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Honda VFR400R (NC30) (1988-1994)

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399cc, 60bhp, 128mph, Insurance group 10

The Honda VFR400R, or NC30 as it’s commonly known, is effectively a 400cc version of the iconic VFR750R (RC30) and as such is a cheaper alternative to the RVF400R which succeeded it in 1994. It has excellent handling, still looks good and a usable engine for road and track, although it’s not as quick flat out as some of the ...

  • 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 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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Yamaha XVZ1300A Royal Star (1996-2001)

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1294cc, 75bhp, 115mph, Insurance group 14

If you want a cruiser because it attracts attention then the Yamaha XVZ1300A Royal Star certainly does the job. With a V-Max motor ( detuned of course ) Tonka Toy bodywork and a gnat's bollock of ground clearance, the Yamaha XVZ1300A Royal Star is something truly different from the typical 90s V-twin Harley tribute act.

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

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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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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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MZ SX125 (2002-2005)

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124cc, 14.6bhp, 70mph, Insurance group 5

It's like Skoda cars; once you get your head around the concept of riding an MZ, you'll probably realise how good they can be. The MZ SX125 has a gutsy little 15bhp motor, a lanky lad sized chassis and decent off-road ability if you fancy it. Bit expensive compared to Far Eastern 125s, but well made.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Honda ST1100 Pan European (1989-2004)

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1084cc, 100bhp, 134mph, Insurance group 13

For anyone looking for a long-distance tool the Honda ST1100 Pan European is probably one of the safest bets around. The only problem is availability – owners rate them so highly that low-mileage machines are rarer than hen’s teeth. Not that mileage matters as the motor and construction quality is thermospherically high.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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BMW R1150RT (2001-2005)

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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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BMW R1150GS Adventure (2002-2005)

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1130cc, 85bhp, 133mph, Insurance group 13

The BMW R1150GS Adventure is the ultimate round-the-world, do it all motorcycle – as Ewan MacGregor and Charley Boorman proved in their ‘Long Way Round’ motorcycle adventure. The BMW R1150GS Adventure is a jacked up, kitted out, heavy duty version of the already excellent BMW R1150GS and is the Hummer of the motorcycle world. Awesome in every way…

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

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