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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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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 VFR800 V-Tec (2001-2012)

£9,950

781cc, 107bhp, 155mph, Insurance group 14

In the late 90s the old VFR800 was a great bike but needed updating. Its replacement, the Honda VFR800 V-Tec, is a beautiful thing and rides, goes and handles superbly too, but the Honda VFR800 V-Tec's variable valve timing caused some controversy - it's clever, but is it really necessary?  

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Suzuki SV650/S (1999-current)

£4,975

645cc, 69bhp, 123mph, Insurance group 9

The Suzuki SV650 is a straightforward middleweight V-twin all-rounder which proves you don’t have to be boring to be practical. The SV650 is versatile, affordable, a doddle to ride (making it popular with inexperienced riders) and yet is a hoot to muck about on - or even to race.   - SV650 Ultimate buyer's guide - everything you need to ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda CBF1000 (2006-2009)

£5,999

998cc, 96.5bhp, 145mph, Insurance group 14

Honda CBF1000: Nice legs, shame about the boat race… The big Honda CBF1000 is one of the unsung heroes of modern motorcycling. Detuned Blade engine, fabulously easy handling and throttle response and great ergonomics make the Honda CBF1000 hooningly enjoyable, yet novice friendly and a great value all-rounder. It's just a shame the Honda CBF1000 looks so dull.

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Kawasaki ZXR400 (1995-1998)

N/A

398cc, 62bhp, 139mph, Insurance group 12

‘Extreme’ is a word that’s bandied everywhere these days. But when it comes to motorcycling, they don’t come much more so than Kawasaki’s ZXR400. Small (so popular with the ladeez), light, stumpy, extremely revvy and a fabulous handler, the little ZXR is refined essence of four-cylinder sportster with all the good and bad that implies. It’s not big, it’s not ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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BMW R1100GS (1994-1999)

N/A

1085cc, 80bhp, 122mph, Insurance group 13

On the face of it the BMW R1100GS isn’t a particularly convincing motorcycle to drop your cash on. It’s underpowered, expensive, looks ungainly and the gearbox is, frankly, poor. However, if you had to bet the house and kids on a motorcycle to get to Timbuktoo and back again (and show you a good time en route) the R1100GS would ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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AJS Regal Raptor (2003-current)

£1,195

249cc, 17bhp, 70mph, Insurance group 8

The AJS Regal Raptor range comes in three sizes; 50cc, 100cc and 250cc, all single cylinder four strokes, with the 250 the most commuter-friendly of the bunch. The smaller machines are mini cruiser styled motorcycles, with the DD100E arguably the most oddball `chopper' that anyone can buy, compete with Captain America Stars `n' Stripes paint. Made in China, AJS Regal ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Aprilia Atlantic 500 (2002-2006)

£4,349

460cc, 37bhp, 100mph, Insurance group 8

The Aprilia Atlantic 500 is somewhat boat-like as super scooters go, and heavy with it, but the Atlantic is nevertheless remarkably sprightly. 2005’s updates modernised the look and updated the frame and suspension. The Aprilia Atlantic 500 is roomy, stable, practical, rides well with great brakes and lots of nice little touches. Even hardcore bikers could have fun on this.

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

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