Motorcycle Reliability And Owner Satisfaction. A Survey By “Consumer Reports”

survey1Faithful to its mission to empower consumers with the knowledge they need to make better and more informed choices, Consumer Reports just published the results of a new study on to find out two things: how reliable top-selling brands are in terms of frequency of repair and how happy those brands make their owners.

survey2survey3Let’s not forget that reliability and satisfaction are not necessarily tied together. Breaking down on the open road is an unpleasant experience that all bikers prefer to avoid, so choosing a brand more reliable than most will tilt the odds of buying this brand. But there are many other factors contributing to a motorcycle owner happiness. The survey was conducted on Consumer Reports subscribers who reported on more than 12,300 motorcycles from model years 2008 to 2014. For repairs, mileage driven was adjusted over a 12-month period with repair rates estimated for 4-year-old models without a service contract.

The most important results are this survey are:


checkmarkchSatisfaction: [email protected] of Victory owners said they would definitely buy the same bike if they were to do it all over again. Harley-­Davidson owners were quite happy, with 72% responding likewise, trailed closely by Honda at 70%. All other brands were below 70%.

checkmarkchComfort: Consumer Reports found out that there is a very strong correlation between how comfortable a motorcycle is with the overall level of satisfaction with the brand. Among the 10 brands surveyed, only Victory earned the highest rating for comfort. Victory also beats out the other brands for overall satisfaction and got a top mark in almost every category. Ducati, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Triumph each garnered our lowest mark for comfort.

checkmarkchFor other satisfaction categories, such as style, fun, handling, acceleration, etc., consumer ratings are very close across all brands, except one. The 3-wheeler Can-Am, from Canadian maker BRP, , was judged to have average handling satisfaction, a much lower rating than every other brand.

checkmarkchType Of Motorcycles: Cruisers appear to require fewer repairs than other types of motorcycles, with just a 15% failure rate by the 4th year of ownership. The range of problems from cruiser, dual-sport/adventure, standard, touring, sport touring, and sport bikes ranged from 15% to 23%, in that order. But no brand is statistically more failure-­prone than the others, except trike models, especially those with two front and one rear wheel. Can-Am, which makes only trikes, was almost twice as likely to experience a problem as most other types of motorcycles.

checkmarkchRepairs: 45% of repairs were reported with no expense incurred, either because motorcycles were repaired under the original manufacturer’s warranty or performed by the owner. 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.

22 Responses to “Motorcycle Reliability And Owner Satisfaction. A Survey By “Consumer Reports””

  1. 1 TJ Martin Apr 8th, 2015 at 8:56 am

    Hmmn … well … I’m no fan of CR in the slightest [ due to the well intrenched and inbred bias their testers and testing procedures have across the board .. not to mention when it comes to surveys their very limited audience and narrow demographics … mostly white /middle age / middle income and male ] but heres what I’m seeing from this rather inconclusive and ” Much Ado About Nothing ” survey

    Cruisers needing less repairs ? Is that per mile ridden or just an overall assumption ?

    Victory over the Motor Company in owner satisfaction ? Hmmmn .. the view from the street [ as well as the dealerships ] says the opposite . Suffice it to say …. how many Victory tattoos T-shirts ballcaps etc you seen lately ? Owners don’t just love … the Motor Company … they worship it !

    Comfort ? Talk about stating the obvious ! Seriously … I could go on for ever about this .. but in light of the overall vapid tone of this CR survey … whats the sense ? Suffice it to say … this survey leaves one with nothing but questions and nary an answer in sight 😉

  2. 2 Bruno Kempf Apr 8th, 2015 at 9:00 am

    Again, TJ Martin plays the expert he is not, making affirmations supported…only by his point of view. Even can’t read the text explaining how repair cost between brands is calculated.

  3. 3 Joshua Apr 8th, 2015 at 9:03 am

    If TJ Martin knew a little bit about marketing he would know that to poll, you don’t need a lot of people. Just a small sample representative of the population you study. regarding H-D worshiping. Huh… Are you talking about the past? I hope so.

  4. 4 Mike Apr 8th, 2015 at 9:29 am

    Harley can get away with making crap for the very reason that people “worship” the brand and can’t bring themselves to find fault with their $20K motorcycle they are making payments on every month. Excessive engine heat? Lousy handling? No worries, that is just part of the “experience”.

  5. 5 TJ Martin Apr 8th, 2015 at 9:55 am

    Ahhh …. Joshua – The real question is .. does Joshua comprehend the fundamental basic differences between a ‘ Marketing ‘ exercise …. and a survey intended to [ supposedly ] provide a service to the audience intended ? Which is by the way what CR claims ! Or … are you trying to say CR is nothing but a marketing tool … and not a ‘ service ‘ provider ? BTW . Here’s a clue . Half the problem with 95% of all surveys inaccuracies is the lack of numbers and demographics used [ Statistics 101 ] As to the Motor Company vs … hmmmn … anybody … you living in a vacuum good sir ?

    As to Mr Kemp .. please … illuminate me … where ‘ exactly ‘ in the ‘ Repairs ‘ paragraph does it say anything about repairs per mile ridden or in fact how CR came to that conclusion ? All i see is a lot of vague generalities . Yeah … its me playing the ‘expert ‘ alright . People in glass houses and all … 😉

    Seriously folks … if you’re going to criticize another’s comments or posts … at least try to make the criticisms somewhat valid and relevant …

  6. 6 Jack Apr 8th, 2015 at 10:39 am

    For repairs, mileage driven was adjusted over a 12-month period with repair rates estimated for 4-year-old models without a service contract.

  7. 7 BobS Apr 8th, 2015 at 10:45 am

    TJ you’re obviously trying very hard to come up with excuses to disregard the positive experiences Victory riders are reporting about their own ride. Myself, like many of my Victory riding brethren, are former Harley riders. Is Victory better in every way? No of course not. Would I buy another Victory? Absolutely, they’re better at what I want out of a motorcycle, which is not t-shirts and bandannas btw.

  8. 8 P. Hamilton Apr 8th, 2015 at 10:56 am

    TJ Martin. Cyril gave you the main conclusion of this survey. I see on their website that methodology, stats, etc will be in the May issue of Consumer Reports. You sound like full of blah, blah, blah and certainly (I read some of your other comments), not an expert. You just express an opinion, which is fine. But don’t act like you KNOW. You DON’T.

  9. 9 Greeko Apr 8th, 2015 at 10:58 am

    Not surprised that Victory ranks very high for reliability and for sure higher than Harley.

  10. 10 Steal Your Face Apr 8th, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Don’t worry TJ. I believe what you are stating has major validity. I love all motorcycles including H-D and don’t think this CR report means anything useful.

  11. 11 Boomer Apr 8th, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    It should be interesting to see how well Indian ranks after 5-10 years of being in production.

    Kudos to Victory but as mention; there is much more to motorcycle ownership than satisfaction. For some it’s a way of life.

  12. 12 birddoggie Apr 8th, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    Not surprised Victory does well in this report. I’ve owned HD scoots since 1976 but purchased a 14 Chieftain last year and just bought a 13 Victory XC. Love the Vic and love it even more when family tells me it ain’t a HOG! LOL! Doesn’t mean crap to me. Reliability is what’s important to me. My Lil brother’s HD cost him $34k. His Hog also has a nickname: One Way. Why? Everywhere we go, problems follow!

  13. 13 Pinhead Apr 8th, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    I Like how the top five on the “things that go wrong” list are all more than likely do to neglect by the owner.

  14. 14 Apr 8th, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    The results really don;t surprise me either …
    The way it was describe to me says it all… Paraphrasing:
    “If you like performance & cutting edge styling, you go buy a Victory
    If you are a “traditionalist looking for classic styling with modern upgrades/amenities
    & performance, you go buy an Indian”
    The key word in both descriptions is performance & think they have, for the most part, delivered…
    Competition forced H-D into the Project Rushmore stuff & the upgrade to the Hi-output 103.
    Which is a damn good engine but there is still some antiquated tech at the heart of H-D,
    that you will, sooner or later, have to turn back to H-D or like most,
    to the aftermarket (S & S, JIMS, Fueling, etc) to fix.
    Why else are there all of these companies out there to sell you something to “Fix” your H-D
    It shoud’ve run just fine, coming from the factory
    (except for exhausts, air cleaners & EFI / fuel controllers,
    since we all know, the EPA makes ALL of them run lean)
    I’ve ridden them both and I like then both.
    But I’ve never understood the thought of spending 12,000 – $20,000+
    on an American heavyweight motorcycle then, having to spend another
    $1500 – $5000.00 to make it run right.
    Yes, there are aftermarket performance upgrades especially for Victory
    & I’m sure more are forthcoming for Indian.
    But you don’t need them to make the bike run correctly.
    In fact almost all of the Victory / Indian owners I’ve talked to (& there are more of them everyday)
    are VERY happy to have a bike they don’t have to do a lot to or worry a lot about now or in the future.
    And, as mentioned before, a lot of them are former H-D owners, so they would know ….
    Yep, by sheer numbers there are always going to be more H-D owners & that does count for a lot. But as ownership grows for both Polaris models (& it is growing)
    & as we all look at the quarterly reports that Cyril, so graciously, supplies for us to read, right here.
    It seems to me that these satisfaction reports are just about right on the money .
    And will reflect about the same in the future

  15. 15 BobS Apr 8th, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    Boomer I totally get what you’re saying. But you made a critical error. For some motorcycle BRAND ownership is a way of life, yes. Some people connect their lifestyle to a corporate logo. If they get pleasure out of their dollars spent, that’s great, good for them. There are those of us out there though that RIDING a motorcycle is a big part of our lifestyle. There is a difference. This second type of rider wants comfort, power, handling, reliability…regardless of brand. This guy wants a bike that supports his lifestyle, not the other way around. Again for the second type, if he gets his dollars worth, good for him too. For me, getting satisfaction IS a way of life. As soon as a company builds a better bike, for my wants, better than the Vics I currently ride, bet your ass I’ll buy it. I’ve switched brands before, I’ll do it again. But as it stands right now today, if one of my Vics got stolen or totaled it would be replaced with another Victory.

  16. 16 chingon choppers Apr 8th, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    Victory / Indian all the way……………. HD is decades behind

  17. 17 Sharkey Apr 8th, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    I definitely will read CR if I’m shopping for an appliance, but for a motorcycle? I don’t think I’d care to spend time on the road with someone who bases any part of their motorcycle buying decision on what CR thinks…I’ve already had 2 Gold Wing’s and have never been so bored in my travels.

  18. 18 1550tc Apr 8th, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    CR to me i just a complied group of info….lots of factors go into their numbers

    should be like Olympic ice skating throw out the hi lo scores then u get a better idea even then it still jury rigged lol

  19. 19 Apr 9th, 2015 at 9:44 am

    Kudos to Polaris for giving us a choice in USA built Bikes. ..Z

  20. 20 ncdogman Apr 9th, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    Ive ridden and owned many bikes…including HD…i have never had more fun, been more comfortable and had so many worry free miles as ive had with Victory….and i dont even have to were the pirate costume…im dooragless…..i dont care what anyone rides…but its a good chunk of the HD guys with that crappy attitude….alot of the koolaid drinkers dont like Vic or Indian….They have have been giving people shiet about what they ride for years…now the shoe is on the other foot…they can dish it out…but in no way shape or form can they take it!

  21. 21 pop Apr 11th, 2015 at 8:07 am

    Well, not a Polaris fanboy. Owner Vic as well as hawgs. Will always own both. Vic is the better machine while Milwaukee owns the history and I do love the history. But some of us are lulled into a complacency that let’s us fool ourselves into believing that volume and history equate to better. The amount of tee shirts at the run only indicates the length and quality of vacation the tee shirt licencer and tee shirt manufacturer enjoy.

  22. 22 Mdkuder Apr 13th, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    HD is a bloated egotistical bunch of turds with bold new graphics. Polaris/Victory has made a fine and reliable motorcycle and with some time and hopeful listening to the customers it will lose some of the space invader stylings. Personally I have gone through a few HD’s back in the 90’s, a 03 Indian Scout, to a 07 Yamaha Roadliner (wonderful ride and quality) to a 14 Indian Vintage which has been perfect except for the leather. I loved them all and they all had their issues!

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