It’s been a long-known phenomenon that we always want what we can’t have.
I’ve always had curly blond hair and the slim build of a marathon runner. Yet I’ve spent my entire life wanting dark straight hair and a physique worthy of a men’s fitness magazine.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve envied friends who lack drive but are content with their lives. Yet I’ve spent most of my adult years being fiercely ambitious and feeling like an underachiever despite it.
And as someone who was born and raised in the UK, I see thousands of people trying to gain access to our little island – whilst I simultaneously dream of escaping it.
We all want what we can’t have. It’s human nature. And the bike world is no different. There are tonnes of motorcycles I like that are unavailable in the UK.
Despite all the makes and models available to us, I can’t help but feel a little envious that countries such as the US, India, or Japan have the better end of the deal!
But the thing is, it’s not always as simple as it seems. The marketing boffins at manufacturer HQs release certain bikes to certain countries based on the demographic of the buyers.
Or they might choose not to release a bike to some countries based on importation rules or emissions regulations. You know, red tape and all that boring stuff that makes you roll your eyes in despair.
So with that said, here are our top 6 motorbikes that are not available in the UK – despite how much we want them to be!
Honda CB1300 Bold D’Or
Honda’s CB range has been iconic for generations – ever since the launch of the CB750 Four in 1969. And the reason for this is simple. It combined performance with functionality and made it accessible to the masses.
The CB600 Hornet spent years as the ideal ‘first big bike.’ The CB1000 combined aggressive looks with unprecedented performance and real-world usability.
And for 2023, Japan will get Honda’s resurgence of the CB1300, which combines glorious heritage looks with the capabilities of a true all-rounder.
For us, it’s the CB1300 Bold D’Or model that stands out, with its stunning half-fairing and angular front light – throwing the styling back to the glory days of the 80s and 90s and providing perfect ergononimcs for a touring motorcycle.
Its 1,284cc inline-four churns out a decent, restrained 111 hp – which doesn’t sound a lot given the engine’s displacement. But this bike isn’t made for speed alone – it’s for all-around capability, comfort, and practicality. Think NT1100 rather than Fireblade, and you’ll be on the right lines.
The Bold D’or will be one of four CB1300 iterations released in Japan – the other being the Super Four and then an SP version of each.
Price-wise, the Bold D’or is expected to come in at around $12,000 (equivalent) – or just over £10,000. And to us, that sounds like an absolute bargain when you consider the price of the NT1100.
Unfortunately, the chances of one getting washed up on UK shores is unlikely due to euro emissions.
Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager
We’re not used to seeing big Kawasaki cruisers in the UK. But that doesn’t mean that Kawasaki can’t (or doesn’t) build them! And not only do they build them, but they rival offerings from manufacturers such as Harley and Indian, too.
You also get a tonne of bike for your money, along with the sophistication of Kawasaki’s engineering and styling.
For example, Harley’s Road Glide Limited comes in at $28,729, whilst Indian’s Superchief is $21,499. The Vulcan 1700 Voyager will set you back around $18,299 – saving you more than $10k on the Harley.
But with it being a Kawasaki, it comes with the quality and usability you would expect. If you’re interested in numbers, the 1,700cc, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, SOHC 8-valve V-twin engine delivers 72.4 hp at 5,000 rpm and 107.6 lb-ft of torque.
It also comes with frame-mounted fairings, integrated luggage, an audio system compatible with your intercom setup, K-ACT (Kawasaki Advanced Coactive-Braking Technology), and electronic cruise control.
At 405kg, it isn’t light! But then again, neither are its competitors. For us, we revere Kawasaki build quality. And we like that it’s 10k cheaper than a Harley. Chuck one over here in that gorgeous Pearl Robotic White with Pearl Nightshade Teal colour scheme, and we’d rip your hand off!
If you’re looking for cruiser to rival american motorbikes, this one from Kawasaki would be our choice.
Horex VR6 Classic
Believe it or not, Horex has been around for 100 years now. And in celebration, the German company are releasing a centenary, carbon-ladened version of their merciless VR6 muscle bike for 2023.
But it’s actually the Horex VR6 Classic that catches our touring-obsessed minds.
See, the Horex is truly ground-breaking, thanks to its narrow-angled, 1,218cc V6 engine that produces 162 hp and 94.5 lb.ft of torque.
The result is instant power – almost telepathic – accompanied by the unique soundtrack of the V6 engine in the middle.
To cope with the power, you’ll find Brembo callipers and Öhlins suspension.
You can also expect a massive 7″ TFT display, LED lighting, a polished, stainless steel exhaust, and an indulgent leather seat.
Oh, did we mention the entire thing is handmade?!
This bike ain’t cheap, starting at 38,500 euros (around £33,600). And it doesn’t come with panniers, either, so you’ll need to get Horex’s touring rack for a tail pack/roll bag or throw over some fabric panniers.
Despite the lack of luggage options and the weight (around 223 kg dry), this thing is a sight to behold. And you can guarantee you won’t bump into another one on the ferry!
Suzuki Boulevard C50T
I always liked the older Boulevard C50T‘s. I know they’re nowhere near as lavish or capable as their older, bigger siblings from Harley-Davidson et al. But I also felt there was something honest about it.
And I liked the name. I mean, just look at it! It might not compete against the larger Chieftains and Road Glides of the world. But can you imagine anything more perfect for cruising through Miami or LA?
The sun bouncing off your back as you ride parallel to the beach. The smell of heat heating asphalt as the warm breeze brushes across your face. Bliss!
So I was pleased when I heard Suzuki released its latest incarnation of the Boulevard C50T – complete with its tried-and-true 805cc v-twin engine.
For us, this is a true all-rounder. Of course, the name suggests short blasts down Santa Monica Boulevard. But the C50T has some touring tricks up its incredibly stylish sleeves.
With a low seat height of 27.6 inches (around 701 mm), most shorter riders will be able to flat-foot it at the lights.
It also comes with a height-adjustable windscreen for those longer days on the freeway and leather-texture saddle bags as standard – perfect for those longer trips away.
For me, this bike is all about looks and the promise of chasing dreams – I think it looks stunning. And whilst some may argue that the 800cc engine will struggle to cope with a bike that weighs 466 lbs (292 kg), I honestly don’t think it matters.
We haven’t seen a new FJR1300 in UK showrooms for a few years – since Yamaha announced they would stop making them due to emissions.
But none of that stopped the FJR from being anything less than a fantastic touring machine. It always was and always will be.
And to announce the 20th anniversary of this legendary touring machine, Yamaha released a special addition FJR – available only in Japan – to celebrate. It will be the final hoorah for this wonderful machine.
The new model remains largely unchanged from the FJR’s that came before it. It still comes with that unctuous 144 hp inline-4 power plant, and the styling and mechanics remain unchanged.
The anniversary edition does, however, feature gold details and an inaugural 20th-anniversary edition badge atop the fuel tank.
Of course, there are newer and arguably more capable touring bikes on the market now. But the FJR was an institution in the touring arena. And the fact that this will be the last model ever to be manufactured is enough to make me want one – for posterity if nothing else.
Honda CB350 H’ness
Every bike on this list so far has featured large-capacity engines, VR6 power plants, and enough heft to lug a small country.
But what about newer riders? Or riders who want something lighter and more agile than 400kg monster cruisers?
Well, for those readers, I bring you the Honda CB350 H’ness. Of course, we’ve already spoken about the success of the CB range. And this bike goes to show the versatility of this lineage.
The CB350 is Honda’s first modern-retro style bike to enter India – largely to take on the mighty Royal Enfield Bullet 350, which has ruled the roost for years in this part of the globe.
And whilst I’ve found Honda’s styling choices dubious (at best) in recent years, the H’ness looks endearing with its retro stylings fused with modern goodies.
Honda has done a good job of styling out this little 350cc bike. It’s been tactfully wrapped in chrome – and vintage components (like the retro headlamp) house modern components and LEDs.
As you might expect, performance isn’t the CB350’s forte. At 348 cc, the engine produces around 21 hp and 22 lb-ft of torque. That said, it pulls through the 5-speed box just fine and enjoys the typical buttery smoothness you’d expect from a Honda.
For those with an economical eye, the H’ness will deliver just under 500 km (300 miles) from its 15-litre tank. So, attach some after-market panniers (or throw over a soft luggage option), and you’re onto a winner!
Top 6 Motorcycles Unavailable in the UK
As mentioned at the head of this post, we always want what we can’t have. But that doesn’t stop us from dreaming!
Which bikes do you wish were available in the UK? And if you’re from the US, Canada, Australia, or another equally exotic place in the world, what bikes do we have in the UK that you’d love to see on your own shores?
Let us know in the comments!
Top image: Honda