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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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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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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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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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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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