One way to save on motorcycle insurance is to go for a lower capacity bike, but what can you do if you love the looks and performance of a sports bike, but can't quite manage the cost of a 600cc supersports machine?
An answer comes in the form of the 400cc sports bikes created to comply with Japanese riding laws, but imported into the UK in decent numbers due to their lower cost and popularity with shorter riders.
Law changes in Japan saw production cease several years ago, but even today they can provide amazing handling, particularly with the right tyres.
They've also aged well, meaning that non-motorcyclists won't spot you're riding a smaller 10-year-old motorcycle.
Look for the best-maintained example you can afford, particularly when it comes to servicing.
The 400cc category was eligible for various club and road racing classes so be aware of any former race bikes, and as with most older bikes, parts are obtainable but will only get pricier.
Original fairings, fasteners etc are all worth securing in good condition.
Here are our picks of the bunch:
Honda VFR400R, Insurance group: 10
The VFR400R, or NC30 is a pocket-sized version of the iconic Honda RC30 and proved incredibly popular both on the road and on the track.
It still looks great and features impressive brakes and relative straight line speed from the small V-four engine.
It can be worth tweaking the suspension, which is often set on the soft side, and look for a standard and serviced motor.
Honda RVF400 Insurance Group 12
The successor to the NC30, the RVF400 is even more stylish, and sounds great.
Although it is marginally slower than the NC30 in a straight line it handled brilliantly (although a little soft by today's standards), and needs to be thrashed to make peak power at 13,000rpm, making it exciting to ride
Kawasaki ZXR400 Insurance Group 12
Looking for something even more extreme? The Kawasaki ZXR400 was available as an official import as well as unofficially, but either choice is equally extreme.
Compared to the Honda's the ZXR400 not only features extremely firm suspension, but contains all its power between 10,000-14,500rpm, with a top speed of 140mph.
Yamaha FZR400 Insurance Group 11
The most retro styling of the four picks, but despite a slightly lower power output than the others, the FZR400 still makes a great choice.
Although it's as rev-happy as the
competition the slight decrease in power made it more usable, especially when combined with excellent handling.
As with all the others invest in a standard, well-maintained machine with as much service history as possible and watch for ex-race bikes.
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