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SMC YB150/250 (2009-current)

£1,495

150cc, 15bhp, mph, Insurance group

SMC is the abbreviation of Southern Motorcycles, an American company delivering affordable and reliable intermediate off-road-biased trail bikes and full-on competition. Although the bikes are off American design, for cost reasons they are manufactured in China. The SMC YB150 (150cc) and YB250 (250cc) are air-cooled motocross-style machines with adjustable USD front forks, an equally modern single shock, tubular steel frame ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 2
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Derbi DRD 125 SM (2009-current)

£2,899

124cc, 15bhp, 77mph, Insurance group

If your parents have a fair old wedge to chuck on your first bike, 125SM ownership is not only guaranteed to put a ruddy big smile on your face, but also pull the girls outside the local KFC. Nothing in its class looks as good. In 30 and 40mph limits (its natural hunting ground) it’s rapid enough. But anywhere else ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Moto Hispania Duna SM125 (2009-current)

£2,599

124cc, 12bhp, 70mph, Insurance group 4

As the name suggests, the Moto Hispania SM1125 is a Spanish made learner legal supermoto. It certainly looks the part and will have young potential customers drooling at shop windows. It’s competitively priced, being one of the cheapest in its class, but is let down by poor build quality and by using an old air-cooled Yamaha engine.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Piaggio X7 250ie (2008-current)

£2,999

244cc, 22bhp, 80mph, Insurance group 7

The Piaggio X7 250 ie is halfway between a full-on maxi scooter and a lightweight city scooter, so in theory should offer comfort and a bit of class with some traffic busting ability. It manages it too – it feels substantial and quality but slices traffic like a 50cc scooter.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Honda C90 Cub (1985-2002)

£1,699

85cc, 8bhp, 50mph, Insurance group 2

The ‘updated’ version of Honda’s bum-basic commuter only needed a few upgrades over the original 1960’s design – CDI ignition is the main benefit, reducing maintenance. Otherwise, it’s still the crude but charming plod-along it always was – only emissions killed it off in the EU, variants of the Cub are still on sale in Asia.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Kawasaki ER-6n (2009-2011)

£5,799

649cc, 72bhp, 130mph, Insurance group 10

The first Kawasaki ER-6n already offered fantastic value for money – fun, practicality and decent looks for £4500. It didn’t need a revamp, but for this year it now has a classier more grown up image. The chassis has been tweaked to isolate vibration, and suspension quality was also improved in response to owner comments.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Buell 1125CR (2008-current)

£7,830

1125cc, 146bhp, 154.85mph, Insurance group 16

Based on the sports Buell 1125R, the 1125CR is essentially a naked version of the same bike. As it comes it has one-piece handlebars to mimic clip-ons, but the pay-extra upright bars make more sense to ride with – far more comfortable, fits  the naked bill. It has the Buell 1125R’s full-fat 146bhp engine and, despite its unusual looks, the ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Yamaha YZF-R6 (1998-2003)

N/A

599cc, 108bhp, 160mph, Insurance group 14

Hardcore, know the score. The Yamaha YZF-R6 is a sexy uber-capable track bike that works on the road too. It caught the 600 race rep class napping and nothing came close until Suzuki launched its 2001 GSX-R600 – that’s a long time to rule the 600 roost and shows just how good the original Yamaha YZF-R6 was.

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Yamaha TZR50 (2003-2004)

N/A

49cc, 6bhp, 30mph, Insurance group 3

The Yamaha TZR50 is an act of brilliant folly but tempting nevertheless. A screaming, old-school, supersports, 50cc sixteener, with all the bluster, mayhem, carnage, testosterone and manicness that implies. Being Japanese the Yamaha TZR50 is fairly durable too, though it can’t match the performance of its European rivals.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace (1996-2003)

N/A

1002cc, 145bhp, 165mph, Insurance group 16

The Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace started out as Yamaha’s last throw of the old school superbike dice, and resulted in the final incarnation of the FZR1000 EXUP. But ironically the Thunderace has proved to be a better big bore sports touring motorcycle than out-and-out superbike – albeit a humungously fast one. If you like your superbikes big and brash and with room ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5

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