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Still life in the old dog | 10 (very) old Motorcycles you can still buy abroad

The swinging axe of Euro5 might have wiped out several models recently but you won't believe which models are still sold as new around the world...

Yamaha XV250

It’s ‘new bike’ season with a flood of exciting fresh motorcycles being primed for both online and show stand at EICMA . 

But in with the new often means out with the old, a process accelerated further by the onset of Euro5 regulations, which signalled end of the road for some of the more niche, lower selling models.

But was it really good forever, or do we find ourselves just waving at them from this side of the water?

While it’s true that in the EU zone (which, Brexit or not, UK bikes still aligns with in a motorcycle sense) few older bikes survive, and certainly not without modification (BMW’s 2013 R nineT, for example, has now been updated to meet Euro5 – along with its K16 sixes), in the rest of the world it’s a very different story. 

In the US, Japan, Africa and Australasia, all unbound by Euro5, far older bikes are still on sale to live out their latter years (eventually). In the US you can still get a GSX-R750, or Honda Fury custom. In Japan you can still get a Honda CB1300S and in some countries ‘farm orientated’ trail bikes date back even further.

In short, pesky emissions laws may have brought the axe down on several models recently, but there are some surprisingly old models still soldiering on in other markets.

As a disclaimer, e don’t claim to be perfectly definitive (there are only 24 hours in a day and there is a lot to watch on Netflix), but it still makes fascinating reading…

Harley-Davidson Sportster 883 Iron

10. Harley-Davidson Sportster 883 Iron [USA – since 2015]

OK, a fairly soft/obvious one to start off with. Although Harley dropped all of its old, air-cooled 883/1200 Sportsters across the EU in 2021 for failing to meet Euro5, they’re still on sale, naturally enough, in the US, with the entry-level 883 Iron, which dates back to 2015, being the oldest. 

You could argue, of course, that the small block Evo engine actually dates back to 1986, which it does, although continued evolution (sic) since, through the addition of belt drive, fuel injection and so on renders that definition a bit tenuous. Or does it?

Royal Enfield Bullet 350

9. Royal Enfield Bullet 350 [India – since 2007]

Another one most might have expected to see here. Although the air-cooled, single-cylinder Bullet (in the UK in 500 form) was finally killed off here this year, again due to Euro5, it’s a different story in its home market of India – although not by as much as you might expect. 

Although still available there in 350 form, it’s due for imminent replacement by Enfield’s all-new new Classic 350, a variant of the Meteor 350 the UK got this year. Besides, even the Bullet 350 isn’t as old as you might have thought. 

Although RE make great claims about its heritage going back to 1932 the current version gained an all-new, European designed, unit construction engine from 2007.

Kawasaki Vulcan 900

8. Kawasaki Vulcan 900 [USA – since 2007]

Remember the old VN900? One of the best Japanese V-twin cruisers? Well, although it was killed off in the UK (and Europe) way back in 2016, this time due to Euro4, it happily lives on elsewhere and is still available in the US, called the Vulcan 900. 

Interestingly enough, a few other ‘obsolete’ Kawasakis live on over ‘The Pond’, too, most notably the ZZR1400 (which they call the ZX-14), 1400 GTR and even the KLX300 trailie.

7. Honda CB1300S [Japan – since 2005]

Honda’s big, four-cylinder, half-faired CB1300S bit the dust in the UK all the way back in 2013 so you may be surprised to learn it still lives on – in Japan. 

Always one of the most versatile, stylish (and best equipped) of the original wave of four-cylinder retro roadsters, the 113bhp CB is powered by a reworked version of the old CBR1000 motor and remains classy and popular, with even police versions being used. 

Shame we can’t still get it over here. Incidentally, you can also still get in Japan Honda’s 2014 VFR800F V4 plus its ‘adventure’ styled brother, the 800 Crossrunner…

6. Suzuki DR650SE [NZ and others – since 1996]

Now we’re starting to get seriously old. Suzuki’s 644cc, air-cooled, single-cylinder, four-stroke trail bike can trace its lineage back to the late 1980s and, in this final SE form, was last available in the UK around the turn of the Millennium. 

But like some other Suzukis it has actually remained in production and is still currently available in Africa, Australia and New Zealand, among others, where it’s currently priced around £4200.

Yamaha XV250 Virago

5. Yamaha XV250 Virago [USA – since 1995]

Who can forget Yamaha’s brilliant, entry-level, 1990s, air-cooled, V-twin cruiser, the XV535 and its even more novice-friendly little brother, the XV250? Well, seeing as the latter was dropped in the UK way back in 2001 yet remains on sale to this day in the US, it seems we have… and the Americans can’t. 

Now called the VStar 250 (Yamaha calls all its cruisers in the US ‘Stars’), the cute little twin has been updated slightly, mostly with its styling, but not by much, still being an air-cooled, carb-fed twin the Eurocrats would go apoplectic about. 

Interestingly, you can also get a Yamaha XT250 trail bike in the States (and other places) but don’t get too excited, it’s fuel-injected and based on the old XT225 Serrow and dates back only to 2004…

4. Honda XR650L [USA and others – since 1992]

There are all sorts of brand new motorcycling oddities still available in the U.S of A – if you know where to look. 

Honda’s full-on V-twin cruiser, the VTX1300 Fury, which was dropped in the UK way back in 2013, is still available, as is the CBR600RR and there’s even a Yamaha monster, 1900cc V-twin full-dress cruiser, the Star Venture, that never made it to the UK in the first place. 

The oldest Honda, though, is surely the XR650L trail/enduro which was originally introduced way back in 1992, can actually date its lineage back to the XR600 of 1985 but hasn’t been available in the UK for over a decade.

Suzuki LS400 Savage

3. Suzuki LS400 Savage [Australia – since 1987]

Remember the old Suzuki 650 Savage single cylinder cruiser? You’d have to be getting into your autumnal years to do so seeing as it was first brought out in the mid-1980s… 

Well, as surprising as it may sound, it lives on today – in Australia, the US and a few other places. It’s basically unchanged, too. Although now only 400cc (the original 650 was always also offered as a 400 to meet domestic Japanese licencing laws), the powertrain and chassis is effectively unchanged. Instead, the biggest change is to the name – no longer is it the LS400 Savage, now it’s called the Boulevard S40. 

Meantimes, if you’re into in other Suzuki ‘relics’, you might also be interested to know that you can also still get in Australia (and others) the 1800cc M109R hot rod cruiser and even the DR-Z400 trailie…

2. Yamaha DT125 [South Africa – since 1983-ish]

No, it can’t be – a 1980s two-stroke! Yes, it is, it’s still in production and is still available new, most notably in South Africa – although there is a bit of a twist (and catch). 

Firstly, this DT125 is a bit of a mongrel, using the chassis (including front drum brake and Monocross cantilever rear suspension) from the 1983 DT125LC, but with the air-cooled engine from an earlier incarnation. 

And secondly, and more damningly, it’s not actually road legal, being sold instead as a ‘farm bike’. 

But, hey, there’s also a DT175 version and the mere fact that these air-cooled two-strokes still exist in this green-obsessive age warms are heart… and atmosphere, too.

Suzuki GN125 [New Zealand – since 1982]

OK, so we know Suzuki isn't always the most, shall we say, pro-active when it comes to replacing its models (the current SV650 isn't changed much since 1999 itself) but it is really quite extraordinary to find this motorcycle on the Suzuki New Zealand website alongside the 2021 Hayabusa.

Yes, amazing as it sounds in these times when road bikes can’t seem to survive for more than a handful of years before being rendered obsolete by the latest emissions regulations, there’s a motorcycle on sale today that’s been in production for nearly 40 years.

It’s also probably one of the dreariest motorcycles ever devised. The Suzuki GN125 first debuted as a learner/commuter cruiser in 1982 powered by a worthy, air-cooled, single-cylinder four-stroke motor (the same, incidentally, as now used in many Chinese retros). 

In truth, it’s just about reached the end of the line and is only available in counties such as New Zealand where it’ll shortly go off sale. 

Until then, however, it’s a rolling time capsule from its styling to its specification and, at the equivalent of just £1050, who’s complaining?