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Buell S1 Lightning (1997-1998)

N/A

1203cc, 86bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 15

Quirky doesn't adequately describe the Buell S1 Lightning and this mid-90s take on the Buell dream has its plus points, as well as a few serious flaws in its roadster concept. The engine and gearbox felt outdated even when new, the handling was OK, with the braking perhaps slightly less so.  The 93bhp White Lightning has more oomph and is ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 1
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Buell M2 Cyclone (1997-2002)

N/A

1203cc, 93bhp, 135mph, Insurance group 15

Buell twins are oddball machines and have struggled to win over traditional Harley and Japanese retro bike owners alike. The basic problem is the old hat pushrod V-twin, with its frankly clunky gearbox and diesel-esque power delivery. The Buell M2 Cyclone is one of the more funky versions of the Buell concept from the late 90s, but lacks the easygoing ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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BMW R1200ST (2005-2007)

£9,095

1170cc, 110bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 15

The R1200ST is BMW’s Boxer-twin sports-tourer, now that the old R1100S has been supplanted by the newer, more sports-oriented R1200S. The problem is that the ST is on well-contested ground here – lining up against machines like Triumph’s excellent Sprint ST and Honda’s superb VFR800 VTEC, both of which are faster, sharper and cheaper.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Kawasaki ZX-6R (2000-2002)

N/A

599cc, 109bhp, 163mph, Insurance group 14

Kawasaki’s new-for-2000 ZX-6R got a new swingarm, a revised rear shock and engine internals and a facelift – not good enough to compete with Yamaha’s stunning R6 on the track nor Honda’s new ally-framed CBR600 on the road. In 2002 it got a beefier 636cc motor, which made it a much improved road tool.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Ducati 748 (1994-2003)

N/A

748cc, 103bhp, 150mph, Insurance group 16

The Ducati 748  is nearly identical to the iconic Ducati 916 but with a smaller engine (and narrower rear wheel). That means sublime handling on smooth surfaces, terrible comfort, high running costs and a feel-good experience most other motorcycle can’t touch. Even well over a decade on few motorcycles match the simple, gorgeous curves of the Ducati 748.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Cagiva Mito 125 (1991-current)

£3,999

124cc, 31bhp, 101mph, Insurance group 7

Ducati-esque styling and the promise of almost 30bhp in (easily) from a de-restricted motorcycle make the Cagiva Mito 125 a real object of desire for anyone on a learner motorcycle licence. The Cagiva Mito 125 only just loses out to Aprilia’s RS125 in the sex stakes.  

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Bimota SB8R (1999-2000)

N/A

996cc, 133bhp, 170mph, Insurance group 17

Exotic, ultra-rare and built with a level of attention few manufacturers can match. But unlike the Bimotas of previous decades, the SB8R doesn’t radically out perform Japanese competition of the same time. It does manage to be a little better though and race success backed this up. Lack of dealer back up makes ownership worrying.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Bimota Mantra (1995-2002)

N/A

904cc, 86bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 16

”What the hell is that?” is likely to be the first comment from anyone who sees you ride into town on a Bimota Mantra. But don't be scared, underneath designer Sacha Lakic's tribute to Buck Rogers sci-fi there's a sensible Ducati-engined cruiser/roadster. A claimed 85bhp from the old 904cc Duke motor, plus classy suspension and chassis detailing make the Bimota ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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Beta Alp (2003-current)

£3,895

349cc, 27bhp, 75mph, Insurance group 7

The Beta Alp is available in two 350cc versions, one looking like a trials machine, the other a Supermoto. If you are keen on trials then the slightly lighter Alp 200 might be enough for you, but the Beta Supermoto 350 makes a decent commuter/weekend fun bike, although it's a tad expensive for something using a fairly old tech 350 ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Aprilia Moto 6.5 (1995-2002)

N/A

649cc, 42bhp, 115mph, Insurance group 9

Whatever star quality the Philippe Starck-designed Aprilia Moto 6.5 may possess as a motorcycling design icon (and it has lots), it’s sadly more than matched by its overwhelming ‘averageness’ in terms of performance. The Aprilia Moto 6.5 is OK, in a F650/Pegaso sort of way, but you’ve got to love to weird looks to contemplate it. 

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 0

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