Posted on 03/28/2022 at 12:43 PM by The Biker Lawyers
Harley Davidson and other major American Motorcycle Brands Facing a New Era
American Bikers are some of the most badass and stylish people in the world. We love our leathers, and our Harleys, and our brash, loud and proud nature. Riding a Motorcycle is more than just transportation for us — it's a lifestyle.
Harley Davidson. Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company. Victory motorcycles. Indian.
What do these 4 brands have in common? They are all American Motorcycle brands! But what about Buell or Ducati or Harley Davidson's little sister manufacturer, MV Agusta? No, those brands are not made in the USA — they're Italian Motorcycle brands. Here's a quick list of the 13 current American Motorcycles:
2022 Updated List of American Motorcycle Manufacturers
Interested in learning about a specific brand? Click to skip ahead!
- Arch Motorcycles
- Boss Hoss Cycles
- Cleveland CycleWerks
- Confederate/Curtiss Motorcycle Company
- Harley Davidson (H-D)
- Indian Motorcycle, Victory, Polaris Technologies
- Janus Motorcycles
- Lightning Motorcycle Corp.
- Zero Motorcycles
The United States has and continues to be, an epicenter for motorcycle innovation.
Many of the largest and most prominent motorcycle manufacturers, parts manufacturers, and tuning houses are based here in the USA. Since we have been building motorcycles longer than anyone else on the planet (see who invented the motorcycle), our country is full of a rich heritage and history.
American Motorcycles have evolved over time into the top-selling motorcycle brands in the world.
In the past few years, Harley sold more motorcycles than any time since the 1940s. Sure that sounds great, but, some important trends have started to change and it’s not good news for American manufacturers. If they continue the way they have Harley won’t be the only motorcycle producer who could be in big trouble.
Even though Americans love big bikes, we're seeing a switch happening. Since 2014, new motorcycle registrations are 20.5% lower and the average age of motorcycle owners is growing older.
It's always hard to turn down a Harley. The Harley Davidson is a timeless classic, with awesome power. While these motorcycles ride great, they aren't exactly lightweight or the easiest bikes to ride.
Anyone who has ridden a Harley will tell you they aren't easy to maneuver, especially the larger bikes like the Road King or Electra Glide. This, coupled with the rising cost of gasoline these days, you can't help but wonder if the bike is still worth it.
For these reasons and a few more, it seems Harley is losing out on millennial buyers and many products aren't as competitive as other brands.
Here's the good news: Harley Davidson isn't the only motorcycle game in town. In fact, those looking to hit the road on a new bike have plenty of American Manufacturers to choose from. We believe the end of American motorcycle brands is still far, far away.
Questions to Consider when Buying a Motorcycle
Finding the right American Motorcycle brand, manufacturer & aftermarket tuners isn't easy, especially with so many competing brands to choose from. Learning to ride the specific type of bike you want is important. Sure, you’ll also worry about vehicle registration, registration renewal, and license plates. There are plenty of things to worry about, so we recommend simplifying the process.
Let’s be very clear: the first step in buying a motorcycle is to know your options. There are a lot of powerful motorcycles looking for owners out there. You’re probably not going to be a motorcycle racer, so to manage expectations, we suggest you consider the following questions:
- Are you an experienced rider or entry-level?
- What do you plan to use the bike for, specifically?
- Would you want an electric motorcycle?
- What is your price range?
- Are you into custom motorcycles or would you settle for pre-owned?
- What kind of gear will you need?
- What kind of motorcycle insurance should you carry?
You may be looking for a Cruiser, a Bobber, or even a Dirt bike. Regardless of what you’re in the market for, this list should make it a bit easier and let you know your options.
The Complete List of Current American Motorcycle Manufacturers
Legendary motorcycle racer Dan Gurney started Alligator Motorcycles. The bikes are known for their low-slung appearance where the saddle puts a rider's crotch right up against a modified Honda 650 single 710 cc engine.
Speaking of the engine, these engines pump out 70+ hp and deliver on the company’s motto: “More Smiles Per Mile!” The bikes are typically ultra-light (only about 320 pounds, and are built for one thing: speed. Owning one of these wicked rides would run you about $35,000.
Arch Motorcycle (Founded by Keanu Reeves)
We know what you’re thinking and yes, THAT Keanu Reeves founded a motorcycle company back in 2011. The idea was simple: push the limits of what an American motorcycle could be.
The challenge, however, was anything but simple. Reeves wanted to build only the highest quality motorcycles with uncompromising aesthetics, functionality, and at the bleeding edge of technical innovation. The result is an exclusive, custom (or as the Arch Motorcycle team calls them “a bespoke production”) motorcycle tailored to each unique rider.
Think of Arch Motorcycles as the tailors of custom suits if those suits were modern motorcycles. A core philosophy of the company is to view engineering as the bridge that connects design and manufacturing to create a functioning work of art.
In a unique twist, owning an Arch Motorcycle is so exclusive that, as a perk, you gain access to an owners-only social media platform.
The platform is like a club and the only way to get on the list is to own an Arch. When we say “exclusive” we mean it. If you don’t own an Arch, you can’t even find the social platform, let alone access it.
How do you buy one, and just how much do these beasts cost? Ask Arch Motorcycles yourself to find out!
Boss Hoss Cycles, Inc. was established in 1990 by commercial aircraft pilot and technician Monte Warne with the creation of a Chevy V-8 powered, single-gear transmission, Motorcycle. This bike was the first V-8 powered motorcycle styled after a traditional cruiser.
Boss Hoss still specializes in the unique V-8 engine design. The company has expanded to also offer trikes, with all bikes built within the company’s 22,000 square foot facility. Potential customers can take a virtual tour of the facility here. How do you know if Boss Hoss is the right manufacturer for you? If the power of a V-8 is what you're looking for, look no further than Boss Hoss Cycles.
Buell Motorcycle/Erik Buell Racing
The company Buell Motorcycles was founded by Erik Buell after creating the RW750 specifically for racing in the AMA Formula 1 Race class. Two were produced.
Later, in 1985 and into the early 90s, Buell produced street sport motorcycles using Harley Davidson engines. These innovations caught Harley’s eye and in 1993, Harley purchased a minority interest in the company.
Buell has mostly focused on street racers, but in 2020, Buell developed a dirt bike that went on to win the AMA Hill Climb National Championship.
Based in Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland CycleWerks are the makers of the Misfit, Ace Standard, Ace Scrambler, and a couple of awesome models of off-roaders. They operate with the mindset of building fun and approachable motorcycles and anyone who has seen one can see why.
These bikes are fun, affordable, and accessible. If you want to own MORE than just a bike, Cleveland CycleWerks is for sale… seriously.
In 1902 the G.H. Curtiss Manufacturing company began producing motorcycles including the Hercules motorcycle. The company was born from the powerful notion of what happens when you add an engine to a bicycle.
As the company continued to grow, the founder, Glenn H. Curtiss, became obsessed with the idea of becoming the fastest man on Earth, and by 1907, the Chicago Daily News claimed he had. The original company seemed to have died with its founder in 1930.
When Trial Lawyer H. Matthew Chambers started Confederate Motors in 1991, his vision was “enlightened design through true American inspiration.” The company soon evolved into an all-electric motorcycle company, so too did the name.
In 2015, Curtiss was born again as an innovative all-electric luxury motorcycle manufacturer. The visions of both Glenn Curtiss and H. Matthew Chambers still ring true today. They strive not to create envy, but rather respect.
Now they make exclusive luxury light electric motorcycles. Bottom line: if you are looking to harness the power and respect of a chrome dragon on wheels, you’re looking for a Curtiss.
Every motorhead with oil in his blood has a special place in his engine of a heart for Harley. If you’ve read this far and you still don’t know who Harley Davidson is, you may want to get your eyes checked, or start from the top and read again. Harley Davidson’s history is American motorcycle history.
The first motorcycle in America was built in 1868 by Sylvester Howard Roper, followed by William Harley and Arthur Davidson who founded Harley Davidson in 1903. Now, Harley is a household name, as is Indian Motorcycles.
If you love motorcycles, you probably already know about Indian Motorcycles. The Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company was founded on August 28, 1901, by George M. Hendee and Oscar Hedstrom (who worked for Roper). The Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company produced the first American V-twin engine in 1906.
Indians were also very popular with motorcycle police. Indian boasts of being America’s first motorcycle company and a true pioneer in motorcycle manufacturing.
What you may not know is that Polaris Technologies (Based in Minnesota) makes and markets gas-powered motorcycles under both the Indian Motorcycle and Victory brands.
Polaris also bought the Brammo brand around 2015 with plans to begin manufacturing electric motorcycles in its Spirit Lake, Ia facility.
Some may disagree, but when it comes to motorcycles, bigger isn’t always better. Janus Motorcycles is the maker of small-displacement bikes and was founded in 2011 by Devin Biek and Richard Worsham in Goshen, IN. The bikes sport a very vintage look and feel that some have called “retro-futuristic”.
According to the company, the concept behind Janus Motorcycles is to offer bikes that are “perfectly sized for the vast majority of the riding we love to do.” These machines aren’t built for supersonic speed or as a cross-country bagger. Often called “Smile Machines,” they’re built to give you as much thrill as possible in your everyday riding.
As the name implies, Lightning Motorcycles produces high-performance electric motorcycles. This company has been making history since 1995 when they helped build the world’s first electric Porsche race car.
Jay Leno Test Drives a Lightning Motorcycle
If you want fast, Lightning is the way to go. The company set the land speed record of 215.96 mph in 2011 with the world’s fastest production electric motorcycle. In 2013, at Pike’s Peak, they beat all of the world’s fastest gas-powered motorcycles.
Another interesting fact: in 2012 Lightning Motorcycles made history with the world’s first solar-powered superbike.
MTT got their start building super high-performance boats (hence the Marine in the name), but found fame with their venture into the realm of superbikes.
If you ride for speed, you have probably heard about the Y2K Superbike. This bike was the first turbine-powered, street-legal motorcycle powered by a Rolls Royce- Allison gas turbine engine. In the early 2000s, the Y2K Superbike made the Guinness World Records for being the most expensive production motorcycle and being the most powerful production motorcycle.
Modern MTT motorcycles and trikes continue the tradition of insane power with a modern design.
Rokon Motorcycles are known for their “Trail Breaker” breed of motorcycles that do just that: they break the trails. Not your traditional “off-road” motorcycle, the Rokon brags that riders can “forget the trail and take on the wild.”
ZEV is what you get when you let engineers design vehicles for themselves. The company claims to have the largest line of road-legal motor scooters, trikes, motorbikes, and motorcycles in the world.
If you are in the market for an electric motorcycle, you may be wondering how ZEV compares to industry leaders like Brammo or BMW C Evolution. According to a side-by-side, ZEV is faster, lasts longer, rides farther than both bikes. The ZEV S8500 LR costs about $2,000 less than Brammo and is just under $13,000 less than the BMW C Evolution.
You may have been born a gearhead who swears by the engine oil in your blood, but if deep down, you want to convert to electric and need a bit of a push, Zero provides a peek into the future.
From humble beginnings in a garage in Santa Cruz, California in 2006 to a globally recognized electric bike brand, Zero has built a solid reputation for innovation. The company builds (what they call) “low-to-no maintenance, rapid charging, no clutch, no gears, just go” smart bikes.
What exactly is a “Smart bike?”
Zero Motorcycles come with an app that lets you fine-tune the bike ahead of the ride with a few quick swipes. Riders can toggle things like max speed, max torque, neutral regeneration, brake regeneration, and more. The Zero DSR, for example, has pre-programmed Eco and Sport modes that also give detailed post-ride stats worth knowing.
Best of all, there is no special equipment required for these electric motorcycles. Forget high gas prices, replacing clogged filters, dirty oil, chain maintenance, and shot spark plugs. Zero bikes can be recharged using the standard household outlet in your garage. These things may actually be the future of motorcycles and will cost you right around $16,000.
You may have plenty of options when it comes to the kind of bike you want to buy. At the end of the day, if you're a biker in pursuit of an iconic American motorcycle brand, you could stick with the tried and true tradition of Harley Davidson. If you are in the market for something else, well, now you at least know your options! There is one simple choice: buy American!