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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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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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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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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 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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Yamaha FZ6 Fazer (2004-current)

£4,699

600cc, 90bhp, 141mph, Insurance group 12

After the (hugely popular) old Fazer 600 failed to meet new EU emissions laws in 2003, Yamaha came up with this new alternative and it slots perfectly into the modern market. The Yamaha FZ6 Fazer looks sharp, has a brilliant motor, excellent handling and offers huge versatility. Towns, twisties and long treks… it can do it all. A great all-rounder. ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Cagiva Raptor 650 (2003-current)

£4,999

645cc, 69bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 10

The Cagiva Raptor 650's smart Italian style plus a reliable Japanese engine equals a cool, capable light/middle weight all round motorcycle. It’s a blast on back roads but long motorway journeys can be blustery. It’s an extremely unusual bike – imported by Dorset dealer Three Cross Motorcycles.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Beta Alp (2003-current)

£3,895

349cc, 27bhp, 75mph, Insurance group 7

The Beta Alp is available in two 350cc versions, one looking like a trials machine, the other a Supermoto. If you are keen on trials then the slightly lighter Alp 200 might be enough for you, but the Beta Supermoto 350 makes a decent commuter/weekend fun bike, although it's a tad expensive for something using a fairly old tech 350 ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Aprilia MX125 (2003-2006)

£3,199

124cc, 33bhp, 90mph, Insurance group 8

The Aprilia MX 125 is just amazing fun - once de-restricted of course - with a rev-happy two-stroke engine taken from the race-bred Aprilia RS125 and an excellent Supermoto style chassis. The Aprilia MX125 has real class, looks and feels like a proper grown up motorcycle, but question marks over reliability, high initial price and insurance make this an expensive ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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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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