‘Naked bikes are back’

Even his­tor­i­cal new-bike sales flops are start­ing to com­mand big money

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Buying & Selling -

I’m not sure what goes through man­u­fac­tur­ers’ minds when they de­cide to make a cheap naked bike out of some­thing that was pre­vi­ously swad­dled in plas­tic and adorned with ex­pen­sive add-ons. In the­ory it’s a good idea, but in prac­tice it rarely works. It’s of­ten bet­ter to take an ex­ist­ing en­gine and build a bud­get naked bike around it, per­haps us­ing a steel tube frame in­stead of an al­loy beam, and so on. Suzuki are past masters at this. Ban­dit any­one?

Some nakeds are ut­terly brilliant, like the Triumph Street Triple – which has ruled the cat­e­gory for a decade.

And some aren’t. The Honda X11, the ‘naked Black­bird’, is a prime ex­am­ple of the type. Awk­ward, clumsy, with a linked brak­ing sys­tem that didn’t seem as good as the one on the orig­i­nal ‘Bird, and with hideous styling that made it look like an old 600 Re­vere had been sip­ping a the steroids. It was a sales flop, and de­served to be. But, and here’s a thing, I’ve just watched a 2001 ex­am­ple sell for £2700.

That’s in­cred­i­ble. Ad­mit­tedly there were only 12,000 miles on the clock, but shortly be­fore it I’d seen a mint 1997 Black­bird with just 7000 miles on it – yes, seven thou­sand miles – sell for exactly the same price. What makes a Black­bird with all the body­work taken off it worth the same as far more at­trac­tive weather-cheat­ing orig­i­nal?

Ba­si­cally, naked bikes are back in fash­ion. To many, they look more like ‘real bikes’ while to oth­ers they sim­ply de­liver plenty of sen­sory en­joy­ment with­out the risk of li­cence-los­ing speeds. Look at what the Suzuki GSX1400 (an­other suc­cess­ful Suzuki adap­ta­tion) is fetch­ing – you’ll pay be­tween £4500 and £5000 for a low-miler, even though it may be over 10 years old.

And I haven’t even men­tioned the Kawasaki Ze­phyrs...

NEXT WEEK Old Hon­das that are in­creas­ingly worth in­vest­ing in

While un­pop­u­lar from birth, the X11 is now a sought-after model

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