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Consumer Reports' first motorcycle reliability report finds Japanese brands ahead

Sat, 22 Feb 2014

Consumer Reports has released its first ever study of motorcycle reliability, and students of its ratings on cars might notice a suspicious similarity - Japanese brands require fewer repairs than the leading American or German brands.

The study analyzed the reliability of 4,680 bikes owned by CR subscribers and found that Yamaha had the best ratings, with just one in ten bikes built between 2009 and 2012 requiring a repair over a four-year period. The makers of the R1 and R6 sport bikes were closely followed by Kawasaki and Honda, while one out of every four of the rumbling bikes from Harley-Davidson experienced an issue. BMW had the worst rating of the brands represented, with one in three bikes having problems.

According to CR, neither Suzuki nor Triumph owners provided enough information for a reliable rating. Based on the responses received, though, Suzuki would have finished with the other Japanese brands and Triumph, being English, would have been one of the less reliable makes.

As for which parts of the bike caused the biggest headaches, CR cites things like lights, instrumentation and switches as causing 21 percent of repairs. Worryingly, brakes were the issue in a fifth of cases, while the electrical and fuel systems were problematic 16 and 15 percent of the time, respectively.

Overall, CR claims 20 percent of the 4,680 bikes surveyed had problems, but 75 percent of the issues cost less than $200 to repair. Touring bikes were the biggest troublemakers, followed by dual-sports, sport tourers, and cruisers. Like Suzuki and Triumph, there wasn't enough data from the performance crowd, although Consumer Reports estimates that bikes like the Honda CBR line and Kawasaki Ninja ZX6-R would be among the most reliable bikes, alongside the cruiser class.

Hop over to the Consumer Reports website for the full breakdown, as well as a useful list of things motorcyclists can do to keep their bikes running properly.

By Brandon Turkus

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