Top 10s

Top 10 forgotten second-hand motorcycle bargains

Quick, before people remember

WHEN the time comes to buy a used bike it’s natural that the first things to spring to mind are those best-in-class machines that were just too expensive when they were new but might have fallen into your budget with a few years under their belts.

But with a little lateral thinking, and a slightly larger dose of bravery, there are bargains out there if you’re prepared to go a little left-field in your choices. Instead of focussing on the best-in-class machines, look at the ones that came second, third, even fourth in period magazine group tests, and see if the flaws that pushed them down the order are ones you could forgive.

Remember that, when new, price plays a big part in deciding the order of group tests. If one machine suddenly becomes half as expensive as its old sparring partner thanks to a lack of secondhand demand, it may well become the better buy even if it was passed over for honours when it was new.

Here’s our top 10 forgotten bikes that are potential secondhand bargains.

10: Aprilia Falco

Several of Aprilia’s old V-twin-powered machines are worth considering. The original RSV Mille looks a bargain compared to its Ducati 996/998/999 rivals, for instance. And the largely forgotten Falco adds a dash more practicality and is even cheaper on the used market. Around £2000 is easily enough to buy one, and that’s based on classified asking prices. Dig around the online auction or brave an insultingly low offer and you might well get one for quite a bit less than that.

CLICK HERE TO BROWSE SECOND-HAND MOTORCYCLE BARGAINS IN VISORDOWN MARKETPLACE.

Another bike that nobody thought much of when it was new, the BT1100 Bulldog initially appeared to be Yamaha’s attempt to create a Buell-style, cruiser-engined sports naked. But in reality it just didn’t have the handling to back that up. However, if you go in with low expectations and ride it more like a cruiser, it’s not so bad. These things depreciated like hell when they were new, and now surviving examples are potential bargains. Yes, you’ll find dealers asking stupid money for them, but real-world auction results show that £1500 should be more than enough to get one.

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If the Falco is a forgotten Aprilia, its Futura sports-touring sibling is verging on mythical status. But yes, some were sold when new and now they look like serious bargains. Yes, there’s an element of bravery involved in such a purchase; parts aren’t going to be in every corner bike shop. But the Futura was a surprisingly capable alternative to a Honda VFR750 when new, and now £1500 is enough to bag a 15-year-old one if you drive a hard bargain.

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When it was new, the original 660cc, single-cylinder Yamaha MT03 (not the modern 321cc MT-03 twin) had people scratching their heads. It didn’t seem to fit any particular category, other than perhaps as a stylish city bike rival to a small-capacity Ducati Monster. Perhaps it was ahead of its time, as today it looks much more in line with some other style-led singles (bear in mind it predated the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 by a dozen years, and appeared as a concept bike even earlier than that). Asking prices now are all over the shop, but searching real auction sales shows that people are managing to pick up low mileage examples for as little as £2k, with scruffier ones dropping below the £1500 mark.

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If you’re looking for a bargain, Ducatis probably aren’t instantly going to spring to mind. But steer clear of the firm’s flagship models and you might be surprised at how affordable some are. The ST sports tourers, for instance – whether in 2-valve ST2 or four-valve ST4 form – are well within reach for most. These things were critically acclaimed when new for their abilities, but lack a bit of flair on the styling side of things. Even so, you can find ST2s from as little as £1000 and ST4s for £2000, and for that little they make a strong case for themselves.

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KTM’s first – and only – attempt at making a superbike is an impressive effort, but since it’s not even on the radar for many potential buyers, prices are surprisingly low. You’ll either love or hate the folded paper styling, but there’s no doubting the RC8’s eye-catching appeal. Examples without too many skeletons in the closet start at around the £4k mark, although the sweet spot looks to start around £1000 higher than that. Compare £5k for a 2010 RC8 to what you’d pay for a similarly-aged Ducati 1198, though, and the KTM makes a strong case for itself. The two were hard to separate in period tests, and now the price difference tips the scales heavily towards the KTM.

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Is this the first time anyone has, straight-faced, included a Honda DN-01 on a list of bikes to consider buying? Quite possibly. It’s weird-looking, to put it kindly, and the technology underneath is even stranger. In particular, the hydraulic drive system that created a completely unique automatic transmission. There’s no chain, no shaft, no belt – the rear wheel is driven by high-pressure hydraulic fluid. When it was new a decade ago the DN-01 fell flat thanks to an insane £10,625 price tag. Did anyone actually pay that, or are all the bikes registered here former dealer demonstrators? Even with the mad price, there were rumours that Honda lost money on each DN-01 thanks to the labour intensive process of building its crazy transmission. Now, though, £3k is enough to get one (if you can find one) and at that price it’s an intriguing oddity that’s probably destined to be an oddball collectable at some stage in the future.

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Another Ducati? Certainly! In this instance it’s the 750SS (and the lower-spec 750 Sport) that emerged shortly after the turn of the millennium. Based on the Pierre Terblache-era 900SS, the 750 version had the same sweet-handling chassis but underwhelming performance and not-so-great suspension. But at around £1500, which is what you might get one for now, all that could be forgiven. Alternatively, step up to the 900SS or later 1000SS for a bit more go. There was also an 800ss as a replacement for the 750 for a little while. All these will cost more, though. Another Ducati bargain worth considering is the 749. This was actually a stunning little bike, closely related to the multi-championship-winning 999 (also a bargain at the moment, with prices from around £4k). As little as £3k could bag a decent 749 these days. That’s far less than you’d pay for the earlier, less-capable 748…

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Just before BMW revolutionised itself with bikes like the S1000RR and six-cylinder K1600, not to mention the latest iterations of its F- and R-series GSes, the firm went through a brief wacky stage and launched three super-lightweight single-cylinder 650s. The G650 Xcountry was a bit boring-looking, the G650 Xchallenge was like a more-hardcore F650GS. And the G650 Xmoto was the jewel, a factory supermoto that weighs in at 147kg and still looks radical now, 11 years on from its launch. They’re hard to find – sales were pitiful when new – but if one crops up you should be able to get it for somewhere around the £2500 mark, depending on mileage and condition.

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Here’s one for the brave. Buell’s 1125R sports bike and the naked 1125CR were brave but flawed attempts to take on the Japanese and Italian standard-bearers. Only launched in 2007, they disappeared three years later when Harley closed Buell. Later, Eric Buell Racing revived the basic engine and chassis design for its own machines. With 146hp from a Rotax V-twin and the usual innovative Buell design thinking (fuel in the frame, rim-mounted brakes) it’s got some strong suits. All that was really lacking was development, and the bikes got better constantly during production (so a later one would be worth seeking out). The real attraction here is that £3k, and sometimes less, should be enough to pick up a late, low-mileage example of either the R or the CR. Honestly - £3k for a near-150hp bike that’s less than a decade old seems like a bargain. Of course, the company that makes it no longer exists, so don’t go into ownership thinking it will be an easy ride. But have no doubt that one day, in a few years’ time, people will be seeing Buells as true classics, and the 1125 is the ultimate evolution of the species.

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