A roadster is a particular category of motorcycle from the naked bike family. Many mistake roadsters as streetfighters and vice-versa, but there is a clear difference between these two categories of motorcycles even though they are mechanically very similar.
In this article, we’ll first discuss what a roadster is and how it differs from other naked bikes, like streetfighters. Then we’ll go on to look at the best roadster naked bikes available on the market. There’s plenty to tell about each one but I’ll keep it brief and provide the details and specifications you’ll most likely want to see.
We’ll discuss the following:
- What is a roadster naked bike?
- How do roadsters differ from streetfighters?
- What are the best roadster motorcycles?
What is a roadster naked bike?
To clear any confusion, there are many different kinds of naked bikes. The roadster is only one of them. Here’s a list of the most common types of naked bikes:
- Cafe racer
- Cafe scrambler
Most of these names should sound familiar to you except maybe for the “sport-naked”, which is very plainly a sportbike without fairings (and they sometimes have handlebars instead of clip-ons), like the BMW S1000R or the Triumph Street Triple range. You can turn just about any sportbike into a sport-naked bike.
Now you have an idea of where the roadster fits into the naked bike family (even though there might be more categories of naked bikes). So let’s go on to what a roadster looks like…
A brief discription of a roadster would be:
“A motorcycle with minimal or no fairings which has a low seat height, proportionally short wheelbase, an upright seating position and traditional styling like a single round headlight and bullet-shaped fuel tank”– Two Motion
An excellent example of a roadster is the Yamaha XSR 700 (shown). And from the same manufacturer, you’ll also find a streetfighter for comparison, namely, the Yamaha MT 10 (also shown). You might already be able to see the difference between a roadster and a streetfighter.
How do roadsters differ from streetfighters?
Simply put, a roadster has more traditional styled features while the features on a streetfighter are aggressively styled. You can see the difference specifically when comparing the fuel tanks, seat and headlights. Let’s briefly discuss these features:
- Fuel tanks – A roadster commonly has a narrow bullet-shaped fuel tank while a streetfighter commonly has a broad angular-shaped fuel tank that looks more like a hump.
- Seats – A roadster coomonly has a single “traditional” seat for the rider and pillion while a streetfighter commonly has two individual seats. The pillion seat on a streetfighter is also higher than the rider’s seat just like you would see on sportbikes.
- Headlights – A roadster commonly has a single round headlight which gives it a more traditional look, while a streetfighter has a modernly styled headlight which gives it a more aggressive look.
The differences are so subtle that new riders might not even notice the difference between roadsters and streetfighters as may models trend on the line between these two categories. Some models have even switched categories over the years, like the Honda CB1000R which used to be a streetfighter (up to 2017) but then went on to become a roadster in the most recent model update.
What are the best roadster motorcycles?
We’ll divide the best roadster motorcycles into two groups based on engine size. The first group will represent roadster motorcycles with a large capacity engine (around 900cc to 1250cc). The second group will represent roadster motorcycles with medium capacity engines (under 900cc). I believe this will help you find the roadster suited for you more easily.
The best large capacity roadster motorcycles
One roadster that would have most definitely made this list is the Harley-Davidson Bronx which, unfortunately, was aborted. These are the best large capacity engine (900cc to 1250cc) roadsters:
- Honda CB1000R
- Yamaha XSR 900
- BMW R 1250 R
- Ducati Monster 1200
|Displacement||998cc / 60.9ci|
|Power||122.0 HP @ 9,800rpm|
|Torque||69.0 lb-ft @ 8,200rpm|
|Wet weight||212 kg / 467 lbs|
The Honda CB1000R is by any means the go-to bike for those looking at getting into roadsters. It offers comfortable seating for the rider and pillion, great performance and handling, plus very premium mechanical features, like the single-sided swingarm.
|Displacement||847cc / 51.69ci|
|Power||113 HP @ 10,000rpm|
|Torque||64.5 lb-ft @ 8,500rpm|
|Wet weight||195 kg / 430 lbs|
The Yamaha XSR 900 is pretty decent for the most part, but the electrical components just somehow make the whole bike look very cheap. Still, for the price you are paying, you’re getting a pretty good deal. I’d say this roadster is for the everyday commuter who actually does it for the love of riding.
BMW R 1250 R
|Displacement||1254cc / 76.52ci|
|Power||136.0 HP @ 7,750rpm|
|Torque||105 lb-ft @ 6,250rpm|
|Wet weight||239 kg / 527 lbs|
The BMW R1250 R is a mixed breed of roadster and streetfighter. But I would never consider it a streetfighter, so here it is… Disregarding that fact and the 90s tailpipe, you’re getting a lot of bike here.
Ducati Monster 1200
|Displacement||1198cc / 73.11ci|
|Power||147.0 HP @ 9,250rpm|
|Torque||91.0 lb-ft @ 7,750rpm|
|Seat height||795 – 820mm|
|Wet weight||213kg / 470 lbs|
The Ducati Monster 1200 is unmistakably a roadster and the most expensive bike on this list, costing as much as a decent sportbike. On the other hand, it’s also the most premium bike on this list, and I wouldn’t expect anything less from Ducati.
The best medium capacity roadster motorcycles
These are the best medium capacity roadsters which have an engine displacement under 900cc:
- Triumph Trident
- Honda CB650R
- Yamaha XSR 700
- Ducati Monster 821
|Displacement||660cc / 40.3ci|
|Power||80.0 HP @ 10,250rpm|
|Torque||47.0 lb-ft @ 6,250rpm|
|Wet weight||189 kg / 416.7 lbs|
The Triumph Trident is still fresh from the last press release, so there really isn’t much information on it. But I’m confident this roadster will be king of this segment once it hits the showroom floor.
|Displacement||649cc / 39.6ci|
|Power||80.1 HP @ 11,000rpm|
|Torque||41.7 lb-ft @ 8,200rpm|
|Wet weight||202 kg / 445 lbs|
The Honda CB650R might not have the best performance but if you know anything about motorcycles, you’ll know that a four-cylinder sounds a thousand times better than a two-cylinder.
Price: $ 8,499
|Displacement||689cc / 42ci|
|Power||74.0 HP @ 9,000rpm|
|Torque||50.0 lb-ft @ 6,500rpm|
|Wet weight||186 kg / 410 lbs|
The Yamaha XSR 700 is clearly aimed at those who need a great commuter but don’t want to spend too much. It’s a workhorse and for its purpose, you can’t go wrong with this roadster. That’s if you can ever get used to the cheap taillight and the sound of a two-cylinder engine…
Ducati Monster 821
|Displacement||821cc / 50.10ci|
|Power||109.0 HP @ 9,250rpm|
|Torque||63.0 lb-ft @ 7,750rpm|
|Seat height||785 – 810mm|
|Wet weight||206kg / 454 lbs|
The Ducati Monster 821 probably not your best choice if you just need a commuter, although if you want to carve up some canyons, you really can’t go wrong with this roadster. The only thing that bothers me is the awful sound it makes, but that’s because it’s a two-cylinder which can’t be helped.
I hope you found this article useful. Maybe you learned something new today, maybe not. Fact is, there really isn’t a lot of roadster motorcycles out there. And I guess that’s because most of them look very outdated. But it’s a category of motorcycles that I hope to see grow in the future.
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