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5 Best bikes under £1000

If you’ve got a budget of around £1000 and are in the market for a dependable used bike, whether that’s merely a first 50cc 16-er moped or the aforementioned big all-rounder, we can help you with your choice. Here’s Auto Trader’s current pick of the best used bikes you can buy, across these categories and more, for under £1000.

Phil West

Words by: Phil West

Published on 25 September 2020 | 0 min read

When you’re starting out in motorcycling your budget and, specifically, the amount you can afford to spend on your bike, is often of over-riding importance. After all, you’ve not just got to buy a bike but also pay for insurance, possibly kit, security and more.
And if you’re working with a particularly tight budget, of say £1000, that can make the used bike choices available to you, more restricted still. But that £1000 doesn’t mean you can only afford a 125 or some other type of small lightweight commuter. Nor does it mean any bigger bikes that you may consider are necessarily excessively old, in poor condition or with any kind of reliability issues. You CAN afford a proven, quality Japanese 600cc supersport machine that’s in decent nick and has plenty of life ahead of it. You can even afford a larger, litre-class, dependable, shaft-driven sports-tourer – as long as you know what you’re looking for.
1. Honda CBF125 – the affordable A1/125 all-rounder
The predecessor to Honda’s current CB125 A1 class commuter was introduced in 2009 and proved a huge success until replaced by the unfaired CB, due to Euro 4, in 2015. The reasons for that success are obvious: smart styling including a frame-mounted half fairing, proven Honda mechanicals and reliability; adequate performance from its 11bhp, air-cooled, fuel-injected four-stroke single; fabulous fuel economy – an easy 100mpg+ if ridden gently and great, easy-to-ride commuter manners. In short, as an affordable commuter with the reassurance of the Honda badge and dealer network behind it, they don’t come much better. Best of all, early examples, now being around 10 years old, now fall into this price band and being so popular there’s plenty to choose from. You do need to watch out, though. The paint on the exhaust is a known weak spot while plastic panels, particularly their fixing grommets, can easily go. Reliability, however, isn’t a problem at all.
Discover Honda CBF125 bikes for sale here.
2. Lexmoto Echo 50 – the best-selling AM scooter
We’ve celebrated the Echo before – even making it one of our bikes of the year – and with good reason. The bargain-priced, Chinese-built Echo 50 has been a British best seller for years, primarily because it’s so affordable, something vital to first-time 16-year-olds looking to get on the road for the first time. It’s new price tag of just over £1000 makes it the cheapest credible new 50cc sports scooter on the market and also means that barely-used secondhand examples, sometimes with just a few 100 miles on the clock (after all, most 50s are rarely owned for more than a year, by their very nature), can easily be found at under £1000. Nor is it as ‘budget’ as that price suggests. It’s fully Euro compliant, there’s an adequate air-cooled four-stroke engine propelling it to the same regulated 30mph as any other machine in the class. It’s stylish, there are OK clocks, underseat storage and, if you’re lucky, you’ll get the remainder of the manufacturer’s 1-year warranty, too.
Discover Lexmoto Echo 50 scooters for sale here.
3. Kawasaki ZZ-R600 – the affordable ’supersports’
Japanese supersports 600s such as the ZZ-R ruled the roost in the 1990s, becoming UK best sellers and hugely popular due to their combination of 150mph four-cylinder performance, sporty style, great versatility for two and impressive value. Honda’s class-leading CBR600F was rightfully one of the most popular bikes throughout the whole decade. But Kawasaki’s ZZ-R600 ran it close and, uniquely, remained in production from 1990 all the way to 2007, by which point it had become viewed as a value sports-tourer, which makes it a far better bet as a used buy today. Although superseded by smaller, more powerful and lighter 600s such as Kawasaki’s own ZX-6R, the ZZ-R is still 150mph-quick, substantial enough to be a decent pillion carrier, well equipped (it has a lavish dash and even a centrestand) and reasonably durable and reliable. The ZZ-R, by today’s standards, may be a little old fashioned, but it’s still a helluva lot of bike for the money. As long as there’s not too much corrosion or damage don’t be put off by high mileages. £1000 should get you a decent example from the turn of the century with around 35K on the clock.
Discover Kawasaki ZZ-R600 bikes for sale here.
4. Yamaha XJ900 Diversion – the solid sports-tourer
Introduced in 1994 and in production for the next decade, the XJ900 is the ‘big brother’ to the hugely popular XJ600 Diversion. As such it’s an air-cooled, four-cylinder all-rounder at a budget price, but this time also with useful shaft drive. As such it was never fashionable or cutting edge, emphasising instead practicality, versatility and value – which is why used examples can today be had for under £1000. All that said, the big 900 Diversion has aged fairly well. Its timeless style doesn’t look out of place today, its mechanicals are simple and solid and its grunty 90bhp, although never blistering, is ore than enough for comfortable, two-up mile eating. Better still, although the spec is fairly basic, the old school two-dial dash is clear and pleasing, it’s all day comfortable and cheap to run and maintain. £1000 will fairly easily get you an example with maybe 50K on the clocks (don’t worry about it), in better nick than you might expect thanks to its appeal to mature, sensible owners and, more than likely some aftermarket luggage, too.
Discover Yamaha XJ900 Diversion bikes for sale here.
5. Kawasaki ER-5 – the bargain first big bike
Built from 1996 to 2007, the ER-5 was Kawasaki’s answer to Suzuki’s hugely popular GS500E twin cylinder roadster but compared to the Suzuki’s old air-cooled engine, the Kawasaki benefitted from a reworked version of its already successful liquid-cooled twin from the GPZ500. As such it has a reasonable 48bhp, being a roadster twin it’s slim, relatively light and novice-friendly. Yet, despite being unfaired, it’s a decent, reasonably long-legged all-rounder. Yes, examples within this budget will be around 20 years old and probably have over 30,000 miles under its belt and, as finished aren’t the best, it’ll need to have been looked after to keep corrosion at bay. But there’s still a fair number out there and we’ve seen more than a few under £1000. As long as it’s MoT-ed, has some service history, is straight and not too affected by corrosion, it’s a great first big buy – and certainly a better bet than the GS500E.
Discover Kawasaki ER-5 bikes for sale here.

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