There’s a myriad of reasons as to why existing production models aren’t sold in the U.S., the most obvious of which is the country’s overwhelming appreciation for cruiser motorcycles, making the rest of the two-wheeled space particularly competitive. The cost of trying to homologate a vehicle for road-going certification in the US is an insanely expensive process, and at times this factor alone persuades manufacturers from trying to tap into the U.S. market. Whatever the reason, each year, there are a handful of thoroughly solid models that aren’t available to American riders.
Despite offering one of the most economical and utilitarian means of transportation, motorcycles are largely viewed as luxury items in the western world. When coupled with emissions laws, import tariffs, and a general proclivity for larger displacements — amongst numerous other factors — America’s motorcycle market is fairly unique. Unfortunately, these same factors also result in a number of manufacturers opting not to release bikes in the States. Knowing there’s an enormous number of these motorcycle models currently in production, we thought we’d take the time to shine a light on some of the more noteworthy examples unavailable to the American market to help get you privy to the best motorcycles not sold in the US.
Displacement On A Sliding Scale
Examining Global Views On Engine Size
One factor that’s hugely shaped the American motorcycle market is the country’s view on displacement. In the U.S. pretty much anything south of the half-liter (500cc) mark is considered to be of the “small displacement” variety, though this sentiment isn’t shared by the majority of the planet. This is fairly unsurprising considering a 250-300cc bike is capable of freeway travel, though America’s general notion of “bigger is better” has played a driving role in shaping our market.
America is also without displacement limits where one endorsement permits you to ride any bike you want, in contrast to other countries like England which caps displacement on its “learner license” (or A1) at 125cc’s, which has made for market brimming with eighth-liter bikes. Similarly, Japan has four motorcycle license tiers — up to 50cc, 50cc – 125cc, 125cc – 400cc, and 400cc+ —which has created an incredibly distinctive market loaded with uniquely-sized Japanese moto models made to cater to this license system.
Despite a somewhat unassuming appearance, we’d argue the RV400 is the most game-changing and revolutionary motorcycle since the turn of the millennium. The RV’s 33lb battery is swappable and affords a 97-mile range, and he motor allows for speeds of almost 55mph while putting down approximately 40% more torque than Ducati’s latest flagship superbike. The running gear is all fairly high-end, too, with inverted forks, disc brakes front and back, digital instrumentation, and LED lighting throughout. Comparable to a petrol-powered 125cc mount, the RV400 also gets multiple ride modes and a selectable range of faux engine noises. Loaded with cutting-edge tech, the bike features a 4G LTE SIM card that enables the RV to pair with an app in order to receive over-air updates, monitor real-time battery life, find battery swapping stations, and set geo-fencing restrictions. Best of all, the RV400 comes in at under $1,400.
Engine: Mid-Drive 3000W Motor
Power: 13hp / 125.3ft-lbs
TVS Apache RR 310
The Apache RR 310 is an entry-level-sized supersport that features a myriad of amenities typically reserved for full-size superbikes. Despite existing since the late ‘70s, this is the Indian marque’s first-ever full-faired model, though it wasn’t without some expert help. The double R was co-developed by BMW Motorrad and features the same engine found in the Bavarian brand’s entry-level G310R roadster. A ride-by-wire throttle and an electronic throttle body setup affords the Apache multiple ride modes, plus the bike has smartphone connectivity and a built-in race computer (and race display mode) that records track telemetrics. Offering a top speed of 100mph, the trellis-framed sportbike also features a race-tuned slipper clutch, track-ready KYB suspension, and sleek full bodywork that boasts a best-in-class drag coefficient. Other goodies worth mentioning include LED projector headlights and dual-channel ABS.
Engine: Liquid-Cooled 312.2cc DOHC Single-Cylinder
Power: 33.5hp / 20.1ft-lbs
Brixton Rayburn 125
Looking like something straight out of the 1940s, Brixton’s Rayburn 125 is an eighth-liter production model with a heavy antique-bobber-influence. Kicked along by a fuel-injected Chinese-made engine, the modern retro is fitted with a sprung solo tractor-style seat, bobbed fenders, an old-school round taillight, a rear luggage rack, bar-end mirrors, and a distressed leather tool roll acting as a side panel. Adorned in a retro-themed two-tone blue liveried tank with an all blacked-out frame, (17”) wheels, and running gear, the Rayburn ejects spent gasses via a pipe-wrapped header culminating in a single peashooter exhaust. The model’s clip-on handlebars also make for a rather sporty riding position, albeit not the most comfortable one.
Engine: Air-Cooled 125cc SOHC Single-Cylinder
Power: 11.1hp / N/A
Honda Hunter Cub
Originally released in 1958, the Honda Cub is one of the best-selling motorized vehicles of all time, with more than a million units sold over its more than half-century in production. For the 2021 model year, Big Red has opted to bestow the iconic moto with the off-road treatment. This means spoked wheels shod in dual-sport rubber, a high-mount scrambler-style exhaust, a rear luggage rack, and crash bars and a skid plate to fortify the Hunter Cub’s air-cooled eighth-liter single. The biggest changes to the Cub are found in the tank, which has a larger capacity, allowing for increased autonomy, and a set of longer-travel suspension to better handle off-road riding applications. In terms of actual dirt-going capabilities, the Hunter Cub is fairly lacking, with the model being more of an off-road-flavored road-goer, though that’s not to say it can’t handle some light fire trail duties.
Engine: Air-Cooled 124cc OHC Single-Cylinder
Power: 8.7hp / 8.11ft-lbs
Initially unveiled in 2018 as the Sur-Ron White Ghost, the rights and licensing of this electric motorcycle were later acquired by VOGE, a more premium sub-brand of the Chinese firm, Loncin that caters to the Asian and European markets. Constructed around a forged aluminum frame with matching swing-arm and tubeless alloy wheels, the ER10 (as it’s now known) yields a 75-mile range on a single charge thanks to a Panasonic-developed 18650 battery with a four-hour recharge time. A big part of what separates this model from other two-wheeled EVs on the market — aside from its surprisingly accessible MSRP — is its wholly idiosyncratic bodywork design, with a waspish suspended tail, a streetfighter-style headlight, pronounced “radiator” shrouds, and a battery-housing made to resemble a belly-pan.
Engine: 60V/6KW Mid-Drive Liquid-Cooled Motor
Power: 18.7hp / 31ftlbs
FB Mondial Flat Track 125
There are plenty of production models that are heavily influenced by custom motorcycles, from bobbers to scramblers to cafe racers, though despite the genre’s immense popularity, there are decidedly few flat track-inspired models. FB Mondial’s Flat Track 125 steps in to fill this gap in the market with a production model that can legitimately pass for a dirt oval racer (with a front brake). A pair of LED headlights are discreetly tacked just beneath a front number plate, while out in back a traditional tracker tail completes the look. Set just above a pair of under-tail exhausts, the FT125’s tail can also be popped off to accommodate a passenger. The engine powering this model is also liquid-cooled and fuel-injected, making this already-attractive little runner all the more enticing.
Engine: Liquid-Cooled 124cc DOHC Single-Cylinder
Power: 14.75hp / 7.75ft-lbs
Sinnis Terrain T380
Dollar-for-dollar, the Sinnis T380 is almost certainly the best-value adventure bike currently available. It’s powerful enough to take on just about any riding application, while still being light enough to easily control. The T380’s liquid-cooled parallel-twin allows for speeds of almost 90mph, while dual-piston radially-mounted twin-front petal rotors help to quickly bring the machine to a stop. The bike’s steel trellis frame is mated to long-travel suspension and rides on off-road-friendly cast-aluminum wheels (19” front, 17” rear). Some unexpected features include an LCD display with a gear-shift indicator and real-time tire pressure monitoring, plus the British brand offers numerous optional accessories that make the T380 more conducive to adventure touring, such as a robust set of crash bars and hard side cases and top case setup (seen here) with a cool 105-liters of storage space.
Engine: Liquid-Cooled 380cc SOHC Parallel-Twin
Power: 36.5hp / 25.8ft-lbs
Origin: United Kingdom
Brixton Crossfire 500 X
Brixton is a small marque own by the KSR Group, and while it got its start selling rebadged versions of Chinese models, the Austrian outfit has more recently opened its own in-house design center in order to deliver novel models, one of which was the earlier Rayburn 125. The Crossfire X is another original Brixton design that “borrows” visual elements from the Triumph Bonneville, while adding a few areas inspired by the custom motorcycle scene. Getting its name from the unique shape of its gas tank, the Crossfire X sports a contemporary take on a traditional scrambler seat while a handful of small touches like the perforated radiator covers, daytime running lights, and modern fenders that help to give the Brixton a more overall cohesive design. The fuel-injected 486cc inline-two is kept in check via adjustable KYB suspension (including an inverted fork) and ABS-linked J. Juan brakes, allowing for decent performance on the road.
Engine: Liquid-Cooled 486cc DOHC Parallel-Twin
Power: 47hp / 31.7ft-lbs
Benelli Leoncino 500cc Trail
A name that firearms enthusiasts will already be well aware of, Benelli is an iconic Italian company dating back to the early 1900s. And though the company is now owned by China’s Qianjiang Group, Benelli still makes some really solid bikes. An all-terrain version of the brand’s Leoncino (Italian for “little lion” or “lion cub”), the 500 Trail-spec sports a contemporary take on the classic scrambler genre, with a single-piece leather saddle, a round headlight, and knobby tires. Despite its Chinese origins, the little lion is equipped with some top-shelf hardware, including a 50mm inverted fork, adjustable mono-shock, and a powerful front 320mm dual disc setup bit by radially-mounted four-pot calipers. And, while it’s admittedly a very minor touch, we’re particularly enamored with the lion hood ornament that decorates the front fender.
Engine: Liquid-Cooled 499.6cc DOHC Parallel-Twin
Power: 48hp / 33.2ft-lbs
Macbor Montana XR5
Taking blatant “inspiration” (to put it as kindly as possible) from BMW’s GS range (even down to its livery options), Macbor’s Montana XR5 is a high-performance mid-sized adventure bike that includes just about every feature one could ask for from the segment. Standard equipment is all of the name brand variety, with three-mode ABS-linked Nissin brakes, adjustable KYB suspension, Delphi electronic fuel injection, and Akront aluminum tubeless spoked rims wrapped in Metzeler Tourance tires. Also included as standard are handguards, a full suite of crash bars, a massive skid plate, all LED lighting, USB charging ports, and multiple ride modes. Offering 8.2” of ground clearance, this model is also sold with an optional set of hard luggage. Outfitted with a 5.5-gallon tank, this model’s 60mpg fuel economy allows for an approximately 330-mile range on a single tank — a trait made possible by the Montana XR5’s best-in-class weight of 392lbs.
Engine: Liquid-Cooled 471cc DOHC Parallel-Twin
Power: 48hp / N/A
Honda’s current generation of CBR250RR was something of a revelation upon its release, marking the first modern small-displacement supersport that featured a slew of top-shelf amenities and an aesthetic design more in line with that of liter-sized superbikes. The 250’s bodywork is absolutely stunning, with a sharp, Panigale-esque headlight arrangement flowing into a gilled, angular full fairing, a sculpted knee-dented tank, and a suspended tail with air-channels. Sharing the same LCD display found on the larger CBR500R, the quarter-liter RR also gets a ride by wire throttle (a class first on the 250RR), multiple power modes, and an optional multidirectional quick-shifter. More powerful than the outgoing model, the current generation’s inline-two engine features a high compression ratio of 11.5, a downdraft intake layout, keyless ignition, and its 40hp are fed through a trick assist/slipper clutch.
Engine: Liquid-Cooled 249cc DOHC Parallel-Twin
Power: 40hp / 18.5ft-lbs
CFMoto 700CL-X Heritage
The modern-retro segment has absolutely exploded since the turn of the millennium, and though there’s no shortage of models in this space, very few are able to successfully blend contemporary and vintage visual themes quite like the 700CL-X Heritage from CFMOTO (another company owned by Austria’s KSR Group). On top of a potent 74hp 700cc twin-engine, the CL-X Heritage comes with a 41mm inverted front-end and a mono-shock — both of which are fully-adjustable and manufactured by KYB — and Continental ABS-backed J.JUAN brakes. Minor details complimenting the overall design include a tuck-and-roll saddle, braced front fender, SuperTrapp-style muffler, LED lighting all around (with self-canceling indicators and a light-sensing adaptive headlight), a wraparound license plate hanger and rear indicators, and changeable tank panels with functional air scoops. On the technology front, the vintage-inspired CFMOTO also gets electronic cruise control and multiple ride modes.
Engine: Liquid-Cooled 693cc DOHC Parallel-Twin
Power: 73.8hp / 50.1ft-lbs
Honda CB400 Super Four
Exclusive to the Japanese market, Honda’s CB400 Super Four is a small, multi-cylinder model based on 1980s-era AMA racers. Its size coupled with its engine layout makes for a wildly characterful little machine, that’s unlike almost anything you’d find outside of the island. The standard componentry is much more in line with the equipment that you’d find on this CB’s larger displacement counterparts, with items like a dual front disc arrangement. Alongside the 400 Super Four, Honda also sells a Super Bol d’Or variant that wears a modernized version of an ‘80s-style half-fairing in lieu of a round headlight but is otherwise identical to the base model. And, while this is a really special motorcycle, it does come at a fairly steep price, with an MSRP that’s on par with some incredibly competent full-size models, like Kawasaki’s Z900 sport naked.
Engine: Liquid-Cooled 399cc DOHC Inline-Four
Power: 55hp / 28.75ft-lbs
Moto Morini X-Cape
The mid-size adventure class is another segment that’s seen its fair share of growth in recent years, spurred on by the hype and anticipation surrounding models like KTM’s 790 Adventure and Yamaha’s Ténéré 700. Moto Morini is now getting in on the action with its X-Cape (pronounced “escape”) model. The X-Cape forgoes the popular beaked ADV design in favor of a modern Italian take on a Dakar-style fairing that features a sharp LED headlight arrangement and fills the cockpit side of the navigation tower with a best-in-class size 7” Bluetooth-connected full-color TFT display. The bash-guard, an ultra-thin silencer, and tall, adjustable, touring-ready windscreen are all noteworthy as well, as is the set of spoked Excel wheels (19” front, 17” rear) that come standard on the X-Cape. MM hasn’t released power figures beyond stating that it will produce a regular, and a “limited power” version that’s restricted to 48hp.
Engine: Liquid-Cooled 649cc DOHC Parallel-Twin
Following in the footsteps of high-revving small-displacement multi-cylinder track weapons like Honda’s RC166 of the 1960s, Kawasaki has recently pulled the cover off of the absolutely bonkers ZX-25R. This is a 250cc inline-four-powered top-shelf superbike, outfitted with top-of-the-line running gear including a 37mm Showa Separate Function Big Piston fork, a horizontal back-link mono-shock setup. and radial-mount quad-piston Monobloc from caliper (with dual-channel ABS). Built around a WSBK-derived chassis, the little four-banger is capable of triple-digit speeds, and gets multiple ride modes, Kawasaki’s proprietary traction control, and a bidirectional quick-shifter — all of which, like the inline-four engine at the heart of the thing, are completely unheard-of on a bike of this size. It obviously won’t be the fastest bike around, but as far as pound-for-pound performance (and “smiles-per-hour”), it’s hard to think of anything that even comes close to this little Ninja, which also just happens to redline at 17,000rpm.
Engine: Liquid-Cooled 249.8cc DOHC Inline-Four
Power: 51hp / 22ft-lbs
TM Racing SMR 450 Fi 4T
TM Racing is a boutique motorcycle outfit that’s based in Pesaro, Italy (and also builds go-karts). Founded in 1977, the company has always focused on competition-grade machines that are built to extract the best possible performance, rather than tailoring its bikes to be more comfortable or practical for daily riding duties. And this is the formula used to create the brand’s SMR 450 Fi 4T, which is TM’s full-size fuel-injected dirt bike model that’s been given street wheels and tires and had a small headlight and license plate tacked on. Thanks to the road-legal bits, this race-ready turn-key supermoto bike is fully street-legal, and in TM Racing’s typical fashion, it’s already gone through the trouble of upgrading just about every component one would normally modify when building a top-shelf supermoto racer.
Engine: Liquid-Cooled 449cc DOHC Single-Cylinder
When Honda first unveiled its cross-over adventure scooter in 2016, the thing was met with skepticism and was the butt of more than a few jokes. Everyone’s opinions would quickly change, however, when an X-ADV was piloted to victory at the 2019 Gibraltar Rally — a ridiculously grueling 14 stage, 4,350-mile rally race event stretching from the Baltic Sea to the coast of the Atlantic — besting a middleweight class grid full of KTM and BMW dual-sports and adventure bikes. Rolling on a 17” front and 15” rear, spoked tubeless wheel setup, the rugged scooter features a tubular steel diamond frame, 41mm USD fork, and a mono-shock that are both adjustable preload and rebound damping and afford a full 6-inches of suspension travel. As of this year, Honda is offering a 150cc version of this adventure scooter on US shores, though its three-quarter-liter sibling.
Engine: Liquid-Cooled 745cc OHC Parallel-Twin
Power: 53.6hp / 50.1ft-lbs
CCM Spitfire Stealth Foggy
Co-developed (and named after), four-time World Superbike champion, Carl “Foggy” Fogarty, Clews Competition Machines’ Stealth Foggy is a special edition, largely blacked-out version of the boutique British outfit’s Spitfire range. Like every other model in this artisanal moto lineup, each bike is built in extremely limited number, entirely by hand, is outfitted with top-shelf components, and is powered by a 62hp, 600cc, fuel-injected, liquid-cooled, single that was developed by BMW. What makes the Stealth Foggy unique is its gloss black tank, headlight cowl, tail section, and front fender — which feature bronze pinstriping and titanium grey anodized accents — matching bronze Marzocchi forks, and full bronze chrome powder-coated, hand-TIG-welded frame. The Stealth Foggy also gets Brembo radial-mount quad-piston calipers, black 19” machined wheels, a carbon fiber rear fender, and a black quilted Alcantara seat with bronze accent stitching.
Engine: Liquid-Cooled 600cc DOHC Single-Cylinder
Power: 62hp / 48.7ft-lbs
Origin: United Kingdom
Moto Morini Super Scrambler
Founded in 1937, Moto Morini is a renowned Italian motorcycle outfit that, like Ducati, has a rich race history and lineage. The company has traded hands on numerous occasions, most recently in 2018 when it was purchased by China’s Zhongneng Vehicle Group, which has opted to leave the design and production of Moto Morini’s bikes in its native Italy. This decision was made in an effort not to lessen the normally stellar aesthetics and fit and finish on MM’s wares such as the Super Scrambler. This big-bore V-Twin is a visual amalgamation of old and new that’s backed by a modern powertrain and electronics, though it should be noted this model is a “scrambler” largely just in name, lacking any real hardcore dirt-going capabilities. Nonetheless, it’s a fantastic-looking scrambler right out of the box, plus MM sells numerous accessories for the SS including leather tank pads, and saddlebags and luggage racks.
Engine: Liquid-Cooled 1,187cc 87° V-Twin
Power: 114.5hp / 80ft-lbs
Vyrus 986 M2
Vyrus is a wildly-elite, boutique Italian manufacturer that builds ridiculously-exclusive, top-shelf hub-center-steered motorcycles. In 2011, the company tried building a Moto2 bike using Honda’s CBR600RR engine — which at that time was used by every bike in the Moto2 class — though after the project failed to gain much traction, it was put on the back burner for a few years before being released as a road-legal version. As per usual, the Vyrus sports a double inverted Omega billet frame, push-rod and double rocker suspension setup, and numerous carbon-fiber bits that help the piece of rolling exotica to tip the scales at just under 320lbs, wet, fully-fueled, and ready-to-go. Top speed is only 120mph or so, though it gets there pretty quick, and handles phenomenally in the corners along the way.
Engine: Liquid-Cooled 599cc DOHC Inline-Four
Power: 120hp / 48.7ft-lbs
The 15 Best Cars You Can’t Buy In The U.S.
Interested in further exploring some vehicles that were never made available on American shores? Then be sure to check out our guide to the best cars you can’t buy in the U.S. for more than a dozen unique Euro and Asian-market models.