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Yamaha YZF600R Thundercat (1996-2003)

N/A

599cc, 100bhp, 145mph, Insurance group 14

If you're after a versatile sports-touring motorcycle, with a reliable engine, decent suspension and braking, plus the ability to carry two people plus kit for a two week holiday, the Yamaha YZF600R Thundercat is damn-near perfect.  The Thundercat makes a real alternative to the VFR750/800 series and is very underrated.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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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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MZ Skorpion 660 (1994-2003)

N/A

660cc, 48bhp, 116mph, Insurance group 9

The MZ Skorpion was stylishly designed (by acclaimed Brits Seymour-Powell) single using a Yamaha engine which proved a refreshingly able antidote to Japanese fours in the mid-to-late 90s. Light, lithe, affordable, generally reliable and reassuringly practical.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda FJS600 Silver Wing (2001-current)

£6,999

582cc, 48bhp, 112mph, Insurance group 10

If you don’t reckon scooters are your thing, the  Honda FJS600 Silver Wing could come as a bit of a shock. Loads of power, excellent performance and handling, great brakes… Not only is it competent, it’s versatile and huge fun, too. The price is a bit steep but the  Honda FJS600 Silver Wing is a great motorcycle that can certainly raise a dyed-in-the-wool biker’s eyebrow…     ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Yamaha FZS600 Fazer (1998-2004)

N/A

599cc, 95bhp, 135mph, Insurance group 12

In many ways the older Yamaha FZS600 Fazer is better than the new model; much more midrange oomph, better weather protection, more upright riding position. But it does look kinda 80s disco from some angles and it's also a bit greedy on fuel. Otherwise, teh Yamaha FZS600 Fazer is a versatile all-rounder with great brakes and a reliable motor.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Suzuki GSX-R750 (1996-1999)

N/A

749cc, 130bhp, 164mph, Insurance group 16

In 1996 Suzuki unveiled their new Suzuki GSX-R750. The engineers had ditched the cradle frame, which had been a feature of the bike since it invented modern superbiking in 1985. They replaced it with a chassis developed from their RGV Grand Prix machine, crammed in a fallen angel of a motor and then sculpted the shape in a wind tunnel. ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Suzuki GSX-R750 (2004-2005)

N/A

749cc, 146bhp, 175mph, Insurance group 16

The 2004 and 2005 Suzuki GSX-R750s are almost perfect. The new radial brakes solved the slight stopping issues of the last incarnation, the styling’s on the money and the motor and chassis are better than most of us can ever hope to fully exploit. The only fly in the 10/40W is the K5 GSX-R1000, which is so utterly brilliant there ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Honda NTV600/650 (1988-1997)

N/A

647cc, 57bhp, 110mph, Insurance group 8

The Honda NTV650 isn’t just about frugal motoring, a quality build and endless reliability. Because somehow Honda segued in a cheeky charm and a handling package that has to be ridden to be believed. Most Honda NTV650s will be a little tired after a decade or more on the streets but at the right price they’re simply superb motorcycles.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Suzuki GSX-R600 (1996-2000)

N/A

599cc, 92bhp, 150mph, Insurance group 14

A raw, involving, lunatic on wheels. The more throttle-happy you are with it, the more the Suzuki GSX-R600 will thrill. Virtually dead low down, wake it up at higher revs and you’ll be clinging on for dear life. Not as finely honed as today’s Suzuki GSX-R600 but, for some, that just adds to the manic appeal. Ridiculous, dangerous fun.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Triumph TT600 (2000-2003)

N/A

599cc, 108bhp, 155mph, Insurance group 14

Triumph wowed us all when they beat all the Japanese manufacturers to putting a fuel injected engine in to a 600cc sportsbike. Shame about the glitches. Later Triumph TT600s are better but the handling and brakes have never been in doubt: they’re awe-inspiring. Dodgy looks but a true Brit.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5

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