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Kymco CK1 (2014-current)

£1,999

125cc, 10bhp, 65mph, Insurance group

Like those Japanese rivals, the CK1 is a fairly stylish air-cooled, four-stroke single. Unlike them, it costs under two grand. All-new commuter aims to fill the gap between cheap and cheerful Chinese offerings and more proven, pricier, Japanese ones. It succeeds, too, being well-specced, stylish and well priced. Not perfect, it arguably delivers the best of both worlds.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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WK 125R (2011-current)

£1,699

124cc, 11bhp, 78mph, Insurance group

The Taiwanese-built WK 125R is an entry-level 125cc motorcycle for British riders on a budget. Imported by the same team behind Quadzilla Quads, it’s a cheap, cheerful and functional alternative to more expensive European or Japanese learner machines. It’s a little basic, quite heavily outmoded and unlikely to last a lifetime, but it’s also fairly cool, fun to ride and ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 2
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Honda CBR250R (2011-2013)

£4,199

249cc, 26bhp, 95mph, Insurance group 13

Motorcycling needs new blood to ensure survival. Honda’s take on this is to attract people into motorcycling with a cheap, honest and stylish workhorse – and the CBR250R is it. This all-new machine is not just suited to restricted cat’ A licence holders, but also anyone who wants a simple, easy to ride, modern-dressed machine capable of returning high mpg ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Piaggio Vespa LX125 (2005-current)

£2,799

124cc, 10bhp, 62mph, Insurance group

Now that the iconic Vespa PX series has been killed off by emissions laws, the LX twist-and-go four-stroke is just about the closest thing to the original Vespa look. Underneath the classic looks they’re a modern scoot – and the pink scooter in our pictures is thankfully a limited edition colour!

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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Suzuki VL1500 Intruder (1998-2002)

N/A

1462cc, 67bhp, 110mph, Insurance group 12

Although the Suzuki VL1500 Intruder shares a basic engine design with the Suzuki VL1400 Intruder, the two bikes have very different chassis. The Suzuki VL1500 Intruder is long, low and wide, very similar to Kawasaki's Vulcan 1500 in terms of power, overall feel and ride quality. The bottom line is this however; can you ride a bike with `Intruder' written ...

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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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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Triumph Thruxton (2003-current)

£7,349

865cc, 69bhp, 115mph, Insurance group 13

The Triumph Thruxton is a great looking retro cafe racer, which just doesn't have the punchy power you'd expect of a big twin. It also sounds dull, boring almost. Compared to buying a well restored Triton 650 for the same money, the modern day Triumph Thruxton is a weak imitation of genuine cafe racer cool.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Ducati 999 (2003-2006)

N/A

998cc, 124bhp, 165mph, Insurance group 17

Although arguably a better bike, the Ducati 999 has never really stepped out of the shadows of the preceding, iconic Ducati 916 series of motorcycles. It lacks the grunty, fluid finesse of its V-twin rival motorcycles, the comfort of Japanese superbikes and has typical Ducati failings; of poor riding position, useless mirrors and quirky electrics. On the right racetrack, the Ducati 999 ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Ducati 749 (2003-2007)

N/A

748cc, 116bhp, 150mph, Insurance group 15

Preferred by some to the Ducati 999, and for good reason. The Ducati 749 is a cheaper motorcycle new or used, plus the smaller engine makes just the right amount of power for the chassis in certain road riding situations. The Ducati 749 has a kind of balance, an addictive precision, in its steering, acceleration and braking that makes it a machine that ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Aprilia Tuono 125 (2003-2005)

N/A

125cc, 14bhp, 81mph, Insurance group 7

Simply put the Aprilia Tuono 125 is an Aprilia RS125 with nose fairing and flat bars. Which is why it’ll suit taller 17-year-olds much better than its racier sibling. It loses nothing in handling terms, with excellent brakes and packs stunning looks into what’s already a very tempting package. And once de-restricted it’s a flyer.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5

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