Not For America: Bikes We Want Now

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Not For America: Bikes We Want Now

We Americans, we think we’re so great. But if we are, then how come we don’t get the cool stuff from Japan and Europe? Sometimes manufacturers simply deem them “Not For America”.

We tend to think that our bikes are too huge, all giant flashy liter-bikes and thrumming 1300cc cruisers, but there are a lot of cool 1000cc+ bikes we don’t get here. And many manufacturers—even Harley!—from a few years ago are doing the middleweight bike thing Stateside. Thing is, until we see some of these come here, they’ll always do it better over there.

Yamaha XJR1300

Yamaha XJR1300
They used to sell big bikes like this once—and it was the mighty Kawasaki “Rex,” the ZRX1100 which still pops up on Craigslist from time to time, daring you to hit “contact seller.” Do it. Do it, you wimp, and do burnouts on your high school principal’s lawn until the security guards throw you out of the gated community. The XJR1300, with its Öhlins shocks supporting three-spoke wheels like the 1990s never ended carries on this same raucous principle, but only on the same European continent which gave us happy slapping and Wildboyz.

Moto Guzzi Bellagio

Moto Guzzi Bellagio
One of the most stylish cruisers available. So why isn’t it and its 940cc V-twin (transverse, like those weirdo Italians love it) and menacing double-barrel pipes available in cruiser-crazy America? It’d look great next to the California 1400 and both would look great in your remake of CHiPs.

Kawasaki W800

Kawasaki W800
Retro ain’t dead, it’s just due for a revival. And it’s time for Kawasaki to bring back its W-bike to America to the clamors of “hey, isn’t that just a Triumph?” No, in fact, it’s based on the original Kawasaki W1 of 1965, which definitely was not just a Triumph, either. But the fond riders and custom builders who love the W650 deserve another shot at the rare, wonderful, collectible Kawasaki.

Bimota BB3

Bimota BB3
Newly reorganized Bimota, eschewing its Ducati past, is now tweaking the BMW S1000RR. Doesn’t 190 horsepower, steel trellis frame, and Öhlins everything sound fun? Alas, Bimota has to walk before it can ride, and the best-performing Bimota ever might not make it to America soon, if ever. Hopefully they’ll be able to bring back the front swingarm.

Honda CB650F

Honda CB650F
“But,” you might shout, “it’s way the same as the excellent CB500 range!” Yeah, well, shut up—because it makes the list alone with its awe-inspiring four-into-one exhausts. Just look at it. It’s like a bag of wiggling metal snakes. Add the America paint scheme and gold wheels and the 86hp, 11,000RPM CB650F brings an attitude the 500s just don’t have. Yet.

Yamaha TZR50

Yamaha TZR50
A perfect answer to the Honda Grom. Hey, why not fill that goofy monkey-bike niche? The 50cc TZR50 isn’t even that small or self-deprecating like the Grom is—which makes it that most rare of bikes: an entry-level runabout that successfully disguises its, uh, entry-levelness.

Yamaha SR400

Yamaha SR400
Oh wait, it’s coming here, alright. To the lads at Deus who have singlehandedly dried up the thumper market in Southern California, we say: rejoice.

  • Roger Bazinet

    What about the BMW K1300R? Raucous, naked, and not available in the U.S.

    • Alberto Morgado

      We Have this bike at BR… Third Fucking world and we have K1300!!! hauHauHuaHuaHua sorry Bro…

    • Peter Negru

      canada had it for a bit….

  • E Brown

    We don’t get these bikes because we don’t buy the bikes, which is sometimes inexplicable. The Bonnie does well here, but the W650 didn’t despite the fact it should appeal to the same market.

  • Toly

    add the FZ-07, duh…

    • MichaelEhrgott

      That’s my next bike. Hopefully…

    • Randy Singer

      The British motorcycle magazines are drooling all over it. They say it’s the best in class, taking over the mantle from the old Suzuki SV650. It’s coming to Canada, but no word yet on it ever coming to the U.S. I bet that it would sell like crazy to newbies and experienced riders alike.

      • zedro

        Its in Canada, test drove one. Light and nimble, but not for bigger guys.

        • Mr.Paynter

          yep, we have them here in South Africa, they’re definitely little. Perfect for meeeeeeeeee.

    • charlie

      I’ve been trying to contact them to see if it’s coming to the states. It’s like trying to contact Google though.

  • Justin McClintock

    I know the whole Ducati/Bimota thing has been kinda overdone. But they need to revisit it. Why? Simple….Ducati has thrown the trellis frame by the wayside. Want a gorgeous, trellis framed version of the Panigale? Like the one Ducati SHOULD have built? I’ll bet Bimota could deliver one.

    And, of course….bring it to the US.

    • TechGuy5489

      The lack of a traditional frame just means the Panigale doesn’t crash well and maintenance is expensive since a valve check involves detaching the front and rear subframes to get at the engine. Crashworthiness isn’t one of my major priorities when shopping for a bike and if you can afford a 20-30k toy then you can afford the maintenance. Maybe it matters at WSBK level (beyond super stock) but for the majority of us it makes no difference.

      Plus, if you desperately want to add weight to your Panigale there are aftermarket trellis frames.

      • Justin McClintock

        It’s not just about weight though. It’s about the aesthetic of the bike. The Panigale just isn’t that pretty. And if MotoGP is any proof, the frameless bikes may not be the future Ducati wants us to think they are. Unless they can resurrect John Britten from the dead to sort out their problems, maybe they should go back to what worked (better) AND looked good at the same time.

        • TechGuy5489

          I disagree on the looks. There’s a world of difference between the Desmosedici and Ducati’s production bikes. Just because frameless didn’t work out very well for Ducati in MotoGP doesn’t mean it’s not perfectly suitable for the street and racing levels that aren’t prototypes (read: everything except MotoGP/WSBK). I think Ducati will stick with it (having built the Monster 1200 and now 821 the same way. Plus the dealers must love it because it makes every bike a goldmine of billable hours for major services.

          • Justin McClintock

            Nope, they’re ugly. :-P

  • http://bloodsweatandgasoline.wordpress.com tad diemer

    Not to be pedantic, but if you’re going to comment on the Guzzi’s engine: it’s not transverse, it’s oriented longitudinally. My understanding is that “transverse” and “longitudinally” refer to the crankshaft orientation. Corvette’s V8? Longitudinally mounted. Honda Civic’s four? Transversely mounted. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transverse_engine

    • Dan

      The end of that wikipedia article says that for V-twin motorcycles, the convention is different than for cars. So transverse refers to the engine itself (longest dimension), not the crankshaft. That means the Guzzi is transverse.

      • http://bloodsweatandgasoline.wordpress.com tad diemer

        That’s what I get for not reading the whole damn article I looked up to prove my point! They even have a picture of a Guzzi in the sidebar…

        That’s still odd to me though: so does a BMW 1000RR have a longitudinal or transverse engine? Transverse, by both definitions I guess. It seems strange to throw that whole “crankshaft orientation” thing out the window and go with something pretty arbitrary, from an technical point of view… I mean, what about a square four? The “car” definition makes it clear. The “bike” definition doesn’t, and I’m surprised there’s a different definition, based on how many wheels are involved.

        If a BMW flat twin is “transverse”, what changes really when you go to a Goldwing’s flat six? You’ve basically added cylinders to the configuration, not re-oriented it. But now it’s probably longer front-to-back than side-to-side, so does that make it “longitudinal.” Or does the fact that it’s really almost a car make the question irrelevant?

        Any engineers out there want to weigh in on this?

      • Michael Howard

        Wikipedia (and its ilk) is “crowd-sourced” and really shouldn’t be used as the ultimate authority on ANYTHING. None of us is as dumb as all of us. ;)

    • zedro

      Has nothing to do with the long side of the engine (whatever that is….i4 ‘s?) or the direction from forward, it’s because the crankshaft direction is 90degs to the final drive (i.e. to the wheel in motos). I guess the convention came from the rwd days where crankshafts, trannys and shaft drives were typically longitudenal and in line (like a typical rwd v8), and transverse engines had the crankshaft 90 to the rest of the drive line (not counting the axles I guess). Of course some fwd units may never any longitudenal trannies/shafts, and would still have been called transverse I suppose……meh whatever.

  • Jack McLovin

    I like the cut of your jib Bruce.

  • Bluesceyes

    XJR1300. OMG! Excuse me while I go change my pants. I have said it about other bikes but if they ever bring that to the States I will sell my ZRX and buy that in a heartbeat.

    • Reid

      Motorcycles of that sort are proper bloody motorbikes. I would own one right now.

  • Reid

    I’d be all in favor of XJRs, CBs, ZRXs, etc. powered by their respective companies’ last-gen 600cc fours. “Tuned for more torque” of course. The idea of an aluminum-framed ZRX600 in Eddie Lawson colors makes me all kinds of happy.

    • Hooligan

      I’m sure the Honda is a slightly larger version (50cc) of the engine that used to power the Hornet (now sadly discontined) . That engine was the last generation CBR600 like the previous Hornet from 89- 06 was the old early 80′s CBR engine. I would have to see one of these in the flesh to make up my mind about it. But if my 04 Hornet gets destroyed I would consider replacing it with one of these. I know it looks a bit like the CB1000R which I dislike. Do you get the CB1000R in America? A naked Fireblade kinda thing? Also talking about the exhaust pipes they are taken from the 70′s 400 Supersport. Did you get that one?

      • Reid

        Yes, the CB1000R is for sale in the States, and I, like you, am not a huge fan of its looks. The Japan-only CB400 Super Four is a much nicer-looking machine (in my opinion) that has all kinds of classy and classic appeal without being overly hipsterish. Now, if it had a 600cc ‘plant instead of a 400cc one, I’m sure that would help to bolster appeal in the power-mad West – particularly in the US market.

        http://www.motorcyclespecs.co.za/Gallery/Honda%20CB400%20Super%20four%2005%20%201.jpg

        • Hooligan

          CB400 – Nice. They do creep into England via “grey” importers.

          • Reid

            I wish we could get away with having a few grey-market shops over here in Eagle Land – for both cars and bikes! I’d love to get my hands on a R34 Skyline AND that big XJR :)

            • Hooligan

              The XJR was never a big seller over here, like it’s equivilent Suzuki. I’m sure they are some low mileage examples still around. Driving on the same side of the road as the Japanese means here there a large market in the 3 year old cars from Japan because their MOT after 3 years is so expensive – like having to change the cat…..! It is cheaper to buy a new car, it also keeps the factories busy. We get whatever you want from Japan, you just put in a order. Once landed take it for a Special Vehicle Test – to make it road legal. And off you go.

        • Ryan Mayo

          I wish Honda would have done a body style like this when they made the CB500 range. I know the F is close, but I much prefer this look.

          • Reid

            Me too. I’m all for lighter weight and comparatively modern things like fuel injection, monoshocks, water cooling, etc. and even ABS, traction control and all that. What I want is a bike that looks timeless and purposeful, neither self-consciously retro-hip nor avant garde-crazy. Hypothetical bikes that have the look of the CB Super Four and its competitors would be just the thing for me.

          • Robon Hood

            If they could’ve shoved this motor in with the vtec into the 500 range…I would cry tears of sweet joy.

  • Heeno

    Ah, the W800. If Kawasaki is listening, please. I’ll be the first in line.

    • Charles Quinn

      Gorgeous bike in every way. Modern Bonneville looks like an awkward wannabe beside it.

  • atomicalex

    “Add the Thailand paint scheme”…. Just wanted to make sure you know that bit of trivia…

  • Renato Valenzuela

    add FTR223, CB223, and CB400SS to the list of Hondas that aren’t sold here. shoot, even a 110cc version of the SuperCub so those retro-chique Vespa buyers have something to cross-shop against.

    • ben

      I saw one of those CB400s in Tokyo a couple weeks ago. There’s nothing more to say than it’s way prettier than pictures give it credit for.

      • Charles Quinn

        It’s a beaut, built and finished better than most bikes twice its size. Very popular here in Australia. Someone who parks near me just dorked his up with a hideous aftermarket bikini fairing and I feel like punching him.

        • ben

          I’m right with you on the fit and finish. I think that’s why it’s way better looking in person. You lose some of the detail of the quality of materials in the photos. I also far prefer the CB400 with the flatter tail to the one with the sportbike tail but i’d honestly take either.

  • Masty

    Still waiting for the KTM 390 Duke to appear in a showroom.

    • Alberto Morgado

      They already produce Duke 390 at Argentina… they will start to produce on Brazil soon…

      • Masty

        I guess I was thinking more about the US, than the entirety of “America.”

    • Robon Hood

      Waiting on the RC390 Here..I want a mini race bike :3

    • KC

      Same here. Small (under 400lbs), quick, light, fully faired/aerodynamic, easy on fuel usage, easy to insure – that sounds like every motorcycle I prefer.

  • Alberto Morgado

    This new Honda is coming to substitute the old Honda Hornet, it has used to have 102HP at 12.000rpm, 599cc now with 650cc only 86hp… this really really, REALLY sucks… and this new bike is so similar to the old ER6n…
    I heard something about Honda creating a new Hornet, a new bike to fight against the Z800…

    • Campisi

      The CB(R)650f’s design brief, just like with the CB(R)500 range, came straight out of Europe’s motorcycle licensing tiers. Looking at the only dyno run results I can find, the torque curve is almost completely flat, and the horsepower curve hits a suspiciously-regular ceiling from ~9,500 RPM straight on up until redline. I suspect there’s plenty more power to be had out of these things from a computer reflash alone.

    • Hooligan

      You believe manufacturers horse power claims? Honda read their hp at the crank, not the rear wheel which is the only true measurement. The crank power is always 10hp+ more than the rear tyre measurement. However you can get a genuine 100hp out of the old Hornet, but not as standard.

      • Alberto Morgado

        dyno or not, 10Hp less or not… still a “worst” bike than the old Hornet… Starting at the front suspension… where is the Up Side Down?? they are doing as Yamaha done with FZ6… they kill it at BR, and starting to sell the XJ6… Alluminnium frame?!?!? hahahaha!!! NO… NO MORE!!!!
        The thieves at BR will miss this 4 cilynder called Hornet… (one of the ten most stolen motorcycles in Brazil)…

        • Hooligan

          I’m agree with you about it being a lesser bike than the old Hornet. The best Hornet was the carbed one from 03-08, that is the most purest one. Hornet the most stolen bike in Brazil? Well that shows it’s desirability. Don’t you have the Honda HISS immobiliser system? or have your thieves found a way to bypass that? Here in London the Triumph Street Triple is the bike of choice for the Jewellery/Watch/Handbag shop smash and grabbers.

          • Alberto Morgado

            If you come to World Cup, be carefull with your organs… hehehehehe just kidding, they prefer money.
            The Hornet is one of the most sold bikes at BR… and thieves act when you are riding the bike, they come with SS, in 2 or 3 bikes, then they point the gun and force you to stop, sometimes they just shot you at the arm or leg, forcing you to stop, so HISS can’t act… they dismont the bike and sell the pieces, or use the bikes at “favela” and to assalt stores and gas stations or another bikes, all kind of bike is stolen at BR except Harleys Davidson and this kinds of bikes… the top BR stolen bikes at Aug/2013 > http://www.estadao.com.br/jornal-do-carro/noticias/motos,saiba-quais-sao-as-motos-mais-roubadas-e-furtadas-do-pais,13895,0.htm

            • Hooligan

              Ahh so bike jacking, rather than lifting a parked bike. Nobody wants to steal a HD? ha ha ha. I have visited Brazil – Salvador & Rio so know what it’s like.

              • Alberto Morgado

                So you can survive at any place in the world (because you visited Rio de Janeiro)… Congratz!!
                I dont like Rio, and i’m glad that i never visited this city… HD in BR is just for old people, fat people or who are tired of being stolen with other types of bike… I think I’m lucky! I almost got stolen 2 times when I used to have a ER6n (naked ninja 650), so I sell this bike and now i have a Yamaha XTZ Lander 250…

  • John Ash

    Meh. None of those interest me at all. The KTMs. The Triumph Sprint GT. The Honda CrossRunner perhaps.

  • http://www.biker.my Biker.my

    MT-07? The sexiest!

  • Doug Erickson

    i want, nay NEED, the bellagio.

  • http://www.themotorcycleobsession.com/ Chris Cope

    I live over here in Not America and I have seen a few XJRs on the road. The general impression I get is that they are parts-bin bikes that don’t offer as much as they should (no ABS, for example) and can’t decide what they want to be. The Kawasaki W800 is also a wash as far as I’m concerned. It costs more than a Bonneville and has drum brakes. Meanwhile, you pretty much do have the Honda CB650F. The CBR650F is sold in the United States; it’s basically the exact same bike but with fairing.

    One bike you should be jealous of is the Honda CBF1000. It gets totally overlooked for its greatness here. The thing is a do-everything machine that will not break. Not sexy, admittedly, but it’s just so damned useful.

    • Hooligan

      Sir, I admire you for your frankness about the CBF.

  • Sam

    The Yamaha FZ-07 and the Kawasaki W800 should be here and
    there’s no reason for their absence. The Yamaha MT-07 is one of the bestt reviewed bikes I’ve ever seen in the
    European press. The FZ-07 is coming thanks to CARB and will probably be announced
    sometime in July with an August or September delivery as a 2015 model.

    Don’t get me started on Kawasaki. It has dropped the ball on
    the W650 model since its inception in 1999 and for its brief 2000 to 2001 sales
    in the United States. It has been 15 years since its disastrous launch with no
    press or media. Dumped into dealerships with little or no knowledge or
    acknowledgment of what the motorcycle was or of the rider who was looking for a
    better British bike. In hindsight I like to say that Kawasaki was just ahead of
    their time, but now they are sorely out of time and need to get this model back
    to market.

    In the ensuing 13years Triumph has sold over 100,000
    Bonneville’s. Niche model my A$$! Masafumi “Masa” Nakagawa you just took over
    at Kawasaki USA, time to right the ship and correct a historical wrong.

  • Hooter

    MAYBE the Bellagio would sell in limited numbers, it’s the most artistic of the bunch. The others are ugly or examples of failures in the US. They’d just sit on the showroom. The product planners were right to keep them out.

  • KC

    The Moto Guzzi Bellagio is nice, but there’s the 1200 Sport. That’s motorcycle art.

  • Kamenashi

    I also wish the Honda CB1300 came to the states, but…