The Most Reliable Motorcycle Brand? Not Harley

Four Japanese manufacturers dominate Consumer Reports' motorcycle reliability rating.

Domestic motorcycle manufacturers Harley-Davidson and Victory earned the highest driver satisfaction ratings, Consumer Reports reported today, but Japanese bikes are “significantly more reliable.”

Those ratings are based on the magazine’s survey of more than 11,000 subscribers who reported on more than 12,300 motorcycles from model years 2008 to 2014. Ten brands were surveyed.

The reliability ratings are based on failure rates for 4-year-old bikes:

  1. Yamaha/Star (11 percent failure rate)
  2. Suzuki and Honda (12 percent)
  3. Kawasaki (15 percent)
  4. Victory (17 percent)
  5. Harley-Davidson (26 percent)
  6. Triumph (29 percent)
  7. Ducati (33 percent)
  8. BMW (40 percent)
  9. Can-Am (42 percent)

“But owner satisfaction — i.e., happiness — is an entirely different measure from reliability,” Consumer Reports states.

Satisfaction ratings are based on how many owners “said they would definitely buy the same bike if they were to do it all over again.” The winners are:

  1. Victory (80 percent)
  2. Harley-Davidson (72 percent)
  3. Honda (70 percent)

Comfort appears to be key to satisfaction, however.

Consumer Reports’ satisfaction categories include acceleration, comfort, and fun and styling, with comfort ratings most closely aligned with satisfaction ratings.

Victory was victorious there, being the only brand to earn the magazine’s highest comfort rating. Ducati, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Triumph earned the lowest comfort rating.

Handling was the only other satisfaction category with a standout brand:

The Can-Am, from Canadian maker BRP, with its distinctive three-wheelers (or trikes), was judged to have average handling satisfaction – a lower rating than every other brand.

Consumer Reports’ full motorcycle analysis will be published in the magazine’s May issue.

What’s your favorite motorcycle brand? Sound off in a comment below or on our Facebook page.

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