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Cagiva Planet 125 (1998-2003)

N/A

124cc, 23bhp, 80mph, Insurance group 6

The cousin of the successful, ‘mini 916’ Cagiva Mito, the Cagiva Planet 125 takes its engine, running gear and chassis from the mad little sportsbike so it’s got a good pedigree. It’s also beautifully designed and knocks the socks off its competitors (largely scooters). Let’s face it, which would you rather have?

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Ducati Monster 1000 (2003-2005)

N/A

922cc, 85bhp, 138mph, Insurance group 14

For schmoozing about town there’s really nothing more rewarding than a Ducati Monster 1000 with its easy-going dual spark (DS) motor. With its handsome, air-cooled V-twin hanging out in the breeze and trademark trellis frame the Ducati Monster 1000 is the quintessential roadster motorcycle.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Ducati 1000SS (2002-2006)

N/A

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 (2005-2006)

N/A

636cc, 114bhp, 168mph, Insurance group 15

The hardest 600 of modern times just got a little softer – and a little better, too. The Kawasaki ZX-6R's track-intent is still present and correct, but thankfully the suspension is more responsive and less harsh. Its new slippery shape means that 170mph is just a following wind away. Also new for 2005 is a slipper clutch and petal discs.

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Cagiva Gran Canyon (1998-2000)

N/A

904cc, 70bhp, 117mph, Insurance group 12

Cagiva’s Gran Canyon is a great motorcycle to ride, with nimble handling, lazy, easy-to-love power and plenty of tuning potential. Sadly, though, it’s let down by crummy component quality and ridiculous servicing costs. It shines around town or on A-roads, but it’s a less assured performer on longer, faster routes.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Yamaha YZF-R1 (2004-2006)

N/A

998cc, 165bhp, 175mph, Insurance group 17

It’s hard to fault the clinical, precise and devastatingly fast Yamaha YZF-R1. Its chassis can cope with all kinds of road surfaces and demolishes tight hairpins at any track. But it does demand skill and rivals like the CBR1000RR and GSX-R1000 are simply less work. For purists the Yamaha YZF-R1 still has something unique; a superb focus on the dark ...

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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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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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 916/996/998 (1994-2005)

N/A

998cc, 123bhp, 170mph, Insurance group 17

Evolution of the legendary Ducati 916 has an even punchier engine and a refined chassis. It’s still an uncompromising motorcycle designed to lap tracks fast which means it’s not such fun on a wet back road but it always makes the rider feel very special - whether they’re out on a blast or just staring at the Ducati 916, 996 or 998s gorgeous ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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BMW R1200C (1997-2005)

N/A

1170cc, 61bhp, 105mph, Insurance group 13

The BMW R1200C is a Harley-Davidson rival with German engineering. Like most cruisers, it sells on looks – this one had a part in a Bond movie too. Power is pretty modest considering the 1200cc engine but it’s enough. Dynamically it’s better than many cruisers thanks to quality engineering and light(ish) weight.  

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5

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