Kawasaki Z500

13 Excellent Naked Bikes For Beginners

Naked motorcycles, sometimes referred to as standard motorcycles, are as popular as ever. These days, there’s a healthy selection of naked bikes for beginners, too, and they may just be the most newbie-friendly options out there.

Naked bikes offer comfortable ergonomics, and the engines are usually the same units found in their sports bike siblings. Combine those things with wallet-friendly price tags, and you have a winning formula.

Honda CB500 Hornet

Honda CB500 Hornet
Image Credit: Honda

Honda’s CB500 Hornet has the largest engine displacement of all the entry-level naked bikes, measuring in at 471cc. It’s also the heaviest, so you won’t feel the extra power and torque at all.

One good thing about the CB500 Hornet’s size is that it makes it very stable to ride. There really isn’t anything thrilling about it, but if you want a solid, reliable bike for the daily commute and occasional longer trips, it’s a great choice.

Honda CL500

Honda CL500
Image Credit: Honda

Rocking the same 471cc parallel-twin engine as the CB500F, the CL500 delivers 47 horsepower and 31.7 lb-ft of torque. The CL500 is something of a parts-bin special, as it uses the Rebel 500’s tubular steel frame.

However, it’s an excellent bike in its own right. Styled to resemble the Honda CLs of the 1960s and 70s, it has a nicely upswept exhaust and bench seat. The CL500 may look like a scrambler, but it’s best to keep it in a more urban environment unless you upgrade the suspension.

Kawasaki Z500

Kawasaki Z500
Image Credit: Kawasaki

Moving on to Kawasaki, they’ve increased the Z’s displacement for 2024. While it’s now called the Z500, in reality, it’s a 451cc parallel-twin engine. On the American market, power is said to be 51 horsepower, a decent increase from the 400cc’s 45 horses.

Design-wise, the Z500 looks like a proper supernaked, and only the initiated will notice its skinny rear tire and that there’s only a single brake disc at the front. While it may look like its bigger siblings, the Z500 is still a very fun and well-rounded lightweight.

CF Moto 450NK

CF Moto 450NK
Image Credit: Wiki Commons

Chinese motorcycle manufacturer CF Moto has taken the bike world by storm recently. Its 450SS is arguably the best entry-level sports bike on the market today, but how does its naked sibling, the 450NK compare?

The 450NK uses the same parallel-twin engine with a 270-degree crank, so it packs 50 horsepower and a mean soundtrack. The 450NK feels like riding a “proper” bike, but it’s still a nimble lightweight. We think the CF Moto 450NK may just be the best bike in the entry-level naked bike segment, and it also delivers the most bang for your buck.

Triumph Speed 400

Triumph Speed 400
Image Credit: Triumph Motorcycles

Triumph has spent ages developing its new Speed 400 retro bike, but the end result was worth the wait. The British bike manufacturer is known for its three-cylinder engines, but you won’t find that here, as the Speed 400 has to make do with a 400cc single-cylinder.

It looks stunning, and while its not the most powerful option out there, Triumph knows a thing or two about how to make a well-sorted chassis, so the Speed 400 rides well, too. It doesn’t feature a lot of tech and gadgetry, but the most important ones are in place.

Husqvarna Vitpilen 401

Husqvarna Vitpilen 401
Image Credit: Husqvarna

Husqvarna has updated the Vitpilen 401 for 2024. The engine has grown from 373cc to 399cc, and the single-cylinder unit now delivers around 45 horsepower. Husqvarna has also made the Vitpilen more comfortable to ride, although some may argue it’s now less focused.

Styling-wise, people seem to either love or hate the Vitpilen 401. If you want a bike that stands out from the crowd, we think it’s a decent option.

Husqvarna Svartpilen 401

Husqvarna Svartpilen 401
Image Credit: Husqvarna

Moving on to Vitpilen’s sibling, we have Svartpilen 401. The specs are practically identical, but the bikes are separated by their styling and riding positions.

The Svartpilen 401 is arguably a more well-rounded bike than Vitpilen. Thanks to its knobby tires, it can even be ridden off the beaten path if you want to go on an adventure. Mind you, it’s not a full-on off-roader, but it can certainly handle some loose gravel.

KTM 390 Duke

KTM 390 Duke
image Credit: KTM

The KTM 390 Duke had a 373cc engine for the longest time, so technically, it should’ve been named the 373 Duke. Well, KTM has sorted that out now, as the new 2024 version gets a 399cc engine—but it’s still called the 390 Duke. The engine is the same as the one used in the two Husqvarna bikes we’ve mentioned previously.

With 45 horsepower, super agile handling, excellent brakes, and aggressive styling, the KTM 390 Duke is better than ever.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350

Royal Enfield Hunter 350
Image Credit: Royal Enfield

In recent years, Royal Enfield has launched several new models in different segments. This, combined with very competitive prices, has allowed the Indian manufacturer to take over huge chunks of the motorcycle market. The Hunter 350 is the perfect example.

It’s a lightweight, agile, and rugged little bike that’s built to dominate urban environments. It only produces 20 horsepower, but that’s plenty for a bike designed to lane-split in heavy traffic. With a 75 mph top speed, it’s not a bike we’d go touring on, but if you’re only looking for a commuter bike, the Hunter 350 is perfect.

Yamaha MT-03

Yamaha MT-03
Image Credit: Yamaha

Yamaha’s MT-03 is now the smallest capacity parallel-twin in the entry-level naked bike segment. However, it’s still a worthy competitor to Honda and Kawasaki’s 500 models.

The Yamaha’s 321cc engine produces 41.4 horsepower and 22 lb-ft of torque. It’s light, too, weighing just 373 lbs. It looks like a slightly scaled-down hooligan bike, perfect for younger riders.

BMW G 310 R

BMW G 310 R
Image Credit: BMW

BMW’s G 310 R is often overlooked by motorcyclists looking for a capable entry-level bike. It’s powered by a 313cc single-cylinder engine that churns out 34 docile horses and 21 lb-ft of torque.

We’ll admit that the BMW G 310 R is far from the most exciting bike in this class, but that’s not why you should buy one. Whereas the KTM Duke is a full-on hooligan, the BMW is a solid and efficient daily rider.

Benelli 302S

Benelli 302S
Image Credit: Benelli

Benelli was a respected Italian motorcycle manufacturer in the past. Now, it’s owned by a Chinese company, but judging by how well CF Moto is doing, that’s not necessarily bad.

The Benelli 302S has a 300cc parallel-twin engine that produces 38 horsepower and 19 lb-ft of torque. It’s a sensible bike for both newcomers and more experienced riders looking for a commuter. In terms of build quality, it’s probably better than old, full-blood Italian Benellis ever was.

Honda CB300R

Honda CB300R
Image Credit: Honda

Honda’s little CB300R is a bargain, and while it only has a 286cc single-cylinder engine, it’s still tons of fun to ride. Sure, with only 31 horses and 20 lb-ft of torque, there’s not much power available, but its low weight and excellent handling are guaranteed to make you smile.

It’s not our first pick for longer rides, but the CB300R is an excellent motorcycle for riding in the city and suburbs and maybe the occasional trip on a twisty road. Its neo-retro styling makes it a nice bike to look at as well, so it’s guaranteed to draw some attention.

Andre Nalin

Author: Andre Nalin

Title: Writer

Bio:

Andre has worked as a writer and editor for multiple car and motorcycle publications over the last decade, but he has reverted to freelancing these days. He has accumulated a ton of seat time during his ridiculous road trips in highly unsuitable vehicles, and he’s built magazine-featured cars. He prefers it when his bikes and cars are fast and loud, but if he had to pick one, he’d go with loud.

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