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Kawasaki Z750R (2011-current)

£7,349

748cc, 105bhp, 130mph, Insurance group 11

Kawasaki say they’re gunning for the Street Triple R with the new Z750R, but it ultimately lacks excitement and you don’t get the kind of performance you want from a 750 or an ‘R’ tagged bike. It seems the marketing men have gone a bit giddy with that badge. If you’re expecting a smaller version of the excellent new Z1000, ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Honda CBF600 (2008-2013)

£5,855

599cc, 76bhp, 140mph, Insurance group 11

Sporting a new, detuned version of the current CBR600RR engine and a new cast aluminium chassis, bodywork and suspension (now adjustable for preload) the updated Honda CBF600 is practical, easy to ride, fairly swift, comfortable and thanks to ABS brakes as standard, safe too. The Honda CBF600 is aimed at new and ‘born again’ riders and it does everything it ...

  • 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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Yamaha XJ600 Diversion (1992-2004)

N/A

599cc, 61bhp, 117mph, Insurance group 9

The Yamaha XJ600 Diversion is a Vauxhall Astra diesel amongst motorcycles… with all the worthiness (and dreariness) that implies. Designed from the outset to be soft, cheap, versatile, simple and novice-friendly, the curiously-named Yamaha XJ600 Diversion is pleasant, predictable and a useful hack. But note the complete absence of the words ‘desire’, ‘excitement’, ‘performance’ or ‘thrills’.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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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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Vertemati Supermoto (2002-2004)

N/A

570cc, 57bhp, 105mph, Insurance group 10

Vertemati is not alone amongst its fellow Italian factories in bobbing helplessly between solvency and insolvency. And on that basis alone it’s a tough call to recommend them. However, the range of bikes they did make in-between crises are powerful, stiff, hard bastards that need an expert’s hand to get anything like the best from them. The Vertemati Supermoto is ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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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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Laverda 750 S (1997-2002)

N/A

748cc, 85bhp, 140mph, Insurance group 13

For a brief, mostly shining few years in the mid-to-late 1990s, legendary Italian marque Laverda (they of the 1970s Jota etc) was back. Trouble was, although the machines’ cycle parts were like an Aladdin’s cave of goodies, they handled superbly, looked decent and weren’t too exotically priced, the twin cylinder engines, though updated, were based on the 500 Montjuic of ...

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