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Kawasaki 250R Ninja (2008-2011)

£4,649

249cc, 32.5bhp, 110mph, Insurance group 9

The American market has been a big success for the Kawasaki Ninja 250 range for years and years and… But even the Yanks need a fresh brew every now and then and the Ninja 250R is the latest offering. Fortunately for 33bhp probationary riders in mainland Europe and the UK, we are getting the bike too, complete with emissions compliant fuel ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Aprilia Pegaso Factory (2007-2009)

£4,999

660cc, 48bhp, 115mph, Insurance group 9

The special 'Factory' version of Aprilia’s evergreen fuel-injected 660cc single-cylinder Pegaso (it’s been around in 1989 in various guises - it was the Italian firm’s first ever 'big' motorcycle) is a true gem. With its chunky new radial front brake, lightweight spoked rims, a smattering of carbon fibre and finished to look like its big brother Tuono or RSV Factory, ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Derbi 659 Mulhacen (2006-current)

£4,999

659cc, 48.6bhp, 105mph, Insurance group 10

The Derbi Mulhacen 659 is Derbi's first stab at a motorcycle bigger than 125cc, and is a brazen, trend-setting joy. The combination of concept motorcycle styling, Yamaha XT660R mechanicals and funky. Top notch cycle parts adds up to a street-savvy, flat track styled city scalpel of a motorcycle. Outside Soho, however, the Derbi Mulhacen 659 is an irrelevant ornament…

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda CBF250 (2004-2012)

£3,500

249cc, 22bhp, 80mph, Insurance group 6

The Honda CBF250 is a cracking little motorcycle, marketed towards – and perfect for – new bikers or people who want a cheap town motorcycle. Easy to throw around, forgiving of little errors, peanuts to run and with enough power to get you from A to B with modest speed. Learners or commuters will love the Honda CBF250.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda VT125C Shadow (1999-2007)

£3,299

125cc, 15bhp, 70mph, Insurance group 4

If you’re ultimately yearning for a mammoth cruiser but have yet to perfect the art of riding one, the Honda VT125C Shadow is the bike for you. The littlest Shadow looks the part, is beautifully finished, very reliable and is relatively gentle and forgiving for the novice rider. The Honda VT125C Shadow is a bit lardy, and rather expensive, but an excellent ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Kawasaki Versys (2006-2009)

£4,995

649cc, 60bhp, 128mph, Insurance group 9

As the marketing driven name suggests the Kawasaki Versys is incredibly versatile, the jack of all trades. The Kawasaki Versys does everything well, but isn’t outstanding at any one thing. That said, the Kawasaki Versys is incredibly easy to ride, fun at low speeds and in some ways looks funky for 2007. At under £5000 for the basic model, the ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Suzuki DR-Z400S (2001-2008)

£4,199

398cc, 39bhp, 94mph, Insurance group 9

Brilliantly competent dual-purpose motorcycle that’s as happy pottering through the gridlock as it is bouncing over a paddock. The DR-Z400S is tough, durable, simple to service and spares are cheap and plentiful. The Suzuki DR-Z’400S' bit heavy for true off-roading but greenlaners love it for its indefatigable charm.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda XL125 Varadero (2001-2009)

£4,470

125cc, 15bhp, 72mph, Insurance group 6

Although only a 125, there’s plenty of big bike feel with the Honda XL125 Varadero. The proportions are right, the motor feels spunky and as it’s a Honda you know it’s not going to fall apart beneath you. As a first bike or commuter the Honda XL125 Varadero represents a clever investment with its low insurance group and parsimonious fuel ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Suzuki SV650/S (1999-current)

£4,975

645cc, 69bhp, 123mph, Insurance group 9

The Suzuki SV650 is a straightforward middleweight V-twin all-rounder which proves you don’t have to be boring to be practical. The SV650 is versatile, affordable, a doddle to ride (making it popular with inexperienced riders) and yet is a hoot to muck about on - or even to race.   - SV650 Ultimate buyer's guide - everything you need to ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda CBF500 (2004-current)

£3,900

499cc, 56bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 9

One of the best value commuter/novice motorcycles around, the Honda CBF500 is a decently quick twin cylinder motorcycle that's well made, reliable and handles predictably. It does everyhting you can ask in a novice-friendly package and holds its resale value too. Compared to the Kawasaki ER-6 the Honda CBF500 perhaps looks a little bit plain, but some folk prefer less flash.

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

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