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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 ER-6n (2005-2008)

£4,595

649cc, 71bhp, 130mph, Insurance group 10

Tests have shown that nine out of 10 road testers prefer the Kawasaki ER-6 to virtually any other middleweight machine. Bandits, Fazers, Monsters, SV650s… The Kawasaki ER-6 has trounced the lot of ‘em. A cunningly-disguised riot of fun, the Kawasaki ER-6 is cute, it’s capable and it’s competent just about anywhere. You’d have to be off your rocker not to ...

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • 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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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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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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Yamaha FZ6 Fazer (2004-current)

£4,699

600cc, 90bhp, 141mph, Insurance group 12

After the (hugely popular) old Fazer 600 failed to meet new EU emissions laws in 2003, Yamaha came up with this new alternative and it slots perfectly into the modern market. The Yamaha FZ6 Fazer looks sharp, has a brilliant motor, excellent handling and offers huge versatility. Towns, twisties and long treks… it can do it all. A great all-rounder. ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Cagiva Mito 125 (1991-current)

£3,999

124cc, 31bhp, 101mph, Insurance group 7

Ducati-esque styling and the promise of almost 30bhp in (easily) from a de-restricted motorcycle make the Cagiva Mito 125 a real object of desire for anyone on a learner motorcycle licence. The Cagiva Mito 125 only just loses out to Aprilia’s RS125 in the sex stakes.  

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Aprilia RS125 (1995-2012)

£4,219

125cc, 15bhp, 93mph, Insurance group 12

The Aprilia RS125 has remained the top motorcycle for most right-thinking teenagers since it first rolled out of the factory in 1995. It oozes big motorcycle style and handles like a dream. It’s expensive to buy and run thanks to pricey two-stroke motorcycle oil, but, if you can afford it, the Aprilia RS125 is worth every penny.   Watch the Aprilia RS125 take on Honda's CBR125R and ...

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

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