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Kawasaki KR-1S (1990-1992)

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249cc, 53bhp, 139mph, Insurance group 10

Kawasaki’s KR-1S was the quickest mass-produced, 250 two-stroke ever (139mph being recorded in a 1990 speed test), being quicker than both Suzuki’s RGV and even Aprilia’s later (but RGV-powered) RS250. On the downside it came with slightly questionable reliability and handling that could tank slap you into casualty. Dangerous, but hugely addictive.

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Honda RVF400 (1994-1996)

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399cc, 59.4bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 12

Honda’s RVF400 was a pin-up race replica that had sports bike fans dribbling down their paddock jackets in the mid-nineties. The trouble was that Honda never officially brought the NC35 (its ‘factory’ code name) into the UK, which was a crying shame, although many have found their way here as ‘grey’ imports. Replacing the VFR400R (NC30), which Honda did officially ...

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Suzuki RGV250 (1987-1997)

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249cc, 56.6bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 15

Back in the late 1980s and early 90s the two-stroke RGV250 was the closest thing you could get to a Grand Prix bike on the road. If you were lucky enough to own what we regard as the best RGV250: the ‘N’ model, complete with its twin, piggy-back exhaust cans, upside down forks and a banana swingarm, here was a ...

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Yamaha YZF-R6 (1998-2003)

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599cc, 108bhp, 160mph, Insurance group 14

Hardcore, know the score. The Yamaha YZF-R6 is a sexy uber-capable track bike that works on the road too. It caught the 600 race rep class napping and nothing came close until Suzuki launched its 2001 GSX-R600 – that’s a long time to rule the 600 roost and shows just how good the original Yamaha YZF-R6 was.

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Yamaha YZF-R1 (1998-2003)

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998cc, 150bhp, 175mph, Insurance group 16

The third and final great sports bike of the nineties. The FireBlade set the agenda, the 916 added finesse and the Yamaha YZF-R1 topped them off with extra power and madness. Even today the original Yamaha YZF-R1 is a sports tool to be reckoned with and updated Yamaha YZF-R1s are even more potent and easier to use too.  

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Honda CBR900RR Fireblade (1992-1999)

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918cc, 128bhp, 160mph, Insurance group 17

The motorcycle that changed how sports motorcycles were built. The Honda CBR900RR FireBlade wiped the floor with its competitor motorcycles not by being more powerful (it wasn’t) but by being lighter. Rivals were all well over 200kg, the first Honda CBR900RR FireBlade was just 185kg which made it perform superbly. It’s still a wild ride and a surprisingly practical motorcycle too.  

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Honda CBR900RR FireBlade (2002-2003)

N/A

954cc, 149bhp, 170mph, Insurance group 17

The last Honda CBR900RR FireBlade by Tadao Baba is the most exciting to ride and lighter than its successors. Later Honda CBR1000RR Fireblades were faster but heavier and less involving. Like any Honda CBR900RR FireBlade this one is incredibly fast, surprisingly reliable, amazingly comfortable and well built too. A stunning motorcycle that looks extra tasty in white.

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Suzuki GSX-R750 (2000-2003)

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749cc, 140bhp, 171mph, Insurance group 16

For a bike with a lineage as race-bred and focused as the Suzuki GSX-R750, it’s no small irony that the original superbike is something of a compromise. It has all the handling of the 600 and most of the usable power of the 1000. The result is a motorcycle that’s near perfect on road or track. The Suzuki GSX-R750's handling ...

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Suzuki GSX-R600 (2001-2003)

N/A

599cc, 101bhp, 158mph, Insurance group 14

What a makeover! And just in time… As other sports 600s were creeping ahead, Suzuki looked as if it would be left for dead. And then they came up with this Suzuki GSX-R600. Slimmed down, firmed up and with power and torque figures to raise front wheels as well as eyebrows, the “new” Suzuki GSX-R600 was an absolute storm.

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade (2006-2007)

N/A

998cc, 170bhp, 174mph, Insurance group 17

Every once in a while a sportster comes along that is just right. The 2006 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade is one of those machines. It delivers polished, glitch-free 180mph potency with almost no effort and yet blends this not just with the expected Honda build quality and class, but also a fat, hum-dinger, wheelie-pulling midrange that makes it more sheer fun ...

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

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