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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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MZ Skorpion 660 (1994-2003)

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660cc, 48bhp, 116mph, Insurance group 9

The MZ Skorpion was stylishly designed (by acclaimed Brits Seymour-Powell) single using a Yamaha engine which proved a refreshingly able antidote to Japanese fours in the mid-to-late 90s. Light, lithe, affordable, generally reliable and reassuringly practical.

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

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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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KTM 640 LC4 Supermoto (1998-2007)

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625cc, 53bhp, 110mph, Insurance group 11

The KTM LC4 640 is KTM’s popular supermoto stalwart – a rough, tough bugger that’s a capable commuter, trackday sleeper and friend to the wannabe stunt monkey. It sits on the civilized side of the LC4 family, benefiting from an anti-vibe damper, and an electric start to complement the kicker. Like all supermotos it’s as cheap as chips, geared for ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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KTM 625 SMC (2003-2007)

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625cc, 53bhp, 112mph, Insurance group 11

The KTM 625 SMC sits between the no-compromise 660 SMC and the heavier, more road-oriented LC4s in KTM’s supermoto line-up. But it’s not there to make up the numbers. It’s probably the pick of the bunch – combining the niceties of electric start with the harder race-spec SMC edge. New bikes come restricted to 30bhp but it takes about 10 ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Kawasaki W650 (1999-2006)

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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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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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