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Kawasaki KLX250 (2009-current)

£4,799

249cc, 22bhp, 72mph, Insurance group

Kawasaki has revived a dead class of motorcycle – the cheap and cheerful trail bike. Soft power, a novice friendly chassis and low running costs are completely at odds with the hardcore enduro styling. It’s as happy getting back and forth to work every day as it lolloping along green lanes.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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Piaggio NRG Power (1999-current)

£1,762

49cc, 4bhp, 31mph, Insurance group 4

Image is everything when you’re 16 – the Piaggio NRG has it with race bike styling and graphics. But it’s still a 50cc moped restricted to 30mph by law, so unless you’re old enough to derestrict, progress is painfully slow.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Aprilia SX125 (2008-2011)

£3,349

125cc, 22bhp, 82mph, Insurance group 7

Apart from the tinny two-stroke noise coming out the back of the SX125 and RX125 the new learner strokers could pass for a bigger supermoto. But get on board and you’ll find that the power and handling simply doesn’t match up to the looks.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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Yamaha V-MAX (2008-current)

£21,499

1679cc, 197bhp, 143mph, Insurance group 15

The V-Max is what happens when you mix 1679cc and nearly 200 horsepower in a motorcycle that's one part cruiser, one part sportbike - and all parts thrilling. It's difficult to explain just how quickly the V-Max builds speed. Cruise along at 30 mph in second gear, pick up the throttle and hold on tight... you'll be doing 90 mph before ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • 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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Yamaha TW125 (1999-2004)

N/A

124cc, 11bhp, 55mph, Insurance group 6

If you have a large camper van and need a bike to ride across beaches then the Yamaha TW125 is perfect, but in every way it is entirely impractical transport. A sluggish SR125 motor, circus clown riding position and questionable build quality make the Yamaha TW125 a bit too quirky for most people.

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Suzuki RV125 VanVan (2003-current)

£3,149

124cc, 12bhp, 60mph, Insurance group 5

The Suzuki RV125 VanVan is an enigmatic motorcycle, that’s for sure. Farm hands, gamekeepers, race teams and surf dudes would be the ideal customers: it’s perfect for whizzing around country estates, race paddocks and beaches. Fashion-conscious, retro fans must love Suzuki RV125 VanVans. Teenagers, probably, don’t. Who knows? But it’s still pretty cute: better than a quad or a scooter, ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Hesketh V1000 (1982-current)

£12,060

1192cc, 86bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 15

Believe it or not, but you can still buy an 80s classic Hesketh V1000 motorcycle, brand new, made in small numbers by Broom Engineering. The original Hesketh V1000 was hailed as the saviour of the British industry back in 1981, but this heavy, rather touring orientated V-twin motorcycle was - and still is - an acquired taste. From 2004 onwards, the Hesketh ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Honda NSR125R (1996-2001)

N/A

124cc, 11.3bhp, 75mph, Insurance group 7

The problem with the Honda NSR125R, and all other two-stroke 125cc motorcycles out there, is that the newer, four-stroke, Honda CBR125R has come along and made them look expensive and unreliable. The Honda NSR125R itself isn’t a bad motorcycle, but it’s way too dear and way too hard to de-restrict. Honda NR750 superbike styling looks great.

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