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Yamaha TZR50 (2003-2004)

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49cc, 6bhp, 30mph, Insurance group 3

The Yamaha TZR50 is an act of brilliant folly but tempting nevertheless. A screaming, old-school, supersports, 50cc sixteener, with all the bluster, mayhem, carnage, testosterone and manicness that implies. Being Japanese the Yamaha TZR50 is fairly durable too, though it can’t match the performance of its European rivals.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Yamaha FZS1000 Fazer (2000-2005)

N/A

998cc, 143bhp, 160mph, Insurance group 15

The Yamaha FZS1000 Fazer is a streetbike with an R1 engine – it could have been a compact brute of a machine with fearsome manners and ability to waste sports bikes below 80mph. But it’s actually a big softie with plenty of punch. Arguably the ultimate all round bike – a Yamaha FZS1000 Fazer does the lot and does it ...

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

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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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Suzuki GSX-R600 (1996-2000)

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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 Daytona 600/650 (2003-2005)

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599cc, 110bhp, 160mph, Insurance group 15

The Triumph Daytona 600/650 is lighter, smoother, faster and infinitely prettier than the TT600. What’s more, Bruce Anstey won the Junior TT on one in 2003 which goes to show what improvements Triumph made to their 600cc sports middleweight contender. The Triumph Daytona 600/650 is a beauty: an involved ride with excellent handling, amazing brakes and it’s good value.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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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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Kawasaki GPZ500S (1987-2004)

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498cc, 59bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 8

Long in the tooth but surprisingly fast and easy to live with, the Kawasaki GPZ500S’s a true and reliable all-rounder. The  Kawasaki GPZ500S is a prime candidate for a “first big bike” and one with the performance and handling to tempt you to hold on to it after rivals have lost their (underpowered) appeal.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Kawasaki KLR650 (1987-2002)

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651cc, 42bhp, 94mph, Insurance group 8

There’s nothing quite so surprising as something utterly unremarkable. And so it is with the Kawasaki KLR650 – it’s comfortable, grunty, quiet and reliable. Forget your fancy-pants BMW R1200GS' - providing you can live with adjusting and lubing a chain the Kawasaki KLR650 is at least as good at overlanding and a mere fraction of the price.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Kawasaki ZXR400 (1995-1998)

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398cc, 62bhp, 139mph, Insurance group 12

‘Extreme’ is a word that’s bandied everywhere these days. But when it comes to motorcycling, they don’t come much more so than Kawasaki’s ZXR400. Small (so popular with the ladeez), light, stumpy, extremely revvy and a fabulous handler, the little ZXR is refined essence of four-cylinder sportster with all the good and bad that implies. It’s not big, it’s not ...

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

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