Just to stirr up this thread, let me throw in the riders age factor. Having been on two wheels for 50 years, ridden just about every major brand, I find myself drawn to BMW and H-D.
The airhead I own is my time machine. Back to the days of simpler bikes; less performance but a ton of smiles per miles. The two H-D's I own are my daily riders and touring bikes. Each mark has never given me issues and each has a charm/flaw of it's own. Personally I think that each mark gives what seasoned ( OK, old ) riders look for. Dependability, reasonable performance and each mark can be easily setup for the individual's needs.
I personally think, that once a rider gets over the "having to be fastes and biggest" reliable and comfortable gives way to all other considerations.