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Bike Chooser: Sub-£4000 all-rounder

Published: 29 March 2013

Updated: 20 November 2014

"I’m looking for a used bike under £4000 that can do a bit of everything, commute and a long weekend away with the missus. If it's already got a top box or Givi rack even better."
Chris Icke, Nottingham

The One to Buy
Kawasaki Versys 650

Chris has only been riding for a year so he’s going to need a rider-friendly bike that is a jack-of-all trades. As its marketing-driven name suggests, the Kawasaki Versys does everything well. It’s incredibly easy to ride, fun at low speeds and the early model featured here that’s within his budget still looks funky six years after launch.

The parallel-twin motor gives out plenty of novice-friendly low and mid-range power although some examples can be a bit vibey. Foam grips reduce this significantly. Expect at least 55mpg.

With a tight turning circle, narrow saddling and roomy, semi-upright riding position the Versys excels in an urban setting with enough pep to make a rural blast interesting. The bike can get lively well above 70mph, but look on it as an opportunity to learn how suspension works by uprating the front forks as your first tuning project. Then you will be able to use the effective wavy disc brakes even harder.

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The V-Twin Option
Suzuki DL650 V-Strom Touring

The V-Strom’s V-twin engine is as user-friendly as the Versys with similar performance. It looks a bit more dated, but has an effective fairing with an adjustable screen. The bike here is the touring version with a full set of luggage. But be aware that two-up and fully loaded the ground clearance disappears.

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The Bandit Option
Suzuki GSF650 Bandit

The Suzuki GSF650 Bandit doesn’t particularly excel in any one department, but for newer riders it’s worth considering with an adjustable low seat height forgiving manners and a decent fairing. The rest of the bike is pretty workman-like although with a huge range of official and unofficial ephemera ranging from luggage to gaudy engine bolt kits you can personalize and improve the bike.

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The Honda Option
Honda CBF600

The CBF is a good, safe choice for a new biker but, for those with more experience, it’s unlikely to satiate your need for a rush. But the bike has probably got the best finish of the group here as
everything has its place and works well: you feel you’re riding a well-built motorcycle and you are. Top notch reliability for the ex-CBR/ex-Hornet engine, too.

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The Yamaha Option
Yamaha FZ6 Fazer

The Yamaha FZ6 Fazer looks sharp, has a brilliant motor, excellent handling and offers huge versatility. Towns, twisties and long treks… it can do it all. A great all-rounder with a four-cylinder engine that makes 30 per cent more power than the twins here. The ergonomics seem to miraculously accommodate riders of all shapes and sizes in comfort.

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