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Yamaha XT600E (1990-2004)

N/A

595cc, 45bhp, 100mph, Insurance group 9

The Yamaha XT600E is about as straightforward, reliable and solid as an old school trail bike gets. The Yamaha XT600E was the last of a long line of 4-valve air-cooled Yamaha singles, starting off with the original, much-loved XT500 of the mid-70s. This is a true trailie: decent off-round and straightforward and ujn-fussy on. Don’t expect any frills or motorway ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Yamaha XJ600 Diversion (1992-2004)

N/A

599cc, 61bhp, 117mph, Insurance group 9

The Yamaha XJ600 Diversion is a Vauxhall Astra diesel amongst motorcycles… with all the worthiness (and dreariness) that implies. Designed from the outset to be soft, cheap, versatile, simple and novice-friendly, the curiously-named Yamaha XJ600 Diversion is pleasant, predictable and a useful hack. But note the complete absence of the words ‘desire’, ‘excitement’, ‘performance’ or ‘thrills’.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Triumph Tiger 955i (2001-2006)

N/A

955cc, 104bhp, 133mph, Insurance group 13

The second generation Triumph Tiger carried on the theme of the original – a big, bruising road trail motorcycle powered by Hinckley’s distinctive triple. The difference was this was the second generation triple with updated chassis and styling to match. Later versions are well equipped and the Triumph Tiger 955i is a decent road motorcycle taller riders, but it’s also ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda CB900F Hornet (2001-2007)

£5,900

919cc, 110bhp, 135mph, Insurance group 15

There are some motorcycles which look good on paper, but fail to fire your adrenaline on the road somehow and theHonda CB900F Hornet is one of them. Maybe it's the mushy non-adjustable front suspension, the blandola looks or perhaps the slightly iffy build quality, but the Honda CB900F Hornet doesn't quite hit the spot. Fireblade powered hooligan? More like fireplace and Val Doonican... - ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Sachs XTC125 (1999-current)

£2,999

125cc, 15bhp, 80mph, Insurance group 7

A fun, tough little bike that, in looks alone, can certainly hold its own next to the Aprilias and Cagivas of the 125cc world. Performance is pretty good: that Suzuki engine’s smooth and grunty and the handling’s great but it’s painfully uncomfortable and really quite basic. A good laugh for a first bike, though.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda XLR125R (1997-2002)

N/A

124cc, 11bhp, 87mph, Insurance group 6

The Honda XLR125 was launched to appeal to the sub-15bhp learner market, it was a shame Honda didn’t make full use of the regulations and give the little XLR a few more bhp. As it is, it’s got its flaws but still provides lots of fun for newbies as well as proving a useful town hack for more experienced riders.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 2.5
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Kawasaki ZRX1200 (2001-2007)

N/A

1164cc, 123bhp, 155mph, Insurance group 13

The Kawasaki ZRX1200 is a big, beefy, retro styled bike with plenty of grunt, a comfortable riding position and good looks (especially the Kawasaki ZRX1200 R version, which pays homage to the Eddie Lawson replica Z1100R of the '80s). But the Kawasaki ZRX1200 is really heavy, has a notchy gearbox and the handling and braking feels outdated compared to the ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda XL1000 Varadero (2001-2010)

£8,500

996cc, 93bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 13

In theory: the Honda XL1000V Varadero is a great idea; take the funky Firestorm motor and put it inside an adventure touring chassis. But the result didn’t live up to that and the Honda XL1000V Varadero hasn’t matched the success of the BMW R1150GS. Whileit has bags of comfort, luggage capacity and grunt, its thirsty engine, top heavy handling and ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Suzuki GSR600 (2006-2010)

£5,200

599cc, 88bhp, 138mph, Insurance group 13

The Suzuki GSR600 is a middleweight inline four in the same mould as Yamaha’s FZ6 and Honda’s Hornet 600. It’s a perfectly acceptable ride, but to be honest the Suzuki GSR600 adds almost nothing to the biking world – especially when Suzuki’s own Bandit 600 (and 650 version) does exactly the same job for less money than the Suzuki GSR600. ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Ducati M750/800 Monster (1996-2005)

N/A

749cc, 62bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 12

There was the Ducati M900 Monster (became the Ducati M1000 Monster), then the Ducati M600 Monster (became the Ducati M620 Monster) and then the Ducati M750 Monster (which became the Ducati M800 Monster), covering the vacant middle ground in the Ducati Monster family. As with the others, the Ducati M750 Monster or Ducati M800 Monster is a beautiful, painfully cool machine and, like the others, ...

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

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