I have a £1500 budget for my next bike. It needs to be comfortable and quick enough to keep up with my mate's ZRX1200...
Matthew Jackson, email
We'd go for a Honda CBR600F - it gives you the much greater choice of bikes over a greater age range than most bikes, and the model has a distinguished and proven track record. For example, there’s currently a 1996 FN model for sale at www.mcnbikesforsale.com for £1200 from a dealer, or alternatively there’s a 1997 P CBR for £1590.
For the money we’re talking about here you’re probably looking at a CBR600F of this vintage. The 1996 model benefited from an updated ram air system and a number of bodywork modifications, but the model was comprehensively updated (including the introduction of an aluminium frame to replace the steel) in 1998. Weight was reduced, styling was more aggressive than before. If you’re extremely lucky, you might even be able to pick up a “slightly worn” example of the first injected CBR, from 2000.
Either way, there’s a reason the usual clichés apply to the Honda. It just works. Always did, always will.