Powerful American Motorcycles That Aren’t Harleys


When you think of American motorcycles, what is the first name that pops up in your head? Let’s be honest here, it’s not going to be Janus motorcycles. And while Janus is a perfectly fine company that produces unique motorcycles with a vintage flair, they’re not synonymous with American motor culture like a certain bar and shield brand is. Of course, we’re talking about Harley-Davidson, here. They are the quintessential American bike manufacturer to millions of people all over the world, with every other brand coming behind it in a distant second place.



But despite Harley’s vice-like grip on the cruiser market, they’re definitely not the only company making powerful bikes in the States. The range is far and wide, from boutique shops that deal with premium built-to-order motorcycles, to mainstream manufacturers on par with HD in terms of reach, quality, and price. If you’re on the lookout for a powerful machine, but something about Harley turns you off, rest assured that you do have quite a few options. And to make things just a bit easier for you, we’ve organized this list by horsepower, from the lowest output to the highest.

In order to give you the most up-to-date and accurate information possible, the data used to compile this article was sourced from various manufacturer websites and other authoritative sources, including Cycle World, Cycle News, and Motorcycle.com.

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10 All American Racers (AAR) Alligator

70 Horsepower

All-American-Racers-(AAR)-Alligator front 3/4 shot
RM Sotheby’s

On the one side, you have the gents of Arch making beautiful, well-designed machines that could fit into an art gallery, with nary an eyebrow raised. On the other hand, you have the AAR Alligator. Legendary racer, Dan Gurney, surely had a good reason for designing the Alligator this way.

In fact, as a tall fella, he’d frequently complained that modern motorcycles were too tall, with an uncomfortable seating position. Hence, the wacky, low seat design of the Alligator. Named as such, due to its low profile and American cruiser style, the bike was manufactured in limited numbers, used a Honda engine and can be very hard to find. But one such model was spotted and sold for $18K in the last decade.

Engine Specifications

Engine Type

Modified Honda four-stroke single

Capacity

710cc

Max Power

70 HP

Max Torque

Unspecified

Top Speed

140 MPH

9 Victory Octane

104 Horsepower

Victory-Octane
Victory

It’s a real shame that Victory is gone. They made American muscle bikes that were a modern antidote to Harley’s conservative motorcycle development ethos. Envisioned as the in-house Harley-buster by Polaris Industries, Victory produced many stylish baggers, cruisers, and touring bikes that were very unlike what HD was producing at the time.

With a design language of their own, these motorcycles have found a dedicated, albeit small, fan base. But none of the Victory models made as much impact as the Octane did. Because, for all intents and purposes, this was the future Indian Scout, in the rawest form possible. Feral, fast, and striking, the bike was Victory’s last hurrah, before Polaris closed its doors. Most of the components made it into the Scout, in a more refined form, and it’s still a popular model for Indian and Polaris.

Engine Specifications

Engine Type

Liquid-cooled 60-degree V-Twin; 4V/cyl, DOHC

Capacity

1179cc

Max Power

104 HP

Max Torque

76 LB-FT

Top Speed

Unspecified

8 Combat Motors Wraith

111 Horsepower

Combat-Motors-Wraith
Combat Motors

Combat Motors is a relatively young company. Originally created in the aftermath of Confederate Motors becoming Curtiss, this new entity didn’t stay as Confederate for very long, either. Combat had taken over where Confederate ended, by building some of the same models.

Eventually they’d made their way to the Wraith, the only model that’s not sold out, as of this writing. The Wraith is a striking, stubby V-twin bike that costs $155,000 and looks it. And other than its V-twin, there’s nothing on it that would confuse an average person into thinking it was a Harley or an Indian cruiser.

Engine Specifications

Engine Type

S&S X-Wedge 56-degree air cooled V-twin

Capacity

2163cc

Max Power

111 HP

Max Torque

143 LB-FT

Top Speed

160 MPH

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7 Indian FTR

120 Horsepower

Indian-FTR
Indian

If you don’t count the Buell Hammerhead, and a few other one-offs, the Indian FTR is the closest thing we have to a sports bike in America. Based on the infamous, and very successful FTR750 flat track racer, the FTR has been through a couple of iterations since its birth. Gone are the off-road aspirations of the first model, in favor of more street-biased capabilities. The modern FTR is an objectively great bike, with an aggressive stance, powerful engine, and killer looks.

Engine Specifications

Engine Type

6 Speed Liquid Cooled V-Twin

Capacity

1203cc

Max Power

120 HP

Max Torque

87 LB-FT

Top Speed

Unspecified

6 Arch Motorcycle KRGT-1

122 Horsepower

ARCH KRGT-1
Arch

If you’re a fan of bikes and action movies, there’s no way that you haven’t heard of Arch Motorcycle. The brainchild of Gard Hollinger and the king of “woah” himself, Keanu Reeves, Arch are known for being builders of luxury, built-to-order motorcycles that combine racing and serious V-twin power. That power comes courtesy of S&S Motors, which are known for making replacement engines for Harley-Davidson bikes.

Most everything else on the Arch KRGT-1, and all their other bikes, is designed and manufactured in-house. Arch Motorcycles walks the client through the entire process, from design to construction, which is that personal touch that’s missing from a lot of the larger companies. Of course, for the price you’re paying for one of their bikes, the red carpet experience is the least they can do.

Engine Specifications

Engine Type

S&S Cycle T124 45-degree downdraft fuel-injected V-Twin engine

Capacity

2032cc

Max Power

122 HP

Max Torque

115.3 LB-FT

Top Speed

Unspecified

5 Indian Challenger

122 Horsepower

It’s weird that one of the more sensible choices on this list is a $26,499 bagger, but here we are. Indian, as a company, has been around just about as long as Harley-Davidson has. However, unlike Harley, they haven’t always been in production, and aren’t owned by anyone even remotely related to the original inventors.

A company by the name of Polaris had purchased the rights to Indian, pushed their own in-house brand aside, and poured a ton of cash into making it a legitimate alternative to Harley. In fact, in a lot of ways, Indian is a much more modern, innovative brand with great bikes in its portfolio, such as the Indian Challenger. And though the Challenger may look like a vintage bike, it’s anything but, using top of the line technology, a bulletproof liquid-cooled engine, and useful features straight out of the factory.

Engine Specifications

Engine Type

Liquid-cooled PowerPlus

Capacity

1768cc

Max Power

122 HP

Max Torque

128 LB-FT

Top Speed

Unspecified

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4 Curtiss Motorcycles Warhawk

150 Horsepower

Curtiss-Warhawk
Curtis

Curtiss Motorcycles are a complicated company. Established in the 1990s as Confederate Motors, the company produced bespoke bikes, and moved around the country a bit, until the weight of the name began costing them business. In 2017, the company renamed itself Curtiss, in reference to Glenn Curtiss, the founder of the American aviation industry.

They then began making electric motorcycles, in partnership with Zero. The final internal combustion bike that would be built by Curtis was the Warhawk, which looked magnificent, and unlike anything else on the road. It also had a crazy 2,163cc V-twin engine, capable of 150 horsepower and 160 LB-FT of torque. But what happened to the rest of Confederate’s ICE bikes? Combat Motors bought it, and began making their own models soon after.

Engine Specifications

Engine Type

Air/Oil-Cooled Triple-Camshaft Ohv Pushrod Dry-Sump 56.25º V-Twin

Capacity

2163cc

Max Power

150 HP

Max Torque

160 LB-FT

Top Speed

165 MPH

3 Buell Motorcycle Super Cruiser

175 Horsepower

Buell-Super-Cruiser
Buell

The Buell brand has had a tumultuous couple of decades, since Harley had severed all ties with them. Erik Buell gave it a go for a few years after that, but eventually moved on to making electric bicycles. Someone else bought the rights to the name, and continued making the same Hammerhead 1190 that’s been around for ten years now.

Without the original creator involved, it seemed like we weren’t going to get anything out of Buell worth mentioning, until the Super Cruiser announcement dropped. Designed alongside Roland Sands, this stylish bike evokes the best part of American cruiser history, albeit in a modern package. Utilizing Buell’s 1190cc V-twin, the bike is expected to go into production in 2025. And if that actually happens, Buell may finally end up with a long-overdue winner on its hands.

Engine Specifications

Engine Type

Buell liquid cooled V-twin engine

Capacity

1190cc

Max Power

175 HP

Max Torque

Unspecified

Top Speed

Unspecified

2 MTT 420RR Turbine

420 Horsepower

MTT-420RR-Turbine
MTT

Leave it to a company called Marine Turbine Technologies to tackle a motorcycle build, by slapping a turbine engine into it. Where to even begin? Who is this motorcycle for? And can anyone afford, let alone ride, one safely? The answer to the price question, is no. Not unless you have $250K lying around the house.

If you do want to mortgage your house to get your hands on one of these, you’ll be happy to hear that it has 420 horsepower, and 250 miles per hour top speed. Where you will use all of that power, remains to be seen. Looking like a stretched out Suzuki Hayabusa on steroids, this torpedo of a bike is properly insane. Is it sensible? No. Can you buy one? Probably not. Are we glad that it exists? One hundred and ten percent.

Engine Specifications

Engine Type

Rolls-Royce C20B engine

Capacity

n/a

Max Power

420 HP

Max Torque

600 LB-FT

Top Speed

250 MPH

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1 Boss Hoss Cycles Classic Cruiser

563 Horsepower

BossHoss-Classic-Cruiser
BossHoss

What the Boss Hoss Classic Cruiser lacks in looks, it sure makes up in horsepower. The company should be lauded for the sheer audacity of building a motorcycle that, essentially, uses a car engine. It comes in three engine flavors: LS3, 383 Stroker, and the 454 Small Block, the last of which outputs a mind-boggling 563 horsepower and 545 LB-FT of torque.

Boss Hoss also makes a bagger, a supersport (which, somehow, isn’t a sports bike), and various trikes styled after vintage cars. Boss Hoss bikes are no-frills cruisers that lack the Harley finishing touch, but that’s part of what makes them unique in the first place. They’re not just carbon copies, but have their own personalities as well as tons of power.

Engine Specifications

Engine Type

454 Small Block

Capacity

7439cc

Max Power

563 HP

Max Torque

545 LB-FT

Top Speed

Unspecified



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