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Honda BROS NT400 (1988-1992)

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398cc, 31bhp, 94mph, Insurance group 9

Strictly speaking, the BROS 400 is heavy, underpowered and outdated. But the cheap grey imports are surprisingly nice to ride – they’re well balanced, steer well and the engine is flexible, torquey and characterful given its 33bhp output. That also makes it legal for new riders on a restricted licence.

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Suzuki DR350 (1992-1999)

N/A

349cc, 30bhp, 75mph, Insurance group 8

Suzuki’s dirt-simple dirt plugger is the bedrock on which green-laning is based. Simple, rugged and cheap the Suzuki DR350 is an easy motorcycle to own forever. It’s got its faults – a poor finish, weedy engine and a few too many kilos, but it’s endearing and enduring. If you're buying a Suzuki DR350, make sure you get a post-1995 electric ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 4
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Harley-Davidson FXSTS Softail Springer (1988-2003)

N/A

1340cc, 55bhp, 110mph, Insurance group 15

The Harley-Davidson Softail Springer is an ultra retro Harley based on the FXST Softail. Minimal but charming cruiser which harks back to the post war years when Harley-Davidson motorcycles were popular and their identity was really cemented. ‘Springer’ front Forks are based on the 1948 model but the rest of the Harley-Davidson Softail Springer is relatively modern – well as modern as air ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 3
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Gas Gas Pampera (2001-2005)

N/A

248cc, 20bhp, 81mph, Insurance group 7

The Gas Gas Pampera 250 MK III is one of the great trail motorcycles of modern times. It’s particularly suitable for shorties and more inexperienced riders, thanks to its combination of easy manners and low seat height (for a trail bike). Spanish factory Gas Gas has a good history of making quality off-roaders and they have a string of world titles ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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Ducati 916/996/998 (1994-2005)

N/A

998cc, 123bhp, 170mph, Insurance group 17

Evolution of the legendary Ducati 916 has an even punchier engine and a refined chassis. It’s still an uncompromising motorcycle designed to lap tracks fast which means it’s not such fun on a wet back road but it always makes the rider feel very special - whether they’re out on a blast or just staring at the Ducati 916, 996 or 998s gorgeous ...

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 4.5
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BMW R1200C (1997-2005)

N/A

1170cc, 61bhp, 105mph, Insurance group 13

The BMW R1200C is a Harley-Davidson rival with German engineering. Like most cruisers, it sells on looks – this one had a part in a Bond movie too. Power is pretty modest considering the 1200cc engine but it’s enough. Dynamically it’s better than many cruisers thanks to quality engineering and light(ish) weight.  

  • MCN rating rating is 4
  • Owners' rating rating is 3.5

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