May 28, 2023
10 Most Reliable Motorcycle Brands
Reliability is a key factor in having a great motorcycle ownership experience, and these 10 manufacturers are the best (and not so good) at it. There are a number of things to look out for when
Reliability is a key factor in having a great motorcycle ownership experience, and these 10 manufacturers are the best (and not so good) at it.
There are a number of things to look out for when considering your next motorcycle. Factors like genre, engine displacement, power and torque outputs, the features it packs in, how friendly it is to ride… the list is endless, really. But one of the biggest factors that’s often overlooked is reliability.
Without reliability, your motorcycle is, put bluntly, a showpiece. And unless that’s your intention, understanding which motorcycle brands are the most reliable should be one of your priorities. And since we’re on it, who really does make the most reliable motorcycles? It’s probable that you’ve heard Hondas are built to last, or that Harley-Davidsons have a tendency to break down occasionally. The truth is that not everything you hear is necessarily factual.
That said, to take the guesswork out of it, here are the most reliable motorcycles in the world.
All the information in this article has been adapted from Consumer Reports’ 2015 findings.
Aprilia makes some incredibly exotic-looking and great handling motorcycles the world over. Testament to that fact are motorcycles like the Tuareg 600, the RS 250, the Tuono 1000, and even the RSV Mille. This shouldn't come as a surprise, considering they've been at it for a long time now. They made the transition from manufacturing bicycles to motorcycles back in 1968.
That said, the brand isn't exactly known for its reliability. Naturally, the level of reliability varies among different models, but in general, online forums are filled with concerns regarding the reliability of Aprilia motorcycles.
Some of the issues that are common to Aprilas include expanding fuel tanks, rectifier problems, oil leakage, corrosion, and electrical complications. It's not unexpected, as Aprilia has consistently prioritized esthetics over engineering, and it's hard to overlook the challenges associated with maintaining these motorcycles. That said, as long as you regularly service your vehicle, you should be able to safeguard yourself from surprise expenses.
KTM is known the world over for producing some of the most exciting motorcycles across segments. Their motorcycles are also synonymous with power slides (which the image above will attest to), wheelies, and stunting in general. While it's not a given, then, KTMs generally are ridden hard, and while they have a lot going for them, they do have their troubles too.
It's been noted that they often suffer from issues with electronics, fuel pumps, oil seepage, and minor suspension glitches. All that said, there are plenty of KTM riders who don’t push their machines to the limit each and every time they set out on a ride. Consequently, breakdowns and massive repair bills elude them.
So while the Consumer Reports finding is a good indicator, if you have your heart set on a KTM, there are ways to ensure that it doesn’t sprout unintended breakdowns.
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BMW Motorrad comes in with a poor 40% failure rate according to the Consumer Report from 2015. The issues that owners reported included electrical problems, an increased number of parts and features that could potentially malfunction, flawed fuel pumps, delicate components, and the higher general cost associated with servicing.
This might come across as surprising given the reputation of German engineering for precision and durability. Once again, though, it's important to note that the 40% rating might not accurately reflect the current situation. BMW has made significant advancements since 2015, and their recent models are now at their most reliable stage. Therefore, it's advisable to view the score with a pinch of salt.
It's a well-documented fact that Ducatis can be tricky to maintain. Plenty of owners have stated that their overall ownership experience of a Ducati is pretty good, until the time comes for servicing.
The lower ratings attributed to Ducati stem from the brand's intense focus on performance and design, which comes at the expense of demanding components, unpredictable electronics, subpar after-sales service, high ownership costs, and the intricate Desmo service requirement. The interesting thing to note here is that despite these issues, Ducati still remains high up on any enthusiast's list if they're on the lookout for an exotic Italian motorcycle.
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Triumph's motorcycles of late have been remarkably thorough, be it in the engineering department or in the reliability segment. It's true that, at one point a couple of decades ago, British engineering wasn't exactly synonymous with reliability (Jaguar's a good example), and Triumph had their own issues back in the '90s with oil leaks.
That, however, was then. Even compared to 2015, Triumph has progressed a lot. They now stand as finely crafted pieces that draw admiration from all of us. While Triumph did struggle with engine issues in their three-cylinder models some years ago, the landscape has shifted.
Harley-Davidson is another example of just how far a brand has progressed. It's true that they had their issues early on, with plenty reporting oil leakages and unexpected breakdowns, but the reality of the situation is that today, Harley-Davidson motorcycles are fairly reliable, even if they're bought used.
While they might not possess the same level of refinement and precision as their Japanese counterparts, they come quite close. These motorcycles endure the demands of riders remarkably well, which is why they continue to be a constant sight on the roads. As stated earlier, all it takes to ensure your Harley-Davidson is in good shape is to stick to the manufacturer's recommended service intervals, and the probability of having an oil leak or a system malfunction goes down dramatically.
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From hereon out, the contenders become slightly close to differentiate. The reasoning behind this is that they're all Japanese manufacturers, and they've always been known for producing motorcycles that have excellent reliability.
Nevertheless, Kawasaki does manage to come in at number 4 on this list with a 15% failure rate. The usual caveat of it having been nearly a decade since this report came out needs to be applied here as well, since Kawasaki has been known to step its game up ever since.
However, Kawasaki does lose a few points because of higher service and ownership costs, as well as the nature of their motorcycle offerings. Kawasaki's motorcycles are packed with advanced technology, and provide premium components at a more accessible price point, pushing the boundaries of engineering. While this contributes to their feature-packed motorcycles, it does lead to a minor compromise in terms of reliability.
The fact of the matter remains that Suzuki motorcycles are some of the most well-engineered machines available. This is why it’s so high up on this list.
And when you mention Suzuki, it's hard not to bring up the Hayabusa, which is a great example of over-engineering a product. A supercharged Hayabusa should explain that statement well enough. The primary factor causing Suzuki motorcycles to lag behind Honda and Yamaha pertains to their electronics, depending on the specific model you opt for. However, apart from this aspect, Suzuki motorcycles come remarkably close to being the pinnacle of reliability among motorcycles.
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Even without the Consumer Report findings, it wouldn't be hard to guess that Honda is right up there in the reliability segment. Nonetheless, according to the 2015 report, Honda comes in at the second spot as one of the most dependable motorcycle brands globally.
Honda's motorcycles are renowned for their exceptional reliability, dependability, and affordable maintenance. You only need to take a look at the amount of Gold Wings on highways for proof. One contributing factor to the unparalleled reliability of Honda bikes lies in the brand's extensive engineering prowess, honed through crafting engines for a wide spectrum of applications, from automobiles to boats, not to mention Formula 1 as well. This gives the manufacturer a deep understanding of the inner workings of an engine.
Yamaha slots in as the most reliable motorcycle brand globally, and it's not hard to see why. Just like Honda, Yamaha leverages its proficiency in manufacturing a diverse range of vehicles and its expansive production capabilities. As a result, Yamaha motorcycles are well-engineered and require minimal upkeep.
Another factor to consider is that Yamaha's maintenance costs aren't as affordable as Honda. This could very well have changed over the years since the report came out. Nonetheless, Yamaha has given us motorcycles like the YZF-R1 and the YZF-R7, so we can probably let that slide.
A point to note through this entire piece is that it’s based off of Consumer Reports’ findings back in 2015, via a study of 11,000 individuals. The survey itself focused on frequency of repairs and how happy the customers were over four years. Since then, most of the brands on this list have gotten significantly better in terms of reliability.
Raunak's love for putting pen to paper is legendary, even if he's the only one who says so. Loves anything to do with four wheels and is only too glad to write about it.HondasHarley-Davidsons