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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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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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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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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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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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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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AJP PR4 Enduro (2003-current)

£2,495

198cc, 18bhp, 65mph, Insurance group 6

The AJP PR4 Enduro motorcycle is made in Portugal, using engines from Taiwan and a sturdy, locally built chassis, featuring durable Paioli suspension and handy features like a see-thru gas tank, so you can see how you're doing on fuel when in the wilds. The motorcycles look and feel tough enough to last well, but are expensive to buy and ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 0

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