For some riders, calling any motorcycle “practical” and “a good value” is like being told your blind date has a “nice personality”: It almost certainly means disappointment is on the way.

But there was a time when bikes with these attributes were plentiful and popular, before flashier bikes with newer technology shouldered them into the also-ran category.

Today, for commuters, beginners, and riders looking for a stablemate for their high-strung weekend warrior, bikes like the [Yamaha][] Seca II are still worth considering.

The Seca’s 599cc air-cooled engine had modest specs—dual overhead cams, two valves per cylinder, 28mm Mikunis, six-speed gearbox—and produced 61 hp at 8,500 rpm.

Although sometimes accused of having a bland powerband, the little four was as happy as a warm puppy at practically any speed, making it easy for beginners to concentrate on other things, like the odometer ticking off the miles; there are scads of XJs running to 50,000 miles with only the most basic maintenance.

Rackety high-mileage engines can often be quieted with a carb synchronization or valve adjustment—mercifully easy given the bike’s shim-over-bucket valve train.

But if the starter spins without turning over the engine, it could be a stripped idler gear that can only be replaced after splitting the cases.