Naked Sports HondaSixth Place: Honda CB1000R

Although the Honda finished nine percentage points behind the winner, it is one of the most versatile motorcycles of this six-pack. Both the positive and negative points are most likely related to the fact that the CB1000R has been around since 2008 (although it didn’t make it to the United States until 2011). So, what’s changed in the five years since the big CB arrived on these shores? Well, what colors do you like?

Historical Editor, John Burns, sums the status of the 1000R up the best: “The Honda is still a really sweet bike, but the game has moved on. It’s a bit underpowered only relative to the others — it has plenty of power.”

Naked Sports Honda

The CB1000R’s suspension prefered smooth pavement and deliberate steering inputs.

While welterweight Burns felt the Honda had “maybe the sweetest suspension of any but the Triumph,” heavier editors felt the suspenders were too soft. This was a plus when cruising down the highway, and Big Cheese Editorial Director, Sean Alexander, opined that the Honda had “very nice feel in medium speed sweepers over smooth pavement, solid and seamless handling responses as long as the rider is fairly gentle with the pace and their inputs.” However, the CB’s softish suspension tuning limits the bike’s ultimate pace, and hard parts would touch down when ridden aggressively over rough pavement. This issue presents an interesting challenge: While the CB was extremely nimble, enticing us to flick it into turns, the truth is that its softer suspension prefered to be more gracefully bent into the corner.

2011 Honda CB1000R Review

The CB1000R was the smoothest of the inline-Fours, delivering slick shifts and predictable power. Unfortunately, the power delivery, while smooth, was soft, delivering both the lowest peak power and torque. Aside from being short on power, the Honda was also devoid of any of the modern technologies we’ve come to expect in open-class motorcycles, lacking ABS, ride modes, and TC – a fact that relegated the CB to a distant last place in the Technologies category of our scorecard.

Naked Sports Honda

The CB1000R’s red frame and single-sided swingarm divided the riders on its appearance.

When the focus turned to ergonomics and rider comfort, the CB1000R finished a solid third place. Its handlebar has the rider’s body leaning forward just enough to combat the wind at highway speeds. The roominess of the peg location conspired with the cushy suspenders to have the feelers dragging earlier than the other bikes.

The consensus about the CB1000R was that the bike works well but lacks modern technologies aside from its cool single-sided swingarm. Additionally, its motor feels kind of bland relative to the powerhouses in this group. Finally, its $11,760 MSRP seems a bit overpriced for the package it delivers, especially in relation to the bargain-priced Gixxus.

Burns closed his comments with a good suggestion for riders who are short on funds but want essentially the same bike as the 2016 tested, saying that the CB can probably be found as a used bike bargain. And since the color scheme of our test unit – particularly the red frame and single-sided swingarm – drew some criticism, folks shopping the used market might find an alternate colorway that could be more visually palatable.

Naked Sports KawasakiFifth Place: Kawasaki Z1000 ABS

Let’s start with the Z1000’s looks, shall we? Where I found the Z attractive from stem to stern, the consensus among the rest of the riders was that the “melting/droopy headlight nacelle is a turn-off, but the rest of the bike is gorgeous,” as Alexander put it. Burns chimed in with a dig about it looking “like a melted Gundam Wing.” The remaining riders were kinder, simply referring to the Z1000’s lines as polarizing.

2014 Kawasaki Z1000 ABS – First Ride

With one exception, the Kawi’s engine garnered praise across the board. The Z1000 leaps out of low- and medium-speed corners, delivering entertaining power right where it does the most good on the street. Alexander, ever the iconoclast, carped about the mill’s mid-range focus, noting that “the Kawasaki’s engine signs-off way too early for a sporting machine.” He finished with a plea for “more Ninja and less Vulcan!”

Naked Sports Kawasaki

Like it or not, you can’t deny that the Z1000 has a bold, aggressive style.

One other, more universally held, complaint about the powerplant was its tendency for abruptness in off-to-on throttle transitions, but this should come as no surprise to anyone since we’ve noted the same issue on other models using this engine platform.

Wrapping up our discussion of the engine, many riders noted that vibration played a prominent role in the rider’s experience at certain rpm. The buzz was felt in the pegs, but the vibro-massage seat received the most comments.The chassis stiffness provided by the solid engine mounts, unfortunately, comes at the cost of increased buzz, though it rarely rose to the level of nuisance at anything but the highest rpm. However, the sound of the dual intakes at full song in the upper reaches of the tachometer could make us forget a variety of ills.

Naked Sports Kawasaki

While the Z1000’s headlight nacelle may have garnered criticism on its looks, most riders were impressed by the amount of wind protection it offered at speed.

The suspension, which includes Kawasaki’s Separate Function Fork-Big Piston (SFF-BP) fork, was mostly praised, though Burns felt there was “too much high-speed compression damping for 160-lb me over broken pavement.” I, on the other hand, brought an additional 25 lbs to the party and absolutely loved the suspenders on the roughest road we encountered in our travels. Alexander and his class-leading mass concurred, claiming the Z1000 had the best suspension of the Japanese machinery. The Kawasaki’s nimble handling was also widely praised by most of the riders.

Naked Sports Kawasaki

Although the steeply sloped headlight nacelle may turn some people off, it does a tremendous job of directing wind blast from the rider, easing the rider’s effort at highway speeds an amount similar to a motorcycle with a larger windscreen. However, all was not rainbows and unicorns in the rider-comfort department. Most testers critiqued the firmness of the seat, and some also noted that the shape – which after extended time in the saddle – felt like it was higher in the middle and sloped off to the sides. The firmness also put more pressure on the rider’s thighs at the slab’s edge.

Naked Sports Kawasaki

Cool-looking but lacking in a gear indicator. Yeah, first-world problems.

In a clear sign of how spoiled technology has made us, more than half of the riders felt it was necessary to comment on the absence of a gear-position indicator in the instrument panel. The instrument pod, with its unique split tachometer and circular fuel gauge, is easy to read once you know the layout. In fact, the Kawi’s fit and finish was quite nice. While the Z1000 ranked next-to-last on the scorecard, which favors performance over many other considerations, in discussions, it was rated much higher by most who rode it.

Naked Sports SuzukiFourth Place: Suzuki GSX-S1000

The new kid on the block also happens to be the least expensive of our rides. That newbie, though, churns out an impressive 143 hp, the second highest here. Actually, that really shouldn’t come as a surprise given the Gixxus’ lineage, a direct descendant of the famed K5 GSX-R powerplant. So, perhaps this youngster is an old soul.

2016 Suzuki GSX-S1000 First Ride Review

While the GSX-S’s engine has lost some of the top-end power of its more sporting progenitor, the shuffle of the oomph down in the rpm range didn’t result in the bike feeling defanged. Although the riders were divided on the Suzuki’s bottom-end power, the dyno charts reveal that the torque curve has a significant dip from 4,500 rpm to 7,000 rpm that drops the output to last place before clawing its way back to mid-pack. After the dip, the rider finds ample power that continues to build to a top-end rush one would expect from 143 ponies.

Naked Sports Suzuki

You can own this 143-hp beast for just $10,499.

“Stay on the gas and the Suzuki really rips!” says our peak horsepower addict-cum-Editorial Director Alexander. One of our anonymous co-riders felt the same way: “That motor is absolute sweetness! It has nice smooth torque down low and then revs with a nice hit that makes you want to do that corner with the wheelie hump again and again.”

I, on the other hand, felt that the Suzuki didn’t pull as hard from the bottom end as the Kawasaki. The disparity between Alexander’s and my experience with GSX-S’s drop in torque at 4,500 rpm might be explained by the fact that, as a mid-range favoring rider, I spend more time near the rpm range where this is an issue, and Sean merely passes through it on his charge to the top-end power.

We also need to consider another niggling issue. The EFI is glitchy at low rpm, suffering from the dreaded off-to-on-throttle abruptness. Additionally, the Gixxus occasionally has trouble holding neutral throttle and dropping into deceleration without a change in grip position. These symptoms are usually encountered at around-town engine and road speeds – right where streetbikes spend most of their time. Flip on the rider’s red mist, though, and the fueling issues rapidly shrink in the mirrors as the revs climb to canyon-scratching levels. Our collective prognostication says the GSX-S1000 is just an EFI flash away from streetable perfection. Still, as the Gixxus stands, it claimed victory in the mpg portion of the shootout with an impressive 41.3 mpg.

Naked Sports Suzuki

The Suzuki’s riding position is almost ideal, but the wind protection leaves a little to be desired.

Another place where the Suzuki displays some new-model teething pains is the suspension, which to some riders suffers from being too soft and too harsh. Like the other softly suspended bike in this shootout, the CB1000R, the Gixxus is happier with smooth roads and consistent inputs. Start muscling it around, and it gets weak in the knees. However, hit a large bump, and the high-speed compression damping locks up. So, when riding on gnarled, bumpy pavement, the ride goes from boingy to harsh in an instant – hardly what you want to experience as you encounter an unexpected decreasing-radius corner. The good news is that with the Suzuki’s low price, you should (hopefully) have some money left over to buy a shock or to take the bike to a suspension tuner.

The Gixxus rider benefits from a riding position that is practically perfect, with enough forward lean to suit the sporting speeds the bike generates. Interestingly, the riders were split on the GSX-S’s wind protection. Most of the taller riders felt that the wind blast was the worst on the Suzuki, with one commenting that “it could use a small windscreen for the freeway” and another saying he “felt like a giant sail.” One, however, strongly disagreed with this assessment. This was a non-issue for riders who are closer to average height.

Naked Sports Suzuki

Although they aren’t top-shelf Brembos, the Suzuki’s brakes provide plenty of power with good feedback.

When it came to the topic of engine vibration, the opinions were unanimous: the Suzuki vibrates in ways that don’t give pleasure. “Noticeably more buzzy in the seat and pegs than the other inline-Fours,” noted Alexander. The grips, too, developed some buzz, but this is usually a quick fix with end weights or a handlebar snake.

After our northbound/southbound thrashings, consensus was reached: The GSX-S1000 was the best project bike in the test that was, as Burns noted (repeatedly) “a quick reflash and a new shock from being the best $10k bike on the planet.”

Naked Sports DucatiThird Place: Ducati Monster 1200S

Now, we move our focus from the Japanese manufacturers to those originating from across the Atlantic Ocean.

2014 Ducati Monster 1200 S – First Ride Review

The Ducati Monster 1200S secured its third-place standing through consistent praise for its engine. Power-hungry Sean said, “The Monster’s motor is a monster, with good power everywhere.” Burns agreed, saying it “burns down backroads almost as well as the Aprilia.” Guest Rider 2 elaborated: ”The Ducati was really fun up top in the powerband on 70-mph-plus sweepers when you’re in sixth gear rolling on and off the throttle.”

One look at the dyno sheet reveals the secret of the Monster’s Testastretta engine: It has much greater displacement than any other bike here, and its torque crushes the other five contenders from just over 3,000 rpm to 8,000 rpm.

Naked Sports Ducati

The appearance of the left side of the Ducati’s engine was compared to the underside of a refrigerator by (who else?) Burns.

The Monster’s Öhlins suspension (the reason for the S after the 1200) and the super-stiff chassis also won consistent praise. (For those wondering how different the S is from the base Monster 1200, Ducati claims 10 hp and 4.8 lb-ft less than the S; plus the swap to a non-Ohlins fully-adjustable suspension.) The Monster tied for second place in the Handling segment of our scorecard with the Triumph, and its suspension scores were significantly higher than the Japanese trio.

The result of these strengths is a motorcycle that brings a smile to the face of any performance-minded rider, as the chassis lays waste to the apexes of the twistiest roads. “The Monster’s chassis loves tight corners,” gushed Sir Sean of Alexander. “It reminds me of a Buell XB, always diving for the inside line.”

Naked Sports Ducati

The TFT screen’s variety of display modes is pretty cool – when you can read them.

Still, all that torque and handling love has a hard time outweighing some glaring issues. Every rider noted the Monster’s clunky, recalcitrant transmission.

“This is the second Ducati 1200 I’ve ridden in less than a year that had more than one neutral in its box,” Alexander commented. “Like last summer’s Multistrada 1200S, this Monster 1200S has easy-to-find neutrals between 3rd and 4th, and also between 4th and 5th gears. I ride a lot of different motorcycles, and can happily shift them many different ways without any trouble, but these Ducati 1200 models seem to require a very specific and deliberate upshift technique — not a good idiosyncrasy for a sporting motorcycle.”

Naked Sports Ducati

While we love the Monster’s exhaust note, we wonder how it made it through EPA noise certification.

Unfortunately, the transmission wasn’t the only part of the Monster to receive demerits. We’ve said several times before that the Monster’s ergonomics for the lower body leave a lot to be desired. This is partially a consequence of having a 30.9-inch seat height, the lowest one here. One of the ad guys detailed his experience after one of the most roller-coaster-inspired sections of our trip: “For me being 5-foot-11, the footpeg-to-seat ratio was a bit tight as well. After an hour of twisties on the lunar landscape that is Highway 198, my knees and hips ached.”

The trend continues with every rider commenting on the footpegs in their notes. Burns tried diplomacy, saying it is “slightly wonky ergonomically” before getting to the truth of the matter and ending with ”that whole no-place-for-your-heels problem gets old.”

The impossible-to-read-in-direct-sunlight instrumentation was another “feature” of the Monster that garnered universal condemnation. The cool TFT screen with its switchable screen modes is beautiful but isn’t worth diddly-squat if you can’t see it. The problem is so bad that, during a high-noon stint on the 1200S, I thought the other guys had punked me and turned off the backlighting. Sadly, I wasn’t the butt of a joke but rather a manufacturer’s oversight.

Naked Sports Ducati

A red trellis frame, swoopy exhaust system and single-sided swingarm give the Monster an attractive appearance from its right-hand side. It’s much less pretty on the left side, and we hope Ducati can find a way to reclaim some of the beauty that the engine lost in its conversion to liquid-cooling.

Then there is the Monster’s styling. Liquid-cooling hasn’t been kind to the Ducati’s looks, especially from its left side. What was once one of the prettiest naked engines has morphed into something quite different. “Its looks sort of repel me, from the left side anyway, which looks like the bottom of a refrigerator,” bemoans Burns before summing up our mixed feelings about the Monster: “The more I ride it the more I like it.”

And we do love the Monster enough to place it third in this road war. Sean summed up our hopes and dreams for the Monster thusly: “With a taller seating position, more reasonable footpeg ergos, and a more positive-shifting transmission, this bike would be giving the Tuono a run for its money!”

Naked Sports TriumphSecond Place: Triumph Speed Triple S

The original hooligan naked bike has grown up, and while the Triumph Speed Triple S may have lost a little of its nastiness relative to some of the hyper newcomers to this class, the refinement of the newly updated Speed Trip softens its capabilities the same way a boxing glove does a horseshoe. When riding the Speed Triple, the improvements over the previous model come in rapid succession.

2016 Triumph Speed Triple S Review

The big technology upgrade for 2016 is that the engine now features ride-by-wire and all of the technologies usually associated with it: ride modes (Sport, Rain, Road, and Custom) and variable traction control. While its peak torque isn’t the highest here, it has the second broadest curve – only bested by the Monster – and nothing can touch it from 2,000–3,000 rpm.

Naked Sports Triumph

“A sophisticated gentleman’s crotch rocket.” –John Burns.

With the Triumph ranking next to last in peak horsepower, with a mere 124 horses on tap, some of us were wishing Triumph allowed it to rev out a little further than its 10,000-rpm rev limit. “If Triumph tuned it to rev like a superbike, it would sweep this test hands-down,” Alexander opines, lauding the Triple’s harmonic sounds he likens to six- and 12-cylinder engines.

You know, he’s right about the sound. While the Aprilia and Ducati have their own aural appeal, they both also strain credulity with their claim of EPA legality. (Though we hope the Gub’ment doesn’t go all VW on them.) Riding the Speed Triple, a rider is enveloped in sound from both the intake and exhaust while not shouting at the world for negative attention. Since the Triumph wants to have its butterflies tickled from way down in the bottom end, we’re happy to report that the Triple had the smoothest throttle application of the group. The transmission is just as buttery.

Naked Sports Triumph

There was a time when an underseat exhaust was all the rage. Now, it seems old-fashioned.

Although the Triple’s top end doesn’t have the same intoxicating rush as the Monster and Tuono, it has the capability to generate speed beyond what most rational humans need on the street. Then again, some of us aren’t terribly judicious, now are we? We know this because Sean wasn’t the only rider who felt the Speed Triple lacked a little exuberance at times, as evidenced by one of our guest rider’s comments: “It just felt underpowered against these other monsters. The Triple just doesn’t have the grunt the others do.”

Fortunately, the Triumph’s suspension can match the forces generated by those three cylinders and the quick turning forces allowed by the Triple’s steep 22.9° rake. Unlike on the Ducati, the S suffix on the Speed Triple’s name denotes it as the base model, meaning no carbon fiber bodywork or fancy Öhlins suspension components (plus other cosmetic changes) for a $14,900 MSRP of the Speed Triple R. No matter, the fully adjustable Showa suspension, though a little on the softer side compared to the Aprilia and Ducati, controlled the chassis quite nicely.

Naked Sports Triumph

A willing engine and capable suspension can take you a lot of places – quickly.

Perhaps the Triumph’s upper-crust feel comes from being, according to Alexander, the “most comfortable bike in this test, thanks to its natural seating position, reasonable seat padding, and sensible bar-and-peg placement.” Some of this is, no doubt, due to the 32.5-inch seat height – a tie with the Tuono for the highest – and the additional leg room it allows. However, a Speed Triple rider has to battle the second-strongest wind blast caused by the minimalist headlight nacelle located quite a distance away from the rider. Burns thought the lights are ugly, but what does he know? Enough to rank the Speed Triple first overall – as did I – in personal preference.

While several of us debated whether the Triumph was first or second in our ratings, the one thing we could all agree on was the the big Triple was the most versatile bike in the group, making it the ideal choice for the rider who wants one bike to do anything.

In the end Alexander had the best summation of our time with the Speed Triple: “Happy in the canyons, the Triumph is perhaps a step behind bikes like the S1000R, Super Duke R, and Tuono when the pace gets serious, but it’s still a better sportbike than most people will ever need. A great ‘only’ bike for any experienced rider.”

Naked Sports ApriliaFirst Place: Aprilia Tuono V4 Factory

The Aprilia put the sex in our sextet. The Tuono V4 Factory won all subjective categories but ergonomics on the scorecard. Still, when we talked about why we all loved the Tuono, the engine was always the center of the conversation.

2016 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory Review

Yes, the V–4 makes the most horsepower and the second-most torque, but that’s only part of the story. All that top-end power does come at the expense of the bottom end in terms of both power delivery and EFI refinement. Looking at the dyno sheet reveals that the Aprilia ranks last on torque from 4,000–5,500 rpm. However, 2,000 rpm later it twists its way into second place and never relinquishes its hold. The same can be said about the horsepower curve. It ranks at the bottom from just over 3,000 rpm to 4,500 rpm, staying mid-pack up to 7,500 rpm. Once it makes its move, though, it clears the other engines at 8,500 rpm and just keeps going up – while the others are signing off. The rush from 7,500 rpm up to redline is what makes the Tuono so amazing. It will alter your impression of space and time.

Naked Sports Aprilia

The view of the Tuono most frequently seen by riders on the other bikes during testing.

Next, let’s consider the magnificent exhaust note. Any time the engine was started, I would pause whatever I was doing and simply revel in it for a moment. However, this auditory bliss for us motor heads could cause some unwanted attention. “Sounds F’n-A-Mazing!” gushed Alexander. ”Which is no surprise, considering it has a ‘legal’ stock exhaust that’s louder than many aftermarket cans.” As noted above, the Ducati’s exhaust is similar in volume, though not as extreme.

The exhaust volume wasn’t our only quibble with the Factory’s engine. Oddly, the quickshifter felt slow by cutting the ignition for an excessively long time. Also, there is a price to be paid for the V-4’s performance in the form of the lowest gas mileage of the shootout. The Tuono only managed to squeeze out an average of 31.4 mpg – a shocking 9.9 mpg less than the best-in-class Suzuki!

American riders can also now choose the Donington Blue version previously only available in Europe.

American riders can also now choose the Donington Blue version previously only available in Europe.

If the Tuono’s engine was kick ass, it’s chassis was every bit as good; only the Ducati and Triumph could challenge it. Alexander could barely contain himself with his praise. In fact, a couple times I was worried he’d stroke out, veins bulging from his temples as he unleashed a verbal torrent:

MPG/Mathematical Range
Aprilia Tuono V4 Factory 31.4 mpg / 154 mi.
Ducati Monster 1200S 39.9 mpg / 184 mi.
Honda CB1000R 36.2 mpg / 163 mi.
Kawasaki Z1000ABS 37.9 mpg / 170 mi.
Suzuki GSX-S1000 ABS 41.3 mpg / 186 mi.
Triumph Speed Triple S 39.8 mpg / 163 mi.

“Brilliant chassis feels better and better the faster you go…. the Tuono places a devil on both of the rider’s shoulders, both whispering, ’Yeah, do it!’ It’s the bike your mother warned you about, a fiery Italian redhead who will blow your everything and then burn down your house.” (And that’s only one outburst.)


The 24.7° rake plus the fully-adjustable Öhlins suspension deserve some of the credit for the Aprilia’s backroads manners. The rider’s impression was that the Tuono could be placed anywhere in the corner at any time. While taut enough to provide the feedback advanced riders require, the damping is also capable of swallowing the big hits that rough, broken pavement can deliver.

Naked Sports Aprilia

The Tuono’s seat is much better than the old Tuono 1000’s, proving to be comfortable perch for racking up the miles in search of the next series of apexes.

Surprisingly, the Tuono, the sportiest bike here, was also ranked second in ergonomics, finishing a mere 2.5% behind the Speed Triple. The consensus was that the riding position is all-day comfortable while still providing an ideal perch for canyon shenanigans. The pegs strike a great compromise between ground clearance and comfort. The handlebar is wide enough for good leverage, though several riders commented that a slight rise would help its everyday, in-town rideability. Clever control of the wind blast helps to take the weight off the rider’s wrists at highway speeds without leaving the rider hanging out in the air flow like a sail. The seat is one of the most comfortable in this six-pack. Just don’t plan on carrying a passenger anywhere if you want to maintain a cordial relationship.

Naked Sports Aprilia

Despite its sporting focus, the Tuono was ranked second in rider comfort by our testers. Go figure.

Still, as fun as the Tuono is, most riders still felt it was necessary to mention the exhaust – even in their summations. Here’s Johnny B:

“Aprilia would be like driving a Ferrari every day. Twenty years ago, I might’ve said, ‘Sure why not?’ Now, I don’t want that much drama in my life. It’s too loud to be legal, both visually and verbally. I prefer to fly a little more under the radar. If sheer speed and race-track ability is what you seek, however, then there is no other choice. It is an amazing thing to ride in the middle of nowhere, when you can open the throttle at 7000 rpm and kick in the booster stage. Unfortunately, I’d be riding it more in the middle of everywhere.”

Alexander finishes:

“The Tuono Factory makes a great exotic second bike for old racers and experienced riders who are serious about performance. It’s too fast for polite company, but it’s irresistible for us antisocial types. A 1-inch bar rise and push-button ‘quiet’ exhaust valve would make this an honest only-bike candidate.”

Naked Sports GroupFinal Words

So, there you have it, our Naked Sports Shootout’s results, as determined by the MO Scorecard with supporting statements. Only, that’s not all. In our discussions both during and after the ride, each rider developed a personal preference list, the order the bikes would rank if each rider were (shudder) forced to spend their own money. When you run these six exceptional motorcycles through your own personal filter system, you’ll probably find yourself developing a list of your own.

All hail the Naked Sports!

Scorecard Be Damned!

The Editors’ Top Three And Why

Evans Brasfield
Triumph Speed Triple Capable of any street riding task I ask of it.
Kawasaki Z1000 Almost as versatile with a unique look.
Aprilia Tuono Factory I can’t deny the pull of outright performance.
John Burns
Triumph Speed Triple Bond, James Bond.
Aprilia Tuono Factory Completely over the top, but there are other bikes in the garage for sub-ballistic missions.
Suzuki GSX-S1000 Terrific bang-for-buck and completely practical, too.
Sean Alexander
Aprilia Tuono Factory So close to perfection it’s scary, too bad about those gaudy graphics. I’d buy it anyway.
Triumph Speed Triple An A-list all-arounder, the almost practical choice.
Kawasaki Z1000 One headlight, some ground clearance, and a couple thousand rpm away from perfection.
Naked Sports Six-Way Shootout
Hover your mouse over the overall score for individual category ratings.
Motorcycle Overall Overall Overall
Tuono Factory
Monster 1200S
Speed Triple S

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  • DickRuble

    So, to summarize; the Triumph won hands down, because the Duck and the Tuono belong to a different comparo, really. I see no mention, but given the near unanimity of the verdict, I am ready to bet it has cruise control. ’cause that’s what matters: noise and cruise control.

    • Evans Brasfield

      Boom! And you would be wrong. Much to John’s chagrin, the Speed Triple doesn’t have cruise control.

      Bummer, no?

      • DickRuble

        you can’t trust anything and anybody anymore..

      • Erik

        Can we get a comparison test between the speed triple and the 2016 MV Brutale once it comes available? It would be a good test since both bikes are not in the HP wars and offering a more street focused riding experience.

        • Kevin Duke

          Which Brutale?

          • Erik

            The new 800 would be most interesting. I assume they’re not available
            since they are slowly coming to the US and Italy is on holiday. Or the
            2015 800RR, not the dragster, would be a good comparison also.

  • JMDonald

    If Honda wanted to it could make the CB1000 a peach. A number of their bikes have a lot of potential. WTFO? At this rate I am destined to never own another Honda. The Speed Triple is calling me home. Who wouldn’t want a Tuono? Even with all the drama and gaudy graphics I must someday own one.

  • ebg1222 .

    Great comparison guys. Can you post the route you took?

    • Evans Brasfield

      The quick version is:
      I-5 N to Frazier Park
      Frazier Park Rd to Cerro Noroeste Rd to 166 to 33N
      33 through Taft to 58W
      58W to 101 S (to go to SLO and replace the rear tire)

      Original plan was 101N to 46W to Santa Rosa Creek Road into Cambria

      After tire repair
      Hwy 1 to Cambria

      Day 2:
      Shoot the stuff we couldn’t get the day before on Santa Rosa Creek Rd.
      Hwy 1 to Carmel to Monterey

      Day 3 (return):
      68E out of Monterey
      Laureles Rade Rd. south to Carmel Valley Rd.
      Carmel Valley Rd to some small roads to 101S
      101 to 198E to Coalinga (lots of roads for future exploration off 198)
      33S to Taft and reverse the trip up

      Fun stuff, and we skipped some of my favorites because of time constraints. Shooting photos and video always eat up the riding time.

      Now, this is all top secret. So, don’t tell anyone. OK?

      • DickRuble

        What happened to the rear tire? I didn’t see it mentioned in the comparo..

        • Evans Brasfield

          Watch the video. Basically, a bald tire made it through Suzuki ‘s bike prep in one of the busiest times of year for the staff.

          • DickRuble

            Bald tire… doesn’t that make it slick?

          • Michael Howard

            You guys might want to consider doing a T-CLOCS check before every ride. As I’ve read on moto websites, we riders should do that before EVERY. SINGLE. RIDE. 😉

      • Erik

        I rode Santa Rosa Creek Rd. on a road bike. That road is bump as hell. Surprised you guys didn’t bail. Next time take Old Creek Rd to Cayucos

      • ebg1222 .

        Loose lips sink ships. Thank you for responding, I’ve been planning my first long trip on my FJ-09.

      • Robs

        My best friends (and longest moto riding buddies) live in Atascadero and I live in Santa Paula. Your route is pretty much my preferred route for either outbound or return. In the spring, I’ll throw Soda Lake Road into the mix (I ride a R1200GS). If you ever get the chance, check out Vineyard Canyon from San Miguel to Parkfield, then Parkfield-Coalinga Road to 198 (or reverse).

        PS: thanks for referring to one of my favorite roads by its proper name: Cerro Noroeste. Hudson Ranch Road? Never!

  • john phyyt

    Oh I was so hoping that you could have included the FZ 10. .. I guess that
    will have to wait .

    Still an excellent comparison. I particularly enjoyed that you made it a road trip so
    as to give more real world feel.

    “Alexander could barely contain himself with his praise. In fact, a couple times I was worried he’d stroke out, veins bulging from his temples as he unleashed a verbal torrent:” It is so great to hear even ,a long term motorcyclist,hasn’t lost his love of bikes. All of these bikes are excessive BUT isn’t that why we ride these toys. It is a visceral, physical and emotional engagement with these monsters
    which gives you a “buzz” which is amazing.

    Bang down a couple of gears, Punch it into a corner , lean it way over , feel the tires squirm as you feed in power on the exit and wheelie out and keep firing gears until you grab magnificent brakes to set up the next bend. You can do this on these bikes: And yet they are all day, every day, comfortable and reliable. All motorcycling is Great but these new mega nakeds are so much fun as to make a person wonder why you would bother with the rest.

    • Evans Brasfield

      Sadly, the FZ-10 isn’t available for us to test yet. We’d love to have had one on this test since it looks like it will fit with the hypers, performance-wise, and the naked sports, price-wise.

      • Branson

        “the performance of a hyper and the price of a sport.”

        I always like MO’s comparison tests, but in this case I would’ve preferred to wait and have the FZ-10 included.

        How long before Yamaha lends you one to test?

        • Evans Brasfield

          Not. Soon. Enough.

          The problem with large, multi-bike tests is getting them all together at once. If we’d waited for the FZ-10, we would have likely lost a few of these bikes.

          We’ve had shootouts fall apart and have to be started from scratch when one of the key players (usually the newest one) could not be delivered to us at the previously scheduled time. (You know, things like recalls and motojournalists tossing them down the road.) When this happens, we sometimes have to return the bikes and make arrangements to get them back ASAP. I don’t envy Kevin’s organizational job for these big shootouts.

          • DickRuble

            With his spending all this time in bed with his bum hip, and no time to skate backwards uphill, Duke’s administrative productivity must have more than doubled.

          • Kevin Duke

            I’ve been using the extra time training. Look for me in the 100-meter hurdles in Rio.

          • DickRuble

            Make sure you outrun Zika and you’ll win the race. With all the dropouts you stand a chance for the gold. And prepare for 110 meters. It’s 110 meter hurdles and we wouldn’t want you to run out of steam ten meters short.

  • Ian Parkes

    Great read, Evans, thank you. I’ve dreamt about a Tuono but on this evidence and Sean’s, the Speed Triple – which I’d previously thought was past it – seems to tick all the boxes. The underseat exhaust may be less fashionable but it frames the engine beautifully and it looks just right – even if it’s hell on bungies. Comfort, character, cubes and real class.

    • iTxip

      After owning a bike with “under the seat” exhausts like the triple i recomend you buy the aftermarket arrow 3-to-1 low exhaust, the heat to the seat in the summer was very annoying. a guy i know had the arrow installed, looks and sounds great + no seat cooking in summer.
      Now i own the new tuono factory, its worth every penny they ask for it, if you think its too expensive the regular version its about the same price of the triple, and still will blow it out of the water

  • Down 3 guys and NO phone call?!! Where’s the love?!

    That’s OK… I wouldn’t have heard the phone ringing over the roar of my 1100’s exhaust anyway!

    • Evans Brasfield

      We tried, but you didn’t pick up!

      • Damn Eh Tea End Tea. It’s not like I would’ve enjoyed that test or anything…


        • Kevin Duke

          Serves you right for getting a day job! 😉

          • Well it’s true I have a gig that keeps me busy during the day, I can always make time for MO! Don’t lose my number quite yet, Sir Duke. I’ll turn my ringer up from now on. 🙂

  • Old MOron

    Dear MOrons, in two separate posts, I’ve hinted that this story was overdue.

    But I see the time and effort that went into it, and it was worth the wait! Evans’ narrative is as good as ever. I should be in bed already, but I’ve stayed awake, reading carefully.

    As for the video, I think maybe it’s your best effort yet. Both the content and the production were ace. I think my favorite quip was JB’s “I’m going. Everybody stand clear!” But Evans’ “Grab my arm” gag was golden, as were the notations about the overpacked the CB.

  • SRMark

    Such nice bikes but so hard on the eyes. But my eyes are old. I guess my appreciation of style has not kept pace. The Triumph, from the side, looks like it took a blast of automatic weapon fire.

  • Manolo

    I must have read your naked shootouts way too many times as I was able to predict the order these would end up (ok, ok, I’ll get a life).
    Yeah, let’s do a rerun with the FZ-10 in the mix – ideally a Tuono vs. SDR vs. S1000R vs. FZ-10 (suspecting that this is the actual order they would finish, if history means anything, FZ brakes be damned 🙂 ). I am very intrigued by the FZ-10 and I would love to hear your thoughts after riding all these back-to-back.

    • We’d need to throw in the Triumph Speed Triple S as well, but I agree completely. And let’s make that Tuono a base model.

      • iTxip

        In this test should have been a tuono R, but the other top super nakeds (bmw, ktm) have same price tag as the tuono factory(ktm is actually a bit more expensive) so it should be the factory against them, obviously the bmw should have the full electronics package: suspension, traction control, rider modes, quicshifter AND cruise control+heated grips (how this is not an option in all bikes is beyond me)
        I own the tuono factory and its worth every penny, the engine its just so addictive, im pretty sure its made of drugs LOL

      • randy the great

        Agree on both points.

  • Jeff

    I really wish you guys would have included an EBR SX in this comparison. It costs about the same, but packs a ton of RWHP.

    • Kevin Duke

      We wish we could’ve gotten one, too! We’re trying to get one for including in a shootout with the FZ-10.

      • Jeff

        As an RX owner I am SOO pumped! The SX embodies what the category is all about, a full super sport with zero body work and different handlebars.

    • iTxip

      Here in europe that would be even more exotic than my tuono factory LOL!!!

  • Craig Hoffman

    Impressed by the Suzuki’s horsepower for the dollar value proposition. Also wondering if that K5 derived engine would touch 160 at the wheel after adding a full exhaust, Power Commander and perhaps and ECU flash. I bet it would, high 150s at least and a nicely fattened up midrange. Sounds wheelie fun to me…

    • Kevin Duke

      Getting the Gixxus reflashed to find out how it responds.

      • Craig Hoffman

        Sounds like an interesting project. I noted that the ‘Zook was dinged for being a bit buzzy. The best benefit of flashing the ECU on my ’06 FZ1 (Ivans did the work) is the creamy smoothness. The engine no longer feels like it is slightly fighting itself all the time, and now simply revs all the way to the limiter with barely a tingle. Flashing it made a truly remarkable difference in this area. Interested to see if the Suzuki responds this way as well.

  • Bob Dragich

    Great shoe-doubt. Happy my favorite won. Whatever do you mean, “gaudy graphics”? LOL

  • Grant Nicholson

    Which one offers reasonable pillion comfort? I’m obviously not talking touring here but short day trips without too many tears from wifey.

    • The Honda and Triumph are tops for pillion comfort.

      • Born to Ride

        Not the Ducati? The passenger seat on that thing is super wide and padded. I seem to remember you guys giving it 2 thumbs up in the past and a picture with two MOrons on it. I don’t remember who was riding bitch tho.

  • Alexander Pityuk

    Well this is outrageous! Having fun with those triple wheelies out of the corner? Wait until EiC sees this, he will teach you some proper subordination!

  • Kamohelo Mohudi

    just a quick question: so we eventually buy these bikes and there are few things that one notices you guys hardly test or speak of:

    1. Pillion seats,comfortability of such and if you can ride with one because you do want to allow your girlfriend/wife to go on rides with you

    2.Lights, as you will ride at night more than once a week and half the time you need to install HIDs because the factory lights can be dull

    Can you shed some light on the aspect?

  • TheSeaward

    I still stop what I’m doing everytime an RSV-4 starts its way down the straight at the track. Like the dead dinosaurs powering it are trying to make an escape through the exhaust. Metal.

    I bought a new 2011 Speed Triple after getting home from Iraq. It was a fantastic machine that was my first real experience with what a grown up motorcycle could be. Unfortunately I sold it after a bout of MADD (motorcycle attention deficit disorder) and regret it to this day.

    Great comparo and the writing was fantastic, as always.

  • Chris

    Love comparos; always have, always will. Still, I’ve been done here: the 1290 Super Duke R wins hands-down for me. It has the looks, the sound, the comfort, the power (and the torque, specifically), and it can be ridden crazy or everyday normal. Heck, it even gets pretty darn good gas mileage in commuter mode. All the others are fighting for 2nd place.

    Enjoyed the read.

  • John B.

    I’m 6’3″ and 235 pounds and find all motorcycles with sporting intentions a bit cramped. Bob Marley said, “The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.” That’s gotta be the Tuono right?

  • Jordan Marcelo

    Loved this article. And the video is the best one I’ve seen online anywhere. Great overhead shots with the drone! I’ve taken the same route as you guys did many, many times and love that part of CA. Now I have to go do it.
    I pretty much predicted the winners given what I’ve read everywhere else. If it were my bike and my money, and more importantly, the 4-5+ years I would own these bikes, I would probably go with either the Suzuki or Honda. A few choice upgrades in the suspension and fueling and the Suzuki would be 95% the Aprilia. The Honda will never make up the 25 rwhp deficit but it sure would be stone cold reliable! I would be happy with either bike. I’m over the exotic bike ownership experience. I’d rather spend the time riding more and worrying less about maintenance. In the end, most folks rarely use the big horsepower in the real world.
    Thanks MO for the great article.

  • Alan G

    i commute on the factory!

  • Gabriel Owens

    Just bought a brand new cb1000r for $6895. It was a holdover from 2014. I think for that price there was no other better option.

    • Evans Brasfield


      Chalk up another victory for Burns’ wise words.

      • Gabriel Owens

        Dude , I know. During the “buying ordeal” I kept asking myself “what would John Burns do”. But I did keep having that Kevin Duke portion in my brain telling me to pay more for a speed triple. I think I did the right thing. With money saved suspension will be sorted with Ohlins yellow, and after an exhaust and tune the bike will put down good numbers to the rear tire.

        • Kevin Duke

          Actually, I’m quite a fan of the Honda and believe it might’ve ranked higher in this shootout had I been able to be on the trip. I love agile bikes and think the Honda (and its narrower rear tire) is the quickest steering liter-size sportbike available. Read more here:

          • Gabriel Owens

            I know you’re a fan of bargain street triples. It was hard to pass on the cb1000r at that price so now it’s setting next to my Super adventure. Every dollar I saved on the 10k that I budgeted is going to suspension. Race tech upfront Ohlins in back. I think it’s a great idea on an article if you had the money to do it. How to take 10k, buy a “new” holdover bike and save cash. Take said saved cash and upgrade the bike accordingly. I mean with the money invested this motorcycle is gonna be plush. BTW I’ve really enjoyed this summers articles. Banner year at MO!

  • Crockette

    Very interested in the Tuono. Did its lackluster fuel mileage/range become an issue on this trip? I’ve heard that 120 mi is about the max you can get without having to stop and refuel. Great shootout by the way.

  • Ripu Daman


    I am planning to buy a new bike and Tuono is one of the contenders but I do not have much experience with liter bike also I was wondering can Tuono act as a daily bike to office.

    Ripu Daman

  • ChevalierMalFet

    You mentioned the XSR900, and while I own one and I love it to pieces, it would have been completely left behind in company like this.

  • Cami

    Not sure why you would have done this with a 10 year old Honda, but not the new FZ10.

    • Kevin Duke

      Maybe because the Honda is currently available but the Yamaha wasn’t…?