Best Naked Motorcycle of 2021: Ducati Streetfighter V4S
Here goes the broken record again: The Ducati Streetfighter is So. Damn. Good. We rode it a lot this year; first it was the First Ride review, then we rode a $50,000 modified version, then threw the stock one back into the mix for some street and track testing during our seven-bike Heavyweight Naked Bike test. Over and over, we walked away thinking, “Damn. That was good.” It came out on top of the street portion of our naked bike test, and it came one spaghetti strand away from taking top honors in the track portion as well.
What’s in this magic sauce from Ducati that makes it so sweet? The obvious ingredient is that 1103cc V4 engine and its split personality. Traditionally, you’d have to choose whether you wanted a gentle puppy of an engine or a howling screamer of a fire-breather. With the Streetfighter, somehow you get both. It’s shockingly fast when you open’er up, but is also just fine plodding around when you feel like being lazy.
Let’s see, what else? Oh yeah, you’ve got world-class electronics that are easy to navigate, a seating position one could conceivably ride all day on, and stellar good looks, including wings! What else is there to want, really? John Burns would cry foul over the lack of cruise control, which really is an odd oversight by Ducati, but considering the rest of the package, we’re willing to let that one go.
You might have noticed that our MOBOs this year include a Naked and a Standard category. On the surface bikes in both categories are similar in that they’re naked (or shall we say minimally clothed) with handlebars, but to put the Triumph Trident 660 or Honda NC750X – the top two in our Standard MOBO category this year – up against the Streetfighter simply wouldn’t make sense.
The Streetfighter is all-conquering.
Best Naked Motorcycle of 2021 Runner-Up: Aprilia Tuono V4 Factory
You can call it a sympathy vote if you want, but we still have a soft spot for the Aprilia Tuono. With the Tuono V4 Factory, Aprilia has given the bike a slight update to fine-tune a platform it’s been fine-tuning seemingly since Ryan was in diapers.
Now that Aprilia has differentiated the standard RR and Factory models a bit, it’s worth noting that our Runner Up award is going to the Factory model – the more sport-focused of the two. If you find yourself on the touring edge of sport-touring, perhaps the standard V4 is worth a look. You certainly will find yourself with a similar smile on your face. However, in our case, the Factory, complete with Öhlins SMART EC 2.0 electronic suspension, a new swingarm, and various other minor updates was the one pulling our heartstrings.
In the same seven-bike Heavyweight Naked Bike Shootout that saw the Ducati Streetfighter come out our winner on the street, our poor Aprilia could only muster a fourth-place finish. However, once we took the Tuono to Thunderhill and let it manifest its racetrack DNA, its true performance potential shot it up the charts, where it ultimately came out our racetrack winner (by the slimmest of margins).
Like we’ve said a million times before, its distinctive V4 bark is very different from the Ducati’s (arguably better, if you ask me) and really makes you feel alive in full song. Combine that with an excellent (though not quite as good as the Ducati) electronics suite, plus one of our favorite chassis of all time, and the formula for success is still proving to be a winner all these years later. Pro tip: switch the electronic suspension to manual mode for track duty and reap the rewards.
Motorcycle.com Best of 2021 Categories
Become a Motorcycle.com insider. Get the latest motorcycle news first by subscribing to our newsletter here.