FINALLY WARMING TO THE NAKED BIKE
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