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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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Honda CBF125 (2009-current)

£2,600

125cc, 11.3bhp, 65mph, Insurance group 4

Cheap-as-chips replacement for the venerable CG125 offers the same kind dependable utilitarian transport but with a dash of style. The CBF125 has flown out of showrooms since its introduction in January – so much so that dealers complain of not being able to get hold of them quickly enough – and we’re not surprised. It’s a Honda, it’s good looking, ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Kawasaki ER-6n (2009-2011)

£5,799

649cc, 72bhp, 130mph, Insurance group 10

The first Kawasaki ER-6n already offered fantastic value for money – fun, practicality and decent looks for £4500. It didn’t need a revamp, but for this year it now has a classier more grown up image. The chassis has been tweaked to isolate vibration, and suspension quality was also improved in response to owner comments.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Cagiva Mito SP525 (2008-current)

£3,999

125cc, 14.7bhp, 103mph, Insurance group 7

The most beautiful novice 125cc bike money can buy – yes, it even outclasses Yamaha’s YZF-R125 and biggest competitor Aprilia RS125. The Cagiva Mito SP525 is essentially the long-running two-stroke Cagiva Mito 125 brought up to date in every area and then dressed in bodywork to honour John Koscinski’s 500GP efforts onboard the Cagiva V594 circa 1994. In unrestricted form ...

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Buell 1125R (2007-current)

£8,495

1125cc, 146bhp, 170mph, Insurance group 15

The Buell 1125R is vastly improved in the six months since its launch in late 2007 but, make no mistake, it is not Japanese or Italian standard in any one area of the bike. The engine is a 131bhp Rotax V-twin that delivers solid punches. But vibration can be an issue, depending on what uprated ECU setting is installed – ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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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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Suzuki DR125SE (1985-2001)

N/A

124cc, 12bhp, 65mph, Insurance group 4

The Suzuki DR125SE, is a straightforward but attractively styled four-stroke learner trailie that was only available for a limited period, so rare now. Earlier twin-headlamp “Raider’ was more common, but most are by now unserviceable. A good Suzuki DR125SE is a valid alternative to an XT125 or the like.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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Royal Enfield Bullet 350 (1987-2006)

£1,995

346cc, 18bhp, 70mph, Insurance group 5

If you want to travel back through time to the 1950s then the Royal Enfield Bullet 350 is the bike for you. Great engineering details, and it actually makes a pleasant rural commuter bike, returning 70mpg or more at a steady 55mph. Needs TLC of course, like most old classics, but still undeniably good fun.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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Yamaha SR125 (1982-2003)

N/A

124cc, 12bhp, 55mph, Insurance group 4

The Yamaha SR125 is one of the oldest 125 cruiser type motorcycles on the roads today. It first appeared in the UK way back in 1982, was withdrawn in 1986, then returned in 1991. It's an ideal CBT motorcycle, but beyond a training school car park the Yamaha SR125 feels slow and outdated in almost every way.

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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Suzuki RF600R (1993-1997)

N/A

599cc, 100bhp, 147mph, Insurance group 14

As Suzuki’s much anticipated and long overdue early 1990s CBR600 rival, the Suzuki RF600R nearly came up trumps. Nearly, but not quite. The Suzuki RF600R's revvy engine, fine handling and roomy comfort are plusses. Frankly weird styling and brittle build are downsides. Still; good value though…

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5

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