sports bikes anywhere near the limit; you would be insane to try. The naked bike is the obvi- ous answer, as they can be enjoyed to the full. Stuart Garner, the entrepreneur who rescued Norton, agrees. Riders still want performance and handling but they want to be comfortable and relaxed. Naked bikes are more upright, with no fairings and higher handlebars, and they are often mechanically simpler than sports bikes. For many riders, the prospect of spending hours crouched behind the fairing of a sports bike is wearing thin, says Westlake. They want the upright riding position a naked bike offers. Because theyre not swathed in plastic fairings, naked bikes are cheaper to build, costing around 2,000 less than an equivalent sports bike to buy. And naked bike insurance is often lower because after a crash there are no expensive exterior bits to replace. They do have less power but a good rider on a naked bike will still be quicker than a so-so rider on a sports bike, says Garner. But there are downsides, too. Unlike faired sports bikes, the engine parts on a naked bike are on show, which means they collect dirt and take longer to clean. And the bikes generally offer less weather protection, so you get wetter. Norton 961 Commando USP: stripped- down British bike. Top speed: 100mph+ Horsepower: 85; Cost: est: 12,000; Cool rating 9/10 nortonmotorcycles.com Norton Commando Caf Racer USP: even more attitude (upside- down front forks, race clip- on handlebars) than its 961 brother, above. Top speed: 100mph+ BHP: 85+ Cost: est: 13,000-14,000 Cool rating 10/10 norton motorcycles.com Triumph Street Triple USP: high-spec middleweight bike. Top speed: 141mph; BHP: 107; Cost: 6,220; Cool rating: 8/10 triumph.co.uk Triumph Speed Triple USP: Rottweiler that attracts devotees, says MCN. Top speed: 150mph; BHP: 128; Cost: 7,799; Cool rating 9/10 triumph.co.uk Suzuki Bandit 1250 USP: well-mannered machine that likes bends. Top speed: 140mph+; BHP: 97; Cost: 5,549; Cool rating 7/10 suzuki- gb.co.uk Yamaha Fazer FZ1 USP: MCN says: One of the best all-round sporty bikes you can buy. Top speed: 160 mph BHP: 150; Cost: 7,199; Cool rating 8/10 yamaha-motor.co.uk Suzuki Gladius 650 USP: easy to ride, but fun. Top speed: 135mph; BHP: 76; Cost: 4,500; Cool rating 6/10 suzuki-gb.co.uk Ducati Monster 696 USP: one of the first -- and most popular -- naked bikes. Top speed: 128mph; BHP: 67.5; Cost: 5,500; Cool rating: 10/10 ducati.com GetnakedonabikeMotorcyclesaregoingbacktobasicswiththerebirthofNorton BY DAVID WILLIAMS Commando Caf Racer front forks, says MCN. Top speed: 150mph; Cool rating 9/10 triumph.co.uk Suzuki Bandit 1250 USP: likes bends. too.downsides,arethereBut thebikes,sportsfairedUnlike bikenakedaonpartsengine meanswhichshow,onare lessoffergenerallybikes yousoprotection,weather Triumph Street Triple USP: high-spec middleweight bike. Top speed: 141mph; Cost: 5,549; Cool rating 7/10 suzuki- gb.co.uk Yamaha Fazer FZ1 USP: MCN says: suzuki-gb.co.uk Ducati Monster 696 THE ROAD TEST ESTATE agent Richard Magrin, below, 30, has just returned from a 4,000-mile tour of Europe on his Triumph Street Triple naked bike. It was a fantastic bike, says Richard of Notting Hill. The only danger was that I might die of a heart attack from the excitement on the mountain roads. On a sports bike Id have died of backache. Richard says he had a race- style bike before but fell in love after test- riding the Triumph. Motoring thenearanywherebikessports toinsanebewouldyoulimit; obvi-theisbikenakedThetry. becantheyasanswer,ous Stuartfull.thetoenjoyed agrees.Norton,rescued performancewantstillRiders towanttheybuthandlingand relaxed.andcomfortablebe Norton 961 Commando USP: down British bike. Top speed: 100mph+ Horsepower: 85; 12,000; Cool rating 9/10 Theyre back: ton-up boys on Caf Racers were a common sight in the Fifties USP: well-mannered machine that likes bends. Top speed: 140mph+; BHP: 97; USP: likes bends. N EXT month -- some 30 years after the famous Norton name was killed off amid spiralling debts -- two new bikes bearing the marques logo will be unveiled at the International Motorcycle and Scooter Show at Birminghams NEC. With stylish, traditional lines -- and not a plastic race-style fairing in sight -- Nortons 961 Commando and Caf Racer Commando are certain to be the stars of the show. In the Fifties, British motorcycles stripped down to their basic essentials and raced by ton-up boys from roadside caf to caf at weekends were all the rage. Caf Racers -- now known as naked bikes -- were fast, fashionable, and macho. But in the Eighties Japanese manu- facturers such as Honda and Suzuki introduced streamlined, ultra-quick sports bikes swathed in plastic go- faster fairings and British riders fell in love with them. Today, top speeds of 200mph on faired sports bikes are not uncommon and sales have boomed. But riders have begun to have sec- ond thoughts about the practicality, safety, cost -- and exaggerated riding positions -- of the sports bike. Rather than pay handsomely to have fairings expensively repaired after a crash, many riders have started rip- ping them off altogether. The look has caught on and manu- facturers have been producing their own stripped-down versions, leading to the rebirth of the naked bike. This year sales of naked bikes -- produced by big names such as Suzuki, Honda and Kawasaki -- grew at a faster rate than sales of sports bikes for the first time in decades. While sports bike sales fell by 38 per cent, numbers of naked bikes sold rose 15 per cent. The proportion of overall sales going to naked bikes is rising fast -- people are going back to basics, says John Westlake, senior editor at Motor Cycle News. Theres a whole new mood out there for a more relaxed style of riding. People have realised they cant ride 107; 6,220; Cool rating: 8/10 triumph.co.uk Triumph Rottweiler that attracts devotees, says MCN. Top speed: One of the best all-round sporty bikes you can buy. Top speed: BHP: Cool rating 8/10 yamaha-motor.co.uk Suzuki Gladius 650 USP Top speed: Cost: suzuki-gb.co.uksuzuki-gb.co.uk 38 Friday, 9 October 2009 London Lite index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html32.html33.html34.html35.html36.html37.html38.html39.html40.html41.html42.html43.html44.html45.html46.html47.html