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Honda VT600 Shadow (1992-2002)

N/A

583cc, 54bhp, 111mph, Insurance group 11

The Honda VT600 Shadow is pretty much the antithesis of the original chopper credo. If the first true chops were all about bad boy, bristly individuality, the 600 Shadow is about as soft, unthreatening and unoriginal as it gets. It’s bland, novice-friendly and safe and predictable, but you’;ve really got to ask yourself if you want that sort of thing. ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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Triumph Tiger (1993-1998)

N/A

885cc, 84bhp, 119mph, Insurance group 13

The Triumph Tiger is a versatile tourer and inter-city commuter with the same rear wheel power as a BMW R1150GS. The Triumph Tiger is handy in the bends, rides easily and the wide seat, 24-litre tank and good screen put long-distance commuting and touring well within its capabilities.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Laverda 750 S (1997-2002)

N/A

748cc, 85bhp, 140mph, Insurance group 13

For a brief, mostly shining few years in the mid-to-late 1990s, legendary Italian marque Laverda (they of the 1970s Jota etc) was back. Trouble was, although the machines’ cycle parts were like an Aladdin’s cave of goodies, they handled superbly, looked decent and weren’t too exotically priced, the twin cylinder engines, though updated, were based on the 500 Montjuic of ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Triumph Speedmaster (2002-2011)

£6,949

865cc, 54bhp, 110mph, Insurance group 10

The Triumph Speedmaster is a kind of cruiser variant of the Bonneville 790, with the 2005 onwards Speedmaster getting an 865cc motor for more grunt. It has a low seat height in its favour, but the Triumph Speedmaster's oddball styling, low power and poor pillion accommodation make it poor value.   Watch the Triumph Speedmaster take on Harley-Davidsons Nightster and ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Triumph Legend TT (1998-2000)

N/A

885cc, 70bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 13

The Triumph Legend TT is a slightly more basic, cheaper version of the Triumph Thunderbird which rides fine – slightly better even, truth be told – but only looks good to those who wear sunglasses indoors. Which, in our book, defeats half the point. Unless you love the Triumph Legend TT's black engine etc, we recommend you go for a ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Sachs XTC125 (1999-current)

£2,999

125cc, 15bhp, 80mph, Insurance group 7

A fun, tough little bike that, in looks alone, can certainly hold its own next to the Aprilias and Cagivas of the 125cc world. Performance is pretty good: that Suzuki engine’s smooth and grunty and the handling’s great but it’s painfully uncomfortable and really quite basic. A good laugh for a first bike, though.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda XLR125R (1997-2002)

N/A

124cc, 11bhp, 87mph, Insurance group 6

The Honda XLR125 was launched to appeal to the sub-15bhp learner market, it was a shame Honda didn’t make full use of the regulations and give the little XLR a few more bhp. As it is, it’s got its flaws but still provides lots of fun for newbies as well as proving a useful town hack for more experienced riders.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 2.5
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KTM 640 Adventure (1997-2007)

N/A

625cc, 54bhp, 110mph, Insurance group 11

If you’re used to smooth riding, civilized singles like BMW’s F650 range then KTM’s 640 Adventure will come as something of a shock. It’s very vibey, absurdly tall, not that comfortable and pre-2004 models suffer from patchy engine reliability. Having said that in the muddy side of its dual-purpose role it’s untouchable for handling, presence and rugged toughness.  

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Sachs X-Road (2004-current)

£2,799

125cc, 15bhp, 70mph, Insurance group 7

The Sachs X-Road 125 is a one-of-a-kind. Styled like a supermoto with wide 17-inch rims, excellent brakes and red painted tubular steel frame it’s also got an underseat silencer and comes with aggressive-looking and grippy ‘wet’-style tyres. The handling is extremely good, but the gearing is odd and it’s quite vibey.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 2.5
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Honda XRV750 Africa Twin (1989-2003)

N/A

742cc, 61bhp, 110mph, Insurance group 12

Big trail bike you really can take off road. The Honda XRV750 Africa Twin was one of the first Japanese monster trail / desert rally bikes and remains one of the best. Power output is much lower than the latest machines but the slimmer seat makes it easier to manage one you leave the Tarmac. It’s not light though and ...

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

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