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Naturally aspirated big V-twin power from KTM or supercharged power from Kawasaki? We’re glad you asked

As the popularity of hard-edge sportsbikes decline, practical and high-powered nakedbikes have enjoyed a bit more time in the sun. Riders still want big performance, the latest rider aids and technology, but no longer want to pretend they’re Jonathan Rea or suffer the realities of hard seats and uncompromising ergonomics, which force your feet up near your backside.

This means the market is now brimming with attractive, aggressive, scaled-down naked offerings based on those once-popular sportsbikes, offering similar handling and performance to their racy relatives. In this field of exotica, two bikes stand out. They are not at the top end of this pricey sector, and neither is a scaled-down version of a racebike. There is no KTM superbike, and yes Kawasaki’s Z H2 has a sporty sibling, the formidable H2, but you’d never see a supercharged Kawasaki H2 leading a race; the Z H2 isn’t a scaled-down ZX-10R.

It’s an intriguing comparison as both manufacturers have chosen very different routes of development. KTM has built the KTM 1290 Super Duke R from the ground up. Now in its third incarnation in its current capacity, it has grown from 990cc to 1301cc in a bid to chase horsepower and stay Euro compliant.

Kawasaki, on the other hand, has attempted to climb Everest the hard way and is the only manufacturer to choose the supercharged route. Capacity remains at 998cc, but the supercharger puts it on a level playing field with the larger competition. But which would you want to see in your garage on a Sunday morning ahead of a blast to the coast? There’s only one way to find out.

Check out the latest issue for the head-to-head between the Super Duke and Z H2