Five £3000 late '90s icons

Want to treat yourself to a slice of 90s cool?

What were the cult bikes of the late 1990s? That's the question that circulated the office today and after much heated debate (and one tantrum), we whittled the list down to these five. Without the £3000 limit, our list would have remained a fantasy for many, but the £3000 cap means you can own a legend or, if you're feeling adventurous, make your way through the whole list. That's me on the left on my RS250 in 2003. I loved that bike, it taught me to embrace corner speed and it made me realise that newer doesn't always mean better..

I've hunted high and low to find a good example of each of the bikes on our list, with mileage as close to 20,000 as we could find. Step right this way to see our list of late '90s icons..

1999 Suzuki TL1000R

The TL1000R probably won't ever feature in any classic superbike annuals because when it comes to v-twins of the era, it didn't have the 'character' of the TL1000s and it wasn't better than the bike it was designed to demolish, the 916. Therefore, in this cut-throat world we live in, it was billed as an also-ran.

Yes it's flawed, we're not saying for one moment it's a brilliant bike; it was heavy (18kg heavier than a GSX-R750) and it didn't steer that well. It has a modest (by today's standards) 120bhp at the rear wheel but it features something today's superbikes lack: torque. And lots of it. The TL1000R has a stance that means business and a look that's so individual. It always was a superbike for hard men and despite its age that hasn't changed.

The bike pictured above is a 1998 model with 20,000 miles on the clock, priced at £2495. Low miles but slightly over what I'd pay. Offer £2100 cash.

Price: Good condition 1998 model from £1900. Good condition 2002 model from £2700.

1998 Yamaha YZF-R1

Considering it is 14 years old, the R1 has stood the test of time incredibly well. This, the original 1998 R1, was a handful, packed full of torque and staggeringly fast with a lively front-end to boot. It isn't as refined and usable as today's modern superbikes and that's half the fun. It takes skill and a healthy amount of respect to get the most from it.

The R1's real weakpoint is its gearbox, which can lunch second-gear, especially if it's been thrashed and wheelied to within an inch of its life. What's great about the R1 is its price: they're holding firm. You can pick up the one pictured with 20,000 miles on the clock and service history for £2800 which is slightly over what we'd be prepared to pay but it's not likely to drop in value over the coming few years. It's very close to original, so if you can get it for £2400 you've got a bargain.

Price: Good condition 1998 model from: £2400. Good condition 1999 model from: £2600

1996 Aprilia RS250

The real problem with the RS250 is that if you want one, a good one, you're too late. They've recently rocketed in price, alongside all the other two-stroke 250 offerings and most are now up well past the £3500 mark.

Originally introduced in 1994, the RS250 was then given a bodywork makeover to give it a rounded GP250 look. They only weighed 145kg and used the same engine as Suzuki's RGV250 VJ22, making 50+ bhp. The RS250 is about as close to riding a old GP bike as most of us are going to get. 120 years ago you could hang around four-stroke sportsbikes and annoy them like a wasp at a family BBQ. Razzing the RS250 for a mad hour on a Sunday was what it was all about.

These days 600s have moved on and so the RS250s can no longer boast the handling to escape them, but there isn't much that comes close to stringing together a set of bends at impossibly large lean angles and the RS250 is still a natural at that.

The one pictured above is a 1996 model with 20,000 miles on the clock and it's up for £2,750. Rather worryingly, it has 8 former owners and no history but if you want a low-mileage one-owner minter, don't expect much change from £4000. It's in average condition so £2200 is the most I'd pay for this one.

Prices: Good condition 1994 model from: £2900. Good condition 1999 model from: £3200

1999 Suzuki GSX-R750 SRAD

In a battle of two, we've gone for the GSX-R750 over the Kawasaki ZX-7R. It was a close call, but almost all of the ZX-7Rs we looked at either had a horrdenous service history, were Cat D or worse or had - by the looks of things - been modified by Graham Norton.

The SRAD 750 used exactly the same chassis as the 600, but with the benefit of more horsepower and more torque. The earlier models used carbs but the 2000-on models were fuel-injected. They're frantic, they rev and rev and they've got that racebike feel with handling to match.

The one pictured above is a 1998 model with 22,000 miles on the clock and is up for £2000. At £1800, I'd take it.

Prices: Good condition 1996 model from: £1600. Good condition 2002 model: £2950

1999 Italjet Dragster D180LC

Listen, we like to be different here at Visordown and that's why the Italjet Dragster gets in. Be honest, it was the first scooter that ever appeared on your radar and if you're anything like us, it was always in your second-bike list, but you knew you'd never justify one. Well, now you can.

The Dragster was and still is batshit crazy. With its 172cc two-stroke engine, it would hoist the front wheel everywhere and no matter how good a rider you are, it will bite! But it would be easier to nob Kelly Brook than find a Dragster in good condition. They've all had multiple abusive owners, have been stolen-recovered or have a service history about as extensive as Prince Charles' active military operations.

If you want one, your best bet is to find an owners forum and hang on until a rare and well-loved model comes up for sale. You might be waiting a long time.

The model pictured is actually a 125 with a 172 kit. It's done 20,200 miles and has had four owners. It's not an original 180 but was the cleanest model I could find and is up for £950. Fun guaranteed: collarbones, not.

Prices: Good condition 1999 model from: £1000. Good condition 2002 model from: £1900