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Yamaha XV125 Virago (1997-2004)

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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 TZR50 (2003-2004)

N/A

49cc, 6bhp, 30mph, Insurance group 3

The Yamaha TZR50 is an act of brilliant folly but tempting nevertheless. A screaming, old-school, supersports, 50cc sixteener, with all the bluster, mayhem, carnage, testosterone and manicness that implies. Being Japanese the Yamaha TZR50 is fairly durable too, though it can’t match the performance of its European rivals.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Yamaha XVS250 Drag Star (2000-2004)

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249cc, 21bhp, 80mph, Insurance group 7

When the XV250S Virago was discontinued, the new Yamaha XVS250 Drag Star replaced it. They’re very similar and that’s good news for owners: the long-running Virago branch of the Yamaha family has a great reputation. The little Yamaha XVS250 Drag Star is just as good and, if your heart’s set on a smaller capacity cruiser, you’ll find it hard to ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Triumph Speed Triple (1997-2004)

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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 4
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Rieju RS1 (1997-2004)

N/A

50cc, 9bhp, 60mph, Insurance group 2

The Rieju RS1 is a screaming, old-school, supersports, 50cc sixteener, with all the bluster, mayhem, carnage, testosterone and manicness that implies, but thankfully a whole lot cheaper than rivals like Aprilia and Cagiva. Yes it’s Spanish and a little brittle, but it’s also well-equipped, massively cool and impressively affordable.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda F6C Valkyrie (1996-2005)

N/A

1520cc, 100bhp, 115mph, Insurance group 14

The Honda F6C Valkyrie is one of those traffic-stopping motorcycles that non-bikers are simply fascinated by. Basically a stripped down Honda GL1500 Gold Wing, with lower gearing and six carbs, the Honda F6C Valkyrie is actually reasonably good fun to ride and some might say it's best made motorcycle in America. The Honda Rune 1800 looks like some kind of Dan Dare ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 5
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Honda VTR1000F Firestorm (1997-2005)

N/A

996cc, 97bhp, 144mph, Insurance group 14

The Honda VTR1000F Firestorm is a brilliant all-rounder with few foibles: you’d be hard pushed not to have a ball on it. Regular refuelling’s a drag but better on post-01 Honda VTR1000F Firestorms, when capacity went from 16 to 19 litres, but it’s still thirsty. The Honda VTR1000F Firestorm has wonderful pull when you open it up in the midrange ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Suzuki RF900R (1995-1999)

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937cc, 125bhp, 162mph, Insurance group 15

It’s not often that you get quality and style along with 'budget'. But Suzuki delivered just that when it produced the RF900R in the late 90s. A sporty sports-tourer, the Suzuki RF900R delivered plenty of punch, decent handling, comfortable versatility and, er, odd styling. Old hat today, but the Suzuki RF900R is still excellent value.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Honda CB500 (1994-2003)

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499cc, 57bhp, 120mph, Insurance group 9

The Honda CB500 is a first big motorcycle you’ll never want to sell. It’s huge fun because it’s so confidence-inspiring, meaning you can take it anywhere and it’ll make you feel you can push your limits. Very competent: commuters and couriers love Honda CB500s for their reliability and all-round, top-notch performance.  In all aspects, the Honda CB500's a winner.

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

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