Drag races are awesome, and we all love watching our favorite motorcycles go head-to-head in a battle for straight-line supremacy. However, a lot of the drag races we talk about tend to focus on high-power superbikes, as well as heavily modified machines churning out insane amounts of power. That being said, Bike World has released a new video highlighting the straight-line performance of some of the most popular middleweight naked bikes.
Now, for those of you who didn’t know, I’m a huge fan of the middleweight naked bike segment, and I’ve owned quite a lot of them over the course of my riding career. Currently, I have two sitting in my garage, a Yamaha MT-07 and a Triumph Street Triple RS. Naturally, Bike World’s newest test instantly caught my attention as it featured five of the most popular middleweight naked bikes currently available on the market: the Kawasaki Z650, Yamaha MT-07, Suzuki GSX-8S, KTM 790 Duke, and Aprilia Tuono 660.
Having quite a lot of personal experience on these bikes, I think that Bike World hit the nail on the head with this selection, as all these bikes have a lot in common: a lightweight chassis, 100 horsepower or less, and relatively affordable price tags. Indeed, for all five manufacturers, these models represent the entry-level intermediate models, bikes that occupy the goldilocks zone when it comes to performance and technology. So, with all that said, if you’re familiar with these bikes, then you don’t even need to watch the video to know which one would be the fastest.
Bike World decided to use the Kawasaki Z650, which is quite frankly the most under-powered and therefore the slowest bike, in the spread. It’s also the model based on the oldest platform, making use of an engine that’s been around for nearly two decades now (the ER-6 first hit the market in 2006). Atop the wet asphalt, the Z650 rocketed through the quarter mile in a respectable 13.3 seconds.
With that out of the way, it was time for the Yamaha MT-07 and Suzuki GSX-8S to go head-to-head. Although not as old as the Kawasaki, the MT-07 has been around for quite a long time, as well, as it’s celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2024. Since its first iteration, not much has changed, save for styling revisions and tweaks to meet emissions standards. With that, it set a rather impressive time of 12.8 seconds. Meanwhile, the all-new GSX-8S set a slightly quicker time of 12.5 seconds – something that’s honestly expected, as it has a 10-horsepower advantage over the Yamaha.
With the Japanese middleweights out of the way, it was time for the Euro machines to slug it out on the quarter mile. The KTM 790 Duke represents extremely attractive value for money, offering impressive performance and respectable tech for a low price. Meanwhile, the Aprilia Tuono 660 is arguably one of the best-equipped machines in the segment, and also has the highest power output of 100 horsepower. Surprisingly, however, both bikes crossed the quarter-mile in 11.9 seconds, with the Tuono 660 taking the win by mere inches.
It goes without saying that since the start, the Tuono 660 had the biggest advantage. Nevertheless, this isn’t to say that the four other bikes are slow by any measure. Even the Z650’s time of 13.3 seconds is faster than some performance-oriented cars. For example, the Subaru WRX has a quarter-mile time of about 13.6 seconds. It’s also worth noting that the test was done in wet conditions, so we could expect much faster times if the asphalt was dry.