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Vespa PX125 (1977-current)

£3,071

123cc, bhp, mph, Insurance group

The Vespa PX125 has essentially remained unchanged since its introduction in 1977, but it doesn't feel 35 years old. Subtle changes to keep the Vespa up to date and to get it through Euro 3 emissions regulations mean it feels similar to a modern scooter, only with a two-stroke, manual engine. It doesn't handle like a sportsbike - but a ...

  • MCN rating rating is 0
  • Owners' rating rating is 2
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Yamaha Vity 125 (2008-current)

£2,099

125cc, 8.5bhp, 60mph, Insurance group

The Vity 125 is not a cutting edge scooter. It’s not fast. It doesn’t look good unless you’ve got a thing for the 80s. But it does the job and has one big saving grace – a £1,799 price tag which, for a trustworthy 125cc Yamaha, is very cheap.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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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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Yamaha BT1100 Bulldog (2002-current)

£5,999

1063cc, 64bhp, 109mph, Insurance group 14

Owners love their Yamaha BT1100 Bulldogs. Everyone else hates ‘em. Depending on your point of view the Yamaha BT1100 Bulldog is either a relaxing, better-braked alternative to a cruiser, rather like a Japanese version of a Moto Guzzi Breva (that won’t break down), or it’s an ill-handling, gutless chump of a thing that would sooner dump you on your backside ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Honda VT600 Shadow (1992-2002)

N/A

583cc, 54bhp, 111mph, Insurance group 11

The Honda VT600 Shadow is pretty much the antithesis of the original chopper credo. If the first true chops were all about bad boy, bristly individuality, the 600 Shadow is about as soft, unthreatening and unoriginal as it gets. It’s bland, novice-friendly and safe and predictable, but you’;ve really got to ask yourself if you want that sort of thing. ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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Triumph Thunderbird 900 (1993-2003)

N/A

885cc, 70bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 13

Surprisingly cool, versatile and fun retro – indeed one of the first. Triumph Thunderbird 900 took the pleasing and fruity Triumph Trident and refashioned it into an althogether more stylish package. There’s handling, comfort and decent poke inside those cream and chrome walls, while cred is guaranteed by the name on the tank. Nice.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Suzuki GS125ES (1982-2000)

N/A

124cc, 12bhp, 65mph, Insurance group 3

If you want to get to work, carry a butty box and do it all on about 69p per day, then the Suzuki GS125ES is for you. It's about as exciting as cold porridge, but like the Honda C90, or Kawasaki KH125, the Suzuki GS125ES simply provides basic two wheeled transport and costs peanuts to run.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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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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Kawasaki Z750 (2003-2006)

N/A

748cc, 100bhp, 138mph, Insurance group 13

The Kawasaki Z750 simply hammers its rivals of the time in the naked sector with a genuine 100 back wheel bee-aitch-pees, which it marries to insane looks and an addictive personality that echo its bigger, madder Z1000 brother. This could be the ultimate commuter.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Suzuki GS500E (1989-2008)

£3,349

487cc, 47bhp, 110mph, Insurance group 7

Having been around since Adam was an embryo, the Suzuki GS500E may be a trusty workhorse but it tends not to inspire passion in riders due to drab handling, gutless performance, dreadful finish and its perpetual association with L plates. The GS500E looks ok and they’re dirt cheap but, for a few hundred pounds more, you can do a lot better ...

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5

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