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Suzuki DR125SE (1985-2001)

N/A

124cc, 12bhp, 65mph, Insurance group 4

The Suzuki DR125SE, is a straightforward but attractively styled four-stroke learner trailie that was only available for a limited period, so rare now. Earlier twin-headlamp “Raider’ was more common, but most are by now unserviceable. A good Suzuki DR125SE is a valid alternative to an XT125 or the like.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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Yamaha SR125 (1982-2003)

N/A

124cc, 12bhp, 55mph, Insurance group 4

The Yamaha SR125 is one of the oldest 125 cruiser type motorcycles on the roads today. It first appeared in the UK way back in 1982, was withdrawn in 1986, then returned in 1991. It's an ideal CBT motorcycle, but beyond a training school car park the Yamaha SR125 feels slow and outdated in almost every way.

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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Suzuki RF600R (1993-1997)

N/A

599cc, 100bhp, 147mph, Insurance group 14

As Suzuki’s much anticipated and long overdue early 1990s CBR600 rival, the Suzuki RF600R nearly came up trumps. Nearly, but not quite. The Suzuki RF600R's revvy engine, fine handling and roomy comfort are plusses. Frankly weird styling and brittle build are downsides. Still; good value though…

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Honda VT600 Shadow (1992-2002)

N/A

583cc, 54bhp, 111mph, Insurance group 11

The Honda VT600 Shadow is pretty much the antithesis of the original chopper credo. If the first true chops were all about bad boy, bristly individuality, the 600 Shadow is about as soft, unthreatening and unoriginal as it gets. It’s bland, novice-friendly and safe and predictable, but you’;ve really got to ask yourself if you want that sort of thing. ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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Laverda 750 S (1997-2002)

N/A

748cc, 85bhp, 140mph, Insurance group 13

For a brief, mostly shining few years in the mid-to-late 1990s, legendary Italian marque Laverda (they of the 1970s Jota etc) was back. Trouble was, although the machines’ cycle parts were like an Aladdin’s cave of goodies, they handled superbly, looked decent and weren’t too exotically priced, the twin cylinder engines, though updated, were based on the 500 Montjuic of ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Kawasaki KH125 (1975-1998)

N/A

123cc, 12bhp, 65mph, Insurance group 2

Something of a bus dodger are we, Sir? Then try the Kawasaki KH125 for your daily commute. Kawasaki KH125 costs buttons to buy and run, reliable and has just enough power to stick with urban traffic. The Kawasaki KH125 looks a bit dated now and it's a low tech two-stroke, but still a fun way to get to work.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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Kawasaki ZXR400 (1995-1998)

N/A

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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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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BMW HP2 (2005-2008)

N/A

1170cc, 105bhp, 130mph, Insurance group 14

It’s hard, objectively, to see the point of the BMW HP2. It’s a 105bhp, 175kg off-roader that costs almost £11,000. Yes, it does have some clever technology like air suspension, but on the flip side its use as a road bike is limited, which is why the factory now offers free 17-inch rims and tyres with each new HP2. It’s ...

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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Bimota Mantra (1995-2002)

N/A

904cc, 86bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 16

”What the hell is that?” is likely to be the first comment from anyone who sees you ride into town on a Bimota Mantra. But don't be scared, underneath designer Sacha Lakic's tribute to Buck Rogers sci-fi there's a sensible Ducati-engined cruiser/roadster. A claimed 85bhp from the old 904cc Duke motor, plus classy suspension and chassis detailing make the Bimota ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3

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