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Triumph Thunderbird 900 (1993-2003)

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

Surprisingly cool, versatile and fun retro – indeed one of the first. Triumph Thunderbird 900 took the pleasing and fruity Triumph Trident and refashioned it into an althogether more stylish package. There’s handling, comfort and decent poke inside those cream and chrome walls, while cred is guaranteed by the name on the tank. Nice.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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MZ Baghira (2001-2007)

N/A

659cc, 50bhp, 100mph, Insurance group 9

The MZ Baghira is a great bike for taking you to work or throwing you around mountainsides at weekends, the Baghira’s a torquey little beast with brilliant, light handling. Cornering’s hilarious. In town, that towering seat comes in handy. Quirky looks and a good price should make it real competition against its rivals

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit (1996-2006)

N/A

1152cc, 100bhp, 145mph, Insurance group 13

The Suzuki GSF1200 Bandit is one of biking's true bargains. Grunty Suzuki GSX-R1100 derived engine, decent handling for its day and simple to tune up should you require more lairy A roads fun. The 2000 onwards GSF1200 Bandit's are more touring based, bit softer, but the finish is slightly better.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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KTM 640 LC4 Supermoto (1998-2007)

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625cc, 53bhp, 110mph, Insurance group 11

The KTM LC4 640 is KTM’s popular supermoto stalwart – a rough, tough bugger that’s a capable commuter, trackday sleeper and friend to the wannabe stunt monkey. It sits on the civilized side of the LC4 family, benefiting from an anti-vibe damper, and an electric start to complement the kicker. Like all supermotos it’s as cheap as chips, geared for ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Kawasaki ZX-9R (1994-2002)

N/A

899cc, 143bhp, 175mph, Insurance group 16

Like so many motorcycles the Kawasaki ZX-9R began life as a sports machine, didn’t quite cut it and ended up as an excellent sporty sports-tourer. It’s indecently fast and should put 175+mph on the clock with minimal hassle. Early Kawasaki ZX-9Rs were heavy but from the ‘C’ variant of 1998 onwards it’s light enough to be a capable if not ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Kawasaki Z750 (2003-2006)

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748cc, 100bhp, 138mph, Insurance group 13

The Kawasaki Z750 simply hammers its rivals of the time in the naked sector with a genuine 100 back wheel bee-aitch-pees, which it marries to insane looks and an addictive personality that echo its bigger, madder Z1000 brother. This could be the ultimate commuter.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Ducati ST2 & ST4 (1996-2003)

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916cc, 105bhp, 155mph, Insurance group 15

The forgotten Ducati family – sports touring motorcycles. While Monsters rule in town and the Superbikes jostle for supremacy on the track, few think of these practical yet exciting machines when Ducati is mentioned. It’s a shame as the Ducati ST2 and Ducati ST4 are excellent machines. The Ducati ST4’s more powerful 916cc engine is the biggest difference between it and ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Kawasaki GPZ500S (1987-2004)

N/A

498cc, 59bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 8

Long in the tooth but surprisingly fast and easy to live with, the Kawasaki GPZ500S’s a true and reliable all-rounder. The  Kawasaki GPZ500S is a prime candidate for a “first big bike” and one with the performance and handling to tempt you to hold on to it after rivals have lost their (underpowered) appeal.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda CBR600RR (2003-2006)

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599cc, 115bhp, 160mph, Insurance group 15

Barely related to the long-running all-round Honda CBR600F – the Honda CBR600RR is a track biased missile – and an excellent one. On the road, the ‘F’ version is a better bet for most with a more roomy riding position, stable handling and a less revvy engine but get the Honda CBR600RR on the track and it’s in its element.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Kawasaki KLR650 (1987-2002)

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651cc, 42bhp, 94mph, Insurance group 8

There’s nothing quite so surprising as something utterly unremarkable. And so it is with the Kawasaki KLR650 – it’s comfortable, grunty, quiet and reliable. Forget your fancy-pants BMW R1200GS' - providing you can live with adjusting and lubing a chain the Kawasaki KLR650 is at least as good at overlanding and a mere fraction of the price.

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

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