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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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Kymco 300i Downtown (2010-current)

£3,995

298cc, 29bhp, 87mph, Insurance group

Practicality and convenience are where today’s large capacity scooters come into their own. Such an example is Kymco’s new 300i Downtown – we say example because it is a new arrival in a growing populace of big-bore four-stroke scooters.At £3999, the Kymco’s 300cc capacity sits performance-wise between Suzuki’s Burgman 200 and 400 machines, and matches Honda’s SH300i. What sets 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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Vespa GTS300 Super (2009-current)

£4,291

278cc, 22bhp, 80mph, Insurance group 7

The GTS 300 Super is Vespa’s biggest scooter to date and blends classic Vespa style with bang-up-to-date performance, refinement and sophistication. It’s up to more than outings across cities and suburbia: get the extra luggage, load it up and it’ll happily take you for a long weekend away touring. At 70mpg-plus it won’t cost too much either, though a bigger ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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SMC YB150/250 (2009-current)

£1,495

150cc, 15bhp, mph, Insurance group

SMC is the abbreviation of Southern Motorcycles, an American company delivering affordable and reliable intermediate off-road-biased trail bikes and full-on competition. Although the bikes are off American design, for cost reasons they are manufactured in China. The SMC YB150 (150cc) and YB250 (250cc) are air-cooled motocross-style machines with adjustable USD front forks, an equally modern single shock, tubular steel frame ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 2
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Yamaha XV250S Virago (1995-2001)

N/A

248cc, 21bhp, 80mph, Insurance group 6

The Yamaha XV250S Virago is a trusty, reliable and easy to ride option on which to hone your biking skills. If you fancy a big cruiser later on, the Yamaha XV250S Virago is a great place to start: it’s got the looks and appears bigger than a 250, so you won’t feel left out down at the Ace. The Yamaha ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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Yamaha XVS250 Drag Star (2000-2004)

N/A

249cc, 21bhp, 80mph, Insurance group 7

When the XV250S Virago was discontinued, the new Yamaha XVS250 Drag Star replaced it. They’re very similar and that’s good news for owners: the long-running Virago branch of the Yamaha family has a great reputation. The little Yamaha XVS250 Drag Star is just as good and, if your heart’s set on a smaller capacity cruiser, you’ll find it hard to ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Sherco 4.5i Enduro (2004-current)

£5,300

449cc, 48bhp, 78mph, Insurance group 11

Sherco aren’t exactly a household name in the UK. But for fans of enduro riding this Spanish firm is quietly creeping up the popularity ladder. The motor’s powerful, the brakes brilliant, the ergonomics spot on. The only question is over the makes reliability, but barring some rogue electrical problems the factory seems to have answered that query convincingly. You’ll probably ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Kawasaki GPZ500S (1987-2004)

N/A

498cc, 59bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 8

Long in the tooth but surprisingly fast and easy to live with, the Kawasaki GPZ500S’s a true and reliable all-rounder. The  Kawasaki GPZ500S is a prime candidate for a “first big bike” and one with the performance and handling to tempt you to hold on to it after rivals have lost their (underpowered) appeal.

  • 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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