There’s no shortage of Japanese machines on the market, but what about some good old fashioned, patriotic, American motorcycles to fawn over instead? With global motorcycle sales flagging, we decided to take a look at some of our home grown industry and see what the best American made motorcycles are. If you’re looking for a list that’s all about Harley-Davidson and Indian Motorcycles products then I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed. Yes, we do have them on the list, but there’s more to the American motorcycle industry than those two names. In fact, while we were searching around for our favorite US manufacturers we were surprised to find that there were more on offer than we first thought.
Now, we know that at a couple of these marques are no longer open for business, but Victory Motorcycles didn’t close down that long ago and their models are still great investments. Polaris will honor warranties and still keep a parts distribution network open and available, and now that the firm has closed its doors, their products are likely to go up in value over the next decade, so now isn’t a bad time to invest. As for EBR…well, there’s no denying that Buell made fantastic motorcycles but investing in one is a gamble.
With the Victory issue covered and a Buell-related disclaimer attached, let’s take a look at some of the best modern American motorcycles that you can go out and buy. While the USA has a long and rich motorcycle-related history, we’re only including relatively recent models in this list: no Crockers, no Cyclones, no Hendersons, and no Excelsiors. This isn’t about old glory, this about the here and now!
10 Awesome Modern American Motorcycles
#10. The Motus MSTR
The Motus MSTR boasts that it is the only American V4-powered sports tourer, and since it doesn’t have any competition, that should be reason alone to feature it on list about American motorcycles – but wait! There’s more. You see, the Motus isn’t just a V4, oh no, it happens to be the world’s fastest production pushrod V4, with 180 horsepower and 126 lb-ft of torque on tap too. It’s fast and powerful, but it’s also comfortable and practical too, with a ride position that won’t leave you crippled for life, and a large 5.5 gallon gas tank that makes it a joy to ride long-distance on.
If you’re not already impressed, then what if we told you that every single Motus machine was hand-built by actual people, and blessed with top of the range parts built from carbon fiber, paired with the best hardware from the likes of Akrapovic, Ohlins, Brembo, Galfer, and Rizoma? The Motus MSTR is an undeniable work of art, but like all fantastic machines, it comes with a large price tag. If you’ve got a spare $36,975, then spend it on one of these amazing American made motorcycles.
#09. The Harley-Davidson Street Bob
There are plenty of Harley-Davidson motorcycles that we could’ve chosen to put on this list, but for the sake of keeping things interesting, we’ve decided to add the new Harley-Davidson Street Bob. As the spiritual successor to the Dyna and also somehow a Softail at the same time, the Street Bob is something of a stranger, but to keep things exciting Harley-Davidson equipped it with their fearsome new Milwaukee-8 1,753cc v-twin engine capable of 110 lb-ft, and wrapped it in an all-new, lighter chassis to give it a sportier edge than you’d ever expect.
The secret to the Street Bob’s sporty nature is the new frame geometry, which allows for some aggressive lean angles, and the fact that the Street Bob isn’t burdened with any unnecessary weight. Stripped down to its core components, and without any plastic fairings and unnecessary steel work as baggage, the Street Bob is quite light on its feet…despite the fact that it still weighs in at a hefty 630 lbs. Is it one of the greatest American motorcycles ever made? Probably not, but with an acceptable price tag of $14,499 it’s definitely worth taking for a ride.
#08. The Victory 8-Ball
Unfortunately, Victory was forced to close its doors back in January of 2017, which was a real shame because they were really starting to make a name for themselves outside of the USA thanks to the effort they were putting into racing in events like Pikes Peak and the Isle of Man. Sadly, the motorcycle industry as a whole has been struggling for the best part of a decade and when Victory’s parent company Polaris needed to tighten their belts, Victory was the first to get the chop.
Despite all that, Victory’s products will live on, and our favorite Victory has to be the 8-Ball model. Powered by a giant 106 cubic inch (1,737 cc) v-twin engine boasting 97 horses and 113 lb-ft of torque, the 8-Ball was easily a fan favorite thanks to its awesome engine and pared down aesthetic and minimalist approach. Take an engine, a smooth transmission, add a single seat, a big front wheel, paint it all black and stick a $12,499 price tag on it – and you’ve got yourself one of the most awesome American motorcycles ever made.
#07. The Lightning LS-218
While the stereotype of American motorcycles definitely leans towards large capacity v-twins, cruiser silhouettes, and gas guzzling fuel economy, there’s a lot more to the US bike industry than is widely believed. “Electric” might be a word that many Americans aren’t quite ready for but did you know that an American motorcycle manufacturer currently builds one of the fastest street-legal production bikes on the market? It’s called the LS-218 and it’s an electric motorcycle that can hit speeds of 218 mph.
Lightning Motorcycles specialize in electric technology, and their flagship Lightning LS-218 sports bike is one of the most interesting electric motorcycles ever made. Claiming an output of more than 200 horsepower, 168 lb-ft of torque, a 0-60 mph time of 2 seconds, and equipped with around 100 miles of useable range per charge, the Lightning LS-218 isn’t just one of the best American motorcycles ever made, it’s actually one of the most interesting production motorcycles ever created. But that kind of innovation comes with a hefty price tag…to the tune of $38,888 in this case.
#06. The Erik Buell Racing 1190RS
The Buell story might not have had the happy ending that we all hoped for, but man, Erik Buell knew how to build a motorcycle – how to run a business, not so much. While the company may have shut its doors for good (and it will stay dead this time) there are still plenty of Buells for sale out there. However, the Buell that we’re putting on this list is worth snapping up in a heartbeat should you see one come on sale: the legendary 1190RS. While it has some Harley-Davidson DNA, the 1190RS is a whole new species of motorcycle.
In short, the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS isn’t just a sports bike, it’s a race bike for the streets. With a 1,190cc liquid-cooled v-twin as its pumping heart, which is capable of producing 175 horsepower and 97 lb-ft of torque, in a package supported by an aluminum frame, with a total dry weight of 389 lbs, you can see why this is one of the most exciting American motorcycles of the past decade. Pristine examples can sell for around $40,000 but you can get a better deal for ones that show a bit of wear and tear.
#05. The Alta Motors Red Shift SM
Based out of California, electric outfit Alta Motors have been making a big impression on the electric bike industry over the last few years and since the release of their awesome MX moto-cross dirt bike the company has gone for strength to strength. Their range of all electric, all American motorcycles has now expanded to include some more road focused models, such as their awesome Super Moto Redshift SM. Boasting WP suspension, Brembo brakes, and a feisty electric power train, this Alta Motors beast should be high up on your “want” list.
At the heart of the Redshift SM is a lightweight Lithium Ion battery that powers a high-speed PMAC motor that allows the Redshift SM to produce a tidy 42 horsepower, 120 lb-ft of torque, and hit a top speed of 80 mph. The range is a little short at 50 miles but thanks to its short full-charge time of 6 hours, it’s quite a practical and versatile machine. As for the price, Alta Motors have given it an MSRP of $13,495 – which is great value considering the parts used and the performance on offer.
Update: Unfortunately, the Alta Motors dream has come to an unexpected end. It’s not the end of the road for their amazing technology though, since BRP have bought up Alta’s assets and there’s rumors that BRP could be exploring two-wheeled models in the near future.
#04. The Indian Scout Bobber
Ever since Polaris took on the Indian name back in 2011, good old Indian has been moving from strength to strength. Having the weight of Polaris behind the name has allowed Indian to return to the center of the American motorcycle stage…perhaps at the expense of Victory, but now that Victory has closed, Indian has had a little more walking around money to play with, and great models like the Indian Scout Bobber have surfaced. And boy is it cool. The new Scout Bobber takes the classic Scout and elevates it to an entirely new level.
Though it comes powered by the usual Scout 1133cc v-twin lump that produces a modest 100 hp and 72 lb-ft at 6,000 rpm, the secret to the Bobber’s awesomeness lies in its aggressive styling. The fenders got the chop, the suspension was lowered, the footpegs were moved into a sportier position, and the tires really give it a fierce-lookin’ road presence. As far as Indian’s models go, the Bobber is easily one of the most visually stunning that the marque has ever produced, and one of the coolest American motorcycles on the market. If you want in on the action, prices for the Indian Scout Bobber start at $11,499.
#03. The Zero SR
Next up, we’ve got another electric motorcycle: the Zero SR. This American built beauty is one of the most popular electric motorcycles currently in production. It doesn’t have the same sex appeal as the Lightning LS-218, and it’s not as rough and ready as the Alta Redshift – but if you’re looking for a quality, trustworthy, reliable and competent machine to ride in real life scenarios, then you can’t go wrong with the Zero SR. Easily available, economical, and built on top of a trustworthy reputation – you can’t go wrong with the Zero SR. But how well does it really perform?
#02. The Rokon Trail Breaker
No list about American motorcycles would be complete without adding this classic to the list. This is the Rokon Trail Breaker, and it has been featured on a wide range of motorcycle related lists ever since lists became popular. Why? Because this little bad boy has been in continuous production since 1963, and has become synonymous with go-anywhere adventure travel ever since. This is the Swiss Army Knife of the motorcycling world.
Powered by a 208cc single cylinder engine that produces 7 hp and hits a top speed of 35 mph, there’s more to this little machine than meets the eye. Boasting an innovative two-wheel drive system that allows it to climb a 60% gradient, tow objects that weigh up to 2000 lbs, and makes the impossible possible, the TrailBreaker is what you need when you’re in a tight spot. To make matters even cooler, the whole package floats should you ever take a spill into deep water, thanks to hollow wheels that can also be used to store water or fuel if you’re really heading into uncharted territory. And how much does this beauty cost? Well, you can pick one up brand new for as little as $7,350.
#01. The Confederate FA-13 Combat Bomber
And finally, we have the most American of American motorcycles: the Confederate FA-13 Combat Bomber. In fact, anything to roll out of Confederate’s Alabama-based factory would be worthy of this list but we’ve decided to include their last ever motorcycle being traded under the “Confederate Motors” banner. For future reference, Confederate have dropped their name in favor of the “Curtiss Motor Company” moniker, and will be trading exclusively in electric motorcycles from here on out thanks to a partnership with Zero Motorcycles. So lets take a look at the last ever Confederate: the FA-13 Combat Bomber.
While the FA-13 Combat Bomber might look like it follows the same Confederate blueprint that starts with a billet-alloy monocoque frame, an exquisitely engineered cantilever front suspension system, a powerful riding stance, all wrapped together in dark but delightful military chic but it has something rather special up its sleeve. This is the most powerful Confederate machine ever made, with a grand total of 150 horsepower at the engine’s disposal. All that extra power comes at a price, and if you want to own one of these limited-edition rare machines, you have to be prepared to part with no less than $155,000. Expensive? Yes. Instantly collectible? Definitely. One of the finest American motorcycles ever made? Without a doubt. Will we ever own one? Highly unlikely.
Current American Motorcycle Brands
There are more American motorcycle manufacturers out there than you think! Of course, if you were asked to name a couple, you’d easily be able to think of Indian and Harley Davidson motorcycles, but what if you were asked to name more? How many could you guess?
If you need some help, we’ve put together a short list of the biggest American motorcycle companies out there. This list doesn’t include defunct brands like Victory, or Brammo – just brands that still exist and continue to manufacturer a decent amount of motorcycles for sale in the United States.
Arch Motorcycle Company
Harley Davidson Motorcycle Company
Z Electric Vehicles