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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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Suzuki GS500E (1989-2008)

£3,349

487cc, 47bhp, 110mph, Insurance group 7

Having been around since Adam was an embryo, the Suzuki GS500E may be a trusty workhorse but it tends not to inspire passion in riders due to drab handling, gutless performance, dreadful finish and its perpetual association with L plates. The GS500E looks ok and they’re dirt cheap but, for a few hundred pounds more, you can do a lot better ...

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Kawasaki KLE500 (1991-current)

£3,995

498cc, 47bhp, 105mph, Insurance group 9

The original Kawasaki KLE500 was made from 1991-1998. Kawasaki’s idea of a parallel twin commuter-cum-trailie then lay dormant for a few years before being reanimated in 2005. It’s hard to see why Kawasaki bothered to be honest. The new KLE500 is uncomfortable, underpowered, uninspiring and uncommonly greedy. You’d be better off with the old Kawasaki KLE500.

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Honda CBF500 (2004-current)

£3,900

499cc, 56bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 9

One of the best value commuter/novice motorcycles around, the Honda CBF500 is a decently quick twin cylinder motorcycle that's well made, reliable and handles predictably. It does everyhting you can ask in a novice-friendly package and holds its resale value too. Compared to the Kawasaki ER-6 the Honda CBF500 perhaps looks a little bit plain, but some folk prefer less flash.

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