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Triumph Trident 900 (1991-1998)

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885cc, 100bhp, 130mph, Insurance group 14

Reborn Triumph’s 900 Trident was about as straightforward a bike as Hinckley could produce, and also happened to be one of the best of the early machines. The three-cylinder motor was distinctive, flexible and robust, the handling, though tall, better than the average roadster and it was comfortable, attractive enough and versatile, too. No wonder the Triumph Trident lived longer ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Suzuki GSX-R600 (2004-2005)

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599cc, 97.5bhp, 164mph, Insurance group 15

It was never the fastest or the most powerful in the supersports class of 04 and 05, but the Suzuki GSX-R600 was easily the most fun, especially on the track. Boasting the lightest weight of all its contenders, the most track-focused chassis and the most evil sounding engine note, the Suzuki GSX-R600 is the 600 for dedicated hardcore riders.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Yamaha XV250S Virago (1995-2001)

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248cc, 21bhp, 80mph, Insurance group 6

The Yamaha XV250S Virago is a trusty, reliable and easy to ride option on which to hone your biking skills. If you fancy a big cruiser later on, the Yamaha XV250S Virago is a great place to start: it’s got the looks and appears bigger than a 250, so you won’t feel left out down at the Ace. The Yamaha ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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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 XVS250 Drag Star (2000-2004)

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249cc, 21bhp, 80mph, Insurance group 7

When the XV250S Virago was discontinued, the new Yamaha XVS250 Drag Star replaced it. They’re very similar and that’s good news for owners: the long-running Virago branch of the Yamaha family has a great reputation. The little Yamaha XVS250 Drag Star is just as good and, if your heart’s set on a smaller capacity cruiser, you’ll find it hard to ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Honda NTV600/650 (1988-1997)

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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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KTM 640 LC4 Supermoto (1998-2007)

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625cc, 53bhp, 110mph, Insurance group 11

The KTM LC4 640 is KTM’s popular supermoto stalwart – a rough, tough bugger that’s a capable commuter, trackday sleeper and friend to the wannabe stunt monkey. It sits on the civilized side of the LC4 family, benefiting from an anti-vibe damper, and an electric start to complement the kicker. Like all supermotos it’s as cheap as chips, geared for ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Kawasaki ZX-9R (1994-2002)

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899cc, 143bhp, 175mph, Insurance group 16

Like so many motorcycles the Kawasaki ZX-9R began life as a sports machine, didn’t quite cut it and ended up as an excellent sporty sports-tourer. It’s indecently fast and should put 175+mph on the clock with minimal hassle. Early Kawasaki ZX-9Rs were heavy but from the ‘C’ variant of 1998 onwards it’s light enough to be a capable if not ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Kawasaki Z750 (2003-2006)

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748cc, 100bhp, 138mph, Insurance group 13

The Kawasaki Z750 simply hammers its rivals of the time in the naked sector with a genuine 100 back wheel bee-aitch-pees, which it marries to insane looks and an addictive personality that echo its bigger, madder Z1000 brother. This could be the ultimate commuter.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Ducati ST2 & ST4 (1996-2003)

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916cc, 105bhp, 155mph, Insurance group 15

The forgotten Ducati family – sports touring motorcycles. While Monsters rule in town and the Superbikes jostle for supremacy on the track, few think of these practical yet exciting machines when Ducati is mentioned. It’s a shame as the Ducati ST2 and Ducati ST4 are excellent machines. The Ducati ST4’s more powerful 916cc engine is the biggest difference between it and ...

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

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