of honor and that’s OK but I prefer not too for the reason you cite. It does take a good long while to bring them back to snuff when they do get mucked up.

    • Kirk R says:

      If it rains I ride in the rain. My bikes aren’t toys or showpieces but practical transportation. Ok, my dirt bike is a toy.

  7. TexinOhio says:

    Just waiting for the weather to completely clear here in Ohio before I take my 2014 Zed out for it’s first taste of an actual street.

    I know there are plenty of riders already out now, but I’m real suspect of any remaining ice, road salts or other random road surface issues of winter. Plus I don’t like feeling like the Michelin Man with layers and layers of winter clothes to ride in 30-40 degree weather.

    • tuskerdu says:

      heated riding gear . . .

      • TexinOhio says:

        Nope can’t do that either. Being from Texas I spent too many years with the traditional top layering of jacket/shirt/base layer “Under Armour” type shirt. For the amount of riding I do a year I can’t justify spending money on heated gear. It’s great stuff don’t get me wrong just not right for me. I’m content to wait.

        • Hot Dog says:

          In Dakota, when you get your first heated gear, you wonder what the hell took so long to finally get it. When I wear heated gear, the only excuse to stop riding is lack of adhesion. I don’t get cold but I do stop riding when condensation from 4 wheelers is freezing on the pavement.

    • Crim says:

      Don’t wait too long. I’m a Buckeye too but I always find at least one day a month to bring a bike out for a ride. My first ride on my ’99 Sportster was in January of 1999. This ain’t Texas!

      • mickey says:

        another Buckeye here…Rode Jan 1, Jan 12, Feb 20 and March 1. Been a lousy winter for riding.

        • TexinOhio says:

          You guys are right this winter has been wild. I’ve been here 6 years now and this is the craziest winter I’ve seen yet.

          Plus not afraid to admit it. I’m a weather wuss, being from San Antonio in Central Texas it was seldom too bad to ride.

          I’m hoping the end of the month should be good to get out and break this thing in.

        • todd says:

          Man, I’m glad I live in California. Let’s see, I can’t think of a day I didn’t ride.

  8. Agent55 says:

    For Christ’s sake Kawi, tone down the ridiculousness. Someone threw the word “Edgy” around the design studio one too many times. The 1290 Duke however, is clearly best in black, wow.

    • Bud says:

      The headlight/fairing assembly and mufflers are the sore spots for me. Of course, mufflers are easy enough to replace, but the fairing thingy, not so much. But I dig the paint (not just the body parts, frame and engine too) and the seat. In any event, its far better than the previous generations IMO.

  9. Wendy says:

    Haven’t ridden a Z, but the SD is hte most dangerous bike I have ever ridden, license wise. If I owned that bike, I would just stop in and lock myself up in the local hoosegow once a week, out of guilt.

  10. clasqm says:

    The parade of unbelievably ugly motorcycles just keeps on coming …

    • Brian says:

      I haven’t warmed to front end of the Kawasaki yet, but I like the angularity and trellis frame of the KTM. It’s all in the eye of the beholder, and even that changes with time. Plus, with some bikes more than others, photos simply fail to convey what the machine looks like “in the flesh.”

      With bikes, as with cars, I find that some designs I once liked now look less than wonderful to me…while those I once scoffed at (e.g., the last-generation Mazda 3 with the “smiley face” grille) sometimes end up looking pretty good.

    • Provologna says:

      Amen, amen, and amen!

    • MG3 says:

      Bingo!

    • MG3 says:

      But the KTM is not too bad. I can at least look at it without being repelled. But the Z – sheeez. When did we fall in love with insects from another world?

      • Asphanaut says:

        By the looks of that darn Z you’d think I conquered a giant insect from another world and harnessed its power to obey my will and fly at insane speeds whenever I want… wait, why isn’t that cool, again?

  11. joe b says:

    will you purchase a Go-Pro for Mr. Ivins please.

  12. Timothy in Seattle says:

    Weather wimps in Seattle have a four month riding season. Realists have an eleven month season. Buy some gear and stop whining!

  13. Crug says:

    get a miata for when it rains…

  14. mark says:

    I have a 2007 Tuono and cannot wait to snag a demo ride on the SD. If it’s as good as I’m reading, I’ll buy one, but probably not until fall 2015. It’ll be a long wait, but I hate debt more than I’d love a new bike.

  15. Magnus says:

    No such thing as bad weather, just bad gear! Go test the traction control and braking. I’ve seen California rain, it’s like any other west coast rain but you’re not used to it day after week after month….If I didn’t ride in the rain I wouldn’t ride for six months. I need to know how these bikes handle in the rain.

  16. Mark says:

    Six comments and no article! And not even about about adv bikes!

  17. tori zimbalis says:

    It just doesnt make any sense to me….”one of the most powerful nakeds ever”….yet no windshield/proper wind protection and a upright riding position….

    whats all the power for? where do you use it?

    • Asphanaut says:

      Well, some naked bike is going to be the most powerful naked ever and since it’s naked… it will have bars (upright seating) and minimal windhsield & fairings. So it’s actually quite easy to understand. Now if what you really don’t understand why anyone would ever want 130 hp (or more) without being tucked down and leaned over on a race track then let me introduce you to two of our best friends: testosterone and adrenaline.

      • tori zimbalis says:

        There wont be any requirement for testosterone and adrenaline..if the bike only suited for riders that just want to ride around the city to look cool

        I think its just a passing fad

        • Agent55 says:

          Wait, you’re saying naked bikes are a passing fad?! What about the JSM? It’s where naked came from and utterly define what a motorcycle is to tons of riders. Sporty nakeds make tons of sense for seating position, flickability, aesthetics (clean and simple) and just general functionality in most situations. Sportbikes are far less pratical by comparison. You can ride 90% as hard around a racetrack on a naked compared to a sportbike, then ride home in relative comfort too.

        • Blackcayman says:

          Tori…refer back to post that featured the 1290 SD on the track, setting a blistering pace, passing sportbikes, straightening out S-Curves, launching the front wheel and generally displaying Hooliganism in a very high degree.

          This is no passing fad

          just agree that you are a doosh

          • tori zimbalis says:

            I have spent many a afternoon on a few naked bikes at elevated speeds and after a hour or two I quickly realized that at high speed it was unsuitable….far too much wind buffeting and no way to tuck in mI just question the high power levels when the speed potential goes down..

            Im not saying these bikes dont belong…..they are just not intended to do the same thing as a sportbike….thats why they call them street fighters….

            If popping wheelies smokey burnouts and hooliganism is are your thing..I totally understand that…..

            Hanging with a sport bike for a few laps or corners on a fast road or track might be ok to brag about in a magazines…but there are very practical reasons bikes over a long period of time have developed proper bodywork and decent double bubble windscreens….

            Im not buying into it…just saying

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            Tori, it is the perfect tool for the job it is intended to do. The power is not there to maintain “elevated speeds”. Just about any bike has enough power to do that on public roads in this country. The power in a bike like this is used to accelerate like a Saturn V rocket, lift the front wheel with abandon, back in to apexes and inspire awe in anyone with the nerve and skill to test the bike’s potential. If that’s not your thing, then no problem. It’s my thing, though.

            Cross country travel at highway speeds? There are better bikes more suited to such lame activities, though I have done it on naked bikes many times with no protest.

          • Blackcayman says:

            yah…what he said

          • tori zimbalis says:

            I totally get it now….Thanks Jeremy

            I do confess most of these bikes are works of art…..I admit the Brutale has caught my eye..

            So many riders of sportbikes never leave the city…I can see why they are becoming popular

          • Blackcayman says:

            and just like that, we are a family again

          • tori zimbalis says:

            I will fess up to playing it a bit on the dumb side…..I was waiting for someone to post “for what there intended to do” was the answer I was looking for

            Where I live its straight off my drive way to fast open corner stuff…..I have a RC51…new model cbr1000rr and a 1098….Ive spend a few bucks tailoring my rides with different windscreen heights as Im sure most sportbike riders do……I couldnt imagine riding sitting up and the thought on no windscreen well…….

            Now I know what the fuss is all about…..

          • Blackcayman says:

            RC51 was/is a masterpiece! Just too much weight on my wrists and pain in my back for anything more than an hour – for me

        • tori zimbalis says:

          If you ride a sportbike properly..your weight should balance on the spring action of your(bent) legs and your elbows lightly resting on your knees…..you should freely be able to remove your grip at any time from the bars….no weight on any wrists Im 49yrs 6’0

          But……if your riding on the street cruising around… sitting up and your arms are straight out stiff….yes your wrists will hurt like hell…..The RC51 is by far the most comfy bike I own…

          Naked bike is better for city….but the increased weight over the front tire from low clip ons and more extreme riding position from the sport bike is a sensation I prefer…..and a nice cocoon of smooth air flow

          But if I rode in town all the time…Id probably be on a different bike

    • Brent says:

      Right. “Naked” started out as way to make crashed bikes sound sexy without their (expensive) plastic. It worked so well the manufacturers realized there were people who buy bikes based on image. I’ve ridden a “naked” built before there were “nakeds”; a 1984 CB1100F. Even though it has a small head fairing, your arms sure get tired after an hour at freeway speed. And for what? Without the plastic you bike is much more likely to suffer functional damage when you fall. “Naked” is just a sales gimmick to sell less content for more $$.

      • Brian says:

        “Much more likely to suffer functional damage”? I don’t have a lot of experience with wrecked bikes, but that assertion doesn’t quite pass the sniff test for me. How much additional mechanical protection is a sheet of plastic really providing in a serious get-off? And in a minor tipover or low-speed slide, what mechanical damage is likely to be done to your average naked bike that wouldn’t also be done to a faired bike?

        Certainly fairings and windshields have benefits, but speaking as someone who owns both “naked” and fully/partially faired bikes, there’s also a lot to be said for the in-the-wind riding experience, whether it comes with 30hp or 180hp. Not every bike has to be comfortable on day-long rides at 80 mph. There are any number of purpose-built machines that fill that role quite nicely. And if you want a nice, do-it-all kind of bike, they make those too.

        As far as “less content for more $$,” has it ever occurred to you that there are other ways of measuring a motorcycle’s “content” than simply the amount of plastic it’s draped in? And are naked bikes on average actually more expensive than their faired counterparts? I’m not so sure…

        By the way, I’d make the argument that “naked” started out as pretty much every stock bike on the market from the dawn of motorcycling until–what?–the mid-70s?

      • tori zimbalis says:

        I hear you We used to call those RAT bikes…. dropped so many times you rode it without the plastic as a survivor….it was kinda cool to see all the goings on for a change

        I do really like the looks of the KTM but the naked MV’s have really caught my attention in terms of style….

        I just question the buffeting not just at freeway speeds…..but after a few hours of being a good boy respecting speed limits riding to get to your favorite twisty bits….and you open it up for three or 4 fast corner sections..perhaps much quicker than freeway pace wink …

        Ducati sells a lot more Monsters than Panagales…..I think that the nakeds reflect more urban use “street fighter” the term often applied

        Europe has lots of traffic and not the wide open spaces we have in North America……I suspect the naked bike with a slightly detuned lump would fetch a lower insurance rate might have something to do with it……

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      These bikes appeal to people who don’t like windshields or fairings. Why would you need a windshield? What is there to “get”? Would you intend on going 150 mph every where you would go? If you did start to experience wind fatigue then just lift the front end, which this bike should let you do at just about any speed. It punches a nice hole through the atmosphere.

  18. Blackcayman says:

    what a tease…..

  19. Jeremy in TX says:

    Ooooo… Nice teaser!

  20. adaleb says:

    Can’t wait. This is gonna be good. Please start typing….