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BMW G650GS (2011-current)

£6,195

652cc, 47bhp, 105mph, Insurance group

The GS650GS is BMW’s entry-level adventure bike and successor to the old G650 and F650GS single. Because it’s essentially a tweaked version of those, development costs have been low, making it not just the cheapest BMW you can buy but one of the cheapest big bikes. It’s competent on trails, but with a low seat height and exactly 47bhp on ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Kawasaki KLX250 (2009-current)

£4,799

249cc, 22bhp, 72mph, Insurance group

Kawasaki has revived a dead class of motorcycle – the cheap and cheerful trail bike. Soft power, a novice friendly chassis and low running costs are completely at odds with the hardcore enduro styling. It’s as happy getting back and forth to work every day as it lolloping along green lanes.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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Moto Hispania Duna SM125 (2009-current)

£2,599

124cc, 12bhp, 70mph, Insurance group 4

As the name suggests, the Moto Hispania SM1125 is a Spanish made learner legal supermoto. It certainly looks the part and will have young potential customers drooling at shop windows. It’s competitively priced, being one of the cheapest in its class, but is let down by poor build quality and by using an old air-cooled Yamaha engine.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Yamaha XT600E (1990-2004)

N/A

595cc, 45bhp, 100mph, Insurance group 9

The Yamaha XT600E is about as straightforward, reliable and solid as an old school trail bike gets. The Yamaha XT600E was the last of a long line of 4-valve air-cooled Yamaha singles, starting off with the original, much-loved XT500 of the mid-70s. This is a true trailie: decent off-round and straightforward and ujn-fussy on. Don’t expect any frills or motorway ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Yamaha XT660X/R (2004-current)

£6,499

659cc, 47bhp, 98mph, Insurance group 10

The new XT660 comes in two guises – the Yamaha XT660X (supermoto-style with 17-inch rims) and the Yamaha XT660R (taller, with an off-road friendly 21-inch front hoop). Both motorcycles are neatly styled, but sadly they’re compromised by a snatchy fuel-injection that blights their low-speed performance and a dry weight that borders on the morbidly obese. For commuting fun they pass ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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Suzuki DR125SE (1985-2001)

N/A

124cc, 12bhp, 65mph, Insurance group 4

The Suzuki DR125SE, is a straightforward but attractively styled four-stroke learner trailie that was only available for a limited period, so rare now. Earlier twin-headlamp “Raider’ was more common, but most are by now unserviceable. A good Suzuki DR125SE is a valid alternative to an XT125 or the like.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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Yamaha TT600R (2004-current)

£4,899

595cc, 42bhp, 83mph, Insurance group 9

With its low price, air-cooled, four-stroke motor and simple steel chassis the Yamaha TT600R represents the utilitarian side of modern biking. It does have some off-road pretensions, but it’s most at home pressed into the role of tough urban commuter. On the flip side, the Yamaha TT600R turns motorways into instruments of torture.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Suzuki RV125 VanVan (2003-current)

£3,149

124cc, 12bhp, 60mph, Insurance group 5

The Suzuki RV125 VanVan is an enigmatic motorcycle, that’s for sure. Farm hands, gamekeepers, race teams and surf dudes would be the ideal customers: it’s perfect for whizzing around country estates, race paddocks and beaches. Fashion-conscious, retro fans must love Suzuki RV125 VanVans. Teenagers, probably, don’t. Who knows? But it’s still pretty cute: better than a quad or a scooter, ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Honda SLR650/Vigor (1996-2001)

N/A

644cc, 39bhp, 92mph, Insurance group 8

The Honda SLR650 is a fairly joyless machine that barely redeems itself as a reasonably efficient commuter. Essentially it’s a more heavily road-biased Dominator built at Honda’s plant in Spain, back in the days when the Continental factory’s quality control occasionally went adios. A Honda CB500 is simply miles better.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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Suzuki DR-Z400S (2001-2008)

£4,199

398cc, 39bhp, 94mph, Insurance group 9

Brilliantly competent dual-purpose motorcycle that’s as happy pottering through the gridlock as it is bouncing over a paddock. The DR-Z400S is tough, durable, simple to service and spares are cheap and plentiful. The Suzuki DR-Z’400S' bit heavy for true off-roading but greenlaners love it for its indefatigable charm.

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

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