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Honda CBR250R (2011-current)

£4,199

249cc, 26bhp, mph, Insurance group 13

Motorcycling needs new blood to ensure survival. Honda’s take on this is to attract people into motorcycling with a cheap, honest and stylish workhorse – and the CBR250R is it. This all-new machine is not just suited to restricted cat’ A licence holders, but also anyone who wants a simple, easy to ride, modern-dressed machine capable of returning high mpg ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda CBF125 (2009-current)

£2,600

125cc, 11.3bhp, 65mph, Insurance group 4

Cheap-as-chips replacement for the venerable CG125 offers the same kind dependable utilitarian transport but with a dash of style. The CBF125 has flown out of showrooms since its introduction in January – so much so that dealers complain of not being able to get hold of them quickly enough – and we’re not surprised. It’s a Honda, it’s good looking, ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Buell 1125R (2007-current)

£8,495

1125cc, 146bhp, 170mph, Insurance group 15

The Buell 1125R is vastly improved in the six months since its launch in late 2007 but, make no mistake, it is not Japanese or Italian standard in any one area of the bike. The engine is a 131bhp Rotax V-twin that delivers solid punches. But vibration can be an issue, depending on what uprated ECU setting is installed – ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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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 TL1000S (1997-2001)

N/A

996cc, 125bhp, 165mph, Insurance group 15

The Suzuki TL1000S is a motorcycle which has become the Freddie Kreuger of biking. But it's not that evil really, it just suffers from a poor rear shock design that overheats far too easily. You can go fast on the TL1000S if you know what you're doing and take time setting the bike's suspension, but the Suzuki TL1000S will always retain the ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda NSR125R (1996-2001)

N/A

124cc, 11.3bhp, 75mph, Insurance group 7

The problem with the Honda NSR125R, and all other two-stroke 125cc motorcycles out there, is that the newer, four-stroke, Honda CBR125R has come along and made them look expensive and unreliable. The Honda NSR125R itself isn’t a bad motorcycle, but it’s way too dear and way too hard to de-restrict. Honda NR750 superbike styling looks great.

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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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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Moto Guzzi 1200 Sport (2006-current)

£9,374

1151cc, 95bhp, 130mph, Insurance group 13

The beleagured but charismatic Italian Moto Guzzi concern has been labelled many things in recent years but ‘sports’ has never been one of them. In truth, the Moto Guzzi 1200 Sport isn’t a sports bike either. Instead it's an aggressively styled roadster using a mix of the latest Breva 1100 and Griso goodies. Too heavy to be a street scalpel, but ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Moto Guzzi 1100 Sport (1995-2000)

N/A

1064cc, 90bhp, 140mph, Insurance group 13

You can surprise a few four cylinder sportbike owners on the 1100 Sport, but you have to really work hard at the job, and the bottom line is that the 1100 Sport is too heavy, too old fashioned for seriously fast motorcycling. Trackdays often end in tears.  

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Kawasaki ZX-6R (1995-1997)

N/A

599cc, 100bhp, 152mph, Insurance group 14

Kawasaki’s F-series ZX-6R was, in its day, a serious contender to the middleweight crown of Honda’s CBR600. The Kwacker can still raise a smile, but measured against the latest metal it feels harsh and crude. If you’re buying on a budget then it’s worth a look, but Suzuki’s GSX-R600 will run rings around it at a trackday, while the CBR ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4

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