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Honda F6C Valkyrie (1996-2005)

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1520cc, 100bhp, 115mph, Insurance group 14

The Honda F6C Valkyrie is one of those traffic-stopping motorcycles that non-bikers are simply fascinated by. Basically a stripped down Honda GL1500 Gold Wing, with lower gearing and six carbs, the Honda F6C Valkyrie is actually reasonably good fun to ride and some might say it's best made motorcycle in America. The Honda Rune 1800 looks like some kind of Dan Dare ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 5
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Honda VTR1000F Firestorm (1997-2005)

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996cc, 97bhp, 144mph, Insurance group 14

The Honda VTR1000F Firestorm is a brilliant all-rounder with few foibles: you’d be hard pushed not to have a ball on it. Regular refuelling’s a drag but better on post-01 Honda VTR1000F Firestorms, when capacity went from 16 to 19 litres, but it’s still thirsty. The Honda VTR1000F Firestorm has wonderful pull when you open it up in the midrange ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Suzuki RF900R (1995-1999)

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937cc, 125bhp, 162mph, Insurance group 15

It’s not often that you get quality and style along with 'budget'. But Suzuki delivered just that when it produced the RF900R in the late 90s. A sporty sports-tourer, the Suzuki RF900R delivered plenty of punch, decent handling, comfortable versatility and, er, odd styling. Old hat today, but the Suzuki RF900R is still excellent value.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Yamaha FZS600 Fazer (1998-2004)

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599cc, 95bhp, 135mph, Insurance group 12

In many ways the older Yamaha FZS600 Fazer is better than the new model; much more midrange oomph, better weather protection, more upright riding position. But it does look kinda 80s disco from some angles and it's also a bit greedy on fuel. Otherwise, teh Yamaha FZS600 Fazer is a versatile all-rounder with great brakes and a reliable motor.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Suzuki GSX-R600 (1996-2000)

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599cc, 92bhp, 150mph, Insurance group 14

A raw, involving, lunatic on wheels. The more throttle-happy you are with it, the more the Suzuki GSX-R600 will thrill. Virtually dead low down, wake it up at higher revs and you’ll be clinging on for dear life. Not as finely honed as today’s Suzuki GSX-R600 but, for some, that just adds to the manic appeal. Ridiculous, dangerous fun.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Suzuki GSX600F (1996-2000)

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599cc, 73bhp, 135mph, Insurance group 11

Consistently slaughtered for not being the fastest / lightest / latest but the Suzuki GSX600F is a superb all-rounder. It doesn’t cost the earth and is fast enough to be exciting too. As a cheap alternative to sporty 600s it sold well but when the budget 600 class came of age with bikes like the Fazer and SV650 the Suzuki ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda ST1100 Pan European (1989-2004)

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1084cc, 100bhp, 134mph, Insurance group 13

For anyone looking for a long-distance tool the Honda ST1100 Pan European is probably one of the safest bets around. The only problem is availability – owners rate them so highly that low-mileage machines are rarer than hen’s teeth. Not that mileage matters as the motor and construction quality is thermospherically high.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Triumph Sprint ST (1998-2004)

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955cc, 118bhp, 155mph, Insurance group 14

Superb British all rounder Triumph Sprint ST pipped Honda’s VFR800 simply by using a straight bat when the VFR tried all kinds of trick but ultimately unnecessary technology. Plus the Triumph Sprint ST undercuts the VFR on price too. Superb all-round sports tourer with a grunty three cylinder engine that makes it anything but bland.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Kawasaki ZX-12R (2000-2006)

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1199cc, 178bhp, 185mph, Insurance group 17

For many owners the Kawasaki ZX-12R combines the best aspects of the Honda Blackbird or Hayabusa, but mixes in a dose of good old fashioned lairy fun. The Kawasaki ZX-12R is a beefy, roomy sports-tourer, with an engine that keeps tempting you to open it up. Decent build quality too.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Husqvarna SM570R (2001-2004)

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576cc, 41bhp, 70mph, Insurance group 11

Although the Husqvarna SM570R's comes with lights and a licence plate it’s nothing short of a full-blooded race bike. Perfect for blasting through town on the odd commute of B-road blast the SM570R is most at home on the track, hammering around the outside of sportsbikes on the kind of twisty tarmac that let’s you really exploit the bike’s light ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0

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