Few things are more American than a motorcycle, other than a motorcycle made in America, perhaps. These days, bikes are synonymous with Asian and European countries, as well, but many American motorcycles are still some of the best models available today. A few big names come to mind when thinking of American motorcycles, such as Harley-Davidson, Victory and Indian. In addition to these, there are several other under-the-radar American companies producing some of the best motorcycles on the road today.
If you care about American-made products or simply want a well-made piece of equipment – no matter where it comes from – there are countless great motorcycles from which to select. Here are some of the best American motorcycles you can buy, hand-picked by our knowledgeable staff.
If you think electric motorcycles don’t count as real bikes, think again. The Brammo Empulse R will change your mind on the subject – after just one ride. The feel and handling of the Empulse R rivals many internal combustion engine equivalents, even though it uses an electric motor, instead. There have been many disappointing electric motorcycles on the market that tend to give the genre a bad rap, but this is one of the first models that actually provides a fast and fun ride, easily topping 100 mph, and providing you with 100 miles of range. It may come as a surprise that such a powerful and fun electric bike was not designed – or even produced – in Europe, Japan or China. In fact, it is made right here, in the U.S., in Ashland, Oregon.
Zero has been producing electric motorcycles since 2009, but up until recently, the components were made of astoundingly low-quality materials. Even major parts, such as the suspension, brakes, headlights and tires left much to be desired, in terms of quality, and to an equal degree, appearance and performance. However, all of that has changed in recent years, as Zero has upped its game. New models are lightweight, nimble and easy to maneuver. Their quick and responsive handling makes it easy for you to correct mistakes without getting into a wreck. As a drawback, though, the Zero FX does top out at 85 mph, but is fine under most conditions, as the bike is ideal for commuting, or simply getting around town for short trips.
Honda or Ducati might come to mind when thinking of the most capable track motorcycles, but in fact, one of the best bikes available is made in East Troy, Wisconsin. It may be an unlikely place to find superbike production, but Erik Buell Racing (EBR) models are so fast that they could easily be mistaken for a MotoGP bike on track day. In a partnership with the Indian company Hero Motor Corp, the EBR bike was entered into the World Superbike Championship series in 2013. With investments from Hero, the 1190 RS and other models are poised to now get marketed more seriously as contenders on the American racing scene.
While there may be some contention about where Harley-Davidson parts are manufactured, the fact remains that Harleys are designed in America, and built by American workers – to this day. There are several great models in the Dyna bike range, but the FXDC Super Glide is perhaps the best of the bunch. This bike is a big v-twin, with classic stylistic features. The Super Glide is nothing out of the ordinary, but it handles great, and provides a comfortable ride. At 683 pounds, it is also lightweight by Harley’s standards, making it more nimble than you might expect. The MSRP starts at $13,199, and while this bike is more expensive than other similar models, you can’t really go wrong with a Dyna.
Harley-Davidson may have more than three-quarters of all sales in the American motorcycle sector, but Victory is gaining popularity, as well. In its long lineup of bikes, Victory’s Vegas 8-Ball is worth a second look. The MSRP starts at about $12,499, making it the perfect entry-level bike, as you get a lot of bang for your buck. The models only come in black, but this is not necessarily a drawback, as the Vegas 8-Ball is well-suited to the color. The bike has a 106 ci v-twin engine with 113 pounds of torque and 97 horsepower. The 8-Ball also has a 21-inch front wheel, as well as a solo seat.
This American bike can climb Pike’s Peak faster than a Ducati Multistrada, giving it serious credibility in the world of superbikes. It can even reach 218 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats. This would be impressive by any standards, but did we mention it’s 100 percent electric? The LS-218 model is hands-down the fastest production motorcycle available anywhere, among gas or electric bikes. If you have ever doubted the boundaries of electric performance, Lightning Motorcycles will surely make you think again. Retail prices for the LS-218 start at around $39,000, which isn’t bad for any superbike, let alone one that tops the charts as the fastest in production.
When it comes to motorcycles, you can get anything from a superbike to a cruiser, and everything in between. Many people overlook the fact that some motorcycles are designed just for off-road use, as well. Different from a dirt bike, the Rokon Trail Breaker is a sturdy workhorse that can travel pretty much anywhere imaginable. With two-wheel drive, it can traverse just about any terrain, including the Darien Gap, which is considered impassable by any other vehicle. These bikes also have hollow tires, which allows them to float in water. Trail breakers have even been used by U.S. Special Forces to invade foreign countries during missions. It doesn’t get more American than that. Rokon Trail Breakers are produced in New Hampshire, where they have been made since 1963. While they have many uses, these motorcycles are highly popular among ranchers, hunters and farmers, alike.