Top American Motorcycle Brands In 2023

Top American Motorcycle Brands In 2023

As with many countries in the early years of the 20th century, America had hundreds of motorcycle manufacturers, some of which lasted a few months, some a few years, and one or two that survived to the present day. It was a rich melting pot of design and engineering innovation which is primarily forgotten as Harley-Davidson and Indian churn out the same motorcycles with the same engineering year after year.


As the world moves into the age of electric-driven vehicles, you can bet to see some new startup companies appear on the market and some familiar names starting to drop off and disappear. One thing is for sure if the American motorcycle industry does not shift its production methods over to embrace the demand for EV versions, it will be run out of business by the companies that do.

Updated May 2023: American Motorcycle brands come and go as the years pass by, but the ones that have made a good name for themselves all have one thing in common: they are willing to change how they produce bikes according to the buying public’s demand. After all, that is how they stay in business.

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Related: The 10 Best Indian Motorcycles Ever Built

Harley-Davidson Motorcycles: “Live To Ride, Ride To Live”

Top American Motorcycle Brands In 2023
Harley-Davidson

2023 Harley-Davidson Fast Johnnie Collection

It can’t be denied that Harley-Davidson is America’s longest-running and most successful motorcycle manufacturer. The LiveWire electric motorcycle was a huge surprise to the motorcycling world, and more recently, the Pan America has signaled a new direction and intent by H-D management to address the problem of an aging customer base for its traditional products and the realization that it needs to diversify to survive. The fact that the Pan America adventure bike was so good right out of the box proves there is more to the grand old man of American motorcycling than heavy, chrome-laden cruisers.

Indian Motorcycles: “Be Legendary”

2023 Indian Sport Chief TJ Dillashaw 1
Indian

TJ Dillashaw enjoying life aboard his uber-special Sport Chief

Indian as we know it today might have nothing to do with the original Indian Motorcycle Company that existed between 1901 and 1953, but the Polaris Industries resurrection still adheres to the template laid down back in the heyday of the company: large capacity, V-twin-engined, typically American motorcycles. Past model names have been brought back to life – Chief, Scout, and Roadmaster – to provide a link to the past, and engines are still large-displacement V-twins. Indian has opted to go down the traditional, almost retro, styling route, albeit with thoroughly modern mechanicals and electronics. Heritage is critical in the American market and Indian has worked hard to establish links back to the original company.

LiveWire Motorcycles: “The Loudest Sound You Hear Will Be Your Heartbeat”

A parked Livewire One
Harley Davidson

Side view of a Livewire One

Really part of Harley-Davidson, although the LiveWire company has been spun off into its own stand-alone brand, complete with a listing on the stock exchange. The first Livewire appeared in 2014, and the public could ride them at dealers from 2015, although they were not yet for sale. The original Livewire One model is still in production, but LiveWire has pointed the way to the future with the new Del Mar model, which is based on a new modular platform called the Arrow and can be configured into several different motorcycle styles. Crucially, the price is also much lower than the One, which was criticized for being too expensive when launched.

Zero Motorcycles: “Creates A Better Riding Experience”

2023 Zero DSR/X parked in the woods
Zero Motorcycles

A 2023 Zero DSR/X parked in the woods

Of all the electric motorcycle manufacturers, Zero has been around for the longest and seems to have the firmest hold on the market. Zero has been around since 2006 when it was called Electricross. Since then, the battery range and motor power have increased, as well as the model range, which now comprises supermotard, faired sports, and nominally off-road versions, as well as roadster models in various states of tune. The most significant barriers to electric bike acceptance is range, recharge time, and, not insignificantly, price. But electricity as a motive power is coming whether we like it or not, and Zero has to be in the best position to take advantage of that.

Related: 2022 Zero SR/S

Arch Motorcycles: “The Next Chapter In American Motorcycling”

2023 Arch Motorcycle 1S 3
Arch Motorcycle

Action shot of a 2023 Arch Motorcycle 1S 3

The company’s foundations were laid when Reeves approached Hollinger, already a respected custom builder, to customize the actor’s Harley-Davidson. It seems an impossible task, but careful design, manufacturing as many of the parts themselves as possible to their own specification, as well as using top-shelf proprietary components from Öhlins, S&S, BST carbon wheels, and Yoshimura exhausts, created a truly unique American motorcycle. Elegant and innovative design, precision engineering, and a hand-built process, all the time working closely with the customer, have ensured that ARCH has transcended the fame of its co-owner to become a respected brand in its own right.

Buell: “America’s Fast Motorcycle”

Buell Sportbike
Buell

Motorcycle standing on track, facing right in sunglight.

In 2021, the announcement came that Buell Motorcycles was back in business, under new ownership and with the promise of 10 new models by 2024, including the first models to be announced, the 1190RX and SX, which are essentially developments of the 1125R. Buell Motorcycles deserves to survive, combining distinctive design with American innovation and ingenuity.

Related: Buell is back with new Hammerhead superbike

Boss Hoss: “Proper American Excess At Its Finest”

Boss Hoss V8
Sergey Kohl / Shutterstock.com

Side view shot of a red Boss Hoss V-8 

Whoever had the idea of stuffing an enormous 5.7-liter Chevy V8 into a cruiser-style motorcycle chassis has to be either completely mad or a genius: we’re going for the latter! Formed in 1990 by Monte Warne, where he came up with the idea is not recorded, but you have to thank him for having the idea in the first place: there is nothing quite like riding a bike with a minimum of 350 horsepower and well over 400 pound-feet of torque. As unlikely as it may seem, a Boss Hoss will go around corners with just as much poise and safety as it will tear up the tarmac in a straight line. Proper American excess in motorcycle form and brilliant for it.

Confederate/Curtiss: “Art Of Rebellion”

Curtiss 1 120 Anniversary Special 4
Curtiss

With a whopping $120,000 price tag, this is no easy-on-the-pocket prospect

Everyone remembers the first time they saw a Confederate motorcycle because it looked like nothing else on two wheels. The first Confederate rolled off the production line in 1993, but by 2001, the company was bankrupt. It recovered, and production continued up to 2017. At that point in time, owner Matt Chambers announced that the company’s name was changing to Curtiss (after motorcycling and aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss) and that, going forward, they would be producing electric motorcycles in partnership with Zero Motorcycles. In typical fashion, the Curtiss One electric motorcycle is as distinctive as the Confederates had been.

Related: Confederate gets New Name and $120,000 Price Tag

Janus: “Made To Stand The Test Of Time”

Janus Motorcycles Halcyon 450 in red
Janus Motorcycles

Janus Halcyon 450 in red, parked on a street

Retro is super cool right now, and Janus Motorcycles has fully embraced this trend with its range of 250cc and 450cc motorcycles, making it unique in American motorcycle manufacture in which the typical approach is large-engined models. Founded in 2011, the first models were delivered in 2013. These were 50cc, two-stroke-engined motorcycles with a distinctive retro flavor. Apart from the engine, forks, and wheel hubs, Janus supported local industry in Indiana for the manufacture of the bike’s components. In 2015, the first 250cc model was introduced after difficulties meeting pollution limits with the two-stroke 50cc engine. In 2021, the first 450cc model appeared to enhance the range, and the company is going from strength to strength, despite a price tag of $13,500 for the 450cc Halcyon model.

Cleveland Cyclewerks Motorcycles: “Motorcycles Built For People”

A parked Cleveland Cyclewerks Motorcycle
Gzzz via Wikimedia Commons

Side view of a Cleveland Cyclewerks Motorcycle

Even though Cleveland Cyclewerks outsources most of its parts from China and uses engines from Honda, they are still based in Cleveland, Ohio, so they are considered to be an American motorcycle company. They are a small, privately owned company that designed retro-styled café racers and bobbers with the solid idea of trying to fill the void in the motorcycle marketplace for inexpensive bikes that are still stylish and fun. Not to mention bikes that can hang with the models designed and built by the big boys of America. They may not be as popular as Harley-Davidson or Arch, but they are hanging in there.

Tarform Motorcycles: “Setting A New Standard For Two Wheeled Transportation”

Tarform Luna - racer/scrambler
Tarform

Shot of a Luna Racer by Tarform, with a Luna Scrambler in the background

Tarform Motorcycles is one of those recent startups that has sprung up since the electric bike market began booming. The main reason that they are doing so well is that they are not in business to simply fill a void by making another bike that fills a spot in the market. Instead, the company is trying to make a difference in the market by offering something different. The Tarform Luna is that bike provided to the public in two forms, the Luna Scrambler and the Luna Racer. The electric motor in both produces 75 horsepower and 120 pound-feet of torque, with a range of up to 100 city miles.

Damon Motorcycles: “Electric Motorcycles Of The Future”

A parked Damon Hyperfighter
Damon Motorcycles

Side and partial front view of a Damon Hyperfighter

It is time to sit back and imagine an electric bike that looks and drives like a racing bike. One that can travel 200 miles on one charge, has up to 200 horsepower, a top speed of 200 miles per hour, and innovative CoPilot technology monitors traffic 360 degrees around you while driving. With the flick of a switch, you can change the driver setting from ergonomic to sporting while on the go. If this type of bike sounds awesome, look for the Damon Hypersport and Damon Hyperfighter to come out in 2024.

FAQ

Q: Who makes the best American motorcycle?

Both Harley-Davidson and Indian Motorcycles make the best traditional American motorcycles but the likes of Zero and Lightning are leading the way in American electric motorcycles

Q: Which is the most expensive American Motorcycle?

The most expensive American motorcycles are the Curtiss One and the Confederate Wraith, both costing nearly $100,000, while the ARCH can cost well over $120,000, depending on the specification.

Q: What are some of the American motorcycle companies?

Some American motorcycle companies are Harley Davidson, Indian, Lightning, Curtiss, Confederate, Boss Hoss, Zero, Janus and ARCH

Q: What is the most popular bike in the U.S.?

Harley Davidson is the most popular brand of bikes since it sells the most motorcycles in the U.S.

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