What new bikes offer the best value for money?
IT’S a simple fact that bikes aren’t as cheap as they used to be. Thanks to the state of the global economy, the days of picking up a new 1000cc superbike for £9k, or a 600cc supersport bike for £7k, are gone.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t bargains to be had. Whether loss-leaders or discounted end-of-line machines, virtually every manufacturer has something, somewhere in its range that's surprisingly cheap compared to its rivals.
We’ve done the math so you don’t have to. Here’s our countdown of the ten best value-for-money new bike buys.
Superbike sales are a shadow of their former selves and with most Japanese 1000cc machines hovering around the £12k mark, many of the remaining buyers are scrabbling together the extra grand or so for a BMW S1000RR, or even a Ducati or MV Agusta. But Japan still offers one relatively cheap superbike: the legendary GSX-R1000. We accept that £11,999 (list price) isn’t pocket change but it’s a saving of around £1k compared to most of the rivals. It’s got to be one of the cheapest new-bike routes to a limited 186mph.
No, really, we’re serious. An MV Agusta, and it’s a bargain. At £9,699, we’re not saying this naked four-cylinder is cheap exactly. But you are getting eight-stage traction control, 142bhp, jaw-dropping looks and the freedom to truthfully say “I ride an MV Agusta” to whoever will listen. For comparison, an about-to-be-discontinued Kawasaki Z1000 is only £600 cheaper. In a few decades’ time, one of those bikes is going to be a collectable classic. The other will be a few-decades-old Kawasaki.
The ’Busa is a legend and no two ways about it. With that in mind, the fact you can get one for £11,299 makes it something of a deal. The less-legendary Kawasaki ZZR1400 might have a fraction more power, but it’s £400 more expensive and still lacks the cachet of the Suzuki. The Hayabusa might not have been the first of the ‘hyperbikes’ but it still defines the breed. It’s one of the few motorcycles that non-motorcyclists have heard of, and in their minds that name simply says you own the fastest bike on the planet. Whether that’s true anymore doesn’t matter. Who’s counting when you’re that close to 200mph?
This is probably going to be controversial. It’s hard to justify any Harley to most performance-minded or cost-conscious riders, and the 883 is the slowest and simplest of the bunch. But at £6,695 it’s cheaper than anyone is likely to guess. Look at its rivals. The new Yamaha XV950 looks good, but it’s £7,199, while the Suzuki M800 is only a fiver cheaper than the 883 and doesn’t look good. Any Japanese cruiser tends to suggest you wanted to buy a Harley but couldn’t afford it, even though, as the Iron proves, you could. Oh, and remember residual values, too – any Harley will always have a decent second-hand price, while Japanese cruisers won’t be so attractive to used-market buyers.
When it comes to entry-level sports bikes, the Honda CBR250R and its bigger brother, the CBR500R, look the part and have the price tags to match. It takes close inspection to see where costs have been cut. Nevertheless the CBR250R, at £4,100 with ABS, is £1,100 less than an ABS-equipped Kawasaki Ninja 300. Even Yamaha’s YZF-R125 costs more than the CBR, despite half the engine capacity and similarly inexpensive construction. Next year’s CBR300R will probably also be competitively priced but it’s likely to cost more than the CBR250R.
Like the Harley Sportster, the Bonnie is a bike that, in terms of image, sits in a class above its rivals. At £6,549 it’s around a grand more than a Royal Enfield Continental GT, but has more than twice the power (67bhp vs 29bhp). It’s cheaper than a Kawasaki W800, even though the Kawasaki will be seen as a pretender and the Triumph the real thing. Only Moto Guzzi’s V7, at £6,832, can really rival it in the retro stakes, but again loses out in terms of performance. And like the Harley and the MV Agusta in this list, the Triumph is likely to have strong resale value, so might work out even cheaper in the long run.
The parallel twin NC700 range was designed with money-saving at the fore, and Honda seems to have achieved that target in every respect. Not only is it a bargain – £5,499 really doesn’t buy much when it comes to new bikes these days, and most in that league are smaller than the NC700S or based on age-old designs – but it will keep saving you money thanks to the incredible fuel economy. You could spend more for the ‘X’ version, but since they’re identical under the skin, why bother?
Triumph’s Street Triple has been a bargain ever since it was launched. While the latest version, at £6,999, isn’t as cheap as its predecessors, it still convincingly undercuts MV’s Brutale 675 by £700. The MV is itself seen as a bargain, so we should probably be queuing around the block for the Triumph.
We don’t hear much about the SV650S these days. It would be easy to forget it’s still available. But the bike that was such a sensation a dozen years ago, thanks to its combination of price, handling and performance, is still as good as ever and now even more of a bargain. Seriously, £4,975 for something a capable as the SV is phenomenal, especially compared to rivals like the £5,899 Kawasaki ER6n. We’re not sure there’s a cheaper way to get 71hp than the SV. While the Honda CB500F, at £4,799, undercuts the Suzuki, its performance is a whole league lower. Suzuki has said the SV is getting updates for 2014, suggesting the price is likely to rise.
Admittedly it’s a 2014 model but it’s available in 2013 so it makes this list. Yamaha’s MT-09 was impressive when we first saw the pictures and specs, and even more so when we learned the price. For £6,799, there’s little to compare to it. It’s an all-new machine but without the premium price that status tends to confer, and it undercuts older rivals like the (also bargain-priced) Triumph Street Triple. All this from a firm that, in recent years, has attracted criticism for high pricing. For instance, the old, unloved, single-cylinder sibling to the MT-09, the MT-03, is still available. It’s far slower and less well equipped and costs £600 more.
Of course you do, you're only human.
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