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Rieju RS3 125 LC (2011-current)

£3,399

124cc, 15bhp, 81mph, Insurance group

On the surface the Rieju does enough to be considered ahead of bikes from more established brands like Honda – with a fast engine and extras like a quickshifter with the R version - but poor build quality and bad handling can’t be ignored.

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Sym Wolf SB125Ni (2011-current)

£2,999

125cc, 11bhp, 70mph, Insurance group

The Sym Wolf SB125Ni is a fuel-injected learner-friendly motorcycle from the Taiwanese giant. Sym pumps out around half a million two wheelers (albeit mostly scooters) a year, and this is one of their first steps into the UK motorcycle market. But… despite its great looks, the £2999 price tag puts it way above more attractive budget options, while the quality ...

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Yamaha XT600E (1990-2004)

N/A

595cc, 45bhp, 100mph, Insurance group 9

The Yamaha XT600E is about as straightforward, reliable and solid as an old school trail bike gets. The Yamaha XT600E was the last of a long line of 4-valve air-cooled Yamaha singles, starting off with the original, much-loved XT500 of the mid-70s. This is a true trailie: decent off-round and straightforward and ujn-fussy on. Don’t expect any frills or motorway ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Yamaha VMX1200 V-Max (1991-2004)

N/A

1198cc, 140bhp, 160mph, Insurance group 15

Mad Max. There, that tells you everything you need to know about the Yamaha VMX1200 V-Max, an ill-handling, raw powered Rottweiller of a motorcycle. The full power 140bhp model is the only one worth having, so skip the early 90s UK spec models with a feeble 95bhp.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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Yamaha BT1100 Bulldog (2002-current)

£5,999

1063cc, 64bhp, 109mph, Insurance group 14

Owners love their Yamaha BT1100 Bulldogs. Everyone else hates ‘em. Depending on your point of view the Yamaha BT1100 Bulldog is either a relaxing, better-braked alternative to a cruiser, rather like a Japanese version of a Moto Guzzi Breva (that won’t break down), or it’s an ill-handling, gutless chump of a thing that would sooner dump you on your backside ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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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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Suzuki GS500E (1989-2008)

£3,349

487cc, 47bhp, 110mph, Insurance group 7

Having been around since Adam was an embryo, the Suzuki GS500E may be a trusty workhorse but it tends not to inspire passion in riders due to drab handling, gutless performance, dreadful finish and its perpetual association with L plates. The GS500E looks ok and they’re dirt cheap but, for a few hundred pounds more, you can do a lot better ...

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Kawasaki KLE500 (1991-current)

£3,995

498cc, 47bhp, 105mph, Insurance group 9

The original Kawasaki KLE500 was made from 1991-1998. Kawasaki’s idea of a parallel twin commuter-cum-trailie then lay dormant for a few years before being reanimated in 2005. It’s hard to see why Kawasaki bothered to be honest. The new KLE500 is uncomfortable, underpowered, uninspiring and uncommonly greedy. You’d be better off with the old Kawasaki KLE500.

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5
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Cagiva 750/900 Elefant (1993-1999)

N/A

904cc, 68bhp, 128mph, Insurance group 11

On face value the Cagiva Elefant was born of an unlikely marriage, but the reality of mating up the (then Cagiva owned) Ducati V-twin with a monster trailie, desert racer type chassis proved something of a masterstroke let down only by poor build quality. The big Elefant (a 750 was also produced) was lively, handled fairly well and was even ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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BMW C1 (2000-2002)

N/A

125cc, 15bhp, 65mph, Insurance group 6

A motorcycle with a roof that doubles as accident protection. Be the smartest commuter in the city or ‘that twonk in the Noddy moped’ depending on your perspective. The BMW C1's £4K price tag (it dropped by £600 when the 200cc version came out) was high for an overweight scooter – even if it did keep you dry. Few were ...

  • MCN rating rating is 2
  • Owners' rating rating is 2.5

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