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KTM 390 Duke (2013-current)

£4,499

373cc, 44bhp, 105mph, Insurance group

The current market seems littered with new, learner-friendly bikes, which are A2 licence compatible as manufacturers try to get new riders on board. The new 390 Duke may not have the touring ability of BMW’s G650GS or the sporty appearance of Kawasaki’s Ninja 300, but I think it should win the fun stakes and for most young riders that’s where ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Yamaha MT-09 (2013-current)

£6,799

847cc, 115bhp, 145mph, Insurance group 14

Yamaha’s MT-09 middleweight roadster should be spectacular – a worthy rival to Triumph’s mighty Street Triple. Experienced riders will love the power from its 115bhp, 850cc three-cylinder engine, its ability to do easy stunts and the huge reserves of ground clearance available. Newer riders will enjoy the motor’s flexibility, light weight and low seat. It’s as happy doing the daily ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Suzuki GSX-R1000 (2012-current)

£10,999

999cc, 182bhp, 186mph, Insurance group 17

The now old GSX-R was an exceptional bike, winning AMA and world endurance titles and narrowly missing out on a BSB title. Suzuki have simply improved the weak points, namely better brakes, more midrange, lighter handling with a few cosmetic tweaks, which in the end produces an exceptional road bike with real world manners. It may lack sophisticated traction control ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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BMW C650GT (2012-current)

£9,795

647cc, 60bhp, 108mph, Insurance group

A competent maxi scooter with a claimed 108mph top speed and armchair comfort. Well equipped, with ABS and electronically adjustable screen as standard, plus two glove boxes and a large under-seat compartment. Optional heated grips and seat available in a ‘Highline’ version for an extra £750. Not as nimble or fast as the C600 Sport model despite sharing the same ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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BMW S1000RR Sport (2012-current)

£13,735

999cc, 193bhp, 186mph, Insurance group 17

You might have to squint to tell the difference between the old and new one (the new tail unit and higher swingarm pivot is the clue), but the 2012 S1000RR is a giant leap forward. The first S1000RR was already leagues ahead of the competition, thanks to its huge power and cutting-edge electronics, but BMW has improved their fire-breathing superbike ...

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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Harley-Davidson XL1200 Sportster 72 (2012-current)

£9,195

1202cc, bhp, 95mph, Insurance group 12

The new Harley ‘72’ is a blinged/tarted up custom – the idea being a full-on. Early ‘70s-style custom (hence the name) but on the 1200 Sportster platform rather than the more usual big twins. It works, too.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Sym Wolf SB125Ni (2011-current)

£2,999

125cc, 11bhp, 70mph, Insurance group

The Sym Wolf SB125Ni is a fuel-injected learner-friendly motorcycle from the Taiwanese giant. Sym pumps out around half a million two wheelers (albeit mostly scooters) a year, and this is one of their first steps into the UK motorcycle market. But… despite its great looks, the £2999 price tag puts it way above more attractive budget options, while the quality ...

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Aprilia RS4 125 (2011-current)

£4,471

124cc, 15bhp, mph, Insurance group

At £3999 OTR there are cheaper 125s but then none of those rivals have the same heritage or kudos. Despite making only 15bhp it’s great fun to ride - the fact the new four-stroke engine thrives on revs keeps the old RS spirit alive. It handles well, stops well, and most importantly looks the part. What more could a 17-year-old ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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KTM 125 Duke (2011-current)

£3,999

124cc, 15bhp, 78mph, Insurance group 7

If you’re looking to get your license, learn to lift either wheel or pursue some lightweight urban thrills, the 125 Duke can do it for you. It doesn’t seem like a regular, budget 125 machine; It feels like a premium motorcycle that just-so-happens to be low capacity. It’s a shame engine modifications only allow restriction and not an enhancement of ...

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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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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