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Ducati 1000SS (2002-2006)

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992cc, 84bhp, 134mph, Insurance group 14

It’s difficult to pigeonhole the Ducati 1000SS. It’s definitely no full-on sports motorcycle, but you couldn’t really claim to tour on it, either. It’s hugely charming, but is not really the sort of motorcycle to thrash. Best not to worry about all that and simply revel in the Ducati 1000SS' easy handling, V-twin soundtrack and retro looks.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Kawasaki ZX-6R (1995-1997)

N/A

599cc, 100bhp, 152mph, Insurance group 14

Kawasaki’s F-series ZX-6R was, in its day, a serious contender to the middleweight crown of Honda’s CBR600. The Kwacker can still raise a smile, but measured against the latest metal it feels harsh and crude. If you’re buying on a budget then it’s worth a look, but Suzuki’s GSX-R600 will run rings around it at a trackday, while the CBR ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Kawasaki ZX-6R (1998-1999)

N/A

599cc, 106bhp, 163mph, Insurance group 14

With its genuine 163mph top speed, six-piston brakes, low’ish insurance group and evil induction noise the Kawasaki ZX-6R G-series is the bike that overnight made the 750cc superbikes look superfluous. Even today it’s still considered a capable performer, though the suspension and stoppers will doubtless welcome a fettle.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Buell X1 Lightning (1998-2002)

N/A

1203cc, 95bhp, 135mph, Insurance group 15

The Buell X1 Lightning evolved from the M2 Cyclone and features the same short wheelbase chassis, with Showa suspension on the early run base models, then WP kit on the later X1 Lightning, and souped up White Lightning variant. With more grunt than the M2 the X1 feels like more fun and the build quality improved somewhat as time went ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 2
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Ducati 999 (2003-2006)

N/A

998cc, 124bhp, 165mph, Insurance group 17

Although arguably a better bike, the Ducati 999 has never really stepped out of the shadows of the preceding, iconic Ducati 916 series of motorcycles. It lacks the grunty, fluid finesse of its V-twin rival motorcycles, the comfort of Japanese superbikes and has typical Ducati failings; of poor riding position, useless mirrors and quirky electrics. On the right racetrack, the Ducati 999 ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Buell S1 Lightning (1997-1998)

N/A

1203cc, 86bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 15

Quirky doesn't adequately describe the Buell S1 Lightning and this mid-90s take on the Buell dream has its plus points, as well as a few serious flaws in its roadster concept. The engine and gearbox felt outdated even when new, the handling was OK, with the braking perhaps slightly less so.  The 93bhp White Lightning has more oomph and is ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 1
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Buell M2 Cyclone (1997-2002)

N/A

1203cc, 93bhp, 135mph, Insurance group 15

Buell twins are oddball machines and have struggled to win over traditional Harley and Japanese retro bike owners alike. The basic problem is the old hat pushrod V-twin, with its frankly clunky gearbox and diesel-esque power delivery. The Buell M2 Cyclone is one of the more funky versions of the Buell concept from the late 90s, but lacks the easygoing ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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Ducati 749 (2003-2007)

N/A

748cc, 116bhp, 150mph, Insurance group 15

Preferred by some to the Ducati 999, and for good reason. The Ducati 749 is a cheaper motorcycle new or used, plus the smaller engine makes just the right amount of power for the chassis in certain road riding situations. The Ducati 749 has a kind of balance, an addictive precision, in its steering, acceleration and braking that makes it a machine that ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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BMW R1150GS (1999-2005)

N/A

1130cc, 85bhp, 130mph, Insurance group 13

BMW’s R1150GS is heavy, pricey and relatively slow. It’s also an expensive, imperfectly finished motorcycle and the engine design is something Noah would recognise. On the flip-side the BMW R1150GS handles brilliantly, will run forever and will cheerfully see over 200 miles from the motorcycle's tank.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Cagiva Raptor 1000 (2000-2005)

N/A

996cc, 105bhp, 150mph, Insurance group 14

Is the Cagiva Raptor 1000 the wise alternative to a Ducati Monster? Penned by the same designer, the similarities are outstanding. The Suzuki engine is more reliable than any Duke but Cagiva parts back up can be patchy and specialist knowledge scarce. Small, fast and unstable on rough surfaces and stacks of fun.

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

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