FI­NALLY WARM­ING TO THE NAKED BIKE

Sport Rider - - Mailbox -

It was with some de­gree of “he fi­nally is get­ting it!” I read Edi­tor Kent Kunitsugu’s Fe­bru­ary/ March opin­ion piece “Amer­i­cans Fi­nally Warm to the Naked Bike” ( Wheel­spin). For many years I have been read­ing Kent’s opin­ions on the USA’S lack of in­ter­est in, and even dis­dain for, naked bikes. I have been smil­ing and chuck­ling to my­self as one af­ter an­other wickedly fun and in­ter­est­ing ver­sion of the high- per­for­mance naked- bike genre ap­peared on the scene, com­ing here to tempt us and war against one an­other for

our North Amer­i­can af­fec­tion and cash.

All this time, as he of­ten ex­pressed won­der at what any­one saw as at­trac­tive about these un­faired brutes, I kept think­ing that Kent was miss­ing the boat. These bikes are a blast to tool around on and so easy to ride fast. In most “real- world” sit­u­a­tions, they are much eas­ier to ride fast (or slow) than sport­bikes. Other than only a com­par­a­tive lack of wind pro­tec­tion, but nakeds do not pe­nal­ize you one bit for that abil­ity.

I have rid­den a lot of bikes in my 57- year ro­mance with two- wheeled power, and I will prob­a­bly never own a bike set up to put me in or any­where near a “racer’s crouch” again. Un­less you are a to­tal track­day devo­tee or real road­racer, there is no rea­son to own a sport­bike. A high- per­for­mance naked bike is as fast or faster than its sport­bike equiv­a­lent where most of us spend our time. All of this while be­ing an ass- load more ac­com­mo­dat­ing at re­al­is­tic (not get­ting a ticket every other ride) sorts of speeds on public roads. In my case, those are moun­tain roads. I pri­mar­ily am lim­ited to rid­ing on that type of road in the south­east­ern United States, but that ain’t a bad thing.

Mike Baker Birmingham, AL

En­joyed your rev­e­la­tions about naked sport­bikes. As an ag­ing out­lier (67), I have been a naked/hooli­gan fan since 2006. I have sev­eral naked sport­bikes in the garage now. At night, dur­ing the West Virginia win­ter here, it is like a Del­tran test lab— six bikes with their ten­ders all lit up. Yet, at the clos­est point to the garage door, my 2006 FZ1 is ready for the oc­ca­sional 50- plus win­ter days we have. Al­ways get to ride 12 months a year, even though De­cem­ber through March is snow time.

I have had the good for­tune of be­ing mo­tor­cy­cle- ad­dicted and money- fool­ish for the last 15- plus years, so while I had eight bikes last year, I’m down to six now, three of which are naked. I have been per­plexed over years why nakeds have not caught on in USA. They are, in my opin­ion, ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic. The lever­age of flat bars and up­right seat­ing in the twisties make them a pure joy to ride. All my bud­dies on their GSS and Wings and big cruis­ers, and I’m so con­tent on the FZ1— and usu­ally just ride alone most times. I’m not into over­weight, farkle- laden ad­ven­tur­ers (that can’t do jack in the dirt) or Wing over­pro­tec­tive cock­pits or trac­tor- shift­ing Amer­i­can metal. No, keep it naked and keep it fun. I live a mile from twisties and put a lot of miles on the bikes— sev­eral 300- plus- mile trips sev­eral times a week from March through Novem­ber.

While I cer­tainly haven’t owned the num­ber of bikes that pass through your garage, I have enough naked ex­pe­ri­ence to also chime in: Yeah, USA rid­ers, what’s taken you so long? Com­plaints of wind and pro­tec­tion re­ally irk me! My God, folks, they’re mo­tor­cy­cles, not Toy­otas!

Not sure where you got the idea that I ever thought naked bikes were unattrac­tive or that I ever thought they ever didn’t de­serve to be ac­cepted in the USA. If you’ve truly read my writ­ings over the years, you’d know I’ve been sim­ply won­der­ing why the naked- bike cat­e­gory never caught on un­til now. —Ed.

W. Grant Nor­man Mor­gan­town, WV

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