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?
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.