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Kawasaki KR-1S (1990-1992)

N/A

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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Buell 1125CR (2008-current)

£7,830

1125cc, 146bhp, 154.85mph, Insurance group 16

Based on the sports Buell 1125R, the 1125CR is essentially a naked version of the same bike. As it comes it has one-piece handlebars to mimic clip-ons, but the pay-extra upright bars make more sense to ride with – far more comfortable, fits  the naked bill. It has the Buell 1125R’s full-fat 146bhp engine and, despite its unusual looks, the ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Yamaha YZF-R6 (1998-2003)

N/A

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 YZF1000R Thunderace (1996-2003)

N/A

1002cc, 145bhp, 165mph, Insurance group 16

The Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace started out as Yamaha’s last throw of the old school superbike dice, and resulted in the final incarnation of the FZR1000 EXUP. But ironically the Thunderace has proved to be a better big bore sports touring motorcycle than out-and-out superbike – albeit a humungously fast one. If you like your superbikes big and brash and with room ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Suzuki GSX-R750 (2004-2005)

N/A

749cc, 146bhp, 175mph, Insurance group 16

The 2004 and 2005 Suzuki GSX-R750s are almost perfect. The new radial brakes solved the slight stopping issues of the last incarnation, the styling’s on the money and the motor and chassis are better than most of us can ever hope to fully exploit. The only fly in the 10/40W is the K5 GSX-R1000, which is so utterly brilliant there ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Suzuki GSX-R750 (2000-2003)

N/A

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 (1996-2000)

N/A

599cc, 92bhp, 150mph, Insurance group 14

A raw, involving, lunatic on wheels. The more throttle-happy you are with it, the more the Suzuki GSX-R600 will thrill. Virtually dead low down, wake it up at higher revs and you’ll be clinging on for dear life. Not as finely honed as today’s Suzuki GSX-R600 but, for some, that just adds to the manic appeal. Ridiculous, dangerous fun.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Triumph Daytona 600/650 (2003-2005)

N/A

599cc, 110bhp, 160mph, Insurance group 15

The Triumph Daytona 600/650 is lighter, smoother, faster and infinitely prettier than the TT600. What’s more, Bruce Anstey won the Junior TT on one in 2003 which goes to show what improvements Triumph made to their 600cc sports middleweight contender. The Triumph Daytona 600/650 is a beauty: an involved ride with excellent handling, amazing brakes and it’s good value.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Kawasaki ZX-9R (1994-2002)

N/A

899cc, 143bhp, 175mph, Insurance group 16

Like so many motorcycles the Kawasaki ZX-9R began life as a sports machine, didn’t quite cut it and ended up as an excellent sporty sports-tourer. It’s indecently fast and should put 175+mph on the clock with minimal hassle. Early Kawasaki ZX-9Rs were heavy but from the ‘C’ variant of 1998 onwards it’s light enough to be a capable if not ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Kawasaki ZXR400 (1995-1998)

N/A

398cc, 62bhp, 139mph, Insurance group 12

‘Extreme’ is a word that’s bandied everywhere these days. But when it comes to motorcycling, they don’t come much more so than Kawasaki’s ZXR400. Small (so popular with the ladeez), light, stumpy, extremely revvy and a fabulous handler, the little ZXR is refined essence of four-cylinder sportster with all the good and bad that implies. It’s not big, it’s not ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5

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