Cars

Four naked bikes in comparison: Kawasaki, Ducati, Aprilia, BMW

Is that still camouflage or already perfidious attack tactics? Motorbikes are called “naked” and their clothing-free attitude makes them fun to drive on Sundays. Naked equals relaxed, equals harmless, equals unarmed? No way. Behind the “nothing” of the current naked kings lies pure racing technology, brutal performance and, yes, terrifying madness.
Example Ducati Streetfighter: In the undisguised V4 S the violent heart of the big Panigale beats. That poisonous racetrack monster that could also turn straight into the Moto GP pit lane without indicators. At best, Ducati has given the naked streetfighter beast a flatter performance curve and more relaxed torque development – the rest of the Italian carries undiluted beast DNA with 208 hp.
Ducati is not alone in this. BMW also releases a racer in nudist mode using this method. In the S 1000 R, the 999 in-line four screams the double R – albeit here with “only” 165 hp. Aprilia sends the 175 hp Tuono V4 Factory into the race in this league. As if the Italians were a bit more prudish than Ducati and BMW, the V4 device is in a tiny bikini enclosure made up of a cockpit canopy and side panels.

The Peaks of Madness

It doesn’t matter: the Tuono still serves the nude theme very well, because the bit of plastic doesn’t go through as a real disguise. And then there is the currently most garish animal of the gang: The Kawasaki Z H2 SE mixes beading and wing madness of the “body” with a 200 HP strong compressor four-cylinder. The result was a mix of wheel loader torque and total speed escalation. We choose the pinnacle of this madness.

Aprilia Tuono V4 Factory

Half shell, hard core – that’s the short version. In fact, the small triangle in front of the instrument module diverts a lot of the wind that a 175 hp engine can bring about. Sounds like a smooth creature. Are you kidding me? Are you serious when you say that. The Tuono V4 Factory already shows with its equipment list where the hammer hangs – namely in the same showcase in which Aprilia’s 54 world champion trophies are also located.
The signs point to Supersport. Not for fun, Aprilia pulls the factory semi-slicks of the Pirelli Rosso Supercorsa variety over the light rims as standard. Appropriately covered with tar, the Tuono bites into curve radii, the braking distances are correspondingly short – no naked here anchors more efficiently. Just pull the brake lever very lightly, then the brake caliper pinches.
Aprilia

For whom: curve experts, character lovers.
For whom not: fine spirits.


The engine with its 65-degree bank angle is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the scene. Coarse on the gas, also rumbling-rough under partial load, vibrating at full speed, but set to a powerful and hungry unit. Tear through in sixth gear – the Tuono outperforms the other three competitors in this discipline. The V4 sounds wonderfully authentic.

121Nm of torque

Everything is included, from mechanical grinding from the gearbox to slurping through the combustion air to grumpy thunder under load. No scenery for posers, but real sound for connoisseurs – terrific! But she doesn’t like the leisurely pace at all. Constant lacing in the city?

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Engine type / cylinder

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displacement

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kW (hp) at rpm

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Nm at rpm

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transmission

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tank capacity

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Brake discs front / rear

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tires

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wheel size

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emission standard

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Elasticity 60-100 km/h (4th/5th gear)

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Elasticity 80-120 km/h (5th/6th gear)

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Elasticity 80-200 km/h (5th/6th gear)

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Braking distance from 100 km/h

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Weight

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test consumption

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6-speed with anti-hopping clutch.

Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP

120/70 ZR 17 – 200/55 ZR 17

6-speed with anti-hopping clutch.

Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa 2

120/70 ZR 17 – 200/55 ZR 17

6-speed with anti-hopping clutch.

Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa 2

120/70 ZR 17 – 200/60 ZR 17

Four-cylinder in-line supercharger

6-speed with anti-hopping clutch.

Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa 2

120/70 ZR 17 – 190/55 ZR 17

Rumbling, jerking, rattling. Jagged angling in a small space? Unexpectedly wobbly, she rushes into turning manoeuvres. The throttle response (via a very smooth-running roller) is also far too hectic, and the 121 Newton meters of torque are difficult to dose cleanly on bumpy country roads. The automatic shifter should also work smarter. In any case, short breaks with noticeable performance interruptions are alien to the other three candidates in this comparison.

BMW S 1000 R

Just looking at the layout, the engine of the S 1000 R could easily pass as bland. 999, four pots in a row, classic crank pin offset, rather “solid” 165 hp. But pressing the start button whips out the prejudices about the Akrapovic muffler. The shimmering thing under the tank twitches nervously, pulls wiry and rumbles ready to race, the tachometer needle shoots towards the red area.

All right, four fairly alert cylinders lined up here. That suits the driving style of the BMW. It seems lighter than the competition (which it is), smoother in everything, after a few meters you have sucked yourself into the hollow between the tank and the rump and built trust in the chassis. The brakes respond excellently, have a bombastic effect and give the BMW very good braking distances.

bmw

For whom: ideal line freaks.
For whom not: performance matcher.


Of course: With up to 43 hp less, the S 1000 R follows the three opponents in all disciplines. But she shines in individual chapters. No other machine in this quartet shifts gears as quickly (and carefully adapted via the motor electronics), none of the opponents hangs on the gas so sensitively in the transition between “push” and “pull”, none of the other naked monsters balances the front wheel so evenly under full acceleration close above the tarmac like the blue and white rocket.

What is she doing wrong? Nothing. That is it. It somehow lacks the Aprilia’s competitive soul. Or the dark aggression of the Duc. With its shrill originality, the Kawasaki is also an outstanding personality. Consolation for BMW: The S 1000 R costs less than the motorcycles of the competing brands. There is a base price of more than 5000 (!) euros between the Bayern bike and the Ducati Streetfighter.

Ducati Streetfighter V4 S

A single driving spectacle. Loud, full of mechanical life and vibrating with relish, hearty on the gas, super fast, extremely strong, greedy for revs, oh what, obsessed with turning, is how the Streetfighter V4 S is summed up. Driving it courageously down a country road is all-round fun.

Even “chugging” through the city, it’s still a pleasure – that’s ensured by the brutal thunder that basically interferes with every speed range, every throttle valve position, with every movement of the right wrist. Error in the system? Not when it comes to fast retrievals. In terms of everyday life, we complain: the 90-degree V4 block labors rudely in the lower speed regions, the drive bucks angularly from load mode to overrun mode.

Ducati

For whom: tamers.
For whom not: scaredy-cats.


The menu navigation through driving programs and “sports assistance” is complex and does not always work properly. The functions themselves, on the other hand, work excellently. When turning, a severely limiting steering stop is noticeable, and the Ducati takes tight radii unexpectedly angular. Circle a turn neatly? For example, the BMW can sleep while the Streetfighter likes it best with a tendency to stand upright.

So: open the tap, continue drawing radii. Then the Streetfighter glows with delight. None of the three opponents whips the individual gears into higher speed regions, no machine is more supple in fast corners, may turn over more willingly from one side to the other. One thing is clear: in these moments, Supersport flashes from every single cooling opening. Only the relaxed sitting position throws you mentally “back” into the bare class.

Kawasaki Z H2 SE

The supercharger of the 998 cc four-cylinder is character-forming, no question. But not leading. Because the crass Kawasaki is basically a pretty exciting total work of art from weird experiences. The engine likes the load-free gait without forced ventilation just as much as anything else.
Highly cultivated, quiet, discreet in the development of power – that’s how it goes on a drive or through the city. In this case, the entire motorcycle is authentic and comfortable. And then there’s that bulky middle. When the charger squeezes the process air with a bang, preloads the four-cylinder to tremble, chirps away the excess pressure in the load change and turns the green winged monster into green lines on the country road – then a gigantic load of cornering fun bursts onto the asphalt.
Kawasaki

For whom: extroverts, experts.
For whom not: cruisers, beginners.


In addition, the Z H2 SE lies calmly, without too much excitement, but with enough verve in every bend. The only scratch on the Wedel medal: Compared to the other three candidates here, the Kawasaki touches down early with the footrests; without the very long “fear nipples” the Z would still have reserves in lean angles.

Too much steam for more effective sprints

The fact that the compressor Kawa does not accelerate faster than the other three naked ones is partly due to the higher weight and to a large extent to the constantly readjusting wheelie control of the driver assistance. In principle, the Kawasaki wants to lift the front wheel off the asphalt even beyond 200 km/h when the throttle valves are fully open. You could also say: The Z has too much power for more effective sprints and usually doesn’t get the power converted.

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Almost perfidious: The thrust hardly decreases even around the five-digit crankshaft revolutions. Because the four-cylinder is still a typical in-line barrel organ even outside of the forced ventilation and despite all the smooth running. In the end, it is still quite full and directionally stable on the freeway. In short: three engines in one. Three driving characters in one. Or: three opponents in the sack.

By the way, the madness continues. Because Kawa and company are far from the only motorcycles in the “naked and willing” category. Suzuki and Yamaha are also involved here with 152 to 160 hp. However, at the time of production of our comparison, Suzuki was not yet able to put a test vehicle of the brand new GSX-S 1000 on the road, and Yamaha still lacks the Euro 5 model of the MT-10 in the current range.

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