The Most Desirable Motorcycles Not Sold In America

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The Most Desirable Motorcycles Not Sold In America

2014 Yamaha XJR1300
2014 Yamaha XJR1300

2014 Yamaha XJR1300

When I see poor souls bumbling about on you-know-what cruisers, I can’t help but think that what they really wanted was a retro-style muscle bike like this or the CB1300, but Big Marketing just pulled the wool over their eyes to such a degree that they got a bike without handling, brakes or comfort instead. I mean, this thing gives you easily accessible and equally impressive straight-line performance paired with actual control and capability, all in a package that won’t work to compress your vertebrae over each and every road imperfection. Plus, all the air (and oil)-cooled character you can shake a stick at. It’s even suitably oversized, you know, so you feel manly. Seriously, can someone give us a genuine explanation as to why all Americans don’t ride one of these? One which doesn’t involve cowboys and western horse saddles, please.

2014 Yamaha Tricker
2014 Yamaha Tricker

2014 Yamaha Tricker

You know what American kids definitely wouldn’t want?Definitely not the same kids obsessed with skating and fixies and mountain bikes? They definitely wouldn’t want a light, simple, affordable bike that’d be equally at home jumping curbs, tackling a skate park or hitting trails in the mountains. No, all that sounds awful.

2014 Yamaha XT660Z Tenere
2014 Yamaha XT660Z Tenere

2014 Yamaha XT660Z Tenere

Ok, bear with me while I describe the most undesirable bike in the world. It’s got the comfort and luggage-carrying ability of the big ADV bikes, but thanks to an all-up weight of just 460 lbs, it’s actually enjoyable and easy to ride off-road. It’s also equipped with a proven, reliable engine, modern styling and decent suspension and brakes, as well as real off-road wheels and tires. Why would you want something like that when everyone knows you need at least a 636 lbs bike to park outside Starbucks with any sort of self respect?

2014 Kawasaki Versys 1000
2014 Kawasaki Versys 1000

2014 Kawasaki Versys 1000

The Ninja 1000 and Z1000 are great bikes, but how does the same engine housed in a taller, more spacious, more distance-capable, more passenger-friendly package sound? Then why we don’t get it here?

2014 Kawasaki Estrella
2014 Kawasaki Estrella

2014 Kawasaki Estrella

Just look at this pretty little bike and its 250cc, air-cooled single. I’m not even going to attempt sarcasm or humor here, we don’t get this bike in America because motorcycle consumers here think a 600cc supersport is a starter bike and anything under 1,300cc is for wimps. We don’t use bikes as transportation and we insist on holding on the ideal that we’re rugged individualists riding down desert highways in pursuit of adventure even though the vast majority of us live in congested cities and rarely travel at over 55 mph or have the chance to take long trips. We don’t want small bikes even though the average level of riding ability among motorcyclists is in need of improvement. We don’t want affordable bikes because we’re indoctrinated into a lifestyle of debt. Crushing, crippling debt that leaves average young people unable to try anything new, new stuff like getting a bike for practical, city transportation. That’s why we don’t get pretty little bikes like the Estrella or, in fact, most of the other stuff on this list. Humph.

Should Wes put away his violin or do you agree that some things need to change? Out of all the bikes listed, if we could only have one, which should it be?

  • Jose Manuel

    I vote for the xj1300 and the ST XT660Z

  • Jon B.

    What about the Kaw. W800?

    • Larry

      Every time this comes up, there’s a chorus of cries for the W…would somebody please send this link to whoever is in charge of importing for Kawasaki? The W650 is a sought after classic, the 800 will sell.

  • Joshua Winn

    Suzuki Van Van

    • Brian

      wasn’t there a dressed up version of that bike that came with adventure camping tools like a shovel or pick axe or something? I recall seeing that and thinking it was pretty durned cool.

      • gregory

        You’re talking about the Yamaha XTW 250 Ryoku: what an awesome beast.

        It’s based on the Yamaha TW 200… and then they turned it up to eleven.

        • Brian

          I recalled that one after looking at the images of it, but I also think Suzuki did something similar a couple years ago for the Tokyo Cycle show, and I seem to recall it was blue. Maybe it wasn’t built on the Van Van chassis, but the SV chassis. I do recall it being pretty cool and wild and aggressive.

    • Guzzto

      My girlfriends bike is a van van it’s ridiculous fun 125 with 180 rear dirt tyre. Makes me smile every time I steal it.

    • Piglet2010

      Yammie TW200 uses the same tire sizes as the Van Van.

  • zedro

    XJR and baby Tenere. I’m sure the Tenere would eat the old KLRs and DRs and XRs, having been designed this century.

    • Twin Verb

      Amen. That Tenere… weeping.

  • Rich Wentz

    They should at least send a few over just to see how it goes . Id love sometjing like a CB1300 or that Suzuki GSX1200ss.

  • George Herbert

    oh that CB400! do want.

    • Dennis Hightower

      Luckily you can have the 400, but in 599…unfaired looks just like the CB599F (Hornet).

      • Charles Quinn

        The 400 is built better than the Hornet and most other bikes on the road.

        • John Tiedjens

          I own a 919 and it never ceases to put a smile on my face. I never rode a 599 but if it’s anything like it’s big brother it’s awesome.

          • dreygata

            I love my 599. From what I understand, it’s not as wheelie happy as the 919, but parked next to the 919, there is barely a difference other than just bigger engine.

            • John Tiedjens

              It’s just a really well designed and comfortable bike. As for wheelies… it will but that’s not where it shines…. rampant , comfortable fun in the twisties…. that’s the money!

              • Dennis Hightower

                Nice choice with the Micron..

              • dreygata

                I completely agree. If they weren’t so expensive from being imported from Italy, I believe that they would have done much better over here.

                • John Tiedjens

                  They weren’t expensive … I mean I paid 8665.00 out the door. I thought that was pretty reasonable for a brand new.

    • Bill T

      I am currently riding a CB450sc and I love it. Would love it more with FI, ABS, and better suspension. If the price is no more than a $1000 over the CB500x and abs is an option, sign me up. CRF250M is my second choice.

  • Dennis Hightower

    That Suzuki GS1200SS… hits both the 80s superbike and classic British enduarance racer vibes… and they painted it the right color too.

  • Reid

    Dude. That Yamaha XJR1300 and the Honda CB1300 is what I wished a Kawasaki Z1000 looked like. My dad is kind of a big guy and he’d look silly on any of this current crop of wildly styled sporty-standards. He likes to go fast and I want him to actually survive a corner (he’s a better rider than me anyway) and those two bikes would be just his style! NO FAIR.

    • Ken Lindsay

      Those could be 800s and they would still be uber desireable!

      • Reid

        I totally agree with both of these statements, gentlemen. It’s my earnest desire that someday the major manufacturers (and that includes Triumph, to be honest) builds a smaller, significantly lighter version of a “UJM-style” bike with a slightly detuned supersports engine. That mean, tough UJM style, backed up by modern tech and componentry and more manageable weight, is what immediately comes to my mind when I think of my ideal motorcycle. In fact, if money were no object I’d pay some big-time custom shop to swap my Duke’s LC4 into some kind of UJM look-alike just to get that look.

    • IRS4

      My 2001 FZ-1 filled that bill pretty well, of being a modern muscle UJM. without too much retro.

  • Marc

    Great article. Great choices. Let’s hope the MFGs (or more accurately, their North American marketing departments) take note.

    • John Tiedjens


  • roma258

    Yamaha Tricker looks like stupid fun!

    • wbizzle

      Agreed. I thoroughly enjoyed Wes’s comments concerning this moto as well. When my son is old enough to ride something like that, I will be encouraging him to do so.

    • Cecil-T

      Check out the 2014 XT250, pretty close to the same thing with slightly different plastics and front fender.

      • Khali

        And an actual gas tank!!! Very interesting.

        As the Yamaha Tricker is quite hard to buy here second hand (and impossible new), I searched for similar bikes…this are the most similar I could find. Maybe one of them is sold in the US?

        - Rieju Tango 250

        - Beta ALP 4.0 – Suzuki DR350 engine

        - Beta ALP 200

        - GasGas Pampera 250

      • roma258

        That does look similar, same engine/frame? My current ride is the Kawi Super Sherpa, so I appreciate a small ds, some proper suspension and a fuel injection would be nice…

        • Cecil-T

          I’m not certain, but yeah that engine/frame/exhaust look pretty much identical to me. Not far off of your Kawi though.

  • Richard Kulp

    Out of these twelve bikes I would ride 11 and seriously consider purchasing 8 of them. I would REALLY like to have that VFR. I love you America, but sometimes, I hate you America.

    • C Mad

      Agreed. Hopefully they will bring it over next year. In a perfect world they would add some USD forks and gear driven cams but one can only dream….

  • Jack Norton

    So glad we get (almost) all of these in little old Straya – had no idea the US missed out. Sorry guys!

    • stever


  • OOG

    Where’s the Super Cub? It should be on this list.

  • El Isbani

    Makes me feel cool for riding the heck out of a 250 knowing that much of the world is on my level

  • Charles Quinn

    A couple of these we don’t even get in Australia, but the absence of the rest in the US is a mystery. Of all of them I’d say the biggest misses are the CB1300 and Super Four, and the XJR. Those are pure motorcycle, no bullshit, timeless and beautifully put together.

    • Guy

      I can agree about the Japanese muscle bikes. I get to ride the XJR when I visit family in Hong Kong and it’s a wonderful beast. I wish my only option close to it wasn’t a used Kawasaki ZRX. The CB400 is a favourite among Hong Kongers as they are rock solid reliable, absolutely riotous to ride when you want, smooth when you don’t, and has tons of aftermarket support. If I could see more of ANY Honda on that list, I’d like to see loads of CB400s here. They fit everyone and nearly every job you throw at it without feeling chintzy.


    I would like to see this VFR 800 in Brazil

  • Twin Verb

    That 660 Tenere is breaking my heart….

    • wbizzle


    • webbiker

      I had the Tenere for 2 years. It was a great bike and I kind of regret selling it, but I don’t thing it does anything that the KLR can’t. (Which we in Europe don’t get) The ten is a bit top heavy especially when filled up and it is not very light (215 kg) either considering the relatively low power. Still a nice bike though.

      • Twin Verb

        So basically, it’s not the perfect DS we have all been waiting to hit the US. If there is such a thing. Might have to stuff that Kaw 650 parallel twin in a KLR then. ;)

        • 80-watt Hamster

          Been done by a few enterprising souls, but it doesn’t fix the heavy (the chief complaint I seem to hear about KLRs).

        • Morty

          There is a guy in Texas that will do that for you if you bring him a Versys and a KLR ….just do a search on forum .

  • Scott Vogt

    When I heard that yamaha was bringing over the tenere north america I was so excited. I was very seriously considering buying one. But instead they brought over the 1200 belly dragging super tenere. I was disappointed. But i bought a Kawasaki KLX 650 as a project and it turned into a great bike/ project. Pretty close in comparison as well i think

  • Twin Verb
  • carbureted

    I have owned a 2000 CB400SF Vtec for five years now. It is an absolutely fantastic motorcycle. It can lane split with the thinnest scooters, yet it has enough power to be fun if you take it out into the mountains. It is comfortable for long trips, and it easily carries a passenger. The engine is bulletproof, and the bike has a quality feel only found in a Honda. I’ll be so sad when I am eventually forced to part with it.

    Wes is right. Motorcycles with big power are great fun, but they’re not always necessary.

  • John Tiedjens

    OMG Really? There isn’t a bike on this list that doesn’t scream well done! The CB1300…. YES PLEASE and immediately!… WTH… is the US market just so limited to heavy Vtwin chromed out John Deere tractors that these manufactures would not even bother bringing these to the states? If that’s the case…..I’m embarrassed beyond words. Even that little Yamaha curb popper is way cool… street legal urban trials bike. Way to put it out there Yamy!

    • Reid

      Tractors are cooler than the perpetually banal crop of rolling Viagra-cycles that constitutes the chromed out cruiser market.

      • John Tiedjens

        Well you may have me on the comparo…. I actually own a New Holland Diesel for work on my acreage and it’s far more enjoyable to be on than a 750lb air cooled Vtwin.

        • Reid

          My father and late grandfather are farmers, so there were always plenty of tractors around growing up – big tractors – and I can honestly say that nothing other than shooting a very powerful firearm or getting in a fight and winning will make someone feel an overwhelming sense of power like working in the field with a tractor. Manliest thing ever. I imagine that being a fighter pilot or driving a tank might surpass it.

          • John Tiedjens

            Haha so true. No matter what work I have to do with mine I never tire of spending hours on it. And the things you can accomplish are staggering.

            • Reid

              New Holand Blue is such a nice color. Cool ride, sir. Stay warm :)

  • Brian

    for years, the Honda Africa Twin, was the object of some of my lust.

  • Michael

    Honda is the only brand that provides a few options, in the USA, for those looking for bikes that make economic sense: Rebel, CBR250R, CBR500R, CB500F, and CB500X. Suzuki: only TU250 and GW250 (both are hideous looking and offer just one displacement class). Kawasaki: only Ninja 300 (just one displacement class). Yamaha: only V-STAR 250 and a few sub-250cc dual sport bikes (essentially one displacement class). Triumph: nothing? Ducati: nothing? BMW: nothing? Me personally, I insist that a motorcycle make economic sense: cost less than $6K new, and achieve more than 70 mpg fuel economy. Lastly, a motorcycle cannot weigh much more than 400 pounds. Hopefully soon more motorcycle manufacturers will realize that with new economic realities in the USA: economic motorcycles will indeed sell here. We need more 400cc to 500cc (70mpg) options here in the USA!

    • Ryan Mayo

      I’m in Canada (Manitoba to be specific) and anything that looks somewhat sporty (ie not a cruiser or adventure bike) over 500cc is going to start at $1900 a year to insure, it’s just’s too much. Buying older doesn’t give you much of a break on insurance either. And there were very few good >500cc options that were desirable that you can actually take on the highway for more than 60min.

      Thank god for the new CB500s, I’m getting an X in the spring, and cannot be happier.

      • Michael

        I got a call from my local dealer two nights ago. They got the 2014 Honda CB500F, I ran over and bought it. They charged me $700 in fees above MSRP but this bike is rare and it just arrived. So, I allowed them to rip me off. I like the bike so far but it is a bit top-heavy and is difficult to shift down to first at a stoplight. I have to wiggle the bike back and forth a few times to shift down to first while stopped.

        • hunkyleepickle

          you should be in first as you come to a stop…..just a tip.

    • Justin McClintock

      You totally ignored the DRZ lineup. If you want practical/economical, those are pretty hard to argue against.

      BTW, you totally shugged off the Yamaha WR250X, but it basically meets all your requirements. Sure, it’s only 250cc, but it’s FI, barely over 300 lbs. and costs only a tick over $6K. And that’s a very strict set of requirements given only a handful of bikes top 70 mpg and the dollar ain’t worth that much anymore.

  • Larry

    Never get tired of this topic, great list, quite a few models I’ve never even heard of. But what about…

    Honda VTR250

    Honda Transalp…because that Vstrom650 was a total bust for Suzuki I guess:

    Kawasaki TR250

    Suzuki TU250 Grass Tracker

    And don’t cry too much over the Versys 1000. They sell them in Canada and besides being arguably the ugliest bike on the market, the front end is not all it could be. It’s just the worst option in the oversized ADV bike class, if an oversized ADV bike is what you’re after. The Ninja 1000 is much better choice.

    We also get the CBF1000 in Canada, for now…underpowered compared to the Ninja but a great bike…logically they should sell boatloads of these but there are still 2012 models kicking around up here…North Americans fucking suck.

    • JordanH

      Be still my heart.

    • ookla_the_mok

      Amen, brother Larry.
      On my personal list, this is number one.
      They used to be sold in the US – I had one that was circa ’88? Loved that little thing.

    • Flying Couch

      Would rather have the naked version of the VTR. If they sold that here, I would’ve bought one instead of my CBR250.

    • RyYYZ

      Agreed on the Versys. On paper it sounds like just what I wanted, but even I, the owner of an ’02 DL1000 Vstrom, find it just too ugly. I’ve also heard that it has rather vague front-end feedback. Also, like the new DL1000, or the CBF1000 pictured above (another one I’ve considered), the list price is just too high for what you get, IMO. Or maybe just more than I wanted to spend on this type of bike. Speaking of the current generation CBF1000, why couldn’t Honda have offered it in some decent colors? 2011 it was only available in an eye-searing yellow-gold. And then the 2012 only in white. Neither are anything like my favorite bike colors (please, give me red, or black, or blue, or silver, or grey)

      • Larry

        Actually, I just noticed that Honda Canada is offering a whopping 4 grand off of list for the CBF…$9k, if you can find one. I might have to do that, even if it does only come in Norwegian-Cop White. It’s down 40hp on the Ninja 1000 and no TC…but $5k in your pocket vs $1k tips it towards Honda I think, esp given my sub-Marquez skill-set.

        • RyYYZ

          Yeah, there’s the problem – finding one. I tried to buy one off Dewildt Honda last year. A demo iirc. I think they wanted 10500 including fees and basically wouldn’t budge. Wasn’t quite good enough of a deal, even though last year’s discount wasn’t quite as much. Let me know if you find one, lol.

    • Bad Kev

      Is that a 250 Honda with a trellis frame and a v-twin?!? As a Monster owner, that thing is AWESOME.

    • Shawn Poorman

      I almost cried when I bought the cbr250r. Would take the twin cylinder, naked vtr over it any day!

  • Aaron

    Kawasaki Z800, Honda CB600R, Yamaha MT-07, XJ6, FZ-6N, FZ-1N

    • Reid

      Z800 would have been my bike if it was sold here. I come from a Kawasaki family, and it hurt my old man’s heart a little when I bought a non-Kawi.

      • Aaron

        I’m a hondaless Honda guy. I know how you feel. It’s a shame that all of the naked bikes pass us by. 600cc I4 naked.

        • Reid

          I love my KTM – love it to death – but I feel like if I had a Kawasaki that embraced lightness in the same way and retained a restrained or conservative sense of style without sacrificing dynamic performance I’d be all over it. A Triumph Street Triple (the last-generation ones with the round headlights) came as close as achieving my ideal for a modern sporting standard, but I’m not ready for 100+ hp and these news ones look terrible.

          • Aaron


  • Don Fraser


  • KyleandInhye Allen

    I had a Honda CB400 while a missionary in Thailand – would love to have another and its bigger brother and my biggest dream bike the CB 1300. Amazing quality, all day go, commuting, cornering, and long trips into the mountains, jungles and even up dirt roads (the 400) to refugee camps it handled itself well. Even 2 up riding was doable or getting over 100mph without buzziness. Google asian sites for CB400 and you’ll discover a cult following and so many add ons, aftermarket loveliness and real pride. Also had a 2003 VFR and loved it — perfect everything and hope they bring that back (1200 was monsterous)

    Other (defunct) bike that should be on the list:
    Honda Africa Twin
    Honda Transalp
    Yamaha TDM

  • Richard Gozinya

    There’s also the Moto Guzzi Bellagio, a bike built to go after the Sportster, at least in Europe. Supposedly, and not surprisingly, it does absolutely everything better than a Sportster. And we never did get any of the Voxans, which is kind of a moot point now, since they’ve gone out of business.

  • Justin Henry

    i’ll take the cb1300, please.

  • Rameses the 2nd

    CB1300, GS1200SS, and XJR1300 look dated. Are there any bikes that are only available in the US, i.e., only sold here?

  • Mykola

    I was getting ready to type angry pointed words when I didn’t see the XJR by the end of page one, but the top of page two is a good spot for that machine.
    You can get a new CB1100F (which is a beautiful bike in person, don’t get me wrong) or *try* to get a used ZRX1200, but the choices here in the states are still lacking.

  • RideaTart

    The CB400 so obviously hits a sweet spot for sensible transportation, it has Goldilocks written all over it. Even the CB500, humble though it be, is more than most people require for getting around.

  • Ken Lindsay

    I’ve mentioned this before, but it wouldn’t be nice if the manufactures would make all bikes CARB/DOT compliant so you could pay in advance and order whatever you like? This way, they don’t have to worry about an unsold bike and we get to have the bike you lust after. If you could wait, you wouldn’t have to pay much extra for shipping since it could come with the regular shipments to the states, or you could pay for priority shipping to get it here early… Win-win!

    • stever

      America could also quit being stupid and work with other countries to have standard requirements.


  • Michael Howard

    And most buyers aren’t “tricked” into buying them. They buy HDs because, for better or worse, that’s what they actually want. I say that as a rider who will probably never own an HD because “image” and “style” mean almost nothing to me compared to function and practicality.

    • 80-watt Hamster

      I’ll agree that the H-D bashing can get tiresome, but people actually want H-Ds largely because they’ve been tricked into wanting H-Ds. They have merits: Excellent finish, at least partially domestically produced, good resale value, dead stable and even possibly comfortable on the open road. Also, one can’t quite keep down a silly little grin when cracking the throttle on a Big Twin. But the list of shortcomings is much longer, and well-documented. Though in fairness, this applies to any cruiser, but since any cruiser is imitating H-D anyway, that’s where the criticism eventually lands. As the best-selling brand in the land, one would expect to find them every time you turn around in riding weather. And to an extent, that’s true (particularly Sunday afternoons), but not to the degree that the sales numbers suggest. As a predominantly urban society, the lions share of these bikes will necessarily live in bigger towns and cities, exactly where they (Sportster excepted) make the least sense. Hence the number of garage ornaments and low-mileage examples on the used market. They’re trophies; an attempt to associate with an image that The Motor Co. has sold with astonishing skill.

      • Reid

        You nailed it.

        • RideaTart

          I tend to aline myself with those who think the popularity of H-D’s can’t be justified by objective “what is a good motorcycle” criteria. But, that said, the argument that H-D sales are the reason some or all of these bikes aren’t in the US is tenuous, a leap of faith (or lack of faith) at best, resting on a number of assumptions that may or may not be true. So the H-D bashing here seems kind of gratuitous, which is not to say I didn’t enjoy it just the same.

      • Michael Howard

        Most people buy HDs because they’re after the “image”. It’s a status symbol. They want to feel “cool”. They want to recapture ‒ or have for the first time ‒ the feeling of being part of the “in” crowd. The HD “lfiestyle” gives them that. There’s no “trick” involved.

        • 80-watt Hamster

          There’s absolutely a trick, more than one, and the fact that you don’t see it as a trick is why it works. The big one is the more subtle: the notion that one can buy into a lifestyle. This one’s not on Harley; our whole culture sells it on every level. To an extent it works, at least superficially, hence Harley’s success. Their part of the trick was convincing people that their product was the gateway to the lifestyle and image that they themselves have a big hand in promoting. A nice self-sustaining bit of sleight-of-hand.

          • Michael Howard

            If giving sheep what they think they want is a trick, so be it, it’s a trick. But I know quite a few people who thought HD’s were “cool” and lusted for one (ie, “One of these days…”) long before The Motor Company started pushing The Lifestyle.

  • RideaTart

    The Tricker and the FTR . . . I didn’t even know they existed. I would own at least one, maybe both, they look like an absolute blast.

  • Michael Howard

    Maybe we’d get more bikes like these in the States if, instead of putting them on lust lists, we’d actually buy them. The reason Japan doesn’t sell them here is because, time and again, we prove to them that we don’t buy standards, especially small-displacement standards, and, really, small displacment anything. Yeah, things may be starting to turn around (CBR250, Ninja 300, Honda CB500, etc.) but until we prove to them that these kinds of bikes WILL sell here, they’re going to limit them to markets they know WILL buy them.

    • Stuki

      It is partly a dysfunction of the certification in the distribution system here in the US. I doubt even a Japanese exec genuinely believes there are fewer potential customers for a VFR in population 300mill America, than in population 300,000 Iceland. But, as in every other venue in America these days, it’s not enough for someone competent enough to put together a valuable product, to find someone willing to make it worth his while. In addition, several armies of professional leeches, with zero competence at doing anything useful with their pathetic little lives period, have successfully managed to insert themselves in between any such two parties; demanding their tribute. Ensuring anything with less sales potential than the latest Electraglide is pretty much a non starter.

      • Piglet2010

        Yes, in most cases replacing independently owned dealers with a manufacturer owned network would be an improvement, but is legally impossible in the current environment.

        Of course, the main reason this country is going downhill is too many people getting a share of the pie without contributing anything useful (and I am *not* referring to people on public assistance, which is a drop in the bucket by comparison).

        • 2wheelsgood

          Man ! You guys make it sound like it’s not fun buying a new car from a dealer

  • zion

    I absolutely love pretty much each of these bikes. As a, ahem, more “seasoned” age of rider, quite a few appeal to my memories of bikes gone by.

    That said, though, I’m kind of over the whole culture of bashing H-D. It’s a two way street. If we want the “chrome beast jockeys” to embrace everyone on two wheels, we need to do the same. One humorous shot in the article would’ve been fine, but it got kind of heavy. Just my overly politically correct two cents. ;)

    • Riedl

      You can always tell who wrote the article by the obscene amount of HD and now apparently general USA bashing.

  • William Connor

    Very drool worthy bikes. Not a single one I would not own, and ride often. Uhh except the scooter.

  • Clint Keener

    When I visited Japan last year, all I did was check out motorcycle shops and bikes on the street. So awesome.

    That Suzuki GS1200 is so rad.

  • Zamboni9

    I have always wanted a Tenere! Not super, the regular version.

    • Khali

      I think the tenere is a bit…ugly (just a mater of tastes). Maybe you have Access to Yamaha XT660R, it should be more or less the same bike, just with more traditional off-road aesthetics. Or Aprilia Pegaso Trail. Same engine, and same kind of off-road aesthetics as the XT.

  • Stuki

    Neat enough bikes, I guess. Heavy, 1300cc nakeds really aren’t my thing; and neither are flimsy retro nakeds unsuitable for freeway duty or luggage carrying. We do get the CB1100 here, which trumps the lot of these as fasr as I’m concerned.

    I really miss the 400s. Even more so if Honda could put one of those motors in an upspec permutation of that FTR flat tracker……

    As long as we get the 650 ‘Strom, the KLR, the DR, the 690 Enduro, the 800GS and S10, I can’t say the 660 Tenere would be filling a huge gap here.

    The VFR kinda would, but it really is a bit of an overpriced, overweight anachronism by now, as far as functionality is concerned. Shamu is a better bike in every way, except to ride…..:) And it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to make a better universal riding tool than the 800 Viffer, by simply shaving off 100lbs of weight.

    And if people on both sides weren’t so invested in fanning the Harley vs Not flames, perhaps the Motor Company would realize there is a market for retro looking flat trackers here as well; just with a somewhat larger and more Iconic (in the US) engine…..

    • Justin McClintock

      Harley tried with the XR1200. It failed, rather miserably. I’d contend that they didn’t exactly try very hard, and that was part of the problem. But they tried nonetheless.

      • BillW

        And before the XR1200 there was the FXDX (“sporty” Dyna), and of course, Buell. I think a big problem here is that H-D dealers have no idea how to sell these bikes, or even how to relate to the type of customer that is interested in them. Likewise, the customers who are interested in a sportier ride feel alienated by the typical H-D dealership stuffed with shiny customs and touring bikes and acres of “Genuine Motor Clothes.” I think Buell would have been more successful if they’d had separate dealerships, especially once they got the Rotax engines.

  • Chris Reedy

    How about the CRF250M? Same bones as the RA favorite CRF250L but with a set of 17′s and street tires. Plus it looks like this…

  • nomad2495

    just sell em all here- Why make things slightly more complicated and keep us from all the fun?

  • FastPatrick

    I will still waste an hour every so often looking for a CB-1, the 1989-1990 US version of the CB400. Loved that machine on sight and am dangerously close to grabbing the next decent non-racer I find. Wish we had the new one, tho.

    Also, you want bikes for transportation, look down in Mexico. Yamaha sells a flock of small-motored bikes that would be fantastic rides for students and the like.

  • Garrett Nelson

    The KTM Freeride is a pretty cool bike. We don’t get it yet, but I’m hoping someday. Never heard of the GS1200SS, but it looks damn Amazing!!! Is the Suzuki name stamped into the tank?! Its officially on my dream bike list!

  • gregory

    I’d go for the Yamaha SR 400… or the Kawasaki Estrella… but, then again, I like that look.

    I already own a Yamaha YBR 125 Custom and a Daelim Q3 so I can’t _really_ justify a third bike, can I?

  • gregory

    As well as the Honda FTR, check out the Honda Benly 90 S, the Honda GB 250, 400 or 500, the Suzuki Grass Tracker, the Honda CB 400 SS and the Honda VTR 250. All are very, very awesome.

  • UrbanMoto

    Wow. So much to like here. That GS…damn.

    I had a Tenere ebay alert for the past several years and I’ve seen exactly one non-Super come up for sale. Someone had brought one to the US from Australia or someplace.

    One dumb question: Is it as difficult (impossible?) to bring into the US newer foreign bikes as it is newer cars?

  • Chris

    I’m convinced the Japanese companies collude to not compete against each other in certain market segments. That transalp proves it.

  • E Brown

    In the words of the philosopher Dwayne Johnson: It doesn’t matter. Moto enthusiast forums go on about these bikes, but the effed-up mentality of most of the US market isn’t going to change any time soon, so there’s no point in bringing these bikes over to languish in showrooms unsold. Hardly any of the bikes listed are brand new models/types – most have previous versions we ignored when they WERE sold here. We don’t get the W800 because maybe 5 guys bought the W650, for example.

    • Piglet2010

      Yes, importing these bikes would be putting pearls before (Lite “beer” drinking) swine, who would rather pay $20K+ for a H-D FOMGWTFBBQ Fat Man cruiser with Screaming Beagle “upgrades”.

  • 2wheelsgood

    Too many factors need to change in the U.S. for all these bikes to come here. Mostly it is that bikes are primarily toys in this country, not transportation.

    The high end of our market is taken by American cruisers and European bikes. The Japanese makers have no history of pricey bikes here.

    You can get some similar bikes like these here now, the Estrella is like the TU250, the Versys is like the new DL1000. Any of the new Honda 500′s would be a better choice than the SR400.

    As for which bike to choose of these, there are some nice ones, but how about the Honda CB650F ( ). Offer it with ABS as well, another practical item removed for a lower msrp here.

    • appliance5000

      Goldwings aren’t being given away and the yamaha wr250x is 6000+ – there are expensive Japanese bikes but they give you a lot for your money.

      • 2wheelsgood

        Very true, there are exceptions.

        In the UK, Japanese bikes sell for very similar prices to their BMW and Ducati counterparts due to tariffs. Sales would probably be different here if pricing were like the UK. The Japanese importers would probably bring more models like the ones in this article.

        On the plus side we get lower priced Japanese bikes, but less variety and options like ABS removed.

      • BillW

        And the WR250X has been dropped from Yamaha’s 2014 lineup (although the dual-sport R is still there, and still pricey).

  • Justin Turner

    What would be the logistics of getting a bike on this list into the USA? Does the DOT forbid it? What is keeping people from importing a bike from a country where bikes are priced lower to match local wealth? Hellish tariffs? Registration problems? Honestly curious.

    • stever

      California forbids the registration of foreign bikes dated prior to I think 1979, forever. The only gray market for motorcycles in California is for old bikes. Don’t believe me? Call CARB.

      • Justin Turner

        I only call acronym’ed orgs if I really have to, I’ll take your word for it.

    • 80-watt Hamster

      I think there’s a way to import Canadian models, at least if they’ve done EPA cert, which they sometimes do even on models they don’t necessarily plan to release. ISTR a member or two on importing V1000s. Could be wrong.

    • Rig P

      You would never be able to register one made in recent history without jumping through some difficult hurdles. Its not worth it unless you intend to only use it on a racetrack.

  • michaelse

    Wow, I love the looks of that FTR. Are there any bikes sold domestically (from 1980+) that have similar looks, size, and ergos?

    • Justin McClintock

      Love the looks but….Honda put that same engine in it’s little motard for a while. They couldn’t give them away. Might be one of the most gutless engines ever put in a US street bike post-1980.

      Give that same styling to a Yamaha SR400 (as many custom shops have done) and then you’d REALLY have something.

  • DSquared

    Gotta tell you the XTZ 660 is one fine all round bike, rodeone around western NSW & SA Australia for 10 days, got the iron but award for most klms in a day (850 Clare to Cobar) and rescued my mates one from a flooding river and it was up and going once flushed and dry. Brilliant road bike too.

  • augustdaysong

    I’ve never heard of the Tricker or FTR before, they are really nice. How about the Honda Crosstourer? Adventure bike using the same v4 as the VFR1200F. Or are we getting that?

    • Wes Siler

      God, I hope they don’t import that. Makes all the same mistakes Shamu does — toooooo muuuuuccccchhhhhhh weeeeiiiiggggghhhhhhhtttttttt.

    • Justin McClintock

      We’ve got plenty of better options than that…thing.

    • Hooligan

      Ahh the Crosstourer, the winner of the most pointless motorbike award for the last few years. Ugly, overweight and one of Mr Hondas few great failures. Hardly ever see them on the roads. Had one for a loan bike for an hour while my STR was getting a Ohlins rear shock fitted. Could not wait to give it back. The Tiger 800 trounces it hands down in every respect. As far as America goes, as many people say until you see bikes as a form of transportation rather than a fashion statement you will not get the good ones. And as far as Harley’s go well the other day I dropped by a friend who is a bike mechanic, he was rebuilding a 04 Harley after it had done 40,000 miles. I was on my 04 Honda Hornet which has simular miles on it and the engine is still like a Swiss watch.

  • tobykeller

    While I know it’s a bummer these aren’t available, I’m genuinely curious whether there’s anywhere else in the world that offers a comparable variety of bikes plus the incredibly low taxes on imports that the US enjoys. Seriously, you guys have it so made…

    • Paul Cypert

      This is true, particularly in the big bike category. Anything not made in Thailand for example sells in BKK for 2-3X the MSRP of USA. I’ve seen some bikes with as much as a 5X markup. But we’ve got scooters for days!

      • tobykeller

        Yep, I’m in Chiang Mai. The flip side of that: I’m also curious why Honda doesn’t sell any of their budget Asian scoots in the US. Just the upmarket PCX and the Ruckus, which is half the displacement and twice the price of a Scoopy… kids in cities and in CA would buy $1500 Scoopys en masse, methinks.

        • Paul Cypert

          Yeah, I think the styling of the ZoomerX would go over well in the city. And if only the US could get Thailand’s Grom pricing…1K less!

  • chris ordanez

    I’m a fan of Suzuki’s GS’s and I had no clue that the GS 1200SS even existed.

    It’s also a shame that the GSX 1400 was never brought to the States.

  • Yasen Hristov

    Hey! A guy from Europe here.
    I have another suggestion to your list – why not include the TDM 900? Parallel twin, lots of torque, good brakes, decent suspension and low gas bills…:

    • Justin McClintock

      I think the Transalp and the TDM probably didn’t make the list as well have viable alternatives to them. Many on this list, we just don’t.

  • Core
  • Guzzto

    I had a 2004 version of the gs1200ss looks exactly the same , here in NZ they are the most under appreciated bike out and you can pick one up for about 3k u.s d I had mine as a second bike whilst I was waiting for hard to get guzzi parts the Italians were having a nice long summer break. Needed something cheap and reliable and that was it . I still think about getting another but have to draw the line somewhere

  • Khali

    Wow. That kawa Estrella does (to me) so much like the spanish bikes of the 70′s (say, a Bultaco for example)

    The Yamaha Tricker was sold here for a couple of years…been trying to buy one but they are very appreciated and really expensive, costing almost as much as when they were new.

  • Ian Tan

    The Honda Super 4 is a common sight on the streets of Singapore, as for many years, it was the most viable option in the mid-range Class 2A licence class (201cc-400cc). It’s reliable and rock-solid for city riding (and is also the training bike for learners) but also seen as boring by some. Today there are more new models in this class from Honda and KTM, so riders here no longer have to stick with the Super 4.

  • Stig Sarangi

    Wes – Nice read and goes on to show that small is the new big in the current urabn environment.. I lust for CB 4.

    You covered almost all the bike barring a few very good ones from the land of currys :P

    1 Pulsar 200 NS – Made by Bajaj – has the same engine of the Duke 200 apart from the FI and 3-spark plug head. Has a steel permiter frame instead of the trellis and retails for about 1600$.
    2. TVS Apache RTR – Before you ask me about TVS, (they have just signed a MOU with BMW motorrad to design and develop versions less than 400 cc). The bike is question is derived from a 150cc engine that TVS-Suzuki co developed about 14 years back. Whats special about it ? – This is a real pocket rocket – for about 1400$, you get a bike that revs to 12000 rpm in every gear, handles great and comes with ABS.
    3. Yamaha FZ-S, puny 150 cc commuter bike with 43mm forks and a chassis that can handle a lot more power. Currently on sale for little less than 1300$

    • Rig P

      Pretty much none of those really would work in the US. Most people that are going to buy bikes that may be able to only reach the posted speed limit are also those probably going to buy a scooter. Even the Ninja 250, wr250x, and the baby cbr can do 80 which in some places anything less would be precarious. I don’t see these bikes being able to do that.

      • Justin McClintock

        I have a DT175 alongside a DRZ400SM and a SV1K. With the DRZ (and the SV) I can go pretty much wherever I want (as long as it’s paved in the SV’s case). But even the DRZ is a chore to take on some higher speed roads and the interstate. The DT? I’m limited where I can actually ride it. Trying to do more than 45 mph up a steep hill is an effort in futility. It’s fun and I love it, but part of that is that I only spent $500 on it. I wouldn’t be dropping a couple grand on a bike I couldn’t even take to visit my wife during lunch.

        • PattonStrength

          You just made me start Craigslisting for DT175s….damn you.

          • Justin McClintock

            And my work here is done!

        • Rig P

          Yeah, I used to have a WR250x and it was smooth, could travel on any interstate, but really was in its own under 60mph on the speedo. I’ve also owned an SV650 and FZ1.

      • Stig Sarangi

        RIg, most if not all of those bikes can do an easy 80.

        • Rig P

          TVS Apache RTR < 80

          Yamaha FZ-S … barely. 82. If the rider is an average american size it probably can't.

          Pulsar 200 NS … same as above. 84 but probably not with a 200 lb rider.

          • Stig Sarangi

            Now you got me.. I did forget about the average sized american :)

            Btw My old RTR 180 used to do a true 88MPH with mods worth 200$

  • Chester

    I live in Japan and as so feel badly for all of you in the states.

  • Deeds

    I want a Tiger Sport.

  • ThinkingInImages

    This is an exciting and incredibly frustrating list of motorcycles that I can buy. Much as I like Hondas, the U.S. designed models are just “eh”.

  • Conrad

    “Reasonably priced, super capable” and might I add, sexy.

  • 80-watt Hamster

    The VFR definitely pushes my buttons. I keep looking at used examples, but even if I could find a decent one in my price range, I can’t get past the MPG figures. Yeah, yeah, specific output, engineering, yada yada, but with non-hybrid compact CARS getting 40mpg now, why the eff do so many motos (including mine) have trouble breaking 50?!? Ok, rant over…for now…

    • Justin McClintock

      Because a lot of the technology they’re using to push those limits in fuel economy don’t scale well to a motorcycle. And even that, you can easily get 50 mpg around town on many bikes….those cars are only getting 40 mpg on the interstate. They’ll barely break 30 in town.

  • dreygata

    I fully believe that I have very non-American bike tastes. The two bikes I have owned (1997 Yamaha Seca II and 2006 Honda 599) ended up being discontinued here in the States and evolved into better things abroad.

  • MichaelEhrgott

    XT660 Tenere. God, I’ve wanted one for like 3 years now. Between this and the Mystical Blue Unicorn (WR450R) Yamaha must hate America. :(

  • A P

    Do a CBR400RR and you’ve got my attention big time. But as it stands, more weight than my 600RR with 1/2 the power and none of the premium suspension/brakes/frame bits… Scale down the 600RR and boost the 400′s hp just a tad… ya, I know it would cost near as much as the 600RR, which is why they don’t do it.

    • Flying Couch

      That’s something that gets overlooked a lot with the CB400 Super Four by people clamoring for it to be brought to the States. In the markets where they’re both sold, it costs nearly 50% over the CB500F. It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense outside of a tiered licensing scheme. Which is a crying shame, because it’s drop-dead gorgeous. Seriously, Honda, I dig your philosophy of cutting costs by sharing parts between models, but the Super Four is what we want in terms of appearance.

  • Riedl

    I’ll take an XJR1300 touring version with fairing and hard bags.

  • Deuce

    We have the Versys 1000 in Canada. MSRP is $14000. Dealers are selling ‘me for $10 g’s Cdn. They are collecting dust.

    • RyYYZ

      MSRP was much too high, in my opinion. Even at $10k, it’s still just way too damned ugly, even for this V-Strom owner (so you know I have a pretty high tolerance for ugliness).

  • Kr Tong

    Honda Dunk

  • Alberto Knox

    So Americans don’t like heavy or slow bikes… Interesting.

  • atomicalex

    From that list, the CB400, the FTR, or the Tricker. We need more small bikes. They are so much fun. I want to ride the Tricker. That looks hilarious.

    • Eric R. Shelton

      I’m with you 100%. That FTR just stole my heart, and the Tricker looks good, too. Guess I’ll have to make do with a Grom when I can finally get my hands on one.

  • HankBWYT

    Ouch, while I like most of this article, you guys goofed up. The 2014 Suzuki GS1200SS doesn’t come to ‘murica, because it doesn’t exist.

    The Picture of the “2014″ Suzuki GS1200SS is actually a picture of the 2001 Suzuki GS1200SS. It was made from 2001 to 2002, and there is no 2014 model.

    Also the notion that you can bolt on GSX-R parts is wrong. While most other GS/GSR models have indeed used GSX-R engines, this one actually has the SACS engine from the Suzuki GSF 1200 Bandit.

    • Guzzto

      You are correct. Mine was a 2004 but I suspect it was built in 2002 but first put in the system in 2004, loads of them cheap down under. Great bikes , I thought maybe they had reissued them as endurance racers are getting popular and are the next trend on bike exif pipeburn etc.

  • HoldenL

    I want that VFR 800 and I want it bad.

    But I need the e-Let’s. That is the ideal second bike for me. I don’t care how unmanly it is. It’s perfect for weekend errands and shopping. I demand that Suzuki export it here, immediately.

  • Fzilla

    In the US it seems that, more and more, folks want what they’re told to want, and they’re told what to want in insidious ways by companies that say ‘You should feel insecure about THIS!’
    Start importing the XJR or those 2 sweet CBs and I will retract my previous generalizations.

  • Russell P

    To bad that only now, there is a surge in interest for large Singles. Otherwise MuZ might have made it and still be around. They had great Sport, Tour, and Dual Sport models offered here in the states back in the mid 90′s. And they used Yamaha’s 660cc motor.(that Yamaha brought to the states later, in the 4 wheeler, Raptor)
    I bought a (new) 95 Tour model in 1997. Had it jetted, added an M4 exhaust,
    Buell fly screen, and had the seat redone (higher) by Sargents.
    Rode it over 35 thousand miles.
    It’s just what people want now, but it was ahead of its time.

    • Russell P

      This is the Tour model.

  • Brendan Sullivan

    I want that GS1200. So cool.

    Either of the naked 1300s would be fine too.

  • sharper86

    Favorite bike: VFR800

    Favorite line: “$20,000 on a boat anchor made in Milwaukee”

  • Chester

    Kawasaki 250TR, Estrella in vintage mx guise. Also has FI.

  • B.Man

    I found your lack of knowledge of motorcycle market disturbing. (wrong year, wrong pic, wrong list)

  • FastPatrick

    Oh, and people who are all wound up about the CB1300 and XJR1300: Kawasaki would like to know where you were when they offered the ZRX1100 and ZRX1200.

    • RyYYZ

      I think Kawi sold quite a few of them, actually, even if they weren’t as nicely finished as the comparable models from Honda, Suzuki or Yamaha (which we never got here). But after some years everyone who wanted an KZ1000 ELR / GPz retro bike had one, and sales fell off.

  • Piglet2010

    Kawasaki Estrella – Considering the slow sales of the similar Suzuki TU250X, it is not surprising Kawasaki decided not to import it.

  • Mitchel Durnell

    Yamaha MT-03. Give!

  • Robert Horn

    Not sold anywhere, but Kawasaki did display it as a show bike in 2001, based on the TR250. How about now?

  • Ryan Kiefer

    …this thing’s spot on the money for the youth and female markets here.

    And here I was thinking it’d be a fun upgrade from my CBR250R, but silly me, I’m a man, so I should be aspiring to 600cc at a minimum.

    Way to perpetuate a gender stereotype, Wes.

  • Paul Cypert

    I’d really like the Yamaha SR400 or other because I’d really like to get a solid smaller bike that’s practical to learn on and have this idea to keep the first new bike I buy to convert over the years to a cafe racer or similar. Just a nice solid bike that I can tinker with for years. Won’t be the best bike I own in my life, but one that might mean the most. Sadly most of the modern solid riders that would make great starters in the US aren’t necessarily in line with a racer conversion…but maybe that would make it more fun

  • Brian Cordell

    I’ve been lobbying the American motorcycle press for the last month about the new VFR800. I have an old 2002 with 45,000 miles, its not worn out, but I would definately consider a new one!

  • Tyler Horne

    Surprised the Transalp didn’t make the list. I’ve got an 89 model and it’s still fantastic. I guess Honda was ahead of its time in the States with that one and have cold feet now.

  • ilikefood

    KTM 390 Duke and KTM 690 SMC. I’m bummed that the KTM line of roadbikes is like 1/4th of what KTM sells in other places.

  • Brian D

    I was always jealous of Derbi’s street bikes, particularly the Mulhacen 659. Not sure if they live up to their looks, but all their little 125s look like they would be a ton of fun as city bikes.

  • country3wheeler

    I love these bikes. I always thought I make a better European than an american when it comes to transportaton. Buying a bunch of gas and status gook just never thrilled me much. I loved my old 1971 Honda 750. 650 Suzuki single and a few other more basic fun bikes. I drive, yes drive, a 2004 Honda Shadow 1100 with a Texas Sidecar Ranger sidecar attached. Darn legs just won’t handle two up anymore, but we have a ball without the Foo Foo. I’m just a bare bones driver. My 2 cent’s. Keep the dark side down.

  • ticticticboom

    Whenever I’m in Europe, the bike that seems most desireable there, that we don’t get in the USA is the Varadero. I see them everywhere.

  • Renato Valenzuela

    out of all the bikes on this list, i want the FTR the most. lol

  • frankfan42

    Ouch, that little Yamaha SR400 sure speaks to me, the little Honda FTR looks like a bike that the commuter in me could ride. That little Kawi Estrella could so replace my current Kawi. But man that Tenere 660 has got me really liking it- imagine an adventure bike that can be used off road without a crane!

  • Courtney

    I’m not a fan of all this motorcycle bashing either, although I do hate squids, lol. Well, the one’s that shut down traffic and stuff with their stupid antics.

    But look, motorcycles are like hammers. It would be ridiculous if only one kind of hammer existed. See, sometimes you need a claw hammer, sometimes a tack hammer, and sometimes a sledge hammer. And for those special occasions, one cannot overlook the need for a jack hammer.

    See? We all have a place (as long as we obey the rules of the road, I should think).

  • Arno

    The Yamaha SR400 is so sexy! I want! Suzuki and Yamaha need to get back into some serious vintage competition like they did back in the days

  • Honda Cbr

    CB400 Super-Four, no question!

  • Ben Margeson

    I personally think the North American market is turing towards the smaller bike especially. Look at the new bikes H-D is going to be making, a 500 and 750. Living outside of the city it is hard to have the super small ones though (but it is doable). The one I can’t wrap my head around as far as the market is the lack of the Tenere 660 not being here already. I can’t explain that. I wouldn’t be shocked to see it in NA in the next few years. I think the tides are turning it will just take a while.

  • Chris Wheeler

    Why are certain bike not sold in the US? I feel like there would be enough of a demand for them.

  • Shawn Poorman

    I’d take the super four in a heartbeat, over anything else available in America(ABS too, please). Had a 250 for 2 years, and its been a year since I last rode, so I don’t need a beast yet. Not sure I ever will… I’m aware that the CB500s make similar power and are of similar weight. But their engines are…uninspiring. I want a screaming, revvy 4 cylinder, but don’t need 90 hp+. They simply don’t exist here. If you want 4 cylinders, the 80 something hp fz6r or cbr650f are pretty much the only choices. What’s that? You want ABS too? Cbr650f it is. For Ducati monster 696 money. Roughly the same hp, 60lbs heavier… Ugh.

    You’re not alone sir,I can and have ranted about the lack of awesome, lightweight bikes with proper handling and brakes here in the states. But you’re right, most Americans are dumb and would rather pay double or triple the money for a brick with wheels that sounds like a sick garbage truck on crack. With an engine purposely designed to run like crap just for a “cool” (laughable) sound. Ducati and ktm know how to make a twin that sounds good. HD bikes sound horrible. Just like 8 cylinder cars, but don’t get me started on that. 4 cylinders is where it’s at. Bikes, cars, doesn’t matter. Need a turbo for a car though :)

    I dunno, maybe ktm will shock me and bring us the duke or rc390. Not a 4 cylinder, but ticks all the other boxes.