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Kawasaki KLR250 (1984-2001)

N/A

249cc, 26bhp, 86mph, Insurance group 7

Look up ‘easy going’ in any encyclopedia and you’ll see a cheesy picture of Kawasaki’s KLR250 beaming back at you. Kawasaki's KLR250 is a fun, economical, long-lasting and undemanding dual purpose machine. Most will undoubtedly have led hard lives as introductory green laners or farm bikes, but a little TLC and an easy throttle hand will keep a Kawasaki KLR250  ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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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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Honda CBF500 (2004-current)

£3,900

499cc, 56bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 9

One of the best value commuter/novice motorcycles around, the Honda CBF500 is a decently quick twin cylinder motorcycle that's well made, reliable and handles predictably. It does everyhting you can ask in a novice-friendly package and holds its resale value too. Compared to the Kawasaki ER-6 the Honda CBF500 perhaps looks a little bit plain, but some folk prefer less flash.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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CCM FT35S (2005-current)

£5,442

398cc, 45bhp, 93mph, Insurance group 9

The CCM FT35S was built as the bastard offspring of a supermoto motorcycle and a flat-track racing motorcycle comes the road-legal beauty from Britain’s own CCM. Stopping just this side of total two-wheeled self-indulgence the CCM FT35S is for folk who make statements and act the goat with no thought for such dreary irrelevances as practicality or comfort.  

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Cagiva River 600/500 (1995-2002)

N/A

497cc, 34bhp, 104mph, Insurance group 8

The Cagiva River is one of the great oddballs of Italian motorcycling of the last decade. Forget traditional performance, passion and style, the city commuter River is the opposite: workmanlike, pedestrian and dull. Honest and different, though.

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Cagiva Canyon 500 (1996-2002)

N/A

499cc, 33bhp, 90mph, Insurance group 9

There are no end of single cylinder commuter/trailie bikes around if you have the urge, so the Cagiva Canyon loses out for a couple of good reasons in that hard-fought battle for novice biker cash; first off, it's not the most reliable, even by Italian standards. Secondly, it just doesn't have the oomph to match its city slicker looks. What's ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Bimota V-Due (1997-1998)

N/A

499cc, 110bhp, 155mph, Insurance group 16

Only in Italy could someone bet the company's future on a complex, high tech, ridiculously expensive two-stroke, which couldn't compete with a 1000cc superbike of the time. The gamble was taken by Bimota in 1997, when (after eight years of development) the V-Due 500cc two-stroke appeared, and was almost universally slated as a rough-running, not particularly fast, oddball motorcycle for ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Beta Alp (2003-current)

£3,895

349cc, 27bhp, 75mph, Insurance group 7

The Beta Alp is available in two 350cc versions, one looking like a trials machine, the other a Supermoto. If you are keen on trials then the slightly lighter Alp 200 might be enough for you, but the Beta Supermoto 350 makes a decent commuter/weekend fun bike, although it's a tad expensive for something using a fairly old tech 350 ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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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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AJS Regal Raptor (2003-current)

£1,195

249cc, 17bhp, 70mph, Insurance group 8

The AJS Regal Raptor range comes in three sizes; 50cc, 100cc and 250cc, all single cylinder four strokes, with the 250 the most commuter-friendly of the bunch. The smaller machines are mini cruiser styled motorcycles, with the DD100E arguably the most oddball `chopper' that anyone can buy, compete with Captain America Stars `n' Stripes paint. Made in China, AJS Regal ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4

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