Motorcycles looking to make a bold statement should take a look at naked bikes. They combine most of the fun things about a sports bike with the more upright and cozy ergonomics of a standard.
Nowadays you don’t have to spend a lot to have one in the garage either. Take this trio of urban runners, for example. Priced from $ 4,649 (Honda) to $ 6,299 (Husqvarna), with the 390 Duke sitting perfectly in the middle ($ 5,499), each offers a distinct flavor for those looking to have fun on the way to work or during the weekends.
Both the Honda CB300R and Husqvarna’s Vitpilen 401 have the distinction of being the new kids on the block. They carry a contemporary neo sports style that is a nice balance between old and new. They’re responses, in a way, to the amazing little 390 Duke that took the entry-level naked bike segment by storm when it launched three years ago.
Since then, the orange bike has undergone a host of styling updates to more closely align it with its rubber-spotted 1290 Super Duke R sibling.
All dressed equally for success, it’s hard to pick a winner in the styling department. Teen racers will likely gravitate toward the KTM’s sharp edges and eye-catching pumpkin colors, as our youngest 21-year-old tester Evan Allen surmised.
husqvarna 401 vs ktm 390
The CB300R, on the other hand, is much more discreet but attractive and easy to live with without drawing too much attention, for better or for worse. We appreciate the CB’s clean, boxy lines that show off the motorcycle’s mechanics in a modern way.
The Vitpilen tastefully increases the volume, making it even more attractive for those who want to park their motorcycle in the living room and have it as a coffee stand. With its long white torso, shapely seat and sleek spoked wheels, it is a motorcycle that turns heads.
“We all knew the Husqvarna would look fantastic, but the real surprise is how well Honda holds up,” says Motorcycle Editor-in-Chief Chris Cantle. “It shares the neoclassical lines of the CB1000R, just as the Vitpilen 401 mirrors the 701, and like the Huskies, everyone wins.
Honda’s styling is a giant step up from the outgoing CB300F, which was outdated by a generation. The CB300F came from a time when entry-level bikes performed great but looked a bit silly. This new age of machines ends those ghosts forever. “
All three are adorned with bold LED lighting that not only looks modern and stylish, but also helps you stand out in a sea of traffic.
They carry headlights that put machines without LEDs to shame, for a couple of years now. More similarities come in the form of smooth-shifting six-speed gearboxes and lightweight, easy-to-drive clutches.
husqvarna vitpilen 401 duke 390 vs svartpilen 401
The instrumentation, on the other hand, is mixed. The orange bike sports the more elaborate and aesthetically pleasing TFT screen (that is, if you’re a techie), a colorful contrast to the monochrome LCD screen of the other two.
Among them, the Honda gets the nod as it’s an easier display to read at a glance. However, it could benefit from a gear position indicator… something we normally see on a new Honda. Although it looks great, the 401’s cleverly integrated round-face gauge package is difficult to read while driving due to its fine print. The touch function of the buttons could also be improved.
When it comes to motorcycles, especially those designed for beginners, the light is always right. And Honda clearly has the upper hand. With a curb weight of just 315 pounds, it’s 47 pounds less than the KTM and 25 pounds less than the slim Vitpilen. In fact, the Honda is so light that it made us think its 286cc single-cylinder engine had been overhauled, as it accelerates much more than we remember.
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