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Royal Enfield Bullet Electra (2004-current)

£4,385

499cc, 25bhp, 78mph, Insurance group 6

There are plenty of cracking classics you could buy for the price of a Royal Enfield Bullet Electra . These are the Indian-built ‘modern’ takes on the Fifties single, but to be honest even the addition of electric start can’t save this bike from being something that perhaps ought to have died out with drainpipe trousers and Teddy Boys.

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Sachs Madass 50/125 (2005-current)

£999

124cc, 11bhp, 58mph, Insurance group 3

Funky half-BMX, half-moped looks good and promises much as a cool urban tool for 16/17-year-olds. Shame it’s let down by disappointly feeble performance, iffy Chinese build quality and plasticine componentry.

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 2.5
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Kawasaki GTR1000 (1986-1999)

N/A

997cc, 110bhp, 130mph, Insurance group 14

The Kawasaki GTR1000, an 80s touring dinosaur, has its good points; a screen which actually protects the rider well, shaft drive, comfy saddle, a massive 28.5 litre fuel capacity and - for the time - respectable handling. But the aged GPZ1000 motor, weak brakes and dated styling limit its appeal.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Ducati 600SS (1993-1999)

N/A

583cc, 53bhp, 120mph, Insurance group 11

Ducati ‘Super Sport’ 600. It sounds fast but it isn’t. With under 50bhp at the rear wheel it’s a sports motorcycle with little bite, and the Ducati 600SS is pretty impractical too. Most examples of this motorcycle are old and carrying plenty of scars and can be potential money pits. Worth considering if you find a loved Ducati 600SS in mint condition and don’t want ...

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Kawasaki KLE500 (1991-current)

£3,995

498cc, 47bhp, 105mph, Insurance group 9

The original Kawasaki KLE500 was made from 1991-1998. Kawasaki’s idea of a parallel twin commuter-cum-trailie then lay dormant for a few years before being reanimated in 2005. It’s hard to see why Kawasaki bothered to be honest. The new KLE500 is uncomfortable, underpowered, uninspiring and uncommonly greedy. You’d be better off with the old Kawasaki KLE500.

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Kawasaki Zephyr 550 (1991-1998)

N/A

553cc, 50bhp, 115mph, Insurance group 8

Launched the same time as the bigger 750 and 1100 Zephyrs, the Kawasaki Zephyr 550 never really caught on in the UK and once the Zephyr's reputation for corrosion spread, and the rival Suzuki Bandit 600 arrived in 1995, the 550 was doomed. It makes an OK commuter in the summer, but it is undepowered, rides too soft and rots ...

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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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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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 S1 Lightning (1997-1998)

N/A

1203cc, 86bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 15

Quirky doesn't adequately describe the Buell S1 Lightning and this mid-90s take on the Buell dream has its plus points, as well as a few serious flaws in its roadster concept. The engine and gearbox felt outdated even when new, the handling was OK, with the braking perhaps slightly less so.  The 93bhp White Lightning has more oomph and is ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 1
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Buell M2 Cyclone (1997-2002)

N/A

1203cc, 93bhp, 135mph, Insurance group 15

Buell twins are oddball machines and have struggled to win over traditional Harley and Japanese retro bike owners alike. The basic problem is the old hat pushrod V-twin, with its frankly clunky gearbox and diesel-esque power delivery. The Buell M2 Cyclone is one of the more funky versions of the Buell concept from the late 90s, but lacks the easygoing ...

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

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