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Honda CB1000R (2008-current)

£9,299

998cc, 130bhp, 150mph, Insurance group 15

Forget the dinosaur CB1000 of the early nineties, or the now defunct 900 Hornet, the CB1000R is a whole new bag for Honda, designed with Europe, using a retuned version of the 2007 FireBlade engine and with 2008 FireBlade forks and brakes, a beautiful single-sided swingarm and fabbo styling. In fact the only thing the CB1000R lacks is a bit ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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KTM RC8 (2008-2010)

£10,695

1148cc, 152.2bhp, 178mph, Insurance group 17

The KTM RC8 is the revelation of 2008… even though we’ve known it’s been coming for four years. Perhaps we should’ve given KTM more credit because all their machines (on and off-road) to date are superb. Nonetheless the RC8 is simply stunning and for all the right reasons. Its engine is powerful and usable; handling shames Japanese and Italian superbikes; ...

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Kawasaki 250R Ninja (2008-2011)

£4,649

249cc, 32.5bhp, 110mph, Insurance group 9

The American market has been a big success for the Kawasaki Ninja 250 range for years and years and… But even the Yanks need a fresh brew every now and then and the Ninja 250R is the latest offering. Fortunately for 33bhp probationary riders in mainland Europe and the UK, we are getting the bike too, complete with emissions compliant fuel ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Suzuki GSX-R600 (2004-2005)

N/A

599cc, 97.5bhp, 164mph, Insurance group 15

It was never the fastest or the most powerful in the supersports class of 04 and 05, but the Suzuki GSX-R600 was easily the most fun, especially on the track. Boasting the lightest weight of all its contenders, the most track-focused chassis and the most evil sounding engine note, the Suzuki GSX-R600 is the 600 for dedicated hardcore riders.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Honda CBR600RR (2007-2008)

£7,200

599cc, 118bhp, 165mph, Insurance group 15

Honda have hit back hard with the track focused CBR600RR. They want their 600 crown back and after our first initial ride it seems they’ve done it. They’ve rectified the old motorcycle’s weak points, namely lack of midrange and weight. The Honda CBR600RR is now the lightest in the class, and has much more midrange and razor sharp handling.   Watch the ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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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 YZF-R1 (1998-2003)

N/A

998cc, 150bhp, 175mph, Insurance group 16

The third and final great sports bike of the nineties. The FireBlade set the agenda, the 916 added finesse and the Yamaha YZF-R1 topped them off with extra power and madness. Even today the original Yamaha YZF-R1 is a sports tool to be reckoned with and updated Yamaha YZF-R1s are even more potent and easier to use too.  

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • 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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Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade (2004-2005)

N/A

998cc, 172bhp, 178mph, Insurance group 17

Cold, calm and supremely effective – the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade is like The Terminator. It is an exceptional sports bike that’s blisteringly fast on the road or track. It is bristling with MotoGP technology and compared to the previous motorcycles the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade is manic and faster but heavier and arguably less exciting too.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Honda CBR900RR Fireblade (1992-1999)

N/A

918cc, 128bhp, 160mph, Insurance group 17

The motorcycle that changed how sports motorcycles were built. The Honda CBR900RR FireBlade wiped the floor with its competitor motorcycles not by being more powerful (it wasn’t) but by being lighter. Rivals were all well over 200kg, the first Honda CBR900RR FireBlade was just 185kg which made it perform superbly. It’s still a wild ride and a surprisingly practical motorcycle too.  

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5

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