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Suzuki GSF650 Bandit (2005-2006)

£4,299

656cc, 77bhp, 120mph, Insurance group 11

A well-mannered middleweight that’s simple to use, cheap to buy and cheap to run. The Suzuki GSF650 Bandit doesn’t particularly excel in any one department, but for newer riders it’s worth considering with a low seat height and forgiving manners. The GSF650 Bandit's capacity advantage over its older GSF600 Bandit sibling doesn’t actually translate into significantly more go.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Ducati 620 Sport (2002-2003)

N/A

618cc, 60bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 11

Cosmetic and engine update from the long running SS family of sports-retro Ducatis. The entry level Ducati 620 Sport was never a big seller and wasn’t on offer for long. It’s not that fast or comfy but it handles well. Afflicted by the traditional Italian glitches but a cheap way into Ducati motorcycle ownership.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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CCM R30 (2001-current)

£5,028

644cc, 44bhp, 105mph, Insurance group 11

The CCM R30 comes in two versions with two different wheel options. First there’s the older motorcycles with the Austrian made Rotax motor made until mid-2002, then there’s the Suzuki XF650 Freewind-powered version made from then on. You can chose between cast or spoked wheels – the spoked ones arguably look better and work better when using the motorcycle off-road, but ...

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Cagiva River 600/500 (1995-2002)

N/A

497cc, 34bhp, 104mph, Insurance group 8

The Cagiva River is one of the great oddballs of Italian motorcycling of the last decade. Forget traditional performance, passion and style, the city commuter River is the opposite: workmanlike, pedestrian and dull. Honest and different, though.

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Yamaha MT-01 (2005-current)

£12,849

1670cc, 90bhp, 131mph, Insurance group 16

The Yamaha MT-01 has radical, straight-from-show-concept-bike styling allied to monstrous road presence which gives this motorcycle a kick-in-the-teeth visual appeal like no other. Build and detailing is fabulous and the thunderous engine sounds like no other. Shame performance is merely average yet the price stratospheric, then.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Cagiva Gran Canyon (1998-2000)

N/A

904cc, 70bhp, 117mph, Insurance group 12

Cagiva’s Gran Canyon is a great motorcycle to ride, with nimble handling, lazy, easy-to-love power and plenty of tuning potential. Sadly, though, it’s let down by crummy component quality and ridiculous servicing costs. It shines around town or on A-roads, but it’s a less assured performer on longer, faster routes.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Kawasaki ZX-6R (1995-1997)

N/A

599cc, 100bhp, 152mph, Insurance group 14

Kawasaki’s F-series ZX-6R was, in its day, a serious contender to the middleweight crown of Honda’s CBR600. The Kwacker can still raise a smile, but measured against the latest metal it feels harsh and crude. If you’re buying on a budget then it’s worth a look, but Suzuki’s GSX-R600 will run rings around it at a trackday, while the CBR ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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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 X1 Lightning (1998-2002)

N/A

1203cc, 95bhp, 135mph, Insurance group 15

The Buell X1 Lightning evolved from the M2 Cyclone and features the same short wheelbase chassis, with Showa suspension on the early run base models, then WP kit on the later X1 Lightning, and souped up White Lightning variant. With more grunt than the M2 the X1 feels like more fun and the build quality improved somewhat as time went ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 2
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BMW R1200S (2006-2007)

£8,955

1170cc, 122bhp, 148mph, Insurance group 13

Somehow you already know if you want the BMW R1200S. The looks divide opinions, but only half as much as the Boxer engine and the Telelever/Paralever suspension do. BMW has strained the limits of these design parameters – and it only just comes off. As an oddball track motorcycle it works, but as an accomplished all-rounder it falls short of ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4

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