In my role as a moto-journo, I’ve been extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to ride all the latest and greatest motorcycles from around the world. It’s a great gig if you can get it, but there’s one tiny caveat: there are plenty of bikes not sold to us Yanks in the U.S. of A. The manufacturers have a number of reasons why they don’t sell certain bikes here, but the end result is, despite the unique position I’m in to ride a variety of motorcycles, there are still some bikes I long to throw a leg over. All because I live in America.
Here, then, is my list of the top 10 motorcycles we don’t get in the U.S. – at least not yet. There are far more than 10 bikes to choose from, I know, so in order to keep this list somewhat timely, I’ve chosen to limit my list to 10 current model year bikes not sold in the States. These are all bikes I’ve thought about separately at one point or another, but now that I have compiled these models together, it’s incredible the respective OEMs are withholding some great bikes from us. If you’re a foreign reader looking at this list, be thankful you’ve got some awesome motorcycles available to you.
Without further ado, my list …
10. Yamaha R25
Considering the success of the Kawasaki Ninja 300 and Honda CBR250/300, it’s puzzling why other OEMs aren’t jumping in the small-displacement game. Especially puzzling is Yamaha. It already sells the R25 in the Asian market, and if you ask me, the tuning fork company’s quarter-liter parallel-Twin sportbike looks worlds better than either of its aforementioned Japanese competitors. The perfect jumping off point for the future R6 or R1 owner, little bikes like these are fun, and a part of me is jealous you folks in my ancestral home of Indonesia (and surrounding area) get to enjoy the R25 while I don’t. If any of my relatives back home are reading this, please set up a test ride for me, would ya?
9. KTM Freeride E-XC
Yes, folks, I’m including an electric bike in this mix. I’ve never had a bad time riding a KTM, and I have no reason to believe the Freeride E-XC would let me down. When I see the Freeride E-XC, I feel like I could terrorize the nearest construction zone or public park. And thanks to the nearly silent electric propulsion, nobody would even know I was there. Then, of course, I could ride it in its natural dirt environment and have a ton of fun. Without the need to worry about the controls typically seen on the left side of a motorcycle (clutch and shifter), the E-XC, with its 21 horses and 40 lb.-ft. of instantaneous torque, presents true twist-n-go enjoyment. Alas, I’ll have to rely on our European readers to tell me how it is.
8. Kawasaki W800
I didn’t think it was possible, but of all the OEMs, I think Kawasaki out-Triumph-ed Triumph in making a retro bike. The W800 and its three variants – the standard, Cafe Style and Special Edition models – all look awesome to me. I like the Standard’s simple elegance, with its chromed fenders. The Cafe pulls off the bikini fairing and retro tail section with style, and the Special Edition, with its blacked-out treatment, looks like it came straight from the Ace Cafe. Sure, its 773cc Twin is smaller than the 865cc the Trumpet carries, but with the big classic bike craze going on in this country (Moto Guzzi V7, Suzuki TU250X, Royal Enfield Continental GT, Honda CB1100, Yamaha SR400, just to name a few) it’s a shame Kawasaki is denying all those on the left side of the Atlantic a chance to ride one.
7. Honda CB650F
Honda’s on a roll as late, bringing a flurry of new, affordable models to the masses in an attempt to reinvigorate the moto industry. There are two new 300s, three 500s and a CBR650F, just to name a few. Seems all well and good until a peak around Honda Europe’s website reveals this, a naked (and eye-catching!) version of the aforementioned 650 that, at least so far, isn’t coming to America!. It’s got the same 650cc inline-Four and many of the same components as the CBR650F, but it ditches most of the bodywork to show off the four header pipes that run down and to the right of the bike. Upright bars should give it an even more relaxed riding position than its fully-faired brother, too. Honda America reps, if you’re reading this, please bring this bike here, would ya?
6. Yamaha XJR1300
The vintage theme continues with Yamaha’s XJR1300. With the largest air-cooled four-cylinder currently in production, the 1251cc heart of the XJR is said to reach its peak torque at 6000 rpm. Still, the engine is just one facet of this retro-inspired bike. An obvious throwback to the UJM of old, the XJR deliberately doesn’t fit into any particular category, but instead chooses to do a little bit of everything. I wasn’t alive during the heyday of the UJM, but I’ve heard plenty about them from my dad and my slightly more, ahem, mature, colleagues, and I imagine the XJR would be the modern interpretation of everything those old UJMs embodied. Not to mention I already see countless avenues for customization if I could ever get one in my garage. Yamaha already has a slew of custom options from its parts and accessories catalog. See the XJR1300 Racer for proof.
5. Aprilia SRV 850 scooter
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I love scooters, and the Aprilia SRV 850, which takes its design inspiration from the RSV4 superbike, is so absurd I can’t help but love it. Powered by a huge (in scooter terms) 839cc V-Twin shared with the Mana 850 motorcycle, our European correspondent, Tor Sagen, reports laying down black lines with the rear tire coming out of slow corners during his ride on one. Tor also reported that the SRV would be coming Stateside. That was back in 2012. Two years on and still no SRV in America, so it most definitely earns its place on this list.
4. KTM 690 SMC R
I swayed back and forth between including the 450 SMR or the 690 SMC R to this list, as neither are offered in the States. Ultimately, I chose the latter because its lights, indicators and sidestand make it a street-legal supermoto machine. SM bikes are incredibly fun, but I understand why most OEMs don’t offer one for sale in the States anymore. They serve a rather limited purpose for most folks, and the track-only 450 SMR wasn’t a great seller for the few years it appeared here. I don’t care. The few folks who did buy the 450 surely loved riding, it and I bet the 690 SMC R is no less fun, both on the track and in the canyons. I’d love the chance to get my hands on one.
3. Honda Integra NC750D
Yes, folks, there’s not one, but two scooters on this list! The Honda Integra NC750D (not to be confused with the Acura Integra car, also from Honda, which I once actually owned) just might be the perfect commuting two-wheeler for me. Using a 745cc version of the 670cc parallel-Twin seen in the NC700X and CTX700 we get Stateside, the bigger engine means more power, and who doesn’t love that? I’m a fan of Honda’s Dual Clutch Technology, and having such an option on a scooter – this scooter – really appeals to me. Then of course you have the storage compartment scooters are known for, plus the impressive gas mileage these engines routinely return. It’s likely the bigger displacement will mean a slightly worse mpg figure, but I’m not worried about it. Lastly, look at that picture above. Isn’t that an awesome graphics package?!
2. Benelli BN 600 R
Here’s something a little different and obscure. The Benelli BN 600 R is the boutique manufacturer’s answer to bikes like the Triumph Street Triple and MV Agusta Brutale 675. Built for those who love the naked middleweight category, I’d love to throw one of these around some twisty roads and maybe even a trackday. Those forks look nice and beefy, the brakes authoritative, and that underseat exhaust, while so 2008, still is appealing to me. Powered by a 600cc inline-Four, the screamer of an engine probably likes to rev high and one of these days I hope I get the chance to find out.
1. Kawasaki Z800
Yes, I’m well aware Kawasaki sells the Z1000 in the States, but the Z800 earns the top spot on my list mainly because I’ve actually ridden one, at a racetrack no less, and fell in love with the bike even though it was out of its element. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I like it more than its bigger-displacement sibling. The 806cc inline-Four makes great power, but it’s also nicely complemented by an able chassis and strong brakes. In the battle of middleweight naked bikes in America, which now includes the Suzuki GSX-S750, I think Kawasaki is doing itself a disservice not bringing the Z800 to the table.