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Cagiva River 600/500 (1995-2002)

N/A

497cc, 34bhp, 104mph, Insurance group 8

The Cagiva River is one of the great oddballs of Italian motorcycling of the last decade. Forget traditional performance, passion and style, the city commuter River is the opposite: workmanlike, pedestrian and dull. Honest and different, though.

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Ducati 1000SS (2002-2006)

N/A

992cc, 84bhp, 134mph, Insurance group 14

It’s difficult to pigeonhole the Ducati 1000SS. It’s definitely no full-on sports motorcycle, but you couldn’t really claim to tour on it, either. It’s hugely charming, but is not really the sort of motorcycle to thrash. Best not to worry about all that and simply revel in the Ducati 1000SS' easy handling, V-twin soundtrack and retro looks.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Kawasaki ZX-6R (1995-1997)

N/A

599cc, 100bhp, 152mph, Insurance group 14

Kawasaki’s F-series ZX-6R was, in its day, a serious contender to the middleweight crown of Honda’s CBR600. The Kwacker can still raise a smile, but measured against the latest metal it feels harsh and crude. If you’re buying on a budget then it’s worth a look, but Suzuki’s GSX-R600 will run rings around it at a trackday, while the CBR ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Buell X1 Lightning (1998-2002)

N/A

1203cc, 95bhp, 135mph, Insurance group 15

The Buell X1 Lightning evolved from the M2 Cyclone and features the same short wheelbase chassis, with Showa suspension on the early run base models, then WP kit on the later X1 Lightning, and souped up White Lightning variant. With more grunt than the M2 the X1 feels like more fun and the build quality improved somewhat as time went ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 2
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Kawasaki ZX-6R (1998-1999)

N/A

599cc, 106bhp, 163mph, Insurance group 14

With its genuine 163mph top speed, six-piston brakes, low’ish insurance group and evil induction noise the Kawasaki ZX-6R G-series is the bike that overnight made the 750cc superbikes look superfluous. Even today it’s still considered a capable performer, though the suspension and stoppers will doubtless welcome a fettle.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Buell S1 Lightning (1997-1998)

N/A

1203cc, 86bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 15

Quirky doesn't adequately describe the Buell S1 Lightning and this mid-90s take on the Buell dream has its plus points, as well as a few serious flaws in its roadster concept. The engine and gearbox felt outdated even when new, the handling was OK, with the braking perhaps slightly less so.  The 93bhp White Lightning has more oomph and is ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 1
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Buell M2 Cyclone (1997-2002)

N/A

1203cc, 93bhp, 135mph, Insurance group 15

Buell twins are oddball machines and have struggled to win over traditional Harley and Japanese retro bike owners alike. The basic problem is the old hat pushrod V-twin, with its frankly clunky gearbox and diesel-esque power delivery. The Buell M2 Cyclone is one of the more funky versions of the Buell concept from the late 90s, but lacks the easygoing ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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BMW HP2 (2005-2008)

N/A

1170cc, 105bhp, 130mph, Insurance group 14

It’s hard, objectively, to see the point of the BMW HP2. It’s a 105bhp, 175kg off-roader that costs almost £11,000. Yes, it does have some clever technology like air suspension, but on the flip side its use as a road bike is limited, which is why the factory now offers free 17-inch rims and tyres with each new HP2. It’s ...

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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Bimota Mantra (1995-2002)

N/A

904cc, 86bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 16

”What the hell is that?” is likely to be the first comment from anyone who sees you ride into town on a Bimota Mantra. But don't be scared, underneath designer Sacha Lakic's tribute to Buck Rogers sci-fi there's a sensible Ducati-engined cruiser/roadster. A claimed 85bhp from the old 904cc Duke motor, plus classy suspension and chassis detailing make the Bimota ...

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

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