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Honda CB500 (1994-2003)

N/A

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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Honda CB250 (1992-2003)

N/A

234cc, 20bhp, 80mph, Insurance group 6

Never were the words “trusty little workhorse” so apt as to describe Honda’s CB250. The latest incarnation, launched in 1992, represented the swansong for a motorcycle with a history going back to the 1970s. Trusted, reliable and entirely without pretence, the Honda CB250 is a cracking little motorcycle that’s given long service to bikers everywhere.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Sherco 4.5i Enduro (2004-current)

£5,300

449cc, 48bhp, 78mph, Insurance group 11

Sherco aren’t exactly a household name in the UK. But for fans of enduro riding this Spanish firm is quietly creeping up the popularity ladder. The motor’s powerful, the brakes brilliant, the ergonomics spot on. The only question is over the makes reliability, but barring some rogue electrical problems the factory seems to have answered that query convincingly. You’ll probably ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Husaberg FS 400E (2001-2003)

N/A

399cc, 39bhp, 90mph, Insurance group 11

Until recently the Husaberg FS400 was one of the few over-the-counter supermotos available. It’s a very raw experience, with a terrific induction noise from the airbox, which nestles between the frame tubes right under the seat a barking exhaust note and furious acceleration. However, it’s not the most reliable bike.

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Husqvarna SM450R (2004-current)

£5,994

449cc, 48bhp, 105mph, Insurance group 10

2005 was the last year the UK importers officially brought in the Husqvarna SM450R. Which is a shame as it’s an unbelievably good bike, but it was felt that the 510SMR (road bike) and SM450RR (race bike) serviced all our needs between them. Slim, fast, agile and desirable the SM450R is very much the supermoto fantasy made metal.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Suzuki DR-Z400S (2001-2008)

£4,199

398cc, 39bhp, 94mph, Insurance group 9

Brilliantly competent dual-purpose motorcycle that’s as happy pottering through the gridlock as it is bouncing over a paddock. The DR-Z400S is tough, durable, simple to service and spares are cheap and plentiful. The Suzuki DR-Z’400S' bit heavy for true off-roading but greenlaners love it for its indefatigable charm.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Kawasaki GPZ500S (1987-2004)

N/A

498cc, 59bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 8

Long in the tooth but surprisingly fast and easy to live with, the Kawasaki GPZ500S’s a true and reliable all-rounder. The  Kawasaki GPZ500S is a prime candidate for a “first big bike” and one with the performance and handling to tempt you to hold on to it after rivals have lost their (underpowered) appeal.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Suzuki GS500E (1989-2008)

£3,349

487cc, 47bhp, 110mph, Insurance group 7

Having been around since Adam was an embryo, the Suzuki GS500E may be a trusty workhorse but it tends not to inspire passion in riders due to drab handling, gutless performance, dreadful finish and its perpetual association with L plates. The GS500E looks ok and they’re dirt cheap but, for a few hundred pounds more, you can do a lot better ...

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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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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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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