7 great city fliers

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Urban warrior? Choose your weapon.

Honda NC700/750X (2012 - current)

Mocked or misunderstood by most hardcore bikers, the car engine-derived, automatic- geared NC family (there’s the Integra scooter, S roadster and X adventure-styled variant) also confounds many by proving hugely popular (the X is Honda’s best-selling bike in Europe). That’s down to idiot- proof, twist-and-go scooter manners/practicality (there’s a big storage compartment under the ‘tank’) blended with bike handling and pleasure – characteristics which together make it brilliant across town and as a commuter. 

What you'll pay today: £3500-5500

But should you? No - Rip-snorter but hugely effective round-town transport. Original 2012-13 700s are the biggest bargains.

Vespa GTS Super 300 (2009 - current)

This retro-styled Vespa may not be cheap, but it’s hugely popular in London – with good reason. With all the usual scooter city appeal, being nimble through traffic with luggage capacity, economy and a being a cinch to ride as well, the Vespa adds great looks, enviable build quality and, in this top-of-the-range 278cc four- stroke form, impressive performance. And if your licence or budget can’t stretch to the 300, there’s a 125 too.

What you’ll pay today: £2300-£4200

But should you? For some they’re perfect city transport – which is why they’re nicked so much. 

Suzuki DR125SM (2008 - 2012)

‘Supermotos’, or street-tyred crossers borne of hybrid dirt/track racing, are usually a hooliganistic blend of stunty fun and impracticality that doesn’t end up making much sense round town or out on the open road (although they can be big fun). Not so the DR. With rugged and dependable four-stroke single underpinnings, traffic-busting upright and slim trailie ergonomics and easy rideability it’s a friendly, learner option that is great around town, is good looking and fun, and is reliable and affordable as well. As with all machines that’ll have been owned by inexperienced riders, check service history.

What you’ll pay today: £1800-£2650

But should you? Few 125s tick as many boxes. Easy, fun, slick across town and robust value, too. 

Ducati Monster 796 (2010 - 2013)

The hip, retro-inspired Scrambler has stolen most of the attention as a city- busting Ducati roadster in the past couple of years but don’t forget the Monster especially the smaller, lighter, more affordable version, most recently in 821 guise and previously as the 796 and 696.

What you’ll pay today: £5000-£6300

But should you? Perennially popular, especially in cities – and with good reason. 

BMW G650GS (2011 - 2015)

BM’s long-lived street trailie has all the attributes of most rivals of this type – upright narrow nimbleness combined with a punchy delivery that makes it better at tackling the urban jungle than actual off- road – but with added BMW class.

What you’ll pay today: £3100-£6000, depending on extras.

But should you? A recent, low-mileage, fully-laden version is affordable, economical, useful and proven. 

KTM 125 Duke (2011 - current)

The 125 may be the learner-legal, ‘entry-level’ member of testosterone-fuelled single-cylinder roadster family (200, 390 and 690cc versions are also available, although the 200 was short-lived in the UK), but it’s every bit as funky, fun and attitude-laden as its bigger bothers.

What you’ll pay today: £2400-£3750

But should you? 125s don’t come cooler. If not constrained by L-plates, the 200 or 390 are better still. 

Suzuki Inazuma 250 (2013 - current)

Never destined to excite, the Inazuma is a great town and city bike thanks to its willing and economical twin-cylinder engine, easy manners and better than average build. Its advantage over 125s is enough go to (just) outrun cars yet still squeeze through gaps in the gridlock.

What you’ll pay today: £1800-£2750

But should you? As a used buy, it’ll get you round town cheaply and easily. 


Looking for the perfect two-wheeled companion? Visit MCN Bikes For Sale website or use MCN's Bikes For Sale App.

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Phil West

By Phil West

MCN Contributor and bike tester.