Your First Bike: Standard / Naked Motorcycles

Triumph Bonneville Naked Motorcycle
Triumph Bonneville Naked Motorcycle. Photo by Cédric JANODET

Naked motorcycles are also known as standard motorcycles and are one of the most common types of motorcycles on the road. They are very versatile and made for general street use, meant for getting around town as someone would with a small sedan automobile.

The naked motorcycles are usually defined by their upright riding position, which is between the reclining position of cruiser motorcycles and the extreme leaning forward position of sports bikes.

Other differences between naked motorcycles and other bikes are as follows:

  • Usually do not come with windscreens and if they have them they are usually small.
  • Have footpegs below the rider.
  • Handlebars allow a comfortable upright sitting position.
  • Also known as Muscle Bikes or Roadsters.
  • Also known as Universal Japanese Motorcycles, or UJMs.

There are a number of pros and cons to every motorcycle and the ones for the naked motorcycle are listed below.

Advantages of a Naked Bike

Speed

Naked motorcycles are usually incredibly powerful and fast, with very large engines and a lot of pick up on the open road. This is partly because they are lighter than other motorcycles like cruisers because they have less material and equipment on them in general.

Ducati Monster Naked Bike

Ducati Monster Naked Bike. Photo by NFGphoto

While they aren’t as fast as sport bikes, for obvious reasons, naked motorcycles can definitely move when necessary and can crest 100 miles per hour if you ever feel the need to go that incredibly fast.

Performance

As naked motorcycles are usually meant for beginning riders, they have a pretty reliable performance that doesn’t take too much strength or skill to control the bike.

Most naked models are also generally reliable on the road from a performance standpoint, as they are middleweight bikes and have a good center of gravity, making them easy enough to handle. You may have to take curvier roads at a slower pace with many models of these bikes until you really get the hang of riding, but learning on a naked motorcycle is ideal.

Agility

Naked motorcycles are certainly not as agile as sports bikes, but they have the ability to change direction when the situation calls for it.

With narrower tires and a lighter body, a skilled rider can dodge and weave on a standard as well as some of the most nimble bikes on the road. It also won’t be too sensitive, like some sports bikes tend to be, and cause you to lose control altogether.

However, the operative words are skilled rider — if you haven’t had a lot of experience riding a motorcycle, don’t try to test the naked bike’s agility too much.

Acceleration

With massive engines on relatively small frames, naked motorcycles have as much acceleration as many sports bikes. This is why they are also known by enthusiasts as muscle bikes, due to their often powerful ability off the line.

While this is something that can be more problematic than helpful, especially for novice riders, it’s often a selling point for those who look for that added power in a model of motorcycle.

Disadvantages of a Naked Bike

Honda CBF 600 Standard Motorcycle

Honda CBF 600 Standard Motorcycle.
Photo by Daniel Levy

Comfort

Because of the upright riding position on the naked motorcycle, as opposed to the more relaxed reclined position or the more intense forward leaning position of the sports bikes, many people consider naked motorcycles to be uncomfortable to ride for long stretches of time.

Bad positioning and posture makes the bike difficult to ride safely, which means a rider will need to maintain that upright stance for as long as they are on the bike. This is easy to do for an hour or so, but beyond that, most people’s arms and back will start to ache considerably.

This means the naked motorcycle is tough to ride on long road trips, limiting it’s use to around town.

Protection

There is limited protection on naked motorcycles, both for the rider and the bike itself.

For the rider, there is no windscreen in most cases, or if there is a windscreen it is a very small one. This means there will be no protection from wind, debris from other cars, bugs and various other things that may fly at the rider while they are on the road.

In terms of protection for the bikes, if it happens to fall over, there is less protection on the bike itself from damaging internal elements.

What to consider when choosing a standard motorcycle

After sitting with the pros and cons of owning a naked motorcycle and deciding you want to make the investment, there are a number of things to consider when deciding which naked motorcycle you want. Rider skill level, budget, comfort and performance should all be taken into account here.

Honda Rebel Naked Motorbike

Honda Rebel Naked Motorbike.
Photo by Tonymadrid Photography

In regards to skill level, a naked bike that is easy to ride and control should be purchased for those who don’t have a lot of experience. These will be generally less expensive bikes.

Comfort comes down to the size of the seat and where the handlebars are in relation to the size of the rider. For novice riders, this positioning is more important than it is for more experienced riders.

And while experienced naked motorcycle riders will want a bike with real performance abilities, a novice rider should probably choose a bike that isn’t overly powerful but still has enough gusto to move out of dangerous situations on the road when necessary.


Some ideal naked bikes for beginners are often classic models, like the Triumph Bonneville, which has a classic look, decent power and a comfortable riding position. The Suzuki GZ250 is also ideal for beginners, though it barely has enough speed to get on the highway. A Honda Rebel is also great, as they are inexpensive, perfect for starter riders due to the positioning and their ease of handling.


Widely considered to be the best bike for beginners and classic motorcycle riders alike, you really can’t go wrong with a naked motorcycle, as long as it is the right one for you. So do your research, learn about each bike that you might want to ride and choose the one that fits you best.

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