These three used do-it-all bargain bikes offer a two-wheeled solution to a lot of life's problems

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For some riders the decision to take to two-wheels is very much leisure-related. A sunny day will see them don their leathers and head out to enjoy the delights of a superbike or super-naked for the sheer joy of riding. But to others, two wheels either represent a practical and economical form of daily transport or a means to enjoy a touring holiday away, taking in as many miles and sights as possible with minimal fuss. And if this is the case, they will require a totally different set of criteria for their purchase than a sunny day rider demands.

Kerb appeal takes a definite back seat to practicality, comfort, luggage carrying ability and reliability when it comes to a do-it-all bike. What matters most when you are relying upon your bike to get you to a location day-in, day-out, is that when you arrive, you do so fresh for the day ahead – rather than ready for a trip to the osteopath. And if that means carrying a pillion, they should also be ready for a night on the town rather than an early bath.

Buying a do-it-all bike will see you far more inclined to get out whatever the weather to enjoy your bike and rack up the miles. And, at under £5000, they represent great value for money. From solo touring to commuting, weekend blasts and even two-up trips abroad, these three multi-functional bikes won’t let you down. So which one will be the best bike for you?

2013-2019 BMW F800GT – £3000-£5000

Jon Urry with the BMW F800GT
  • Engine 798cc 8v DOHC parallel twin, 90bhp, 63.5lb.ft
  • Frame Aluminium bridge
  • Suspension F: 43mm USD forks, non-adjustable. R: Monoshock, adjustable preload and rebound (optional ESA)
  • Front brake 2 x 320mm discs, Brembo four-piston calipers. ABS
  • Rear brake 265mm disc, two-piston caliper. ABS
  • Seat height 800mm
  • Kerb Weight 213kg
  • Tank capacity 15 litres
  • Read Full BMW F800GT review

Released in 2013 with very little fanfare, the F800GT builds upon the slightly sportier F800ST’s base to create a bike more tailored to practicality and distance ability. Powered by the same parallel twin engine as the ST with a bit more grunt thrown in, the Gran Turismo version ups the comfort levels with a larger full fairing while optional ESA adds practicality through improved luggage facilities and a more spacious riding position.

Safety concerns are addressed by ABS, which came as standard, and the option of traction control. The result is a bike that, while not the sexiest of creatures, makes for a capable all-rounder. Light at just 213kg (kerb) and with a low seat height, the GT is easily manageable and that makes it instantly reassuring to ride. But despite its mid-size, the GT is a bike you can easily cover miles on as its parallel twin is smooth with a strong midrange, the riding position is comfortable and economy figures of around 60mpg are good enough to squeeze just shy of 200 miles out of its 15-litre tank.

BMW F800GT clocks

Add to this the practicality of a belt drive that doesn’t require adjusting or lubing, and a fairly unblemished reliability record, and it all adds up to a promising machine that can easily be found on MCN’s bikes for sale for under £5000. So why does the GT tend to fly under the radar? That’s the odd part.

When you consider the level of tech that the GT brought to the table, it was considerably more advanced than most of its rivals at the time. In fact, it even gained a ride-by-wire throttle in its only update in 2017. But in the mid-2010s BMW were still struggling to attract younger riders and that saw the GT’s sales stutter. Unable to tempt older riders to downgrade from a heavy RT to the more lightweight and manageable GT, and with adventure bike sales on the up, BMW’s parallel twin was withdrawn from the line-up and that saw it slip from most rider’s minds. Some rather dowdy and forgettable paint schemes didn’t help matters either.

BMW F800GT shaft drive

Nowadays those who are prepared to think a bit outside the box are discovering just what an excellent proposition a used GT can be. More practical than the ST, lighter than an RT and with a lower seat height than a GS model, the F800GT makes for a handy solo machine that is happy to turn its hand to anything asked of it.

Spec secret: In 2017 the GT was updated with ride-by-wire added alongside some styling changes and a new dash. The ride-by-wire throttle enables the bike to have two power modes (Road and Rain) with Dynamic an optional extra. Don’t get hung up on this model, it is a very small update and almost impossible to spot when riding.

We’ve got tonnes of BMW F800GT owners’ reviews on the MCN website too, and the bike scores an impressive 4.4 stars out of 5 for reliability, and 4.3 stars overall as an ownership proposition. Prevailing problems include brake discs corroding and some notchy gearboxes, both of which are surmountable issues with a little preventative maintenance.

2014-2022 Suzuki V-Strom 1000/1050 – £4000-£8000

Jon Urry with the Suzuki V-Strom 1050
  • Engine 1037cc 8v DOHC 90° V-twin, 99.2bhp, 74.5lb.ft
  • Frame Tubular-steel
  • Suspension F: KYB 43mm USD forks, fully-adj. R: KYB monoshock, fully-adj
  • Front brake 2 x 310mm discs, Tokico radial-mount four-piston calipers. ABS (angle-responsive post-2017)
  • Rear brake 265mm disc, two-piston caliper. ABS (angle-responsive post-2017)
  • Seat height 840mm
  • Kerb weight 228kg
  • Tank capacity 20 litres
  • Read Full 2014-2017 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 review, 2017-2019 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 review, or Suzuki V-Strom 1050 review

The V-Strom 1000 has been updated fairly regularly by Suzuki (see model history, below), but while it is called a 1000 and only the 2020-onwards bikes are branded 1050, the engine’s capacity has remained the same 1037cc since 2014. This is important because while Suzuki have added a bit of bling here and there, and also unveiled the more adventure-targeted XT model, it is the bike’s lazy V-twin and no-nonsense nature that generally attracts riders to the V-Strom, not its tech. Or looks… certainly not its looks!

The first ‘big-capacity’ V-Strom (it was 996cc before 2014) added traction control for the first time alongside ABS and set the tone for Suzuki’s adventure bike’s role in life. Well-priced and with enough tech to satisfy but never wow, the V-Strom has always been the sensible adventure bike; bought with the head rather than the heart. If you are after a solid, comfortable and reliable machine that will churn out the miles (one or two-up) with minimal effort, the V-Strom is a great option.

Very far removed from the TL-lump it is (distantly) derived from, the V-Strom’s twin is a beautiful engine that lollops along with minimal effort.

Suzuki V-Strom 1050 clocks

Packed full of smooth midrange shove, it suits relaxed riding and this attitude, when combined with the V-Strom’s physically large size and sturdy feel, makes it ideally suited to ploughing along irrespective of the weather or road conditions. If you want a bike to hop on, set the satnav for somewhere a few hundred miles away and just hammer through the journey, the V-Strom is ideal.

You can pick up a high-mileage 2014-2016 V-Strom 1000 for as little as £4000 or pay closer to £5k and get a lower-mileage bike with luggage, which is a better option. Higher-mileage 2017-2019 base or XTs can be found for under £5000 but ideally, pay about £5500 to knock around 10,000 miles off its clocks and don’t be beguiled by the XT. It looks a bit cooler but offers little over the stock model.

Prices for the 2020-onwards V-Strom start at £7000 with the far higher-spec XT commanding at least £1000 more, making it the pick if you are looking at blowing the £5000 budget.

Suzuki V-Strom 1050 engine

But, to be honest, at this price there are better machines available such as the Kawasaki Versys 1000 or an older BMW GS model.

Spec secret: The 2017 update added angle-responsive ABS and a fresh look as well as a new XT, which got spoked wheels where the base V-Strom has cast. The 2020-on bikes feature a ride-by-wire throttle but the base V-Strom lacks the far more tech-heavy XT model’s cruise control, upgraded ABS and hill hold.

Owner reviews of the old Suzuki V-Strom 1000 show mainly happy customers, with the only common issue reported to be corrosion, which is easily tackled with preventative measures. There’s nothing at all concerning on reports for the V-Strom 1050.

2014-2020 Honda NC750X – £2000-£6500

Jon Urry with the Honda NC750X
  • Engine 750cc 8v SOHC parallel twin, 53.1bhp, 50.2lb.ft
  • Frame Tubular-steel diamond
  • Suspension F: 41mm telescopic forks, non-adjustable. R: Monoshock, adjustable preload
  • Front brake 320mm wave disc, two-piston caliper. ABS
  • Rear brake 240mm wave disc, one-piston caliper. ABS
  • Seat height 830mm
  • Kerb weight 220kg
  • Tank capacity 14.1 litres
  • Read 2014-2021 Honda NC750X review or 2021-on Honda NC750X review

If you want a bike that will just run and run, buy an NC750X. It may not set your pulse racing but Honda’s adventure-styled do-it-all has forged an incredible reputation for robustness that often makes it the machine of choice for anyone who either relies upon two-wheels to earn their living or just desires simple, hassle-free, motoring from their motorcycles.

The NC750X, and its naked sibling the NC750S, replaced the NC700 models in 2014 and brought not only more power but also added practicality. As well as featuring ABS as standard, the 750’s engine has an extra balancer shaft to smooth out vibrations and is taller-geared for improved fuel economy (owners report a thrifty 70mpg). Features such as the handy frunk (front trunk, obviously), optional DCT gearbox, cheap running costs and unquestioned reliability, have seen the NC750X consistently feature in Europe’s top-ten best-selling bikes – and with good reason.

More spacious than the S model and boasting better wind protection and plusher suspension, the NC750X is a fabulous machine that makes for a superb commuter and simply brilliant do-it-all choice. But is it exciting? That’s the slight fly in the ointment.

Honda NC750X clocks

As the NC’s parallel twin is so low-revving, the bike tends to feel quite uninspiring to ride in much the same way a car’s motor is. This lack of character means that while incredibly effective, and with a DCT gearbox, extremely easy-going, riding an NC can never be described as exciting. Owners may well argue this fact, and rightly point out that just riding a bike is a fun experience in itself, but if you are considering buying an NC you need to be aware that the Honda is very much a practical tool rather than a two-wheeled plaything.

What the NC750X undeniably lacks in sex appeal it more than makes up for in ease of use, which is what matters most to many riders. An unbeatable (and unbreakable) versatile workhorse that has an excellent level of build quality, very comfortable semi-adventure bike riding position and cheap running costs, the NC750X is probably the ultimate do-it-all. And has been ever since it was first released. You can’t say fairer than that for your £5000 used bike budget…. particularly when you can pick up a Honda NC750X for sale for as little as £2k.

Honda NC750X 'frunk'

Spec secret: The NC750X was updated in 2018 when two-stage Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) was added as standard fitment (although not to the NC750S). The forks were also upgraded to Showa Dual Bending Valves and the option of making the motor A2-legal added via an easily-reversible ECU remap.

Given the NC750X is the single most popular bike for sale on the whole MCN site, and the reviews of both 2014 and 2021 versions are often among the most read, it’ll come as little surprise that we’ve got a vast selection of owners’ reviews to call upon.

It’s a ringing endorsement of Honda’s build quality that almost 100 owners at time of writing (across 2014 NC750X and 2021 NC750X) award the bike an average of 4.6 stars out of 5 for reliability. There don’t appear to be any serious issues to address; you can expect it to be a dependable purchase.

The MCN Verdict: ‘The NC has the edge’

When you consider how much bike you are getting for under £5000, all three of these do-it-alls are tempting.

If you are after a mile-muncher, the Suzuki V-Strom is the pick. Big, comfortable and more than happy to take a pillion and luggage thanks to its stomping-twin motor, it is a fantastic tourer that just gets on with the job in hand and boasts a wide array of safety assists.

Honda NC750X is our winner

Due to its lighter weight, mid-capacity engine and smaller size, the F800GT is more suited to solo touring but if you are after a bike that is practical yet still fun to ride, it’s the best option. Easy to live with, it’s a great sports tourer that also makes for a good commuter and fun B-road toy. But it’s not our winner.

The Honda NC750X may be a touch bland and low-revving but it is a machine that ticks every box. Unbelievably reliable, extremely practical, effortlessly comfortable and also surprisingly good fun to ride on twisty roads when pushed, the NC is the ultimate do-it-all.


  • GT’s light weight
  • NC’s reliability record
  • V-Strom’s comfort levels


  • NC is a bit bland
  • BMW can be costly to fix
  • V-Strom feels top-heavy