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Suzuki Inazuma 250 (2013-current)

£3,408

248cc, 24bhp, 85mph, Insurance group

Due to these trying economic time, the thought of a worthy 250 commuter, a workhorse, is certainly more appealing to riders than ever before. The Inazuma fills that role brilliantly. It’s effective, idiot-proof and economical and its classy touches, badge, two-year warranty and more lift it above the general morass. The trouble is the price. We aren’t convinced that the ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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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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Honda BROS NT400 (1988-1992)

N/A

398cc, 31bhp, 94mph, Insurance group 9

Strictly speaking, the BROS 400 is heavy, underpowered and outdated. But the cheap grey imports are surprisingly nice to ride – they’re well balanced, steer well and the engine is flexible, torquey and characterful given its 33bhp output. That also makes it legal for new riders on a restricted licence.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Yamaha YBR250 (2009-current)

£3,799

249cc, 21bhp, 90mph, Insurance group 5

With no roadster to fill the void in Yamaha’s range between a learner 125 and something like an 80bhp XJ6, the Japanese firm have decided to bring the YBR250 in to the UK as a limited run. It’s friendly, practical and swift enough to have some fun - plus it's 33bhp licence-friendly too.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda CBF250 (2004-2012)

£3,500

249cc, 22bhp, 80mph, Insurance group 6

The Honda CBF250 is a cracking little motorcycle, marketed towards – and perfect for – new bikers or people who want a cheap town motorcycle. Easy to throw around, forgiving of little errors, peanuts to run and with enough power to get you from A to B with modest speed. Learners or commuters will love the Honda CBF250.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda CB500 (1994-2003)

N/A

499cc, 57bhp, 120mph, Insurance group 9

The Honda CB500 is a first big motorcycle you’ll never want to sell. It’s huge fun because it’s so confidence-inspiring, meaning you can take it anywhere and it’ll make you feel you can push your limits. Very competent: commuters and couriers love Honda CB500s for their reliability and all-round, top-notch performance.  In all aspects, the Honda CB500's a winner.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda CB250 (1992-2003)

N/A

234cc, 20bhp, 80mph, Insurance group 6

Never were the words “trusty little workhorse” so apt as to describe Honda’s CB250. The latest incarnation, launched in 1992, represented the swansong for a motorcycle with a history going back to the 1970s. Trusted, reliable and entirely without pretence, the Honda CB250 is a cracking little motorcycle that’s given long service to bikers everywhere.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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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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Honda CBF500 (2004-current)

£3,900

499cc, 56bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 9

One of the best value commuter/novice motorcycles around, the Honda CBF500 is a decently quick twin cylinder motorcycle that's well made, reliable and handles predictably. It does everyhting you can ask in a novice-friendly package and holds its resale value too. Compared to the Kawasaki ER-6 the Honda CBF500 perhaps looks a little bit plain, but some folk prefer less flash.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Cagiva River 600/500 (1995-2002)

N/A

497cc, 34bhp, 104mph, Insurance group 8

The Cagiva River is one of the great oddballs of Italian motorcycling of the last decade. Forget traditional performance, passion and style, the city commuter River is the opposite: workmanlike, pedestrian and dull. Honest and different, though.

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 4

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