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Yamaha YZF600R Thundercat (1996-2003)

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599cc, 100bhp, 145mph, Insurance group 14

If you're after a versatile sports-touring motorcycle, with a reliable engine, decent suspension and braking, plus the ability to carry two people plus kit for a two week holiday, the Yamaha YZF600R Thundercat is damn-near perfect.  The Thundercat makes a real alternative to the VFR750/800 series and is very underrated.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Suzuki GSX750F (1998-2005)

N/A

750cc, 93bhp, 150mph, Insurance group 12

The Suzuki GSX750F is a competent sports tourer with one of the worst images in biking (its nickname is “the teapot”). Renowned for being ugly and lacking passion, the Suzuki GSX750F is certainly underdog to the likes of the Honda VFR750/800s but owners love them and their “quirky” looks. The Suzuki GSX750F may not be hardcore but it’s reliable.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Kawasaki W650 (1999-2006)

N/A

675cc, 49bhp, 110mph, Insurance group 8

Relive the 60s with the delightful Kawasaki W650. Styling is spot on – the exhausts are closer to a 60s Bonneville than Triumph’s own latter day replica. Modern handling, engine and reliability means all the joy of a classic with none of the grief. Relaxed performance unlike the Boneneville of the 1960s.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Ducati 750SS (1991-2002)

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748cc, 64bhp, 127mph, Insurance group 13

This is the latest in a long, long line of Ducati 750SS which date back to the early 1970s (think Paul Smart). The most recent version of the Ducati 750SS is not a bad all-round motorcycle, and the fuel injection’s a marked improvement, but it’s hard work and a lot of money for not, perhaps, quite enough reward. One for the fans?

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Ducati M750/800 Monster (1996-2005)

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749cc, 62bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 12

There was the Ducati M900 Monster (became the Ducati M1000 Monster), then the Ducati M600 Monster (became the Ducati M620 Monster) and then the Ducati M750 Monster (which became the Ducati M800 Monster), covering the vacant middle ground in the Ducati Monster family. As with the others, the Ducati M750 Monster or Ducati M800 Monster is a beautiful, painfully cool machine and, like the others, ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Kawasaki ZX-6R (2003-2004)

N/A

636cc, 112bhp, 162mph, Insurance group 15

The ZX-6R of 2003 marked a dramatic return to form for Kawasaki. At its launch this machine was the hardest, most technologically advanced 600 of all time, boasting radial brakes, upside-down forks and fully digital clocks alongside fuel-injection, a lap timer and all wrapped up in a tiny, tight chassis and plastics. Gorgeous.

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Ducati Monster M620 (2001-2006)

N/A

618cc, 63bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 11

Ducatis inspire passion and the Ducati M620 Monster offers a way into the dream for those who are just starting out. Like its stablemates, it looks great and sounds gorgeous but complaints about lack of power, basic suspension and its physical size (it’s very small) mean the Ducati M620 Monster is not ideal for everyone. Watch video of this bike and more on ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Kawasaki ZX-6R (2000-2002)

N/A

599cc, 109bhp, 163mph, Insurance group 14

Kawasaki’s new-for-2000 ZX-6R got a new swingarm, a revised rear shock and engine internals and a facelift – not good enough to compete with Yamaha’s stunning R6 on the track nor Honda’s new ally-framed CBR600 on the road. In 2002 it got a beefier 636cc motor, which made it a much improved road tool.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5

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