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Bike Chooser: 600s on a budget

Published: 01 February 2013

"I got my test four years ago, but I’ve only just got the cash to buy a decent bike. I’ve got an open-mind and £3500 to spend on a 600cc machine."

Here's what our expert Chris Dabbs had to say:


It might have been around for 15 years, but what made the Hornet 600 such a great bike then still holds true today; it's easy to ride; great handling, fun and practical.
There was a step-change in 2007 when Honda completely revamped the bike. The styling went Italian funky; it was given the same new engine as the CBR600RR, slightly detuned for more torque; shaved 6kg off its weight and brought in optional ABS for a few hundred quid too.

But if you are on a tight budget the earlier model can still hack it. The build quality has always been good and comfort is acceptable albeit without a fairing for protection. Both bikes need to be revved to get the best from them, both sound great when you do. The only gripes on either model are those familiar Honda bugbears; regulator rectifiers and cam chain tensioners, but there’s a thriving online community of owners to help you get the absolute best from your first foray into bigger bikes.

Check out used Honda Hornets for sale on by clicking here

The looks are an acquired taste and it’s not got a whole lot up top in the power department but the Ducati Mulitstrada 620 is a good, practical first big motorcycle. A bit more oomph and a bigger tank would have made it even more so.
It has a low(ish), comfy seat, wide bars and effective screen combined with good brakes and handling, which makes for an enjoyable ride. There’s a slipper clutch to avoid gut-wrenching, slippery down changes and the gearbox is nice and slick.

Check out used Ducati Multistradas for sale on by clicking here

Although on face value merely a ‘Bandit with a fairing’ the GSX650F’s blend of real world performance, practicality, fun factor and value. A two-year-old bike for just over £3000? Blinding value. The fairing is GSXR-esque and provides decent protection, the rear shock is decent and the bike seems a lot classier than the Bandit range it came from.

Check out used Suzuki GSX650Fs for sale on by clicking here

The Drag Star is a fun and hassle-free way to enjoy your cruising. It’s got a low, comfy seat, big bike looks, ease of use and nice styling on its side. Add that to a low purchase price and the Yamaha makes a good case for itself as an affordable alternative to Harley’s 883 Sportster or Triumph’s Bonneville. 

Check out used Yamaha Dragstars for sale on by clicking here

It was never the fastest or the most powerful in the supersports class of 04 and 05, but the Suzuki GSX-R600 was easily the most fun, especially on the track. Boasting the lightest weight of all its contenders, the most track-focused chassis and the most evil sounding engine note, the Suzuki is the 600 for dedicated hardcore riders.

Check out used Suzuki GSX-R600s for sale on by clicking here

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