5 of the funkiest single-cylinder street bikes

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A few years ago it looked like the single-cylinder street bike was making a comeback. In 2006 Yamaha released the MT-03 and Derbi brought out the gorgeous Mulhacen. More recently in 2008, KTM gave us the 690 Duke.

However, despite good reviews, none of these bikes really struck a chord with UK bikers when new. But at used prices they make more sense as weekend scratchers and fun commuters.

These funky singles don’t have a lot of power, but there’s enough there to have fun with. Plus their light weight, good handling and low down grunt help to make up for a deficit in bhps.

If you’re looking for a tourer or mile-eater then these bikes would be torture. But if you want a stylish urban tool that will handle the commute and provide license-friendly fun at the weekends, check out some of the options below.

Here’s 5 stylish thumpers built for clipping mirrors in town and apexes on back roads:


Derbi Mulhacen

Derbi Mulhacen (2006-current)
“The Derbi Mulhacen 659 is Derbi’s first stab at a motorcycle bigger than 125cc, and is a brazen, trend-setting joy. The combination of concept motorcycle styling, Yamaha XT660R mechanicals and funky, top notch cycle parts adds up to a street-savvy, flat track styled city scalpel of a motorcycle. Outside Soho, however, the Derbi Mulhacen 659 is an irrelevant ornament.”


KTM 690 Duke

KTM 690 Duke (2008-current)
“The KTM 690 Duke’s new LC4 single cylinder engine is the most impressive part of the new Duke. It’s hard to believe it’s a single, so much better than the lumpy single cylinder engines of old. The styling is very aggressive, it’s laden in quality parts like WP suspension and Brembo brakes, and on the right road, hairpin after hairpin its almost untouchable.”


Aprilia Pegaso

Aprilia Pegaso (2007-current)
“The Aprilia Pegaso 650 is a stylish street motorcycle that’s more supermoto than its traillie-esque predecessors. Easy to ride and with great handling, it’s an ideal motorcycle for newbies and, with its lower seat option, smaller riders too. Shame the Aprilia Pegaso 650 has snatchy fuel injection but it sure looks great.”


Yamaha MT-03

Yamaha MT-03 (2006-current)
“Visually stunning and mechanically sound, Yamaha’s trick new “roadster motard” creates its own little niche in the market. Ideally an urban/commuter tool, the Yamaha MT-03 gives you more than enough fun if you want some bendy weekend scratching too. Handling is superb but just a little more horsepower would’ve really broadened the Yamaha MT-03’s appeal.”


BMW F650

BMW F650 (1993-2008)
“Born as the baby to the BMW R1150GS, the BMW F650GS has a long and credible pedigree, including a string of varients. The BMW F650 has off-road pretentions but, in the real world, is a sturdy and sensible road motorcycle (the BMW F650 Dakar’s the one for the green lanes), it deals with most situations with predictable power and confidence.”


If you’re thinking of buying one of the above models from MCN Bikes For Sale, get insurance quotes from a number of motorcycle insurance providers in one place with MCN Compare. 

James Keen

By James Keen