Tiger 1050 Top Bri­tish iron

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lots of lovely at­ten­tion to de­tail, from its ba­nana swingarm to its un­der­slung ex­haust, petal-shaped discs and new dash dis­play.

You can only ex­plore the limit of a su­pers­port 600 or 1000 on the track, which makes the Ninja 650 a sports­bike for the real world. It may not have the vibe-free power of the big­ger MT-07 mo­tor, but the Kawasaki can get a se­ri­ous lick on and han­dles with un­ruf­fled poise.

Although you can make it sing through leafy B-roads, the Ninja is more prac­ti­cal than a race replica. It’s roomy, pain­less on long jour­neys, has de­cent wind pro­tec­tion, plus is docile and friendly at nor­mal speeds.

The cruiser

Can a Har­ley-david­son for just £6745, be any good? Is the new Street Rod more tin can than Amer­i­can iron? Well, those who fancy getting a foot on the first rung of the cruiser lad­der won’t be dis­ap­pointed. The Har­ley is a class piece of kit. It costs £750 more than the base-model Street 750, but it’s faster, has tighter han­dling and, with its blacked-out styling, it looks meaner, too. You also get up­side-down forks, two front discs, adjustable twin shocks and an ana­logue/dig­i­tal-mix dash.

For­get all those Har­ley prej­u­dices be­cause the Street Rod is no lumpy, me­an­der­ing cruiser with lim­ited ground clear­ance and scary brakes. Weigh­ing 242kg, it’s way heav­ier than its seven grand ri­vals, but the 70bhp, High Out­put Rev­o­lu­tion X liq­uid­cooled 749cc V-twin has a strong, smooth, ur­gent spread of power.

The Street Rod’s steer­ing is crisp and di­rect and it doesn’t wob­ble or weave at high speed or carv­ing through long sweep­ers, and you’ll need to be go­ing some to scrape the pegs. Funky wheels are shod with Har­ley-branded tyres built for mileage and not grip, but as they’re nor­mal 17-inch­ers there’s a huge range of stick­ier re­place­ment rub­ber out there.

Flip-up pegs are mounted oddly high

The af­ford­able ad­ven­ture

In terms of acreage of metal and plastic, the gen­er­ously pro­por­tioned Ver­sys 650 is the most bike for your money. It’s a bike you can com­fort­ably com­mute on, or ride the breadth of Europe – and all for less than a grand a year on PCP.

Like the Ninja 650, the Ver­sys 650 is a di­rect de­scen­dant of the ER- 6N, pow­ered by Kawasaki’s bulletproof 649cc par­al­lel-twin. It started life as a skinny ER-6 on stilts in 2006, but in 2015 it flow­ered into the mini ad­ven­ture bike it is to­day.

It doesn’t have the light­weight, new­gen­er­a­tion chas­sis of the new Ninja 650, or its sus­pen­sion or en­gine tweaks, but it has the per­for­mance, poise and prac­ti­cal­ity to fool you into think­ing it’s a far big­ger ma­chine than it is.

Over the years, the Ver­sys 650 has been a con­sis­tent MCN group-test win­ner, and its lat­est high-pro­file scalp is the Mt-07-based Tracer 700, which has sim­i­lar per­for­mance but doesn’t come close to be­ing as roomy as the Kawasaki, or have its all-en­velop­ing wind and weather pro­tec­tion.

Although the fi­nance costs the same as that for the other bikes here, it has the most ex­pen­sive ticket price, crossing the seven grand thresh­old. How­ever, you get more for your cash, with adjustable forks, re­mote preload knob and an adjustable screen.

‘For­get the Har­ley prej­u­dices, the Street Rod is fast and han­dles well’ and for­ward, but that’s the only quirk in an oth­er­wise pleas­ant ride.

The Ninja 650’s sporty looks aren’t quite backed up by the 67bhp mo­tor

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