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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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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 4
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Yamaha YZF-R6 (1998-2003)

N/A

599cc, 108bhp, 160mph, Insurance group 14

Hardcore, know the score. The Yamaha YZF-R6 is a sexy uber-capable track bike that works on the road too. It caught the 600 race rep class napping and nothing came close until Suzuki launched its 2001 GSX-R600 – that’s a long time to rule the 600 roost and shows just how good the original Yamaha YZF-R6 was.

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Suzuki SV1000 (2003-2007)

£6,049

996cc, 118bhp, 155mph, Insurance group 15

The Suzuki SV1000 is a purpose built big capacity, sensibly priced, road going sporty V-twin. Ok, the engine’s nicked from Suzuki’s old TL1000S but the rest of the SV1000 is all-new yet the price tag is very reasonable new or used. The faired Suzuki SV1000 ‘S’ version has lower bars but is the better all-rounder. The unfaired SV1000 with higher bars is a ...

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Suzuki GSX-R750 (2000-2003)

N/A

749cc, 140bhp, 171mph, Insurance group 16

For a bike with a lineage as race-bred and focused as the Suzuki GSX-R750, it’s no small irony that the original superbike is something of a compromise. It has all the handling of the 600 and most of the usable power of the 1000. The result is a motorcycle that’s near perfect on road or track. The Suzuki GSX-R750's handling ...

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Suzuki GSX-R600 (2001-2003)

N/A

599cc, 101bhp, 158mph, Insurance group 14

What a makeover! And just in time… As other sports 600s were creeping ahead, Suzuki looked as if it would be left for dead. And then they came up with this Suzuki GSX-R600. Slimmed down, firmed up and with power and torque figures to raise front wheels as well as eyebrows, the “new” Suzuki GSX-R600 was an absolute storm.

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Kawasaki ER-6n (2005-2008)

£4,595

649cc, 71bhp, 130mph, Insurance group 10

Tests have shown that nine out of 10 road testers prefer the Kawasaki ER-6 to virtually any other middleweight machine. Bandits, Fazers, Monsters, SV650s… The Kawasaki ER-6 has trounced the lot of ‘em. A cunningly-disguised riot of fun, the Kawasaki ER-6 is cute, it’s capable and it’s competent just about anywhere. You’d have to be off your rocker not to ...

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Suzuki GSX1400 (2001-2006)

N/A

1402cc, 105bhp, 145mph, Insurance group 14

Biggest and blingiest of the retros. Plus the Suzuki GSX1400's engine’s got the most low down torque by a decent margin. If you want a 70s style motorbike that’ll do everything except cruise at illegal speeds or lap race tracks at a searing pace the GSX1400 is well worth a look. Watch video of this bike and more on MCN | ...

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Suzuki GSX-R1000 (2005-2006)

£8,799

999cc, 176bhp, 186mph, Insurance group 17

The first Suzuki GSX-R1000 set new superbike standards in 2001, the second one did it again in 2003 and this, the third full Suzuki GSX-R1000 update, went straight back to the top of the superbike tree in 2005 and stayed there, pretty much ever since. The reasons for the Suzuki GSX-R1000's dominance are simple. Sublime, lithe ergonomics and handling, radical ...

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Honda CBF1000 (2006-2009)

£5,999

998cc, 96.5bhp, 145mph, Insurance group 14

Honda CBF1000: Nice legs, shame about the boat race… The big Honda CBF1000 is one of the unsung heroes of modern motorcycling. Detuned Blade engine, fabulously easy handling and throttle response and great ergonomics make the Honda CBF1000 hooningly enjoyable, yet novice friendly and a great value all-rounder. It's just a shame the Honda CBF1000 looks so dull.

  • MCN rating rating is 5
  • Owners' rating rating is 4

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