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Yamaha XV125 Virago (1997-2004)

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124cc, 13bhp, 60mph, Insurance group 4

If you're starting out on two wheels then the Yamaha XV125 Virago V-twin is one of the best made little motorbikes you can choose. Reliable motor, solid chassis, nice low seat and wide `bars give a feeling of confident control on the machine. Later XVS125 models have an extra 3bhp in the V-twin motor and the bike is 4kgs lighter ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Yamaha VMX1200 V-Max (1991-2004)

N/A

1198cc, 140bhp, 160mph, Insurance group 15

Mad Max. There, that tells you everything you need to know about the Yamaha VMX1200 V-Max, an ill-handling, raw powered Rottweiller of a motorcycle. The full power 140bhp model is the only one worth having, so skip the early 90s UK spec models with a feeble 95bhp.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Suzuki GN125 (1994-2001)

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124cc, 12bhp, 70mph, Insurance group 4

With incredibly low running costs, modest but useful urban performance and funky retro looks, the Suzuki GN125 is an ideal about-town motorcycle or learner bike. Incredibly easy to ride, with a reliable engine and minimal maintenance, the Suzuki GN125 is forgiving and a great confidence-builder. Lousy brakes and finish let it down a bit but, for a real world workhorse, ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Harley-Davidson FXSTD Softail Deuce (1999-2005)

N/A

1449cc, 63bhp, 118mph, Insurance group 16

Although at first glance the Harley-Davidson Softail Deuce is much like any other cruiser style Harley, the Harley-Davidson Softail Deuce is, in fact, a real beaut. Based on the Harley-Davidson Softail but with a stretch tank, restyle rear fender, chromed fork sliders and pull back bars, the Harley-Davidson Softail Deuce has clean, classic lines that are classic Harley. It’s also classily ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Kawasaki VN800 Classic (1996-2004)

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805cc, 54bhp, 103mph, Insurance group 10

Strong, reliable and with pretty funky handling for a cruiser, the Kawasaki VN800 makes for a useful bike as well as a perfect pose-machine. Massive, it’s got all the right bits in all the right places giving a good ride with loads of street presence. Not bad value but a bugger to keep clean.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Kawasaki VN1500 Classic (1996-2004)

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1470cc, 69bhp, 118mph, Insurance group 12

A far, far cheaper way of cruising than buying into the Harley dream. Reliable too. The VN1500s are positively vast so, if road presence is important to you, they could be your thing. Lots of gutsy, low down performance with smooth touring speeds at the top end mean relaxed, joyful and easy riding.

  • 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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