Become a Member: Get Ad-Free Access to 3,000+ Reviews, Guides, & More

Japanese build most reliable motorcycles

Japanese bikes have the highest reliability rating in US study

Japanese build the most reliable motorcycles, but Harley and BMW owners are the most satisfied with their bikes, according to American consumer advocacy magazine Consumer Reports.

Australian consumer advocacy magazine Choice does not have any consumer reports on motorcycles or their reliability. A spokesperson says it isn’t cost effective to test motorcycles. However, we can use the American study as a guide.

The Consumer Reports study asked subscribers who own motorcycles to rate their reliability over a four-year period. The results do not include Suzuki or Triumph as they did not receive enough information to provide dependable statistics.

reliable motorcycles
Harley rated highest in customer satisfaction

Yamaha topped the ratings of reliable motorcycles, with just one in 10 bikes built between 2009 and 2012 requiring a repair over a four-year period. It was followed closely by Kawasaki and Honda. Most repairs concerned lights, instrumentation and switches (21%), followed by brakes (20%), electrical (16%) and fuel systems (15%).

One in three BMWs had an issue, followed by Harley-Davidson motorcycles (25%). However most issues were minor repairs. Meanwhile, Harley scored the highest satisfaction level with 75% saying they would buy another Harley, just in front of BMW with 74% and Honda (72%).

The study found 20% of the 4680 bikes surveyed had problems, but 75% of the issues cost less than $200 to repair. Cruisers were the most reliable motorcycle type, followed by sport tourers, dual-sports and touring bikes which have the most problems. Information on performance bikes was limited.