For the entirety of motorcycle history, the American-made moto market was primarily defined by the cruiser. Uniquely American, this genre of motorcycle represented the vast majority of models being produced in the States, with exceedingly few exceptions. Spurred on by the rise of the electric motorcycle, the U.S. two-wheeler market has been experiencing a major shift in recent years, with an influx of fledgling moto firms and a handful of established marques now producing a diverse variety of bikes, from trackers to adventure models to naked superbikes and practically everything in between.
While the diversification of the U.S. motorcycle industry has given way to a growing number of different types of bikes, the sheer number of American-made options on the market can make it difficult to even know where to begin when shopping. So, with this in mind, we’ve thoroughly scoured the offerings of domestic manufacturers to deliver this curated guide to the best American-Made motorcycles.
What Makes American Motorcycles Special?
As a great many of the companies in the developed world have continued to outsource their manufacturing and production to overseas facilities in an effort to save on cost, we’ve seen a noticeable decline in craftsmanship, quality control, and fit and finish — a trend that very much includes motorcycles. And this is a major component of what makes USA-made bikes so special, as the words “made in America” represent far more than just the geographic origins of a motorcycle, and speaks to a level of quality and attention to detail that’s seldom seen in today’s day and age.
These more exacting build standards are just one part of the equation, however, as American-made motorcycles also afford their owners a unique sense of pride and patriotism, knowing that they’re riding a bike that was designed, developed, assembled, and tested on U.S. shores. Without the cost-saving measures offered by overseas production, motorcycles that are made in America do tend to come at a financial premium, though the reality is, that, while more expensive, in most cases, you get what you pay for — not to mention the fact that American-made motos tend to hold their value much better than scoots made abroad (excluding European bikes).
Cleveland Cyclewerks Ace 250
Cleveland Cyclewerks’ Ace is an affordable, modern take on a retro-inspired cafe racer. Weighing just 286.6lbs, the Ace features a knee-dented tank, a humped cafe seat, a one-into-one reverse cone muffler, a circular headlight, a dual-shock setup, circular bar-end mirrors, and an inverted fork. Though powered by a Chinese-made fuel-injected single-cylinder engine, this model was designed in America and is assembled in the States. The company also produces a more powerful, 28-hp 400-cc version of the Ace. With its cafe’d appearance, the Ace also makes for a stellar candidate for further customization — as evidenced by numerous builds that the Cleveland-based company has previously commissioned.
Style: Cafe Racer / Standard
Engine: Air & Oil-Cooled 249cc Single-Cylinder
Power: 16.9HP & 11.8FT-LBs
Curb Weight: 286.6LBs
First released in 2019 as the FTR 1200 before being shortened to simply the “FTR,” this flat track-inspired motorcycle marked a major change in direction for America’s oldest motorcycle marque, pivoting from its typical cruiser fare to deliver an objectively high-performance sport bike. Borrowing design cues from Indian’s AFT Twins-dominating FTR750 racer, the FTR features a fully-adjustable suspension setup, radial-mount Brembo brakes chomping down on dual 320-mm rotors, all-LED lighting, and a potent, 120-hp V-Twin engine that cranks out nearly 90ft-lbs of torque and is backed by a state-of-the-art electronics package with ABS, wheelie mitigation, and traction control. Indian also sells a more premium Carbon Edition of the FTR, as well as several factory upgrade kits.
Style: Standard / Naked Sportbike
Engine: Liquid-Cooled 1,203cc V-Twin
Power: 120HP & 87FT-LBs
Curb Weight: 514LBs
Janus Halcyon 450
Best described as a two-wheeled time machine, the Janus Halcyon 450 is a contemporary motorcycle that’s been modeled after antique American two-wheelers from a century ago. Constructed around a DOM tubular steel frame, the bike boasts a proprietary leading-link fork and a proprietary cantilever transom rear suspension setup. And, despite its unmistakably vintage appearance, the Halcyon 450 packs a slew of modern-day amenities such as Brembo brakes, CNC-machined hubs, digital instrumentation, top-shelf Brembo brakes, and a fuel-injected 30-hp SWM engine with an electronic ignition that enables the bike to reach a top speed of 90mph.
Style: Retro-Inspired Standard
Engine: Air & Oil-Cooled 445cc Single-Cylinder
Power: 30HP & 26FT-LBs
Dry Weight: 345LBs
Livewire Del Mar S2
The latest machine from Harley-Davidson’s all-electric offshoot, Livewire, the Del Mar S2 is a tracker-inspired, fully-electric two-wheeler that’s been engineered from the ground up specifically for commuting and urban riding duties. Assembled at Harley-Davidson’s Vehicle Operations plant in York, Pennsylvania, the Del Mar S2 uses Livewire’s all-new scalable ARROW architecture and sports a 59.6-kW (80-hp) motor that affords a 0-60mph time of only 3.5 seconds. Boasting a target weight of no more than 440lbs, the bike also features a proprietary battery and electric motor that allow for a range of 100 miles on a single charge. In true tracker fashion, the Del Mar S2 also rides on a set of 19” wheels fore and aft — both of which come shod in flat track-specific Dunlop DT1 tires.
Style: Standard / Street Tracker
Engine: Frame-Mounted Electric Motor
Curb Weight: Approx. 440LBs
Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250
Despite being deeply rooted in tradition, Harley-Davidson has been making a major effort in recent years to tap into a new, younger, riding demographic with the release of exciting new, non-cruiser models like the all-new Pan America adventure bike. At the heart of the bike is the MoCo’s all-new liquid-cooled, 150-hp Revolution Max engine — a markedly more advanced V-Twin that serves as a structural member of the Pan America’s frame. Other modern amenities include long-travel suspension, a 6.8” Bluetooth-connected TFT display, a Daymaker LED headlight, cornering-enhanced traction control and antilock brakes, and five switchable ride modes including a dedicated off-road plus mode, as well as a customizable setting. With only a few basic upgrades, the Pan America can also be transformed into an incredibly competent off-roader.
Style: Adventure Bike
Engine: Liquid-Cooled 1,252cc V-Twin
Power: 150HP & 94FT-LBs
Curb Weight: 534LBs
Buell Hammerhead 1190
Though Erik Buell’s company previously went under, the famed engineer’s namesake marque has recently been revived in order to produce a range of boutique-made, high-performance motorcycles like Buell’s state-of-the-art Hammerhead 1190. Draped in a sleek set of carbon fiber bodywork, this American superbike packs a liquid-cooled, 1.2-liter 72° V-Twin engine that cranks out 185hp and 101.6ft-lbs of torque. The machine also retains many of Erik Buell’s signature design traits, including the bike’s wildly-sophisticated chassis and rim-mounted disc brakes. The revived brand is also producing a naked version of this superbike known as the 1190SX. What’s more, Buell is also currently developing an adventure bike model and a dirt bike dubbed the Buell Baja DR (or “Dune Racer”).
Engine: Liquid-Cooled 1,190cc V-Twin
Power: 185HP & 101.6FT-LBs
Curb Weight: 419LBs
Lightning Strike Carbon
After previously debuting its Pikes Peak record-setting LS-218 superbike in 2014, American startup Lightning Motorcycles rolled out the more accessibly-priced Strike model in 2019. Engineered from the ground up for maximum performance while still lending itself to daily riding duties, the Strike boasts a cutting-edge Lightning FluxVector Drive System EV powertrain that offers a 150-mph top speed and a power output of 120hp and a whopping 186ft-lbs of instantly accessible torque. Capable of receiving a charge in as little as 35 minutes, the Strike’s battery affords a city range of up to 200 miles and 100 miles of freeway autonomy. The running gear on the bike is all of the top-shelf variety, with Brembo brakes and fully-adjustable, GP-grade Öhlins suspension front and aft.
Engine: Liquid-Cooled 300V AC Induction Motor
Power: 120HP & 186FT-LBs
Curb Weight: 455LBs
As one of America’s first electric motorcycle brands, Zero has been a pioneering force in the proton-powered bike space, with a range of ever-more-capable all-electric two-wheelers like the SR/F. Weighing in at exactly 500lbs, the SR/F is a high-performance naked sportbike that benefits from Zero’s latest powertrain technology, with a Z-Force motor and Z-Force Li-Ion battery that together afford a 124-mph top speed, a roughly 3.5-second 0-60mph time, and a 156-mile city range that can be increased to 277 miles when using Zero’s Power Tank add-on. The SR/F also gets Zero’s latest CYPHER III operating system, a 43mm inverted Showa fork, and Bosch stability control and ABS. Zero also makes a full-faired version of the SR/F called the SR/S.
Style: Naked Sportbike
Engine: Air-Cooled Interior PMAC Motor
Power: 110HP & 140FT-LBs
Curb Weight: 500LBs
A thoroughly modern take on a cafe racer, the Tarform Luna Racer Edition offers an impressive combination of style and cutting-edge performance. Equipped with a trio of different ride modes, the Luna sports a battery with a 120-mile range that can receive a 0-80% recharge in as little as 50 minutes. The bike’s PMAC motor enables it to reach a top speed of 120mph and clock a 0-60mph time of just 3.8 seconds. Made in New York, the bike was also developed with a major focus on sustainability, with a biodegradable leather seat and grips and biodegradable bodywork made from flax seed weave-reinforced composite and recycled aluminum. Tarform also produces a scrambler version of the Luna with knobby tires and tracker-style handlebars.
Style: Cafe Racer / Standard
Engine: Electric PMAC Motor
Curb Weight: 440LBs
Damon Hyperfighter Colossus
Representing the future of motorcycling, the Damon Hyperfighter Colossus is a cutting-edge, ultra-high-performance naked superbike that’s brimming with state-of-the-art tech, including onboard 360-degree cameras, a smart Co-Pilot system that continuously scans the road around the rider, and Damon’s HyperDrive powertrain platform — the latter of which is the world’s first monocoque-constructed, all-electric, multi-variant powertrain. Putting down 200-hp and 147.5ft-lbs of torque, the Colossus-spec Hyperfighter features a 170-mph top speed and the ability to reach 60mph from a standstill in three seconds flat. This fully-electric motorcycle also sports a combined city-freeway range of 146 miles, Brembo brakes, Öhlins. suspension, a TFT display, and a single-sided swing-arm. Damon is also producing lower-specced — though still thoroughly impressive — Unlimited 20 and Unlimited 15 versions of the Hyperfighter.
Style: Naked Superbike
Engine: Liquid-Cooled PMAC Motor
Power: 200HP & 147.5FT-LBs
Curb Weight: 438.7LBs
The Curtiss One is unequivocally one of the most idiosyncratic motorcycle designs of all time, with its fang-shaped front-end and bullet-inspired cantilevered battery housing. This incredibly unique and modular design allows customers to configure a wide range of bespoke options, plus the One features an adjustable wheelbase, rake, trail, ride height, seat height, and ergonomics. Handcrafted from an amalgamation of machined-billet aluminum, titanium, and carbon fiber, the One is powered by an Axial Flux YASA P400 motor that cranks out 110hp and 147.5ft-lbs of torque — 47% more torque than Ducati’s latest flagship superbike. The One’s battery also offers a 120-mile city range, a 70-mile highway range, and the ability to receive a complete recharge in as little as 40 minutes.
Style: Standard / Avant-Garde
Engine: Axial Flux YASA P400
Power: 110HP & 147.5FT-LBs
Curb Weight: 475LBs
The inaugural offering from Gard Hollinger and Keanu Reeve’s boutique motorcycle startup ARCH, the KRGT-1 is an insanely high-performance hyper-cruiser. At the heart of the bike is a massive 124ci (2,032cc) S&S Cycle T124 fuel-injected V-Twin engine with a bespoke downdraft system that’s mated to a proprietary six-speed transmission. Constructed around a tubular steel chassis, the KRGT-1 also boasts a ridiculous number of custom-machined billet items, including its downdraft intake, subframe, and fuel cells. ARCH has also outfitted the hyper-cruiser with some of the finest componentry that money can buy, including BST five-spoke carbon fiber wheels shod in Michelin Commander II rubber, ultra-premium ISR six-pot monobloc calipers backed by Bosch ABS, and fully-adjustable front and rear suspension that was designed specifically for the KRGT-1 by Öhlins. ARCH also gives customers a plethora of customizable options to make the bike their own.
Engine: Air-Cooled 2,032cc V-Twin
Power: 122HP & 115.3FT-LBs
Dry Weight: 596LBs
Indian vs. Harley: Which Motorcycle Is Right For You?
Want to learn more about America’s two most iconic motorcycle marques? Then be sure to cruise on over to our feature article on Harley-Davidson vs. Indian for an in-depth comparison of these two legendary firms.
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