New bikes are not within the reaches of everyone’s budget but that doesn’t mean you can’t still ride a bike that not only gives you a massive amount of pleasure but which can also fill in a useful role in your life too.
By useful we mean being able to take you on holiday, get you to work and back and take a pillion so it’s easier to cover the potential of a reluctant partner as part of your planning and purchase reasoning.
Useful bikes do not have to be boring though. We’ve selected five great all-round used bikes that will keep you entertained as well as moving.
The BMW R1200GS has been the UK’s biggest-selling bike over 125cc for most of the previous decade and once people have sampled the bike for any length of time, they realise exactly why that is.
The most recent R1250GS is an expensive prospect to buy new but the original water-cooled version, launched in 2013, is about 95% the same bike, offers most of the advantages over the previous air/oil-cooled version but at half the purchase price of the latest version.
Adding water-cooling to the GS was far more than just adding some radiators as the engine and almost every single component on the bike was completely refreshed. Power shot up from 115bhp to 125bhp and the technology on the bike improved too.
There have been some hiccups along the way, with the finish on silver engines corroding from the inside (many bikes have had completely new engines as a result of this) and there was a huge recall across the whole world for some strengthening of fork top mounts so you need to check this has been done on any bike you buy.
Other than that, this is a bike that can do pretty much anything you throw at it and still remains a fun ride. There’s a reason they sell so well.
PRICE GUIDE: From £8500
Few bikes manage to age as well as the Honda VFR800F, which can be traced back to 1998 but actually started even before that with the VFR750F – which first graced our roads all the way back to 1986.
Many motorcycle companies claim motorcycles they sell are all-rounders; offering a little bit of everything to everyone; but that’s an ambitious statement as it means such a wide variety of things to so many people.
The Honda VFR800 is the definition of the all-rounder and remains a benchmark.
The 1998 VFR800i replaced the previous VFR750F which itself remains a popular, if now quite old, option with a wonderful V4 engine configuration and creamy throttle response.
The VFR800 is a bike you can ride to work, ride at the weekend, stick a pillion on the back, head to the track on the odd occasion before loading up with luggage and heading off across Europe without drama.
Issues with the bike are few and far between. There were some complaints about the way the power is delivered with the later VTEC variable valve timing models, as there is a ‘step’ in the power delivery as the camshaft timing changes between lobes.
Exhaust downpipes can rust and changing the exhaust system; because of the V4 engine layout and getting access to the rear two cylinders; can be a time-consuming job; other than that they fare very well and problems are rare on bikes that have been looked after.
A sixth generation from 2009 to 2013 gave the bike new styling and there is still a completely new version on sale today which is actually much of the old bike given a modern makeover. It goes to show how right the original design was!
PRICE GUIDE: From £1500 to £2500.
TRIUMPH STREET TRIPLE 675
Check the UK’s sales charts since 2007, when the first-generation Triumph Street Triple 675 first appeared, and you will see this wonderful naked roadster has been up the top almost all of the time.
There’s a very good reason for that; they are great value and awesome fun for new and experienced riders alike.
The three-cylinder Triumph Street Triple has remained popular bikes since it appeared as the smaller-capacity, sporty and extremely manageable stablemate to the larger Triumph Speed Triple.
The engineering of the Street Triple was very similar to the bigger Speed Triple; lift the motor from the Daytona 675 sportsbike, remove the bodywork, slap on some twin headlights and sell it at a very competitive price.
The Street Triple sold well immediately and was soon joined by a higher-specification ‘R’ version that had better suspension and brakes.
Not only are the Street Triple and Street Triple R a pair of great naked roadsters but their appeal widened to include a decent number of sportsbike riders who didn’t feel it was too much of a handling and performance compromise.
Used prices are now extremely affordable at less than £3000 for early examples and reliability is generally good, common regulator/rectifier issues aside. That keeps them popular, but watch out for some electrical issues and on older bikes the original suspension can often benefit enormously from a rebuild and refresh. This was already pretty basic on the standard model and can feel a bit low rent to experienced riders.
The three-cylinder motor is known for keeping going as long as they are maintained with regular servicing and oil changes.
PRICE GUIDE: From £3000.
The Yamaha MT-07 was the second of the completely new Yamaha MT range after the trail-blazing MT-09 three-cylinder model was launched.
The MT-07 was aimed at new and budget-conscious riders but it proved a lower cost bike could be an incredible amount of fun despite the lower price tag.
The thrumming 689cc parallel-twin was an engineering off shoot from the 900cc three-cylinder motor found in the MT-09 and, overall, there were few frills with the MT-07 beyond those needed as essentials.
What the MT-07 does so well is being an affordable, approachable and nimble motorcycle that can appeal to new and experience riders alike. Many have been used as commuter bikes because they sip fuel, are easy to carve through traffic and the small size makes them very manageable.
There have been some owners reporting issues with engine paint finish, there was one recall to replace a section of the wiring loom after there were some rubbing on the frame but generally, the reports are good.
The most common criticism is about the cheap suspension and the effect it has on handling once the riding pace gets higher; there are lots of options for aftermarket tweaks available. In 2018 the MT-07 was given an overhaul and the suspension was upgraded and addressed most of these issues.
At the early stages there were some non-ABS bikes sold before it became mandatory but these are in a minority.
With prices now down as low as less than £3000, the MT-07 is a tempting prospect.
PRICE GUIDE: From £3000.
It’s hard to pick out which of the three generations of Kawasaki Z1000SX are worth recommending the most, as your choice depends on how much money you have to spend; whichever one you choose, you won’t be disappointed.
Prices range from around £4000 for an early 2010 version to £10,000 for a nearly new one but what the Z1000SX manages to do so well is add enough of a level of practicality to the naked roadster Z1000 platform to be more of an all-rounder.
The practicality comes in the form of a fairing, revised seating position and luggage which, combined with the smooth and torquey motor makes this a fine bike for everyday riding but also more than suited to heading off on holiday while loaded up.
The Z1000SX was engineered to slot into the gap between the Z1000 naked bike and the super-track focussed ZX-10R sportsbike with the SX being aimed at being a great road bike from the start.
Early bikes were offered as both ABS and non-ABS version before ABS was then made a legal requirement. Even with the second generation of the bike introduced in 2014, non-ABS models were offered but as owners realised the system was really good and offered mostly benefits over the non-ABS version, they opted for it in growing numbers.
In 2017 the bike was given another model update and a host of improvements including the latest rider safety aids, standard cornering ABS, traction control, anti-wheelie and riding modes were all added.
PRICE GUIDE: From £4000.