Top 10 Japanese motorcycles we can't get - but want - in the UK

Whether it's emissions regulations or sliding sales in certain markets, here are the top ten motorcycles found in Japan that we aren’t allowed to buy.

honda-hawk-11---lakeside-view.jpg
honda-hawk-11---lakeside-view.jpg

IT should be a fairly easy task to flog motorcycles to Brits that are only available in Japan and Asian markets.

Both countries have a deep-rooted love of all things two-wheeled. Both have congested cities and both drive on the left, meaning headlights need no alteration before going on sale.

Sadly though, there is a swathe of bikes that are not homologated for sale in the UK or mainland Europe.

And it’s a real shame because as you are about to see, there are some absolute gems out there!

Honda CB1300 and Bol D'Or
Honda CB1300 and Bol D'Or

Honda CB1300 Super Four and CB1300 Super Four Bol D’Or

The Honda CB1300 Super Four is a model that most of you will recognise, it sold in the UK from 2003 through to 2013. Sadly though, it was dropped from the Honda line up along with its Bol D’Or sibling.

Despite being brought into line with Japanese emissions regs at the time, which was not far off the incoming Euro4 targets, Honda still opted to drop the bike from sale and it remains a Japan-only model.

Yamaha SR400
Yamaha SR400

Yamaha SR400

Another machine that was once available in the UK is the Yamaha SR400. The SR400 was a good seller for Yamaha in the mid-80s when the call for cheap, convenient and good looking transport helped make it a common sight on UK roads.

Discontinued in 2018, the SR400 remains on sale to Japanese retro motorcycle fans, in pretty much the same specification as it did when it was introduced in 1978.

Honda CBR250-RR
Honda CBR250-RR

Honda CBR250RR

With the rise of the A2 motorcycle comes a need for sportier, less computer-based offerings. Enter, from the red corner the Honda CBR250RR.

Built around a 250cc, 9-valve parallel twin-cylinder engine, the CBR250RR produces around 40bhp, features sporty styling and a set of blingy-looking USD forks.

The fact we don’t get it in the UK is an absolute sucker punch to those looking for a superlight sporty 250.

That makes us very sad.

Hawk-11-studio
Hawk-11-studio

 

Honda Hawk 11

One of the more recent additions to the Japanese 'can't have' list, the Honda Hawk 11 is about as bold and daring as the Japanese giants have gotten for a couple of decades now.

A curious blend of Neo-retro styled in the form of a cafe racer, the Hawk 11 is the distant spiritual successor to a CB1100R concept revealed - but dismissed - in 2008.

Built on the same platform as the rather more ordinary NT1100 and CMX1100 Rebel, the Hawk is hard to miss with its imposing conical front fascia that funnels into a porthole headlight in a similar fashion to the MV Agusta Superveloce 800.

There aren't many opportunities to buy a Honda that makes a statement, so it's frustrating the firm won't be making the Hawk 11 available in the UK... not least because the inspiration for the hugely popular 'cafe racer' segment originated in Britain. A rumoured Hawk 7 based on the new 750cc twin platform could make amends though.

Suzuki Gixxer 250 SF
Suzuki Gixxer 250 SF

Suzuki Gixxer 250

The Gixxer 250 (yes Suzuki have really called it that) is a mega-seller for Suzuki in both Japan and other Asian markets.

It’s based on the Inazuma 250 naked and produces around 24hp which is probably enough to bring a smile to your face but not get a new rider into too much trouble.

Honda CBR600RR
Honda CBR600RR

Honda CBR600RR

Much like the smaller CBR250RR, Honda isn't importing its bigger four-cylinder brother, the CBR600RR anymore.

And again it is a big shame for this shrunken-Fireblade shares many of attributes of the fine latest generation CBR1000RR-R, proving engaging through the twisties, yet not intimidating to ride, understated yet statement making and - with 113bhp on tap - fast enough to make the hairs on your neck stand up while safe in the knowledge it won't break easy.

However, the middleweight sportsbike class that once featured the likes of the Honda, Yamaha R6 and Kawasaki ZX-6R is down to (barely) the latter in Europe.

The Japanese get all the fun...

Kawasaki ZX25-R
Kawasaki ZX25-R

Kawasaki ZX25-R         

Alas, it’s been confirmed by Kawasaki that the screaming ZX25-R will not be homologated for use in the UK and Europe.

And that makes us sad, because the ZX25-R was a bike that it seemed the whole of the UK was longing for.

For those looking to explore the bike’s rabid 17,000rpm redline, you could look at importing one, although you’ll probably just have to jump through so many hoops, it just won’t be worth it.

Get on eBay and get yourself a mid-90s 250 or 400cc grey import bike – all the hard work has been done for you then!

Honda CB400 Super Four Bol D'Or
Honda CB400 Super Four Bol D'Or

Honda CB400 Super Four and CB400 Super Four Bol D’Or

No this isn’t the bike at the top of the page – this is its 400cc younger, slimmer and lighter sibling.

The love for a 400cc machine in Japan has never waned, and while we got to experience these four-pot pocket rockets for a few official years in a time gone by, now the chance we’ll get is by relocating to Japan.

Honda-CB350-RS_Black-with-Pearl-Sports-Yellow.jpg
Honda-CB350-RS_Black-with-Pearl-Sports-Yellow.jpg

 

Honda CB350 [GB350 - H'ness]

We have to say, we're kind of surprised Honda has - for now at least - decided against importing the Honda CB350, it's pseudo-retro, low capacity street cruiser given the immense success of the Royal Enfield Meteor 350 on this side of the world.

Indeed, this is really an Indian-market model - where it is affluently known as the H'ness - that has made its way to Japan under the GB350 title.

No frills without looking budget, good value without skimping on the engineering, the CB350 might seem a bit rudimentary compared with other Hondas in the range, but as Royal Enfield's sales suggest, that is exactly what some buyers are looking for.

Kawasaki Z125 Pro
Kawasaki Z125 Pro

Kawasaki Z125 Pro

The Kawasaki Z125 Pro is Kawasaki’s answer to the Honda Grom, and it was available in the UK for just a few fleeting years.

It’s a shame the bike didn’t get more of a chance in the UK, with Kawasaki pulling the plug on the bike in favour of its newer, better equipped and more conventional-looking Z125, full-sized naked machine.

Kawasaki-Meguro-K3-02.jpg
Kawasaki-Meguro-K3-02.jpg

Meguro K3

Here's a motorcycle to test your motorcycling knowledge...

This is the Meguro K3, a posh retro motorcycle built in Japan that isn't known by the name of one of the 'Big Four'.

OK, so that is a bit of a red herring because you've probably worked out that this here is a Kawasaki W800 and Meguro is essentially one of its (sort of) sub-brands.

If you don't know, Meguro is basically Kawasaki's origin story, the historic firm having begun building motorcycles in the 1930s. However, when Kawasaki bought Meguro in the 1960s to kick-start the new motorcycle arm of its business, the name 'Meguro' was phased out.

That was until 2020 when Kawasaki relaunched the name for use on a trussed up, more sophisticated version of its W800, marketed as the Meguro K3.

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Since 2003, The Ducati Riding Experience (DRE) has welcomed around 28000 motorcycle riders to the best roads, tracks and ...

 

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