MAYBE ONE DAY SOON I WILL BE RIDING NAKED

As many of you know… I’m in the (slow) process of “bobbing” my Harley-Davidson Sportster and when I complete it, it won’t exactly be the most comfortable motorcycle I’ve ever owned. I’m not talking horrible, but I won’t be taking any weekend trips on it. So… I’ve been thinking. (A dangerous thing!) What would I really want for cruising or commuting to go along with the Sporty Bob? Certainly my interest in large touring H-D bikes is way-gone so they are out. I’d love to have a Sport Tourer such as the Kawasaki Concourse or Honda ST1300 but a daughter in college rules those awesome machines out on price alone. So what’s left? Of course, it would be the Sportbike family. But that’s a problem too. While I would love the performance and reliability of an R6 or CBR600, frankly… when I sold my Sportbike last year I vowed that I would never again own a bike that forced my body into a racing position. (Old age I guess.) But what if I could find that performance, reliability and wow factor in a more traditional riding position? Do those bikes exist? Yes they do… and they are commonly referred to as “Naked” bikes. These stripped down Spotbikes never quite caught on here in the US like they have abroad but there are some out there on the used market and they offer the ergos and performance I would be looking for at fairly affordable prices. Three in particular have caught my eye… The Ducati Monster, Honda 599 and the Suzuki SV. Here’s a look at all three in their 2004 versions.

2004 DUCATI MONSTER 620: Of the three, I like the looks of this one the best. Something about that tubular frame and racing red color seem to be screaming for my attention. Two things bother me about it though. I don’t know if I could ever get used to the clanky sound of a Ducati engine and my research indicates that maintenance on this bike is significantly more costly than on the other two. KBB  Retail: $3570

2004 HONDA 599: Some people feel like this bike looks fat and bulky. I disagree. I like it’s looks and while I have never ridden one, just looking at it, the Honda seems like it would feel more substantial than the others. I also love Honda’s reputation for bullet-proof engines. Performance specs are good as well… the downside to this one? Hmmmm… I’m really not sure there is one. KBB Retail: $3120

2004 SUZUKI SV650: I owned the “S” version (lay-down with fairing) of this bike for a while, and while it performed well, it always felt a little squirrely to me. More than once I was not happy with how it handled when pushing through the curves. Still, I think the non “S” version here might be a good option for what I would want… and it is also the most affordable of the bunch. To bad it doesn’t look better KBB Retail: $2850

Of course, trying to compare these bikes without riding them is somewhat ridiculous but these are my initial impressions. Let me know what you think… and who knows… maybe one day soon I will be riding naked!

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