Ninja 650 v Ver­sys 650 SE v Street Rod v M T- 0 7

Four bril­liant bikes all for un­der £80 a month, but which is best of the bunch?

Motorcycle News (UK) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael Neeves CHIEF ROAD TESTER

Lucky num­ber seven. There’s your seven seas, heav­ens, con­ti­nents, days, won­ders of the world, Kee­gan, Can­tona, Best… Sheene. Seven is also the magic num­ber when it comes to what it costs to bag your­self a brand-new, ex­cit­ing, two-wheeled bar­gain. Seven grand will get you 700cc of fun, prac­ti­cal­ity, free­dom and some­thing nice to pol­ish on a Sun­day morn­ing. Bet­ter still, seventy quid goes a hell of a long way on PCP th­ese days.

Now, I know what you’re think­ing; some of the bikes you see in our pic­tures are less than 700cc (the Har­ley is more) and are priced be­low the magic num­ber, too (the Ver­sys 650 is more ex­pen­sive). How­ever, they’re close enough in gen­eral terms and anything else would spoil my head­line and in­tro!

To see how far you can get with your seven grand (and £70 a month on PCP), we’ve picked four very dif­fer­ent ma­chines that you prob­a­bly didn’t even re­alise were so af­ford­able. Let’s start with the cheap­est.

The naked one

Yamaha’s MCN Award-win­ning MT-07 has been the dic­tionary def­i­ni­tion of cheap thrills since its re­lease in 2014.

When a man­u­fac­turer tells its de­sign­ers and en­gi­neers to build a ma­chine us­ing what­ever cash they can find down the back of the sofa, they’ll be forced into us­ing cheap, heavy com­po­nents and won’t spend too long tweak­ing the en­gine, or re­fin­ing the han­dling.

Yet Yamaha have some­how cre­ated an af­ford­able road­ster that re­ally does have the mod­ern-day spirit of the

350LC. It weighs just 179kg full of fuel, which is un­fath­omably light, and the growl­ing 689cc par­al­lel-twin en­gine makes a very healthy 74bhp.

As well as hav­ing the kind of pow­erto-weight ra­tio that en­cour­ages easy, off-the-clutch, third-gear wheel­ies, the mo­tor is smooth, has a more re­fined throt­tle re­sponse than its MT-09 and MT-10 big­ger broth­ers, and is newrider friendly at town speeds.

Sus­pen­sion is on the bouncy side, but the chas­sis is bal­anced and pre­dictable, mak­ing fast, con­fi­dent rid­ing a breeze. With its R6-sized 180- sec­tion rear tyre, there’s no prob­lem with grip, and that soft set-up won’t jar you over bumps. Brakes are strong, the rid­ing po­si­tion is spa­cious and, lack of wind pro­tec­tion aside, it’s all-day comfy.

Although you don’t get many toys for your money, ABS is stan­dard, build qual­ity is su­perb – and you get all this love­li­ness for less than £20 a week.

The sporty one

When Kawasaki re­leased the ER-6 back in 2005 ( yes, it re­ally was that long ago), you’d never have imag­ined the sim­ple 649cc par­al­lel-twin naked would evolve into a sports­bike. The faired ER- 6F never caught the imag­i­na­tion of sporty riders then, but since the ex­plo­sion of su­per-twins rac­ing on the roads and short cir­cuits, that’s all changed.

The Ninja 650 is an ER-F un­der the skin, with sexy H2-meets-zx-10r styling, higher-set bars, more grunt, a new ris­ing-rate sus­pen­sion link­age and – tak­ing a leaf out of Yamaha’s book – a much lighter chas­sis, bring­ing weight down by a mas­sive 18kg. There’s

KAWASAKI NINJA 650 £6349 • • 69bhp 193kg The new Ninja re­placed the ER6-F. It has a grun­tier 649cc par­al­lel-twin with re­vised cams and port­ing, a lighter chas­sis, slip­per clutch, sharper new styling and clocks. KAWASAKI VER­SYS 650 SE £7249 • • 69bhp 217kg Re­freshed in 2015, the Ver­sys 650 went from su­per­moto-play­ful to a more se­ri­ous mile-muncher with a smoother, more pow­er­ful en­gine, a big­ger tank and plusher sus­pen­sion.

The MT-07 has a perky en­gine, but the Har­leys no slouch

The Ver­sys 650 can do anything asked of it... all day long The Street Rod is a classy Har­ley that can hus­sle and it’s yours for £78 a month The Ninja 650 has sporty styling, a de­cent mo­tor and all for un­der £6.5k HAR­LEY-DAVID­SON STREET ROD £6745 • • 69.7bhp 242kg Based on the en­try-level Street 750, the new Street Rod has a sportier chas­sis, sharper styling, twin front discs and 20% more power from its liq­uid-cooled 749cc V-twin. YAMAHA MT- 07 £6199 • • 74bhp 179kg It’s the old­est bike here, but one of decade’s great­est. It seems tame on pa­per, yet its 689cc twin packs a punch and light­weight chas­sis makes ev­ery ride an oc­ca­sion.

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