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Triumph Thunderbird (2009-current)

£11,149

1597cc, 85bhp, 115mph, Insurance group

Triumph’s all-new Thunderbird is bravely aimed at taking on Harley in the US, but in terms of spec, quality, performance and price looks the best-equipped rival ever to do just that. It performs well, handles better, is beautifully built and has all the cruiser goodies you could wish for. But if we have to be critical, it’s a bit derivative ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Suzuki GSX-R1000 (2009-2011)

£10,825

999cc, 161bhp, 178.9mph, Insurance group 17

The Suzuki GSX-R1000 K9 is the first completely new GSX-R1000 in the big Suzuki’s history, but it feels uncannily similar to the K7/K8 model it replaces. Despite a new short-stoke engine and an all-new chassis, the K9 hasn’t captured the spirit of the grunt-filled, lightweight K5 bike as we’d hoped and still lacks the agility to keep with its rivals ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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KTM RC8R (2009-2010)

£14,995

1195cc, 159.34bhp, 169.55mph, Insurance group 17

Unashamedly a circuit-based blaster that will need a road-rider to be fully aware of what he is about to buy if it’s to be used on the road. From the competition-biased WP suspension to the 170bhp engine and the lightweight Marchesini wheels in between, the KTM RC8R cries out for corners to be taken at speed. Although it doesn’t need to ...

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Moto Guzzi 1200 Sport 4v (2008-current)

£10,432

1151cc, 105bhp, 135mph, Insurance group 15

After just two years in production the Moto Guzzi 1200 Sport gets a new engine. So it’s out with the old two-valver and in with a new 105bhp four-valve head motor, taken from the Stelvio adventure bike and the Griso 8v cruiser (yes, Guzzi call the Griso an ‘8v’ and all the other bikes in their range with the same ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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KTM RC8 (2008-2010)

£10,695

1148cc, 152.2bhp, 178mph, Insurance group 17

The KTM RC8 is the revelation of 2008… even though we’ve known it’s been coming for four years. Perhaps we should’ve given KTM more credit because all their machines (on and off-road) to date are superb. Nonetheless the RC8 is simply stunning and for all the right reasons. Its engine is powerful and usable; handling shames Japanese and Italian superbikes; ...

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Victory Hammer S (2007-current)

£14,495

1634cc, 88bhp, 120mph, Insurance group 17

The Victory Hammer S is the latest product of America’s fledgling ‘second’ motor company with a slightly sportier stance and image than the stock Hammer due to mean black slathered everywhere and gorgeous Performance Machine Gatlin wheels, the rear wearing a massive 240-section tyre. Performance cruisers don’t come any flashier than the Victory Hammer S.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Moto Guzzi Norge 1200 (2006-2011)

£11,674

1151cc, 95bhp, 126mph, Insurance group 13

There are few bikes as comfortable as Moto Guzzi’s Norge. Soft suspension and a relaxed riding position lets you take full advantage of its 200-mile plus tank range with no aches or pains, while the loud mechanical Italian exhaust note reminds you that you’re riding something with huge character and charm.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Yamaha XV1900 (2006-current)

£13,499

1854cc, 89bhp, 120mph, Insurance group 14

Called the Midnight Star in the UK but overseas known as the Stratoliner – a name that conjures up images of a big motorcycle. And it’s spot-on. The Yamaha XV1900 is typical of Japanese cruisers which have been getting larger and larger both physically and in terms of engine displacement in the last few years. Like all big Japanese customs, ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Victory Hammer (2003-current)

£12,995

1634cc, 88bhp, 120mph, Insurance group 15

Victory’s second generation customs (which also includes the Vegas, 8-Ball etc) are a world on from the original V92 clunkers and, on paper at least, have more than enough to give Harley-Davidson a run for its money. The Victory Hammer is no exception

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Hesketh V1000 (1982-current)

£12,060

1192cc, 86bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 15

Believe it or not, but you can still buy an 80s classic Hesketh V1000 motorcycle, brand new, made in small numbers by Broom Engineering. The original Hesketh V1000 was hailed as the saviour of the British industry back in 1981, but this heavy, rather touring orientated V-twin motorcycle was - and still is - an acquired taste. From 2004 onwards, the Hesketh ...

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

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