1987-2007 Kawasaki Ninja 500R

Smart Money

By Tim Carrithers, Photography by Kawasaki

Also Smart

2003 | $5030
Harley-Davidson 883
Shown here in celebratory livery commemorating the Motor Company's centennial, America's elemental V-twin is still a bargain. Fast? Sorta. Cool? Again, but generally quite reliable. Ante up a few extra bucks for an '04 or later model and get rubber engine mounts.

2004 | $4885
Honda 599
A great bike saddled with a shocking $7099 sticker, any well-kept 599 is pure value. It's a bit small if you're not. The pipe-rack steel chassis is your friend despite soft, low-rent suspension. That 599cc four is a gem.

2005 | $3455
Suzuki GS500F
Though never a match for Kawasaki's EX500, the 487cc air-cooled two-valve S500E twin soldiered on for years as a dirt-cheap, stone-simple beginner's bike. Better brakes arrived in '96. The F-spec upgrade in '04 added an oil cooler and a GSX-R-look full fairing.

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