2021 heavyweight naked spec shootout

MO’s string of naked motorcycle shootouts continues, and this time we saved the best for last.

We started things off in June with the middleweight class, seeing the Triumph Trident 660 emerge from a six-bike shootout. In August, we moved up a weight class and saw the Yamaha MT-09 come out ahead in another six-motorcycle dog fight. For September, we witnessed KTM’s 390 Duke top a field of five lightweight nakeds.

As we approach the middle of November, it’s time to bring out the big guns. We’ve got a battle royale featuring seven heavyweight naked models. Our contenders: the Aprilia Tuono V4 Factory, the BMW S1000R, the Ducati Streetfighter V4 S, the Kawasaki Z H2 SE, the KTM 1290 Super Duke R, the MV Agusta Brutale 1000RR, and the Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS.

Ordinarily, we try to group motorcycles with a similar price point, but we had to forget about that for this grouping. You can blame MV Agusta for that, with its $33,800 MSRP for the Brutale 1000RR. That’s a $8,605 premium over the second most expensive bike, Ducati’s $25,195 Streetfighter V4 S.

The MV Agusta Brutale 1000RR is a carbon-clad Italian beauty, but it’s $33,800 price tag is 50% higher than the average of all seven bikes combined.

The BMW starts with a $15,040 base price, but for this test, it is equipped with the M, Sport, Select and Premium packages, bumping it up to $20,765. That moves it up from what would have been the least expensive bike in this group to the third most expensive.

The supercharged Z H2 SE sits right in the middle of the pack, with a price of $19,700, just ahead of the $19,499 Tuono V4 Factory. KTM’s beastly SDR slots in next at $18,699, with the Speed Triple RS rounding out the group at $18,500.

That’s a combined $156,158 of the highest performance naked motorcycles on the market that the MO Team has been diligently putting to the test. Yes, I know, it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.

Before we find out about the riding impressions, let’s take a look at the spec sheets to see just what kind of performance level we’re talking about.

Engines

Our seven combatants include engine displacements ranging from 998cc to 1301cc. There’s also a good mix of engine configurations, including a V-Twin, a Triple, a couple of V-Fours, and three Inline-Fours.

At 1301cc, the Super Duke R’s 75° V-Twin has the largest displacement of this comparison. Photo by R. Schedl.

At 1301cc, the Super Duke V-Twin has the largest displacement, with a 108.0 mm bore and 71.0 mm stroke. The Triumph’s 1160cc Triple is the second largest engine thanks to its 90.0 mm bore and 60.8 mm stroke.

Aprilia’s 1077cc V-Four has a 65-degree angle while Ducati stayed with its traditional 90-degree configuration for the 1103cc Desmosedici Stradale engine. The BMW and MV Agusta are probably the most similar, both displacing just under a liter, with the Brutale having a longer stroke and a higher compression ratio. The Kawasaki’s engine has a similar displacement, but with a 90.0 mm stroke, it has the longest stroke and the earliest redline of the four-cylinders. Then of course, there’s the little matter of having a supercharger.

2021 Kawasaki Z H2 SE engine

The Kawasaki Z H2 SE and its supercharger stands out from this otherwise naturally-aspirated group.

Measured on the Wrench Motorcycles dyno, the differences in their horsepower and torque curves really stand out. The high-revving Streetfighter V4 S topped the field with 176.6 hp, reaching that peak at 12,500 rpm, long past where most of the other bikes reached their rev limits.

Up until 9,800 rpm, however, it’s the KTM with a significant horsepower advantage over the competition, with the margin the widest at 7800 rpm where the Super Duke R has a 19.6 hp edge over the Z H2 SE. The Kawasaki eventually catches up as it approaches its 163.1 hp peak at 10,200 rpm, but the Streetfighter takes over shortly after.

Horsepower dyno

The Z H2 SE, Brutale, and S1000RR have the smallest displacements in this group, each around 998cc or 999cc, but we can see the difference Kawasaki’s supercharger makes over the other Inline-Fours. The Brutale has what would be an impressive peak at 161.1 hp at 12,200 rpm (which is good for third overall) were it not for the fact that MV claims 208hp at the crank. Matters are further complicated as for most of the rev range, it sits at the bottom, with some noticeable dips in its curve that give the advantage to the S1000R.

The Speed Triple RS has the lowest peak power figures, topping off at 146.6 hp at 10,700 rpm, but it has one of the more linear curves of the group until it starts to flatten around 8,000 rpm. It holds up well against the others, sitting third in the group and going neck and neck with the Tuono before the Aprilia finally overtakes it on the way to its 150.2 hp peak at 11,400 rpm.

Looking at the torque curves, the KTM 1290 Super Duke R’s 98.0 lb-ft. at 7,800 rpm jumps out, with a 10.4 lb-ft. advantage over the Kawasaki. If it weren’t for the KTM’s beast of a V-Twin, we’d be singing the praises of the Z H2 SE’s torque curve which stacks up well compared to the others, with a nice plateau from just after idle to its redline.

Torque dyno

Triumph’s Triple fares well at lower revs again here, but beyond its peak 78.1 lb-ft. at 8700 rpm, it gets overtaken by two Italians. The two V-Fours post similar peak torque numbers with the Ducati having a 0.1 lb-ft. advantage, but it reaches its 81.4 lb-ft. peak 2,000 rpm after the Aprilia. It’s interesting seeing how different the Streetfighter and Tuono’s V-Fours look on these charts, and I look forward to hearing how they compare in practice.

When it comes to torque, the two naturally-aspirated Inline-Four literbikes are at a disadvantage, with the MV Agusta Brutale 1000RR peaking at 73.1 lb-ft. and the BMW at 72.4 lb-ft. As we saw with their horsepower curves, the Brutale has a couple of noticeable dips in torque curve with an odd blip at around 8,000 rpm where it briefly surpasses the S1000R.

Chassis

The Z H2 SE, Super Duke R, and Brutale each use tubular steel frames while the Tuono, S1000R, and Speed Triple R go with aluminum twin-spar frames. The Streetfighter stands alone with its aluminum “front frame,” a compact chassis design developed from Ducati’s MotoGP program that sees the frame attach to the upper crankcase of the front cylinder bank and the heads of the rear cylinders.

The Tuono V4’s adjustable frame has been a signature feature since Aprilia introduced it on the RSV4.

The Tuono’s chassis is also unique among this group with the level of adjustability it offers. Like the Aprilia RSV4, the Tuono offers adjustable headstock angle, engine height, and swingarm pivot.

Öhlins’ 43mm NIX fork and TTX rear shock is a popular combination for this segment, appearing on the Tuono, Streetfighter, Brutale, and Speed Triple RS. The Triumph is the only one of these four to not offer electronically adjustable suspension. The Aprilia and Ducati use Öhlins’ Smart EC 2.0, an event-based active suspension that automatically adjusts damping, compression, and rebound for both front and rear suspension to suit riding conditions. The Brutale makes do with an older-generation Öhlins EC semi-active suspension.

The S1000R comes standard with a 45mm closed-cartridge inverted fork and manually-adjustable rear shock, but can be fitted (as our test unit was) with BMW’s Dynamic Damping Control system that electronically adjusts damping to improve control and comfort.

Electronic suspension is one of several upgrades Kawasaki gave the Z H2 to make the SE version.

The Kawasaki Z H2 SE is also equipped with electronic suspension, with a Showa Skyhook EERA and a Uni-Trak, Showa gas-charged shock. The electronic system automatically adjusts compression and rebound damping, leaving preload to be manually adjusted. The rear shock’s compression and damping are likewise automatically adjusted to suit riding conditions, but the preload is manually set by the rider.

KTM, naturally, opted for suspension components from its fellow Pierer Mobility subsidiary, WP Suspension. Up front, you have an APEX 5548 inverted fork and at the rear, an APEX 5746 shock, both offering full (manual) adjustability.

Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS Brembo Stylema brake calipers

Brembo Stylema calipers are a popular choice in this group, offered on five of the seven bikes including the Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS.

Brembo is the brake supplier of choice for all seven entrants, with Ducati, Kawasaki, KTM, MV Agusta, and Triumph opting for Stylema calipers. The BMW is the sole bike equipped with M4.32 calipers while the Aprilia uses a pair of M50s. The Tuono and the Streetfighter have dual 330mm front rotors while the rest make do with 320mm discs.

On paper, the bikes equipped with the higher-end Stylema calipers should have an advantage, but we’ll see in our testing how they fare against the others.

Anti-lock brakes are standard on all seven motorcycles, but we’ll go into more detail in the Electronics section.

All seven of our competitors are equipped with aluminum wheels, with the Ducati Streetfighter V4 S, BMW S1000R, and MV Agusta Brutale 1000RR going with forged alloys instead of cast.

Electronics

With each of our entrants representing the pinnacle of their respective brands’ naked bikes, it should come as no surprise that they all come tricked out with electronic rider aids. For the most part, all of these competitors boast of a lot of the same rider aids, often under their own proprietary names which can make things confusing.

Six of these motorcycles are equipped with a six-axis IMU, with the lone exception being the Kawasaki which has a five-axis IMU and uses the ECU calculating the yaw rate for a sixth axis. The IMUs allow all of these bikes to offer both lean-sensitive traction control and ABS. Wheelie control and an up-and-down quick shift are also common to all seven models. Each manufacturer will tune their settings specifically for each model, but for the most part, we can consider these four electronic aids to be the minimum standard for this class.

All seven of our entrants come with wheelie control to help keep the front wheel on the ground. Except when you don’t want it to.

The Streetfighter is the only one that lacks cruise control while all but the Triumph offer a form of launch control. The Aprilia, BMW, Ducati, and Kawasaki are equipped with engine braking control systems. The Streetfighter V4 S and Z H2 SE both offer slide control that modulates torque delivery for controlled slide angles on corner exits.

The KTM and BMW offer motor slip regulation (MSR), also known as engine drag torque control. MSR opens the throttle to prevent the rear wheel from slipping during heavy downshifts or abrupt throttling, for situations exceeding what a slipper clutch can manage. In BMW’s case, MSR works in conjunction with engine braking control to help stabilize the rear wheel.

The BMW S1000R uses both MSR and engine braking control along with traction control to help with cornering stability.

The BMW S1000R is available with hill start control, while the Ducati, MV Agusta, and Aprilia (incidentally, the three Italian bikes) all offer a pit lane speed limiter.

As we noted in the chassis section, all but the Triumph and KTM are equipped with some form of electronic suspension.

All seven bikes are equipped with TFT displays. At 4.3 inches, the Z H2 SE’s screen is the smallest.

To help manage all of these electronic settings, each bike is equipped with a TFT display. The S1000R has the largest display, spanning 6.5 inches, followed by the Brutale 1000RR and its 5.5 inch screen. The Aprilia, Ducati, KTM, and Triumph are all equipped with 5-inch displays while the Kawasaki makes do with a 4.3-inch screen.

Dimensions

Measured on our MO scales, the Kawasaki Z H2 SE is by far the heaviest bike in this group, weighing in at 531 pounds. The Tuono and Brutale are next, at 471 pounds, followed closely by the 467-pound Super Duke R and 464-pound Streetfighter V4 S. The S1000R’s svelte 450 pounds is impressive, until you see the Speed Triple 1200 RS come in at a spritely 436 pounds. To give some perspective, that’s lighter than two of the models from our middleweight shootout.

The Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS is far and away the lightest bike in this comparison.

The KTM (58.9 inches) and the Ducati (58.6 inches) have the longest wheelbases. The Kawasaki is next at 57.3 inches, followed by the Aprilia and BMW with their 57.1 inch wheelbases. The Triumph is next at 56.9 inches, followed by the MV Agusta which has the shortest wheelbase at 55.7 inches.

The Brutale also has the tallest seat height, matching the Streetfighter at 33.3 inches. The KTM is next at 32.9 inches while the Triumph, Kawasaki and BMW have 32.7-inch seat heights. Rounding out the group is the Aprilia with the relatively low seat height of 32.5 inches.

The Super Duke R has the longest wheelbase and largest of this grouping.

The Z H2 SE has the largest fuel tank in this group, with a 5.0-gallon capacity, though the Tuono V4 Factory is close with 4.9 gallons. The S1000R’s tank holds 4.4 gallons while the Streetfighter, Brutale and Super Duke R can each carry 4.2 gallons. That leaves the Triumph Speed Triple RS with the smallest fuel capacity at 4.1 gallons.

Oh, the anticipation!

So, now you know who we’ve invited to our party. Perhaps, you’re wondering what is on the menu for this horsepower feast. We’ll start with street testing on the OEM tires as our first course. We’ll give these seven bikes the best and worst that our local roads have to offer to determine which heavyweight naked bike dominates the public highways. Then we’ll cleanse our palates with some fresh, sticky buns – Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SC2 front and SC3 rear tires – in preparation for digging in on a hefty portion of track time at Northern California’s Thunderhill Raceway.

Hang on! We’re just getting started!


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