Showroom Showdown: The Naked Bike Edition

The naked bike scene is stronger than ever these days, with all the manufacturers making some sort of entry. A lot of the technology that has improved superbikes so drastically in recent years is now trickling down to the naked bike lineup, meaning you can have traction control, wheelie control and all sorts of other control that was never before possible, unless you had Casey Stoner’s skills.

This month, we’re looking at four of Canada’s most common naked bikes, the Kawasaki Z1000, BMW S1000R, Suzuki GSX-S1000Z and Yamaha MT-10.


The Kawasaki, BMW and Suzuki all use an inline four-cylinder with roots in flagship superbike models. All have been retuned, as torque is more useful on the street than high-end horsepower. However, they’re all still packing plenty of ponies.

On pure horsepower alone, BMW’s S1000R leads the pack, with 165 hp at 11,000 rpm. The Yamaha makes 158 at 11,500 rpm. The Kawasaki and Suzuki are a step down from that; the Z1000R is rated for 140 hp at 10,000 rpm, and the GSX-S1000Z supposedly makes 149 hp at 10,000 rpm, depending who you ask.

The Beemer also makes the most torque (84 lb-ft at 9,250 rpm), but the Kawasaki is right behind it (82 lb-ft at 7,300 rpm). The GSX-1000 makes 78 lb-ft at 9,500 rpm (it’s rated slightly different in some markets) and Yamaha’s MT-10 is said to make about 82 lb-ft at 9,000 rpm. The Kwaka is arguably the winner here, as its peak torque comes in at the lowest rpm.

The Yamaha comes with a quickshifter that offers clutchless upshifts, but not downshifts. An up-down quickshifter is optional on the BMW, as part of the Sport package, which comes as stock configuration on this year’s Canadian model.

There’s a lot to love with the BMW S1000R … or not a lot, depending how you look at it, because it has the lowest weight of these bikes.

BMW’s S1000R has a 205 kg curb weight, which is especially impressive when you consider the bike’s 165 hp. The MT-10 weighs 210 kg at the curb; the Suzuki GSX-S1000 weighs 214 kg at the curb, and the Kawasaki is a hefty 220 kg. Given the BMW’s superior power output, the low weight is extra icing on the cake.

Suspension is hard to objectively evaluate without test riding the bikes. The Kawasaki’s settings could suit one rider well, but not work for another.

None of these bikes have electronically-adjustable suspension as standard, although it is available on the BMW as an option, and there’s a version of the Yamaha (MT-10 SP) available with it in Europe, but not here. The Kawasaki Z1000R SE also has electronic suspension, but isn’t sold in our market.

In base form, the Beemer still has the beefiest forks, with fully-adjustable 46 mm USD fork up front. All the other machines have fully-adjustable suspension as well. The Yamaha and Suzuki have 43 mm forks, the Kawasaki has 41 mm forks.

For rear suspension, the MT-10 has a fully adjustable monoshock, while the BMW and Suzuki are rebound- and compression-adjustable. The Kawasaki has stepless rebound damping and spring preload adjustability.

Spec sheet numbers never tell the whole story when it comes to suspension, as its suitability very much depends on the intended usage (track day? potholed city roads? touring? racing?) and the weight/riding style of the rider. Having said that, the Yamaha and the BMW are probably the bikes to beat here. The BMW’s optional electronic suspension would certainly be top-shelf, and would move it into the same league as the highest-level Euro nakeds.

The MT-10 has the highest seat height, but none of these machines are in ADV bike territory.

The Z1000R has a 815 mm seat height. The S1000R saddle sits at 814 mm. The GSX-S1000 seat is 810 mm high, and the Yamaha is highest at 825 mm. Of course, seat height is only part of the equation, and the handlebar reach, knee angle, a rider’s body dimensions and other factors all work together to make a bike comfortable or uncomfortable to sit on. As well, seat comfort is entirely subjective.

Aside from rider fit, the other big ergonomic question is wind protection. Naked bikes, by their very nature, typically offer very little protection from the wind, and none of these bikes have large flyscreens to cut the windblast. The Kawasaki looks like it probably has the least wind protection, although it’s hard to tell without back-to-back test rides.

Most modern naked bikes are still relatively covered in plastic, to hide all the ugly bits. The Suzuki GSX-S1000 is a good example, sporting as much bodywork as some of the early superbikes.

Since these machines are all based on superbikes, there’s a lot of stuff that’s normally hidden by full fairings. As a result, these motorcycles are covered in far more plastic than previous generations of naked bikes, in order to cover up radiators, electronics, ugly chassis parts and other bits.

Maybe you like the resulting edgy, Transformers-style look, and maybe you don’t. Styling is a subjective choice. However, it’s probably safe to say the Kawasaki’s bizarro headlight styling hasn’t won it many fans.

All these bikes have pretty good brakes, even if none of them have leaning ABS as standard equipment.

All these bikes have dual disc brakes up front, with either 310 mm or 320 mm discs and four-piston calipers. ABS is standard.

The Japanese bikes don’t have leaning ABS available as factory equipment or as an add-on, but it’s optional on the BMW as part of the Sport package.

The MT-10 comes with a six-axis IMU and quickshifter.

Yamaha’s MT-10 and Suzuki’s GSX-S1000 both have three-level traction control; Dynamic Traction Control is an option for the BMW (again, part of the Sport package  that’s standard on Canadian models). The Z1000R comes without traction control, which is almost unthinkable in an age where even dirt bikes and entry-level adventure bikes come equipped with it.

The Yamaha also comes with three selectable riding modes, and a cruise control system. The BMW comes with two riding modes in stock form, and offers two more as options, including a mode with settings that are changeable by the user. The Suzuki and Kawasaki have no selectable riding modes.

The Yamaha comes with cruise control, which is unusual for a naked bike. That’s also available on the Beemer as an option, along with pit lane control and launch control, which would come in handy at the track.

The Beemer wins on weight, horsepower, torque, and depending how you look at it, pricing.

For 2018, the Yamaha MT-10 is the most expensive machine of these four, with a $16,199 MSRP in Canada. The BMW S1000R is next, at $15,600. The Kawasaki Z1000R is $14,499, and the Suzuki GSX-S1000 currently carries a $12,999 MSRP after discounts.

The Suzuki’s pricing looks even better when you remember the bike also comes with a five-year warranty at this time, and that it comes with traction control when the more expensive Kawasaki does not.

It’s surprising to see the MT-10 come in at the highest price, but having a quickshifter as stock accounts for some of that difference, and it also has a pretty decent package of safety electronics, but without an option for leaning ABS.

The BMW’s pricing is right in the middle here, and gives you a bike with the most power and the least weight. Sure, you have to pay more to add the high-powered safety features, but then you’re getting a bike that’s really on par with the edgiest Euro-nakeds, and still getting it at a good price.

So, the Beemer is a pretty attractive buy if you want the best of these options and don’t mind paying, although the MT-10’s up-to-date electronics and crossplane engine would no doubt swing some buyers to the Yamaha. Otherwise, if you’re looking to save a little money by buying a naked bike (and that’s how many motorcyclists end up here to start with), the Suzuki looks like it might be a bit heavier and have a little less power, but the pricing is aggressive enough to make up for it.

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