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KTM RC390 (2014-current)

£4,999

373cc, 44bhp, 105mph, Insurance group 15

This is a bike for A2 licence holders to be excited about. Inspired by KTM’s Moto3 machine, you could say the RC 390 is the modern day RD350LC. With its punchy single-cylinder engine, steel trellis frame, ali swingarm and fat, sticky tyres, it has easy ton-up performance, lets you rail through corners like Jack Miller and is built with lots ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Kawasaki Ninja 300 (2012-current)

£4,799

296cc, 39bhp, 93mph, Insurance group

Kawasaki has hit the nail on the head with this bike. Finally the market has a practical, economical entry-level bike which is easy to ride and desirable. The firm says 40% of buyers will be under 24 years old, going on sales of the 250, and it’s this kind of grassroots support motorcycling needs. Kawasaki also says 22% of 250 ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda VFR400R (NC30) (1988-1994)

N/A

399cc, 60bhp, 128mph, Insurance group 10

The Honda VFR400R, or NC30 as it’s commonly known, is effectively a 400cc version of the iconic VFR750R (RC30) and as such is a cheaper alternative to the RVF400R which succeeded it in 1994. It has excellent handling, still looks good and a usable engine for road and track, although it’s not as quick flat out as some of the ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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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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Suzuki GSX-R400R (1990-1996)

N/A

400cc, 60.6bhp, 127mph, Insurance group 10

Suzuki’s GSX-R400 is easily mistakable for its larger brother the 750 with its distinctive slingshot looks and aluminum frame. Not as sought after as the other Japanese 400cc imports, but that keep prices low and means you can grab a bargain. Handling is excellent handling, but the engine requires a thrashing as its all revs, but it’s still rewarding to ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Honda RVF400 (1994-1996)

N/A

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)

N/A

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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Kawasaki 250R Ninja (2008-2011)

£4,649

249cc, 32.5bhp, 110mph, Insurance group 9

The American market has been a big success for the Kawasaki Ninja 250 range for years and years and… But even the Yanks need a fresh brew every now and then and the Ninja 250R is the latest offering. Fortunately for 33bhp probationary riders in mainland Europe and the UK, we are getting the bike too, complete with emissions compliant fuel ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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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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Bimota V-Due (1997-1998)

N/A

499cc, 110bhp, 155mph, Insurance group 16

Only in Italy could someone bet the company's future on a complex, high tech, ridiculously expensive two-stroke, which couldn't compete with a 1000cc superbike of the time. The gamble was taken by Bimota in 1997, when (after eight years of development) the V-Due 500cc two-stroke appeared, and was almost universally slated as a rough-running, not particularly fast, oddball motorcycle for ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 0

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