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Harley-Davidson VRSCA V-Rod (2001-current)

£11,995

1131cc, 115bhp, 130mph, Insurance group 17

Harley goes high-tech after decades of just updating their lovable antiques. The Harley-Davidson VRSCA V-Rod was the first of Harley’s VRSC ‘Rod’ family. The Harley-Davidson VRSCA V-Rod's water cooling, loads of power, handling that could embarrass a badly ridden sportsbike and brakes that stop fast were totally novel on a Harley. Diehards refuse to accept them but the Harley-Davidson VRSCA ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Kawasaki Zephyr 750 (1992-1998)

N/A

738cc, 76bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 9

The Kawasaki Z1 was an awesome bike in its day, but the Zephyr 750/1100 tribute bike - like tribute bands - doesn't quite capture the lairy, dangerous essence of the original. The 750 is too soft, a bit underpowered and the 1100 is simply a lardbucket that makes a Bandit 1200 look like a sportbike.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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CCM 640 Supermoto (1999-2000)

N/A

636cc, 60bhp, 105mph, Insurance group 11

The CCM 640 comes in three versions – the 640 RS is a roadster with swoopy bodywork, there’s a Dual Sport version with taller suspension and off-road wheels and then there’s the more popular Supermoto, with more traditional, off-road style panels and numberboard-style front fairing. All that separates CCM’s 640 machines from their 604-designated counterparts is a wider cylinder bore. ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Kawasaki ZR-7 (1999-2004)

N/A

738cc, 75bhp, 126mph, Insurance group 11

With its proven engine, accessible power and easy handling, the Kawasaki ZR-7’s the ideal choice for newbies, couriers, and anyone wanting an easy life. At its budget price, it’ll appeal to the frugal, too. What it lacks in presence and excitement it makes up for in practicality and affordability.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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CCM 604 (1998-2002)

N/A

598cc, 52bhp, 105mph, Insurance group 11

CCM’S 604 came in a wide variety of styles; from supermoto to green laner to roadster. But mechanically each one was essentially the same hardy Rotax motor and quality suspension propelling an oil-in-the-frame chassis. Although they made way for the Suzuki-engined 644 in 2003 the older 604 is still a good, cheap motorcycle providing you look after it.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Harley-Davidson XL883 Sportster (1993-current)

£6,395

883cc, 50bhp, 105mph, Insurance group 11

The Harley-Davidson XL883 Sportster is a basic, budget way into Harley ownership: that possession prized by anyone whose idea of heaven is a long, straight, American highway and for whom Peter Fonda remains the ultimate role model. The Harley-Davidson XL883 Sportster is not the greatest cruiser in the world: it lacks power and performance in virtually every area, but it ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Cagiva Canyon 500 (1996-2002)

N/A

499cc, 33bhp, 90mph, Insurance group 9

There are no end of single cylinder commuter/trailie bikes around if you have the urge, so the Cagiva Canyon loses out for a couple of good reasons in that hard-fought battle for novice biker cash; first off, it's not the most reliable, even by Italian standards. Secondly, it just doesn't have the oomph to match its city slicker looks. What's ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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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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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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