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Derbi 659 Mulhacen (2006-current)

£4,999

659cc, 48.6bhp, 105mph, Insurance group 10

The Derbi Mulhacen 659 is Derbi's first stab at a motorcycle bigger than 125cc, and is a brazen, trend-setting joy. The combination of concept motorcycle styling, Yamaha XT660R mechanicals and funky. Top notch cycle parts adds up to a street-savvy, flat track styled city scalpel of a motorcycle. Outside Soho, however, the Derbi Mulhacen 659 is an irrelevant ornament…

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda CBF250 (2004-2012)

£3,500

249cc, 22bhp, 80mph, Insurance group 6

The Honda CBF250 is a cracking little motorcycle, marketed towards – and perfect for – new bikers or people who want a cheap town motorcycle. Easy to throw around, forgiving of little errors, peanuts to run and with enough power to get you from A to B with modest speed. Learners or commuters will love the Honda CBF250.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Yamaha DT125X (2004-current)

£3,199

124cc, 15bhp, 65mph, Insurance group 6

The Yamaha DT125X is the latest version of Yamaha’s long-running DT series, the X is the supermoto, road version and it’s an absolute scream. Lightweight, ridiculously agile and easy to ride, it makes learning (or commuting) huge fun. It’s not for off-roading (get an RE version for that) but for Tarmac-based 125cc antics, the Yamaha DT125X is hard to beat.

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Honda VT125C Shadow (1999-2007)

£3,299

125cc, 15bhp, 70mph, Insurance group 4

If you’re ultimately yearning for a mammoth cruiser but have yet to perfect the art of riding one, the Honda VT125C Shadow is the bike for you. The littlest Shadow looks the part, is beautifully finished, very reliable and is relatively gentle and forgiving for the novice rider. The Honda VT125C Shadow is a bit lardy, and rather expensive, but an excellent ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Kawasaki Versys (2006-2009)

£4,995

649cc, 60bhp, 128mph, Insurance group 9

As the marketing driven name suggests the Kawasaki Versys is incredibly versatile, the jack of all trades. The Kawasaki Versys does everything well, but isn’t outstanding at any one thing. That said, the Kawasaki Versys is incredibly easy to ride, fun at low speeds and in some ways looks funky for 2007. At under £5000 for the basic model, the ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Kawasaki ER-6n (2005-2008)

£4,595

649cc, 71bhp, 130mph, Insurance group 10

Tests have shown that nine out of 10 road testers prefer the Kawasaki ER-6 to virtually any other middleweight machine. Bandits, Fazers, Monsters, SV650s… The Kawasaki ER-6 has trounced the lot of ‘em. A cunningly-disguised riot of fun, the Kawasaki ER-6 is cute, it’s capable and it’s competent just about anywhere. You’d have to be off your rocker not to ...

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Suzuki DR-Z400S (2001-2008)

£4,199

398cc, 39bhp, 94mph, Insurance group 9

Brilliantly competent dual-purpose motorcycle that’s as happy pottering through the gridlock as it is bouncing over a paddock. The DR-Z400S is tough, durable, simple to service and spares are cheap and plentiful. The Suzuki DR-Z’400S' bit heavy for true off-roading but greenlaners love it for its indefatigable charm.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda XL125 Varadero (2001-2009)

£4,470

125cc, 15bhp, 72mph, Insurance group 6

Although only a 125, there’s plenty of big bike feel with the Honda XL125 Varadero. The proportions are right, the motor feels spunky and as it’s a Honda you know it’s not going to fall apart beneath you. As a first bike or commuter the Honda XL125 Varadero represents a clever investment with its low insurance group and parsimonious fuel ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Suzuki GSF650 Bandit (2005-2006)

£4,299

656cc, 77bhp, 120mph, Insurance group 11

A well-mannered middleweight that’s simple to use, cheap to buy and cheap to run. The Suzuki GSF650 Bandit doesn’t particularly excel in any one department, but for newer riders it’s worth considering with a low seat height and forgiving manners. The GSF650 Bandit's capacity advantage over its older GSF600 Bandit sibling doesn’t actually translate into significantly more go.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda CBR125R (2004-2010)

£3,170

125cc, 13bhp, 70mph, Insurance group 6

The Honda CBR125R is an excellent ‘mid market’ 125. There are cheaper to buy / run bikes, like Honda’s own CG125 but they lack kudos. There’s a flotilla of fancy, mainly European motorcycles like Aprilia’s gorgeous RS125 but they’re silly money. But the Honda CBR125R's a tidy little motorcycle with a reliable four stroke engine, safe handling and brakes.

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

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