One of the oldest divides in the motorcycle word is probably this. I do not remember meeting a motorcycle enthusiast ever who 'loved' both the categories. I mean, admiration can always exist, so can respect, but love? I have my doubts. And all this war of 'fancy clothes or no clothes' started somewhere close to 25 years ago worldwide when motorcycle companies started offering fairings as a standard equipment. Before that, it was used very specifically for racing purposes as it provided aerodynamics and top speed. They lack in a particular area which people do not want to compromise with - Riding comfort. This is one of the bigger reasons for which the naked motorcycles stayed despite being called 'boring' over and over again.
So is it just the comfort that has made the naked motorcycles stay and give a stiff competition to the faired ones or is it something more than that? Let's try to analyse this. A naked bike is lighter (of course) than a faired bike which gives it more kick because of better power to weight ratio. It is more suited for highway rides cruising at manageable speeds. However, the naked motorcycles of the recent times have broken the myth of being slow and less powerful. The top speed is not easy to manage though because of wind blast that happens at high speeds due to poor aerodynamics. The higher centre of gravity (CoG) of the naked motorcycle also makes it more nimble and easy to manoeuvre on a daily basis. No fairing also means less money to spend in case of a fall as the fairing is more prone to get hurt in case of a crash.
Practicality is not of very much importance in the world of motorcycles. It is highly subjective as well, like comfort and many other things. A lot can be played around with to suit your riding style. Riding a sports bike on a longer stretch can be a little painful for your back, but there are people who do not mind it a bit. Some find the frame, engine, wires and cables being visible very enticing while others can't stand these things protruding out of the motorcycle and want them hidden under the fairing. Naked bike also exposes you to all the dirt and pebbles on a windy day which is something you can't deal with under any situation. On a faired bike though, it is very easy to hide behind the windshield and avoid the residue Indian roads offer. In case it rains, the windshield and fairing can help you avoid the showers to a certain extent. Naked bikes also have the benefit of having better engine cooling as the air keeps coming from all the sides as the faired bikes have a tendency to heat up a lot if they encounter heavy traffic.
Naked bikes also have a mass appeal as they are light, flickable, easy to turn, have comfortable sitting posture so you don't need to think twice before taking it out for a spin in your neighbourhood. Faired bikes, on the other hand, are good for fast cornering, wind resistance and also look very cool to the masses. But it also is lesser efficient than its counterpart minus clothes because of poor cooling, expensive in case of a crash, weight, a non-existant pillion seat and a lesser ground clearance which is something you will always swear at crossing a speed breaker. The rubber bushes between the fairing and the frame also have a tendency to wear with time which results in a rattling sound.
Talking about the verdict, I would say that history has repeated itself. I haven't been able to find a clear winner here as both the versions have their own pros and cons and depending on what you like doing, you decide your buy. I, for example, have always been a diehard fan of the naked motorcycles out there. In fact, my dream machine is nothing but a KTM 1290 Super Duke R which I have thoughtfully preferred over MV Agusta F4RR, BMW S1000RR and Ducati 1199 Superleggera and, like everyone else, I have my reasons for making it my dream choice. Someday. Amen.