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Suzuki GSX-R1000 (2001-2002)

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988cc, 160bhp, 180mph, Insurance group 16

This Suzuki GSX-R1000 is the original ‘Gixxer-thou’ – THE top dog sports bike of its day. Later Suzuki GSX-R1000s became smaller and more revvy as well as faster round circuits and arguably easier to handle. The original Suzuki GSX-R1000 K1 and K2 models are still supremely competent sports bikes and pretty decent all round machines too.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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MZ 1000S (2004-2007)

N/A

999cc, 117bhp, 140mph, Insurance group 15

MZ is trying something different with its parallel twin 1000S and Streetfighter, but it lacks the X factor and doesn't have the kind of dealer/distributor back-up you need when buying a slightly oddball motorbike. Decent to ride, and the Streetfighter version looks more appealing than the 80s style S model, but hasn't really got anything novel or unique about it.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Ducati 1000SS (2002-2006)

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992cc, 84bhp, 134mph, Insurance group 14

It’s difficult to pigeonhole the Ducati 1000SS. It’s definitely no full-on sports motorcycle, but you couldn’t really claim to tour on it, either. It’s hugely charming, but is not really the sort of motorcycle to thrash. Best not to worry about all that and simply revel in the Ducati 1000SS' easy handling, V-twin soundtrack and retro looks.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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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 R1100GS (1994-1999)

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1085cc, 80bhp, 122mph, Insurance group 13

On the face of it the BMW R1100GS isn’t a particularly convincing motorcycle to drop your cash on. It’s underpowered, expensive, looks ungainly and the gearbox is, frankly, poor. However, if you had to bet the house and kids on a motorcycle to get to Timbuktoo and back again (and show you a good time en route) the R1100GS would ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Aprilia RSV1000 Mille (1998-2003)

N/A

998cc, 128bhp, 165mph, Insurance group 15

Why buy a Ducati when you could have an Aprilia RSV1000 Mille? OK, the name may not be as famous but the Mille is a superb superbike with a surprisingly reasonable price tag. Looks are distinctive, reliability is pretty good it’s just unfortunate that dealer back up can be patchy.

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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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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