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Kawasaki KR-1S (1990-1992)

N/A

249cc, 53bhp, 139mph, Insurance group 10

Kawasaki’s KR-1S was the quickest mass-produced, 250 two-stroke ever (139mph being recorded in a 1990 speed test), being quicker than both Suzuki’s RGV and even Aprilia’s later (but RGV-powered) RS250. On the downside it came with slightly questionable reliability and handling that could tank slap you into casualty. Dangerous, but hugely addictive.

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Honda CB400 Super Four (1992-current)

N/A

399cc, 52bhp, 115mph, Insurance group 8

The Honda CB400 Super Four, like most 400cc grey imports, is a junior, Japan-only derivative of a larger model, in this case the CB1000 ‘Big One’. As such it’s a chunky, good-looking, well-equipped roadster that’s both novice-friendly, reasonably versatile and sporty, too. Expect usual grey import foibles (secondhand, sometimes difficult parts/servicing availability); don’t expect giant slaying performance. Cute, likeable and ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Suzuki GSX-R400R (1990-1996)

N/A

400cc, 60.6bhp, 127mph, Insurance group 10

Suzuki’s GSX-R400 is easily mistakable for its larger brother the 750 with its distinctive slingshot looks and aluminum frame. Not as sought after as the other Japanese 400cc imports, but that keep prices low and means you can grab a bargain. Handling is excellent handling, but the engine requires a thrashing as its all revs, but it’s still rewarding to ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Honda RVF400 (1994-1996)

N/A

399cc, 59.4bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 12

Honda’s RVF400 was a pin-up race replica that had sports bike fans dribbling down their paddock jackets in the mid-nineties. The trouble was that Honda never officially brought the NC35 (its ‘factory’ code name) into the UK, which was a crying shame, although many have found their way here as ‘grey’ imports. Replacing the VFR400R (NC30), which Honda did officially ...

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Suzuki RGV250 (1987-1997)

N/A

249cc, 56.6bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 15

Back in the late 1980s and early 90s the two-stroke RGV250 was the closest thing you could get to a Grand Prix bike on the road. If you were lucky enough to own what we regard as the best RGV250: the ‘N’ model, complete with its twin, piggy-back exhaust cans, upside down forks and a banana swingarm, here was a ...

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Yamaha XV250S Virago (1995-2001)

N/A

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)

N/A

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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Gas Gas Pampera (2001-2005)

N/A

248cc, 20bhp, 81mph, Insurance group 7

The Gas Gas Pampera 250 MK III is one of the great trail motorcycles of modern times. It’s particularly suitable for shorties and more inexperienced riders, thanks to its combination of easy manners and low seat height (for a trail bike). Spanish factory Gas Gas has a good history of making quality off-roaders and they have a string of world titles ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Kawasaki GPZ500S (1987-2004)

N/A

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 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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