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Kawasaki Z1000SX (2014-current)

£9,199

1043cc, 140bhp, 165mph, Insurance group

The 2014 Kawasaki Z1000SX is a clever, considered and very worthwhile update of an already excellent machine. The Z1000SX was already something of a connossieurs’ choice: fast, effective, decently equipped, involving, good value and yet understated and unshowy too. Kawasaki hasn’t lost any of that. It hasn’t thrown the baby out with the bath water. Instead it has corrected or ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Kawasaki Z800 (2013-current)

£7,499

806cc, 111bhp, 145mph, Insurance group 14

We’re genuinely shocked how good the Z800 is, given how uninspiring the old Z750 was - it’s a fitting tribute to the Zed’s 40th birthday. The ride quality is sumptuous, the motor smooth and there’s power spilling out of it at every rpm. It’s a real joy to ride. All the hard work Kawasaki has put into improving the engine, ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Honda VFR1200X Crosstourer (2012-current)

£12,399

1237cc, 127bhp, 131mph, Insurance group 17

The surprise with the Crosstourer is two-fold: first that the 1200 V4 powertrain works so well in an adventure bike package (it already seems so familiar and ‘right’ to me it seems like it’s been around for years) and second that it genuinely brings a new and tempting dimension – namely V4 performance and sophisticated automatic transmission – to the ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Piaggio Beverly 300ie (2011-current)

£3,949

278cc, 22bhp, 80mph, Insurance group 7

The 278cc engine gives the Beverly plenty of poke around town and out on the road and the handling inspires confidence. It looks slightly girly in pictures, but in the flesh it's not so bad, especially from the saddle, but it's definitely aimed at stylish city folk. Quite what possesed anybody to name it Beverly is anyone's guess, but Piaggio ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Kawasaki Versys 1000 (2012-current)

£9,499

1043cc, 116bhp, 140mph, Insurance group

Its odd looks will always raise questions, but the engine won’t, it’s a peach. There’s loads of low down, a nice spread of torque and the dollop of top end power should see it as the quickest bike in this category. It’s also extremely comfortable, will eat mile after mile all day long and handles reasonably well (up to a ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Honda VFR800X Crossrunner (2011-2014)

£9,499

782cc, 101bhp, 145mph, Insurance group 14

The Crossrunner has already proved controversial for being passed off as a new bike when, effectively, it’s little more than a re-worked, re-styled nine-year-old VFR800 with some ‘parts bin’ equipment. But there’s no denying that, as a concept, as a two-wheeled ‘cross-over’ machine, the Crossrunner simply works. It’s one of the best, friendliest and truly versatile bikes around – anywhere. ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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BMW K1600GTL (2011-current)

£17,550

1649cc, 160bhp, 140mph, Insurance group 17

The K1600GTL is now BMW’s premier sports tourer and puts the big machine right in the firing line of bikes like the Honda Pan-European, and the Honda GoldWing. Over the GT it comes with a massive top case big enough to swallow two full size helmets, the same panniers as the GT, plus it gets lower and further back handlebars, lower footrests, lower pillion ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Piaggio X7 Evo 300 (2010-current)

£3,599

278cc, 22bhp, 85mph, Insurance group 6

The versatile Piaggio X7 300 Evo is a bit of a sneaky bargain – it’s powered by the same brilliant 278cc motor as the Vespa GTS 300 (since the Piaggio Group owns Vespa) but it's £300 cheaper. Not everyone will be willing to sacrifice the Vespa style and logo, but if you’re on a budget it’s a cheaper way to ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Triumph Tiger 800 XC (2010-current)

£8,699

799cc, 94bhp, 130mph, Insurance group

The new 800 XC is very much the bigger, burlier brother of Triumph’s two new Tigers. From the moment you swing your leg on board it’s clearly a taller, seemingly more substantial machine. The combination of 21-inch wire front wheel (in place of the 800’s cast 19incher), longer travel (by 40mm) 45mm forks (the 800’s are 43mm) and slightly wider ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Triumph Tiger 800 (2010-current)

£8,099

799cc, 94bhp, 130mph, Insurance group

Triumph’s new Tiger 800 is the slightly more basic, more road-orientated and novice-friendly (not to mention cheaper) version of its two, new, three cylinder dual-purpose machines. The other is the Tiger 800XC. It’s a great bike, too –  impressing immediately with excellent ergonomics, and a superbly linear and progressive power delivery.

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

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