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Honda XLV750R (1983-1986)

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749cc, 61bhp, 100mph, Insurance group

The Honda XLV750 R was the first Japanese made monster trail bike to go head to head with the R80GS from BMW. Both bikes were twin cylinder machines and both had shaft drive. Unfortunately the XLV was too top heavy for even gentle off-road riding and also suffered major gearbox faults. The model was discontinued in 1983. Style is pure ...

  • MCN rating rating is 3
  • Owners' rating rating is 0
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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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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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Triumph Sprint Executive (1997-1998)

N/A

885cc, 92bhp, 140mph, Insurance group 13

The Triumph Sprint Executive is a competent sports-touring machine that rides like it looks – top-heavy, fast and old. It’s essentially a 900 Trophy with a Rickman-style fairing slapped across its mug, but the triple-cylinder motor makes a nice noise and it’s reasonably comfortable if you can forgive the noisy, imperfect screen. The Triumph Sprint Executive comes with colour-coded hard ...

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