Jun 23, 2015

Reliability, We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Reliability

Consumer Reports, that biker-oriented magazine, recently published an article titled “Who Makes the Most Reliable Motorcycle?” Not surprisingly, Yamaha, Suzuki, Honda, and Kawasaki topped the list with 11-17% 4-year failure rates. Equally no surprise, except to their dedicated fanbase, Can-Am, BMW, Ducati, and Triumph were at the bottom of the list with 29-42% failure rates. The whole detailed customer satisfaction report is pretty interesting.

Three wheel vehicles, especially two-in-front-one-in-back styles, are particularly trouble-prone. “Cruisers appear to require fewer repairs than other types of motorcycles, with just a 15 percent failure rate by the fourth year of ownership.” If my Craig’s List spreadsheet is any indicator of what that might be, I’d suspect the incredibly low mileage is a big part of why cruisers don’t fail much. They also aren’t ridden much.

CRO_Cars_Things_That_Go_Wrong_Chart_04-15The cost of maintenance is pretty interesting, too. “Of those that did incur out-of-pocket expenses, the average motorcycle repair bill was $342, with the cost being heavily dependent on brand and type. For those brands that we have adequate data on, median repair costs ranged from $269 for Kawasaki to $455 for BMW. Dual-sport/adventure bikes and cruisers were less expensive to repair, costing $313 and $322 on average, and sport touring models were pricier at $383.” The stuff that breaks is equally interesting, with electrical systems at 24%. So much for how installing more electronics in our bikes and cars is going to make them more reliable. Personally, I’d be the cheap and mis-applied connectors are a huge contributor to this failure mechanism.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with most of this article. I've found that Japanese vehicles (both cars and bikes) are more reliable and cheaper to fix than European ones. I would guess that one reason that sport touring (and sport bikes) are more expensive to maintain is just the fact that it takes so much time (and expense) just to remove and replace all the plastic body panels every time you work on them. I have found that dual sport bikes cost more to fix, not because they are badly designed, but just because riding in the dirt wears out chains and sprockets faster and knobbies just don't last as long as street tires.

    Paul Streeter


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