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Cagiva Gran Canyon (1998-2000)

N/A

904cc, 70bhp, 117mph, Insurance group 12

Cagiva’s Gran Canyon is a great motorcycle to ride, with nimble handling, lazy, easy-to-love power and plenty of tuning potential. Sadly, though, it’s let down by crummy component quality and ridiculous servicing costs. It shines around town or on A-roads, but it’s a less assured performer on longer, faster routes.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Yamaha YZF-R1 (2004-2006)

N/A

998cc, 165bhp, 175mph, Insurance group 17

It’s hard to fault the clinical, precise and devastatingly fast Yamaha YZF-R1. Its chassis can cope with all kinds of road surfaces and demolishes tight hairpins at any track. But it does demand skill and rivals like the CBR1000RR and GSX-R1000 are simply less work. For purists the Yamaha YZF-R1 still has something unique; a superb focus on the dark ...

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Cagiva 750/900 Elefant (1993-1999)

N/A

904cc, 68bhp, 128mph, Insurance group 11

On face value the Cagiva Elefant was born of an unlikely marriage, but the reality of mating up the (then Cagiva owned) Ducati V-twin with a monster trailie, desert racer type chassis proved something of a masterstroke let down only by poor build quality. The big Elefant (a 750 was also produced) was lively, handled fairly well and was even ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Buell X1 Lightning (1998-2002)

N/A

1203cc, 95bhp, 135mph, Insurance group 15

The Buell X1 Lightning evolved from the M2 Cyclone and features the same short wheelbase chassis, with Showa suspension on the early run base models, then WP kit on the later X1 Lightning, and souped up White Lightning variant. With more grunt than the M2 the X1 feels like more fun and the build quality improved somewhat as time went ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 2
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Ducati 999 (2003-2006)

N/A

998cc, 124bhp, 165mph, Insurance group 17

Although arguably a better bike, the Ducati 999 has never really stepped out of the shadows of the preceding, iconic Ducati 916 series of motorcycles. It lacks the grunty, fluid finesse of its V-twin rival motorcycles, the comfort of Japanese superbikes and has typical Ducati failings; of poor riding position, useless mirrors and quirky electrics. On the right racetrack, the Ducati 999 ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Buell S1 Lightning (1997-1998)

N/A

1203cc, 86bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 15

Quirky doesn't adequately describe the Buell S1 Lightning and this mid-90s take on the Buell dream has its plus points, as well as a few serious flaws in its roadster concept. The engine and gearbox felt outdated even when new, the handling was OK, with the braking perhaps slightly less so.  The 93bhp White Lightning has more oomph and is ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 1
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Buell M2 Cyclone (1997-2002)

N/A

1203cc, 93bhp, 135mph, Insurance group 15

Buell twins are oddball machines and have struggled to win over traditional Harley and Japanese retro bike owners alike. The basic problem is the old hat pushrod V-twin, with its frankly clunky gearbox and diesel-esque power delivery. The Buell M2 Cyclone is one of the more funky versions of the Buell concept from the late 90s, but lacks the easygoing ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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Ducati 916/996/998 (1994-2005)

N/A

998cc, 123bhp, 170mph, Insurance group 17

Evolution of the legendary Ducati 916 has an even punchier engine and a refined chassis. It’s still an uncompromising motorcycle designed to lap tracks fast which means it’s not such fun on a wet back road but it always makes the rider feel very special - whether they’re out on a blast or just staring at the Ducati 916, 996 or 998s gorgeous ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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BMW R1200C (1997-2005)

N/A

1170cc, 61bhp, 105mph, Insurance group 13

The BMW R1200C is a Harley-Davidson rival with German engineering. Like most cruisers, it sells on looks – this one had a part in a Bond movie too. Power is pretty modest considering the 1200cc engine but it’s enough. Dynamically it’s better than many cruisers thanks to quality engineering and light(ish) weight.  

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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BMW R1150RT (2001-2005)

N/A

1130cc, 95bhp, 130mph, Insurance group 14

The BMW R1150RT has all the comfort needed to blitz Europe – and it handles too. Proof that a motorcycle can take you a pillion and plenty of luggage to those Alpine passes can be fun once you get there. The R1150RT is lighter than most full tourers of the time and superbly built too – but it's no rocket in ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5

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