As we come out of a year where a lot of riding seasons were cut short, and group rides were outright banned, it gives us all something to look forward to in the coming year that there are several new and/or updated versions of our favorite naked bikes. The exposed engine, the bare minimum of fairings, the open feeling of being on a sports bike that can both be a daily rider and a corner-devouring thrill machine… it wets the appetite in just the right way.
With 2020’s pandemic causing some manufacturers and design houses to shutter operations for a good few months, many of our 2020 Best Looking Stock Naked Motorcycles that have been refreshed for 2021 with little to no visual changes will appear on this list. However, we will also include the new bikes that we know of that have made several of us sit up and go “Wow!” at their aesthetics.
The 10 Best Looking Stock Naked Motorcycles of 2021
#10: 2021 Honda CB500F
Much as in 2020, the Honda CB500F is one of those naked bikes that if you see it by itself, it makes you tilt your head at an angle and go “huh.” But when you look at another stock naked, then turn around and look at it again, it suddenly jumps out at you with the sharp tail, the raked front forks, the stance that urges you to give it a little right wrist.
It is subtle in the right ways, aggressive in others, and shows that perfect level of understatement that the Japanese have down to an art. It won’t rip your head off, but it will definitely plaster a wide grin across your face under your helmet. It’s the kind of naked that makes every ride a special ride. Read more about the 2021 Honda CB500F.
#9: 2021 Kawasaki Z650
Another carryover from last year, the 2021 Kawasaki Z650 keeps on keeping on. It still has that aggressive, angular shape that pleads with you to ride the bike, with the low slung exhaust tucked out of the way while also giving the image of speed and power.
That big 649cc parallel-twin is still on gorgeous display, canted forwards slightly as the lines of the bike suggest. For 2021, the seat has been lowered a touch with new padding material, making it a perfect fit for even the tallest and shortest riders. An absolute gem in the naked marketplace
#8: 2021 Husqvarna Vitpilen 401
While last year, the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 scored in the top 3 of our favorite nakeds, no 2021 version of it has yet been announced. However, the 2021 Vitpilen 401 somehow snuck through the cracks and has a 2021 refresh.
The Vitpilen 401 carries over the major aesthetic looks of last year’s model, yet Husqvarna have been fiddling with little bits here and there behind the scenes. The short, cut tail has a slightly more aggressive angle to it, the handlebars swept that little bit more out and back. It retains the retro circular gauge, giving it both a modern aggressive look while also calling back to when nakeds were what customers did to their own bikes.
#7: 2021 BMW S1000R
The 2020 BMW S1000R squeaked into the naked category by the absolute slimmest of margins, with just enough fairings removed to make it a standard naked. For 2021, however, the S1000R has had a bit more of a diet, with lighter fairings, more exposed framework along the seat sides instead of a cover, and the absolute bare minimum needed for front aerodynamic stability.
This makes the S1000R looks even better than it’s 2020 cousin, however it has dropped down the list in 2021 due to so many other bikes getting the right updates, or the right aesthetic changes, to make them just that much better. Don’t get us wrong, the BMW is still a superb bike, but it’s starting to play catchup instead of leading the pack when it comes to the naked aesthetic. Read more about the 2021 BMW S1000R.
#6: 2021 KTM 890 Duke R
New for 2021, the KTM 890 Duke R is last year’s 790 Duke, but with every single dial turned up to 11. Thanks to small tweaks to the engine, transmission, and running gear, the Duke R just looks more… Duke-y. There’s no other word that fits.
It’s got broader shoulders, a squatter stance, a swingarm that looks ready to punch you in the face, and a forward-sloped seat ready to make sure you’re hugged up tight to that fuel tank as you lean into the next corner. It’s everything you wanted out of a Duke, with a little dollop of awesome on top to make it the perfect KTM. Read more about the 2021 KTM 890 Duke R.
#5: 2021 Zero SR/F
A brand new entry on our list of best nakeds, the 2021 Zero SR/F is officially the first electric bike to make this list! As electric bikes have advanced from some simple prototypes in the late 2000’s to an industry wide shift in focus over the past 2 years, the SR/F is finally at the point where it earns our recommendation.
Zero has grasped perfectly what makes a naked exciting. The exposed battery pack (although still in weather protection), the frame cradling everything while also driving forwards to those bulked up haunches right behind the headlight. Add to that the instant 140 lb-ft of torque you get from the electric motor at 0 RPM, and a surprisingly good 161 mile range on the base model, and you have an electric naked that finally suits the commuter and the short range day-tripper.
#4: 2021 Ducati Monster
Last year, Ducati placed on our list with the Monster 1200R. For 2021, Ducati has dropped any numbers after the Monster title, making this 937cc, 111 HP beast the standard bearer for its naked lineup.
And once again, the Italian’s just get it. Say what you will about them, their aesthetic sense rarely strays. The way that the bike puts the engine and crank way back, but drives the whole flow of the bike up into those brutally powerful flares that huge the side of the fuel tank. The way the bike seems to be ready to jump at you even when it’s standing still in a picture. If it only had the same power as the older 1200R, it could have come in 3rd or even 2nd. Read more about the 2021 Ducati Monster.
#3: 2021 Suzuki SV650
What list of nakeds would be complete without the old standard, the one-and-only, the bike that in and of itself both started the factory naked crazed and has seen more than a few riders through their first years… the Suzuki SV650.
For 2021, it’s the small touches that elevate it three spots over 2020. The engine, as always, is a stressed member in the frame, making it part of the bike. It has a new ECU program that gives it more low end grunt and better fuel efficiency across the range. It will still rumble, pop, and growl as it always has. However, the new color scheme for 2021, white and black on metallic red, just screams power and speed.
Another new entry on our list, and one that may very well be one of the best looking bikes Triumph has made for many a year. The all-new Trident 660 just oozes naked style from any angle you look at it from. The rounded tank counters the angular and angry look of many modern nakeds with a suitably stiff British upper lip that will sniff haughtily at you before the triple 660 rumbles the bike down the road.
Speaking of that triple, it’s a traditional Triumph inline-three with a redline at 11,500, pushing out 81 HP and 47 lb-ft of torque, for a bike that weighs just 417 lbs fully wet. The word “lightweight” comes to mind, but with the aggressively short wheelbase at a scant 1401 mm, “agile” is another keyword we could use. Whatever word comes to mind, we like to call it “excellent.” Read more about the 2021 Triumph Trident 660.
#1: 2021 Yamaha MT-07
Last year, the 2020 Yamaha MT-10 came in second place, with only the hyper-aesthetic MV Agusta Brutale coming ahead of it. The only difference is that the Yamaha looked a bit tame compared to the MV, but that has changed this year.
The 2021 Yamaha MT-07 somehow, someway, looks a lot more like an asphalt predator this year. It might be the color schemes, the flared tank fenders with air intakes, the way the exhaust curls down and hugs tight to the body. It could also be the now super-centralized headlight and indicator cowl. Whatever it is, this thing looks ready, willing, and able to munch on whatever corner you want to feed it, and it’ll then ask for more.