Top 10 cheap big bikes

500cc and over for £5k and under, brand new

IT doesn’t seem long ago that the average brand new 1000cc superbike was selling for £9k or less and supersports 600s were below £7k, but those days are long gone and now the bleeding edge of motorcycle technology is likely to set you back a five-figure sum.

And the same sort of inflation has hit lower down in the market, too, with bikes that would have been in the region of £5k back in the mid-to-late 2000s now sitting with £7k-plus tags dangling from their mirrors. With increasing numbers of bikes being sold via PCP or HP schemes, for many riders the total is less important than the monthly repayment, partially explaining the rise in list prices, but there are still plenty of old-school cash buyers for whom the bottom line total is the number that matters most.

But just because some of the obvious choices have gone up in price, it doesn’t mean there aren’t cheap-and-cheerful options out there. We’ve scoured the price lists to come up with the top 10 cheapest offerings in the 499cc-and-over market to see just what you can get.

And while we’re using list prices for the ranking, bear in mind that cash is king and there are deep discounts to be found. Just check the offerings for pre-registered and ex-display machines on eBay or any other selling site to see how low they can go, before haggling even begins. And in some cases, you might get as much as another £1,000 off if you play your cards right.

The entry level to this list is £5k, and that means we miss out on some great cheap machines – not least Yamaha’s all-conquering, £5,349 MT-07 and Kawasaki’s £5,399 ER-6N, both bikes that would be well worth a look if you’re in this part of the market an which come so close to the £5,000 mark that a canny haggler might well ride away on for less than £5k.  

8=: Royal Enfield Continental GT £4,999

Nobody is ever going to make claims that the Royal Enfield Continental GT is a sophisticated, smooth or high-performance machine. It’s technology is in line with its retro appearance and its performance is in line with what you might expect from an air-cooled single that looks like it’s come straight from the 1950s. Sure, it’s a café racer, and it’s fast enough to beat most cafés we’ve come across in a straight line competition, thanks to them being firmly anchored to the ground with six foot deep foundations. Up against a mobile café van, the fight might not be so one-sided… But it’s not a bike that’s about speed so much as it’s about an authentic vintage feel and look, and there it makes a winning case for itself.

8=: Honda CB500F £4,999

Want something reliable, with a Honda badge on the side and the massive dealer backup that it represents? Then you can stop reading here and just buy the CB500F. It’s not going to be a machine that you wistfully look back at in your old age, reminiscing about the good times, but it’s also one that you’re unlikely to remember for its unreliability or vices. And remember, when buying a new bike you’re agreeing to swallow the depreciation that it will suffer. The Honda might not be the cheapest bike outright on this list, but it might well turn out to be the one that costs you the least in the long run.

8=: Suzuki SV650S: £4,999

If the CB500F is just too soulless for you but you still want something with Japanese reliability and an endless resale market to drop it into once you’ve had your fun, then the SV650 is probably the answer – just as it has been for countless riders over the last 15 years. They’re fun, dependable and can be had for rather less than the £4999 list price, particularly if you find a pre-registered or ex-display bike, which you might get for nearer the £4k mark.

7: Hyosung GT650R: £4,799

The GT650 is looking a little long in the tooth now, as is the SV650 that inspired it. In spec terms, the fully-faired Hyosung is extremely close to the Suzuki, but it offers a more full-on sportsbike riding position and look. Be aware, though, that depreciation is likely to be savage – a handful of years and 10,000 miles will likely halve its value.

6: Royal Enfield Classic Chrome 500: £4,699

Given that the first Royal Enfield on our list was the firm’s range-topper, it was inevitable that there would be more. Here’s the second. The Classic Chrome is even more retro than the Continental, and slower, too, thanks to the smaller 499cc engine instead of the café racer’s strapping 535cc lump. But if your motorcycle dreams revolve around picnics on sepia-toned summer days and a time when Japanese bikes weren’t even on the radar, then it’s got a definite appeal.

4=: Royal Enfield Classic 500/Battle Green/Desert Storm: £4,499

The Classic is pretty much the same as above, but as the name suggests, has less chrome. These things have only got 28bhp, so while they’re 499cc the performance is more like a 250 four-stroke. At least there’s a five speed gearbox these days, with the lever on the right (by which we mean left) side of the bike. The Battle Green and Desert Storm versions cut the chrome levels even more and add a faux-military feel.

4=: Hyosung GT650P: £4,499

There’s not much to say about the GT650P that isn’t covered by the GT650R above. Of course, the P is a naked bike, replacing the old Comet, and is again intended to appeal to potential SV650 buyers who can’t quite afford the Suzuki. As above, depreciation can be a worry, but if you’re keeping the bike long term, it could make a lot of sense,

3: WK 650TR: £4,399

The brand that’s known as CFMoto elsewhere, but WK Bikes in the UK, is among the front-running Chinese firms when it comes to taking on the big bike market, and follows the tried-and-tested pattern of offering something that comes close to its established rivals on paper but doing it for a lot less money. The 650TR is a little different, though, since it’s a full-on tourer, aping much bigger machines, rather than a straightforward copy of the Kawasaki ER6 that inspired its parallel twin engine layout and design. The list price has recently been slashed, but even cheaper deals are easy to find online.

2: WK 650i: £4,199

Far more closely aping the Kawasaki ER-6n, the naked WK650i uses the same engine as the TR but adds a sportier naked bike look and riding position. Again, while the list price is already low there are deals to be done, with some dealers asking as little as £3600 for brand new ones online. And here you have to wonder whether they’re so cheap that depreciation won’t matter as much. Sure, we’ve seen two-year-old bikes with tiny mileages at around £2500, but if that’s only £1000 less than new, it might represent a smaller hit to the original buyer than he’d have suffered with a more established brand’s bike.

1: Royal Enfield Bullet 500: £3,999

Yes, it’s those lads at Royal Enfield again and this time it’s the bog-basic Bullet that tops the list. Its styling is perhaps less appealing than the Classic or Continental, but it’s more practical than either of its siblings thanks to a viable pillion seat. Yes, some people will say you should just buy a ‘real’ classic bike if that’s what you want, but the RE has an electric starter (and a kickstart in case the battery’s flat or you just want to be more authentic). Other than that, there’s not a lot of kit (when was the last time you heard a manufacturer highlight 12v electrics and halogen headlight as noteworthy selling points?) but that’s part of the appeal. A quick search reveals there are plenty of used models on offer, too, proving that they aren’t as disposable as some cheap bikes, and even decade-old examples can go for £2k-plus, and that means depreciation isn’t the killer it might have been, particularly if you’re looking at long-term ownership.

Want more?

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Top 10 brand new bikes under 500cc

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Top 10 brand new retro naked bikes

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