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Kawasaki KLR650 (1987-2002)

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651cc, 42bhp, 94mph, Insurance group 8

There’s nothing quite so surprising as something utterly unremarkable. And so it is with the Kawasaki KLR650 – it’s comfortable, grunty, quiet and reliable. Forget your fancy-pants BMW R1200GS' - providing you can live with adjusting and lubing a chain the Kawasaki KLR650 is at least as good at overlanding and a mere fraction of the price.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Kawasaki ZXR400 (1995-1998)

N/A

398cc, 62bhp, 139mph, Insurance group 12

‘Extreme’ is a word that’s bandied everywhere these days. But when it comes to motorcycling, they don’t come much more so than Kawasaki’s ZXR400. Small (so popular with the ladeez), light, stumpy, extremely revvy and a fabulous handler, the little ZXR is refined essence of four-cylinder sportster with all the good and bad that implies. It’s not big, it’s not ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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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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Ducati 749 (2003-2007)

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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)

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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)

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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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BMW R1100GS (1994-1999)

N/A

1085cc, 80bhp, 122mph, Insurance group 13

On the face of it the BMW R1100GS isn’t a particularly convincing motorcycle to drop your cash on. It’s underpowered, expensive, looks ungainly and the gearbox is, frankly, poor. However, if you had to bet the house and kids on a motorcycle to get to Timbuktoo and back again (and show you a good time en route) the R1100GS would ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Aprilia Tuono 125 (2003-2005)

N/A

125cc, 14bhp, 81mph, Insurance group 7

Simply put the Aprilia Tuono 125 is an Aprilia RS125 with nose fairing and flat bars. Which is why it’ll suit taller 17-year-olds much better than its racier sibling. It loses nothing in handling terms, with excellent brakes and packs stunning looks into what’s already a very tempting package. And once de-restricted it’s a flyer.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Bimota SB6 (1994-1999)

N/A

1074cc, 156bhp, 175mph, Insurance group 17

For many The SB6/7 is the pinnacle of old school Bimota craft. The recipe back then was simple: take the best and most powerful Japanese engines and wrap them in the most exquisite and fine handling hand-made Italian chassis and bodywork. The SB6/7 had hairy Suzuki GSX-R engines, sublime handling and craftsmanship and characteristically Italian unreliability and fickleness. After this, ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Aprilia RS250 (1994-2004)

N/A

249cc, 55bhp, 138mph, Insurance group 12

Aprilia’s RS250 is the last of a dead breed; its ring-a-ding-ding the requiem for meaningful two-strokes and their sweet perfume. Built to ape the Italian factory’s 1993 250GP winner the motorcycle perched a reed-valve motor in a near-perfect chassis to produce one of the finest handling machines of all time. Bella.

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

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