The "modern" naked bike trend (as the first motorcycles could be classified as naked bikes as well) started in Europe, during the late 1980s. At that time, sportbikes, especially Suzuki's GSX-R, were popular all over the continent. However, the relatively high speed and acceleration of these motorcycles, coupled with the unstable (compared to today) suspension and frame components used, resulted in many crashes in which the bike's plastic fairings were superficially damaged. Because these fairings were expensive to replace, many began to strip them off altogether, resulting in the first Streetfighter. European manufacturers were quick to catch on, and 1993 Ducati created the first production naked bike, the Monster. Others soon followed:
- Aprilia Tuono1000r
- BMW K1200R
- BMW R1150R Rockster
- Ducati Monster (600, 1000, S2R, S4R)
- Honda CB600, CB900F (Hornet), 919, 599
- Kawasaki 750
- Kawasaki ZRX1100, ZRX1200
- Suzuki Bandit (Bandit 600, Bandit 1200)
- Suzuki SV (650/650S, 1000)
- Triumph Speed Series (Triple 1000, Four 600)
- Yamaha FZ6, FZ1 (600, 1000)
As their name implies, all naked bikes lack fairings (Triumph's Speed Triple) or have small, half-fairings (Ducati's Monster S4R). The top of the line, 1000cc naked bikes usually have performance comparable to the fastest of the middleweight supersport class (such as Kawasaki's ZX-6R). However, the bikes are less focused for the track, and thus have more liveable ergonomics and riding positions as compared to superbikes like Suzuki's GSX-R series. Naked bikes are geared, in the most part, towards higher acceleration at the sacrifice of overall top speed (through transmission gearing and spocket size).
Large engine displacement versions of the "naked" type of motorcycle are often referred to as "muscle" bikes. Muscle bikes originated in Japan as an outgrowth of the naked bike phenomenon that was taking place in Europe. Their main characteristics are vast amounts of torque and a broad power spectrum, plus lower gearing compared to a sportbike and an upright seating position. Most "muscle" bikes also forego modern fuel injection, computer management and monoshock suspension seen on the latest sports models, settling for more traditional carburetors and twin rear shocks. Styling is typically reminiscent of Japanese standards from the 1970s and 1980s. These motorcycles are also referred to as "hooligan bikes"; what they may lack in state-of-the-art components, these bikes are considered very fun to ride due to the large, powerful engines allowing them to wheelie easily. Models such as the Kawasaki ZRX1200, Yamaha XJ1300 and Suzuki GSX1400 fit this category.
Naked bikes are loved in Europe for their tough, bare-bones styling and the subsequent attitude they seem to exude. The naked class is not as popular in the United States but is growing rapidly, albeit not significantly enough to displace the sportbike/cruiser phenomenon that is taking place there.