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Top 5 2020 bikes for commuting

Motorcycles are a brilliant leisure pursuit, adrenaline fix or vehicle for adventure but they’re also an effective, affordable form of transport – great commuters in fact. In the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, with a host of new models for 2020, a raft of tempting offers and incentives from manufacturers and dealers keen to revive the market there’s never been a better time to buy.

But which should you go for and what do you get? It depends what you want – and what licence you have or are eligible for. If you’re 17+, have a provisional licence and a CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) certificate you’re eligible for an A1 class/125cc machine which is relatively cheap, easy to ride and usually very economical. They’re great around town, nimble and good for about 70mph but can make you feel vulnerable on faster roads, have limited carrying capacity and you’ll need to re-take your CBT.
If you want a bigger machine, however, things begin to get complicated. If 19 or over you’re eligible for an A2 licence and A2 category machines, which are at least 395cc and power of between 27 and 47bhp. To qualify, however, you need a CBT certificate and must pass the theory test and two-module practical test on an A2 machine. This is called Direct Access. If you’re progressing having already held a full A1 licence for at least two years you merely need to pass the practical test. Finally, if you want an unlimited, A licence/machine, you must be 24+ if you take the Direct Access route on a bike of 595cc+ and at least 54bhp or, more likely, you can progress from the A2 category after holding a full A2 licence for two years (meaning you could be 21) by taking a new two-part test on the larger machine. So, with all that in mind, which 2020 bikes across those categories make the best commuters. Here’s our Top 5 to help you decide…
1. Honda CB125F – the A1/125cc one, £2699
We’ve raved about Honda’s cute little commuter before. Indeed, we gave it our ‘Best A1 bike of 2016’ award. And although Honda has since come out with the equally brilliant (but more stylish and expensive) CB125R as a purely practical and affordable commuter the F still gets our vote. Introduced in 2015 it's brilliantly simple and effective. Its air-cooled 125cc single produces 10.5bhp which is good enough to judge 70mph and keep up with traffic on dual carriageways yet it also returns up to 150mpg making it exceptionally cheap to run. It's a doddle to ride, so light and nimble it scythes through city traffic and, being a Honda, is more reliable and durable than most, too. Best of all, though, priced still at just £2899 (the R is currently £4049) it’s also brilliantly affordable, something enhanced further by Honda’s current ‘Back to Work’ commuter-targetted discount scheme which sees a further £200 shaved off its price.
Find a Honda CB125F on Auto Trader Bikes now.
2. Honda CB500X – the A2/47bhp one, £5699
Another award winner (significantly updated last year, the X won our ‘Best A2 bike of 2019’ award), another Honda and, by being so, another bike that also currently benefits from Honda’s ‘Back to Work’ commuter discount scheme – in this case to the tune of a full £500. The X is the adventure-styled variant of Honda’s brilliant, A2-specific, twin cylinder CB500 family (along with the roadster CB500F, sports CBR500R and custom CMX500 Rebel) and, as such, is the tallest and, arguably, most commutable, being upright comfy, slim and nimble yet also with reasonable weather protection. It’s a doddle to ride, good looking, adequately equipped, impressively frugal, returning an easy 60mpg-plus is steadfastly reliable and has a typical Honda quality finish, too. And all of that, for a discounted price of £5699 (albeit on unsold 2019 stock versions), makes it our best A2 commuter, too.
Find a Honda CB500X on Auto Trader Bikes now.
Honda CB500X
Honda CB500X
3. Honda NC750X – the bike that thinks it’s a scooter one, from £6849
At the risk of being accused of being too ‘Big H centric’, yes, a third Honda – but for all the right reasons. We declared the clever NC one of our best commuters back in 2018 gave it our ‘Best Commuter’ award in 2016 and see no reason to change that now – not least because it also currently qualifies for Honda’s ‘Back to Work’ bonus, in this case knocking £250 off the price. The brilliance of the NC is that’s effectively a ‘motor 'motorcycle-scooter hybrid' with the best from both worlds. First it uses a novel, low-revving, car-derived 54bhp twin cylinder engine, which is both immensely flexible and impressively economical, easily returning well over 70mpg. Second, there’s a useful luggage compartment in the dummy tank (the real tank's under the seat). And third, and most cleverly of all, there’s a version with Honda's unique, optional 'Dual Clutch Transmission' (or DCT) which, for £700 extra, is basically a semi-automatic gearbox which bins the clutch lever and turns it into a sophisticated 'twist 'n' go' making it ideal for commuting. A bike that looks and performs like a motorcycle but with the ease and manners of a scooter? That’s why the NC750X is a brilliant commuter.
Find a Honda NC750X on Auto Trader Bikes now.
Honda NC750X
Honda NC750X
4. Yamaha Tracer 700 – the updated all-rounder, £7945
The original 2016 MT07-based Tracer 700 was brilliant, budget all-rounder which, in GT trim, was our ‘Best Tourer of 2019’. Now, for 2020, this significantly updated version gets better suspension, equipment and style for just £400 more. Now reconfigured to comply with Euro5 emissions and noise regulations the lively yet torquey 74bhp twin remains one of its best features and improved suspension gives a better ride. But the biggest improvements are its racier styling, one-hand adjustable screen, slick new dash and improved comfort. The original Tracer 700 was so affordable, versatile and fun it proved a compelling buy, albeit one conspicuously built down to a price. But its new-found quality now makes it a far better bike, one of the best all-rounder (and commuters) you can buy yet still great value, too.
Find a Yamaha Tracer 700 on Auto Trader Bikes now.
Yamaha Tracer 700
Yamaha Tracer 700
5. BMW F900XR – the surprise star of 2020, £9825
It’s easy to describe BMW’s new-for-2020 F900XR as basically a ‘junior S1000XR’ sport adventure machine but where the S is derived from the S1000R four-cylinder super-naked the F is based on an enlarged version of the F800 twin cylinder roadster – they are styled and named similarly, after all. In truth, though, BMW’s new rival to Yamaha’s best-selling Tracer 900 is far better than that. It’s enlarged twin produces a healthy yet flexible 105bhp. Comfort, handling and versatility are all excellent. It’s well-equipped (with the one-hand adjustable screen and TFT dash standouts) with typically huge BMW potential for commuter accessories (heated grips, top box and more?). It’s got a great badge, manages that elusive blend of being both great fun and practical, should be durable and is decent value as well. It’s got it all, in fact, enough to be one of our stars of 2020, which also makes it potentially a great commuter, too.
Find a BMW F900XR on Auto Trader Bikes now.

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