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Honda XLV750R (1983-1986)

N/A

749cc, 61bhp, 100mph, Insurance group

The Honda XLV750 R was the first Japanese made monster trail bike to go head to head with the R80GS from BMW. Both bikes were twin cylinder machines and both had shaft drive. Unfortunately the XLV was too top heavy for even gentle off-road riding and also suffered major gearbox faults. The model was discontinued in 1983. Style is pure ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Yamaha XTZ660 (1991-1999)

N/A

659cc, 47bhp, 93mph, Insurance group 9

The Yamaha XTZ660 (or Teneré) comes from a time when Continental cool meant enormous trail-style bikes and a far-away look in the eyes. Actually that might just have been piles, since the Yamaha XTZ660 boasts one of the most uncomfortable seats ever created outside of the Inquisitions of 15th-Century Spain. The exhaust and spokes rot and the electrics are poor. ...

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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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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KTM 640 Adventure (1997-2007)

N/A

625cc, 54bhp, 110mph, Insurance group 11

If you’re used to smooth riding, civilized singles like BMW’s F650 range then KTM’s 640 Adventure will come as something of a shock. It’s very vibey, absurdly tall, not that comfortable and pre-2004 models suffer from patchy engine reliability. Having said that in the muddy side of its dual-purpose role it’s untouchable for handling, presence and rugged toughness.  

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda XRV750 Africa Twin (1989-2003)

N/A

742cc, 61bhp, 110mph, Insurance group 12

Big trail bike you really can take off road. The Honda XRV750 Africa Twin was one of the first Japanese monster trail / desert rally bikes and remains one of the best. Power output is much lower than the latest machines but the slimmer seat makes it easier to manage one you leave the Tarmac. It’s not light though and ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Kawasaki W650 (1999-2006)

N/A

675cc, 49bhp, 110mph, Insurance group 8

Relive the 60s with the delightful Kawasaki W650. Styling is spot on – the exhausts are closer to a 60s Bonneville than Triumph’s own latter day replica. Modern handling, engine and reliability means all the joy of a classic with none of the grief. Relaxed performance unlike the Boneneville of the 1960s.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Suzuki GSF650 Bandit (2005-2006)

£4,299

656cc, 77bhp, 120mph, Insurance group 11

A well-mannered middleweight that’s simple to use, cheap to buy and cheap to run. The Suzuki GSF650 Bandit doesn’t particularly excel in any one department, but for newer riders it’s worth considering with a low seat height and forgiving manners. The GSF650 Bandit's capacity advantage over its older GSF600 Bandit sibling doesn’t actually translate into significantly more go.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Ducati 620 Sport (2002-2003)

N/A

618cc, 60bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 11

Cosmetic and engine update from the long running SS family of sports-retro Ducatis. The entry level Ducati 620 Sport was never a big seller and wasn’t on offer for long. It’s not that fast or comfy but it handles well. Afflicted by the traditional Italian glitches but a cheap way into Ducati motorcycle ownership.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 0

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