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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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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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Kawasaki KE100 (1974-1998)

N/A

99cc, 10bhp, 65mph, Insurance group 4

If you want basic transport, in a two stroke trail bike package, then the Kawasaki KE100 is arguably the template for the entire class. Starting life as the 100 G4 TR, it evolved into the KM100 and KE100, eventually killed off by looming emissions regulations in 1998. The lKawasaki KE100  has sightly dodgy brakes and electrics, but otherwise a tough, ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Kawasaki KLR650 (1987-2002)

N/A

651cc, 42bhp, 94mph, Insurance group 8

There’s nothing quite so surprising as something utterly unremarkable. And so it is with the Kawasaki KLR650 – it’s comfortable, grunty, quiet and reliable. Forget your fancy-pants BMW R1200GS' - providing you can live with adjusting and lubing a chain the Kawasaki KLR650 is at least as good at overlanding and a mere fraction of the price.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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CCM 604 (1998-2002)

N/A

598cc, 52bhp, 105mph, Insurance group 11

CCM’S 604 came in a wide variety of styles; from supermoto to green laner to roadster. But mechanically each one was essentially the same hardy Rotax motor and quality suspension propelling an oil-in-the-frame chassis. Although they made way for the Suzuki-engined 644 in 2003 the older 604 is still a good, cheap motorcycle providing you look after it.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5

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