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Yamaha XV125 Virago (1997-2004)

N/A

124cc, 13bhp, 60mph, Insurance group 4

If you're starting out on two wheels then the Yamaha XV125 Virago V-twin is one of the best made little motorbikes you can choose. Reliable motor, solid chassis, nice low seat and wide `bars give a feeling of confident control on the machine. Later XVS125 models have an extra 3bhp in the V-twin motor and the bike is 4kgs lighter ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Yamaha XJ900S Diversion (1994-2004)

N/A

892cc, 90bhp, 127mph, Insurance group 12

Introduced two years after its little 600cc brother, the bigger Yamaha XJ900S Diversion is a real, no-nonsense all-rounder. Ok, so it lacks outstanding performance or any semblance of sexiness but who cares? For bikers on a budget who ride in the real world, the Yamaha XJ900S Diversion is hard to beat. Has a long standing and respectable heritage, too.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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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 YZF600R Thundercat (1996-2003)

N/A

599cc, 100bhp, 145mph, Insurance group 14

If you're after a versatile sports-touring motorcycle, with a reliable engine, decent suspension and braking, plus the ability to carry two people plus kit for a two week holiday, the Yamaha YZF600R Thundercat is damn-near perfect.  The Thundercat makes a real alternative to the VFR750/800 series and is very underrated.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Triumph Speed Triple (1997-2004)

N/A

955cc, 120bhp, 150mph, Insurance group 14

The Triumph Speed Triple is one of the second generation of Hinckley Triumphs that, in the late 1990s, really put them back on the map. The Speed Triple is essentially a naked, upright, ‘streetfightered’ Daytona, but it’s a surprising winner that’s not only brimful of bad boy character, but also manages to employ the wonderful and unique 955 triple motor ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Suzuki XF650 Freewind (1997-2002)

N/A

644cc, 47bhp, 105mph, Insurance group 10

Cruise comfortably at 80mph, screw the pants off it on a winding road or peer over traffic from the high seat on your way to work: the Suzuki XF650 Freewind is a versatile motorcycle that’s great value and something a little different. The handling’s particularly notable. If you must take the Suzuki XF650 Freewind off road, keep it very simple ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Honda CMX250 Rebel (1996-2000)

N/A

234cc, 17bhp, 75mph, Insurance group 5

For laid-back cruising, miniature style, you can’t get much better than the Honda CMX250 Rebel. The engine’s been around forever and the light weight makes for a gentle learning curve. The lack of power can soon become a problem, however, although cruising through town is a right giggle. Just don’t try too much touring if you buy a Honda CMX250 ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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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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Suzuki TL1000R (1998-2004)

N/A

996cc, 135bhp, 165mph, Insurance group 16

The Suzuki TL1000 range feature one of the truly great V-twin engines, in some of the most unpredictable handling chassis ever devised. The Suzuki TL1000R has an improved rear shock, which doesn't misbehave so much as the TL1000S model's, but both motorcycles get so light at the front end, so very easily with all that V-twin grunt on tap. The ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Yamaha TDM850 (1991-2001)

N/A

849cc, 77bhp, 130mph, Insurance group 12

Fairly revolutionary when launched and certainly years ahead of its time the Yamaha TDM850 was a sort of Multistrada 12 years before Ducati thought of it. As a serious ‘street trailie allrounder it’s pretty effective, too. The later 900 is better, but the Yamaha TDM850 is still decent, good value, different, and largely overlooked.

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

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