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Yamaha XJ600 Diversion (1992-2004)

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599cc, 61bhp, 117mph, Insurance group 9

The Yamaha XJ600 Diversion is a Vauxhall Astra diesel amongst motorcycles… with all the worthiness (and dreariness) that implies. Designed from the outset to be soft, cheap, versatile, simple and novice-friendly, the curiously-named Yamaha XJ600 Diversion is pleasant, predictable and a useful hack. But note the complete absence of the words ‘desire’, ‘excitement’, ‘performance’ or ‘thrills’.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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MZ Skorpion 660 (1994-2003)

N/A

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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Kawasaki ZRX1200 (2001-2007)

N/A

1164cc, 123bhp, 155mph, Insurance group 13

The Kawasaki ZRX1200 is a big, beefy, retro styled bike with plenty of grunt, a comfortable riding position and good looks (especially the Kawasaki ZRX1200 R version, which pays homage to the Eddie Lawson replica Z1100R of the '80s). But the Kawasaki ZRX1200 is really heavy, has a notchy gearbox and the handling and braking feels outdated compared to the ...

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

N/A

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 Zephyr 550 (1991-1998)

N/A

553cc, 50bhp, 115mph, Insurance group 8

Launched the same time as the bigger 750 and 1100 Zephyrs, the Kawasaki Zephyr 550 never really caught on in the UK and once the Zephyr's reputation for corrosion spread, and the rival Suzuki Bandit 600 arrived in 1995, the 550 was doomed. It makes an OK commuter in the summer, but it is undepowered, rides too soft and rots ...

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Kawasaki Zephyr 750 (1992-1998)

N/A

738cc, 76bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 9

The Kawasaki Z1 was an awesome bike in its day, but the Zephyr 750/1100 tribute bike - like tribute bands - doesn't quite capture the lairy, dangerous essence of the original. The 750 is too soft, a bit underpowered and the 1100 is simply a lardbucket that makes a Bandit 1200 look like a sportbike.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Kawasaki ZR-7 (1999-2004)

N/A

738cc, 75bhp, 126mph, Insurance group 11

With its proven engine, accessible power and easy handling, the Kawasaki ZR-7’s the ideal choice for newbies, couriers, and anyone wanting an easy life. At its budget price, it’ll appeal to the frugal, too. What it lacks in presence and excitement it makes up for in practicality and affordability.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Kawasaki ZRX1100 (1997-2001)

N/A

1052cc, 98bhp, 145mph, Insurance group 13

The Kawasaki ZRX1100 is one of those bikes which doesn't look that exciting on paper, or even parked up, but once you grab a big handful of throttle down a twisty road the thing comes alive. It's an old school, take-no-prisoners hoon machine and you can surprise yourself - and random sportbike riders - with its combination of solid braking, ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • 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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Buell S1 Lightning (1997-1998)

N/A

1203cc, 86bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 15

Quirky doesn't adequately describe the Buell S1 Lightning and this mid-90s take on the Buell dream has its plus points, as well as a few serious flaws in its roadster concept. The engine and gearbox felt outdated even when new, the handling was OK, with the braking perhaps slightly less so.  The 93bhp White Lightning has more oomph and is ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 1

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