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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 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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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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Kawasaki W650 (1999-2006)

N/A

675cc, 49bhp, 110mph, Insurance group 8

Relive the 60s with the delightful Kawasaki W650. Styling is spot on – the exhausts are closer to a 60s Bonneville than Triumph’s own latter day replica. Modern handling, engine and reliability means all the joy of a classic with none of the grief. Relaxed performance unlike the Boneneville of the 1960s.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Hyosung GT650 Comet (2004-current)

£3,599

647cc, 79bhp, 130mph, Insurance group 9

If the budget 600cc class is your thing then the Hyosung GT650 Comet is worth considering, but as it costs about £4000, it's not as cheap as you might expect. On paper the Hyosung GT650 Comet has more power than the Suzuki SV650, but in reality, it’s still a little bit crude and outdate, compared to the later SV650 or ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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Suzuki GSF650 Bandit (2005-2006)

£4,299

656cc, 77bhp, 120mph, Insurance group 11

A well-mannered middleweight that’s simple to use, cheap to buy and cheap to run. The Suzuki GSF650 Bandit doesn’t particularly excel in any one department, but for newer riders it’s worth considering with a low seat height and forgiving manners. The GSF650 Bandit's capacity advantage over its older GSF600 Bandit sibling doesn’t actually translate into significantly more go.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Ducati 620 Sport (2002-2003)

N/A

618cc, 60bhp, 125mph, Insurance group 11

Cosmetic and engine update from the long running SS family of sports-retro Ducatis. The entry level Ducati 620 Sport was never a big seller and wasn’t on offer for long. It’s not that fast or comfy but it handles well. Afflicted by the traditional Italian glitches but a cheap way into Ducati motorcycle ownership.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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CCM R30 (2001-current)

£5,028

644cc, 44bhp, 105mph, Insurance group 11

The CCM R30 comes in two versions with two different wheel options. First there’s the older motorcycles with the Austrian made Rotax motor made until mid-2002, then there’s the Suzuki XF650 Freewind-powered version made from then on. You can chose between cast or spoked wheels – the spoked ones arguably look better and work better when using the motorcycle off-road, but ...

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Kawasaki ZX-6R (1995-1997)

N/A

599cc, 100bhp, 152mph, Insurance group 14

Kawasaki’s F-series ZX-6R was, in its day, a serious contender to the middleweight crown of Honda’s CBR600. The Kwacker can still raise a smile, but measured against the latest metal it feels harsh and crude. If you’re buying on a budget then it’s worth a look, but Suzuki’s GSX-R600 will run rings around it at a trackday, while the CBR ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4

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