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Norton Commando 961 SE (2009-current)

£15,995

961cc, 79bhp, mph, Insurance group 17

Revived Norton’s new Commando 961 SE is a ‘feel good’ bike par excellence. It gives riding and owning pleasure by the skip-load and is a machine you’ll park up and spend hours admiring in the garage with a cuppa. Yes, in this full-bling, limited edition, £16K, SE trim, the 961 is arguably more ornament than transport, but that’s’s arguably irrelevent ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Yamaha YBR125 Custom (2008-current)

£2,599

cc, 10bhp, 70mph, Insurance group 2

The idea behind the Yamaha YBR125 Custom is dead simple: take the straightforward YBR125 commuter, customize it a bit with high bars, more chrome and a lower seat, bump up the price a tad, and there you go, a pointlessly more expensive and less tasteful runabout. In reality, it makes a lot of sense as the low seat makes it ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Harley-Davidson XR1200X (2010-2012)

£9,595

1202cc, 90bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 11

Based on the 2009 XR1200, the XR1200X is slightly more sports biased than the sports biased XR1200. Confused? Don’t be. All you have to think about is the X-model has vastly improved, multi-adjustable suspension that makes a difference when riding 187kg of American muscle on our roads. It also comes in a menacing black paint scheme with black exhausts. Engine ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Honda BROS NT400 (1988-1992)

N/A

398cc, 31bhp, 94mph, Insurance group 9

Strictly speaking, the BROS 400 is heavy, underpowered and outdated. But the cheap grey imports are surprisingly nice to ride – they’re well balanced, steer well and the engine is flexible, torquey and characterful given its 33bhp output. That also makes it legal for new riders on a restricted licence.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Aprilia Shiver GT (2009-2011)

£7,474

749cc, 95bhp, 130mph, Insurance group 15

The standard Aprilia SL750 Shiver is just another funky naked bike – but the simple addition of a fairing turns it in to one of the best Italian all rounders you can buy. The Shiver GT is very competent, mixing practicality with style, performance and character for not a huge amount of cash.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Yamaha WR250X (2008-current)

£6,399

250cc, 30bhp, 80mph, Insurance group 9

In theory the WR250X is a perfect funky first bike – lightweight, funky looks and an all-new design should spell big fun. But it doesn’t – the Yamaha is badly let down by it’s chassis, which is unforgivable given the astronomic price.

  • MCN rating rating is 1
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Moto Guzzi Café Classic (2009-2012)

£6,169

744cc, 48bhp, 120mph, Insurance group 14

The new Moto Guzzi Café Classic is a café racer version of the V7 Classic retro roadster warmly received last year. Powered by Guzzi’s small block 750 Nevada V-twin powertrain in an old school twin shock chassis, it’s a dinky, cute runaround and almost embarassingly toy-like for anyone over 5’10”. But what makes it great is how beautifully and classily ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Yamaha XJ6 Diversion (2009-current)

£6,499

600cc, 77bhp, 140mph, Insurance group 12

The new Yamaha XJ6 Diversion is the half-faired version of the Yamaha XJ6. It's more powerful, better handling and prettier than the trusty old Diversion of the late 80s and early 90s. But just like that old original, it offers practical, fun and above all, affordable biking. It’s easy to ride, so it’s perfect for new riders looking for their ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Yamaha XJ6 (2009-current)

£6,099

600cc, 77bhp, 135mph, Insurance group 12

This is the naked version of the half-faired Yamaha XJ6 Diversion. Aside from the lack of fairing, it is exactly the same spec, but somehow it has transformed the Yamaha from sensible budget middleweight to exciting mini streetfighter. With its ‘baby Yamaha FZ-1’ looks and sit-up-and-beg riding position this is a very cheap way to get your rocks off. On ...

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Buell Ulysses XB12XT (2008-current)

£8,310

1203cc, 103bhp, 131mph, Insurance group 15

Reworking an existing model to make an all-together different model can work, as Suzuki’s Bandit and V-Strom range has shown – add panniers, taller screen, other accessories and they become good budget touring bikes. Buell’s take on this is to rework the Ulysses adventure-based bike, add small panniers and top box and hope they can get away with an archaic ...

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

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