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Yamaha YZF600R Thundercat (1996-2003)

N/A

599cc, 100bhp, 145mph, Insurance group 14

If you're after a versatile sports-touring motorcycle, with a reliable engine, decent suspension and braking, plus the ability to carry two people plus kit for a two week holiday, the Yamaha YZF600R Thundercat is damn-near perfect.  The Thundercat makes a real alternative to the VFR750/800 series and is very underrated.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Yamaha XVS250 Drag Star (2000-2004)

N/A

249cc, 21bhp, 80mph, Insurance group 7

When the XV250S Virago was discontinued, the new Yamaha XVS250 Drag Star replaced it. They’re very similar and that’s good news for owners: the long-running Virago branch of the Yamaha family has a great reputation. The little Yamaha XVS250 Drag Star is just as good and, if your heart’s set on a smaller capacity cruiser, you’ll find it hard to ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Yamaha XT125R (2005-current)

£2,999

124cc, 12.5bhp, 71mph, Insurance group 5

Once upon a time the learner motorcycle world was only filled with two-strokes. And once your eyes had stopped running the only quality trailie was Yamaha’s DT125. And it was madly expensive. Nowadays the place is full of four-stroke cheapies like Yamaha's XT125R and we should be grateful. But we’re not because de-restricting two-stroke learners was a piece of cake ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Triumph Speed Triple (1997-2004)

N/A

955cc, 120bhp, 150mph, Insurance group 14

The Triumph Speed Triple is one of the second generation of Hinckley Triumphs that, in the late 1990s, really put them back on the map. The Speed Triple is essentially a naked, upright, ‘streetfightered’ Daytona, but it’s a surprising winner that’s not only brimful of bad boy character, but also manages to employ the wonderful and unique 955 triple motor ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Suzuki DR125SE (1985-2001)

N/A

124cc, 12bhp, 65mph, Insurance group 4

The Suzuki DR125SE, is a straightforward but attractively styled four-stroke learner trailie that was only available for a limited period, so rare now. Earlier twin-headlamp “Raider’ was more common, but most are by now unserviceable. A good Suzuki DR125SE is a valid alternative to an XT125 or the like.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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Royal Enfield Bullet 350 (1987-2006)

£1,995

346cc, 18bhp, 70mph, Insurance group 5

If you want to travel back through time to the 1950s then the Royal Enfield Bullet 350 is the bike for you. Great engineering details, and it actually makes a pleasant rural commuter bike, returning 70mpg or more at a steady 55mph. Needs TLC of course, like most old classics, but still undeniably good fun.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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MZ Skorpion 660 (1994-2003)

N/A

660cc, 48bhp, 116mph, Insurance group 9

The MZ Skorpion was stylishly designed (by acclaimed Brits Seymour-Powell) single using a Yamaha engine which proved a refreshingly able antidote to Japanese fours in the mid-to-late 90s. Light, lithe, affordable, generally reliable and reassuringly practical.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda CB500 (1994-2003)

N/A

499cc, 57bhp, 120mph, Insurance group 9

The Honda CB500 is a first big motorcycle you’ll never want to sell. It’s huge fun because it’s so confidence-inspiring, meaning you can take it anywhere and it’ll make you feel you can push your limits. Very competent: commuters and couriers love Honda CB500s for their reliability and all-round, top-notch performance.  In all aspects, the Honda CB500's a winner.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Suzuki GSX-R750 (1996-1999)

N/A

749cc, 130bhp, 164mph, Insurance group 16

In 1996 Suzuki unveiled their new Suzuki GSX-R750. The engineers had ditched the cradle frame, which had been a feature of the bike since it invented modern superbiking in 1985. They replaced it with a chassis developed from their RGV Grand Prix machine, crammed in a fallen angel of a motor and then sculpted the shape in a wind tunnel. ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda NTV600/650 (1988-1997)

N/A

647cc, 57bhp, 110mph, Insurance group 8

The Honda NTV650 isn’t just about frugal motoring, a quality build and endless reliability. Because somehow Honda segued in a cheeky charm and a handling package that has to be ridden to be believed. Most Honda NTV650s will be a little tired after a decade or more on the streets but at the right price they’re simply superb motorcycles.

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

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