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Old 03-26-2013, 09:29 PM   #1
Vertical Pilgrim OP
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BMW & Harley < Japanese? (Brit & Italian)?

This article on Asphalt & Rubber caught my eye. I'm in the market for a new bike, and I am usually a BMW guy. I was raised a German car enthusiast, and this translated into bikes as well. What are your thoughts about this? And where are the Italians and the Brits in this research? Does this look like your experience?

http://www.asphaltandrubber.com/news...e-reliability/
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Old 03-26-2013, 09:46 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Vertical Pilgrim View Post
This article on Asphalt & Rubber caught my eye. I'm in the market for a new bike, and I am usually a BMW guy. I was raised a German car enthusiast, and this translated into bikes as well. What are your thoughts about this? And where are the Italians and the Brits in this research? Does this look like your experience?

http://www.asphaltandrubber.com/news...e-reliability/
The owners of BMW and Harley buy a lifestyle and pay big bucks.

They don't get the ooh aahh from the crowds on Japanese bikes and ooh aaahs are worth more than reliability.

It's the same with $150.00 sneakers that fall to bits after 6 months, $25.00 5 blade razors.
Macs that cost 50% more than they should. $5000.00 carbon fibre pushbikes that everyone seem to NEED these days with all the Tour de France outfits that go with that. 250Sq metre houses... bla bla bla.

BUT the Japanese are supplying a lot of stuff for these brands so there you go. So are the Chinese and Thai's.

These days a BMW will probably have more Chinese content than a YAMAHA but people will pay more because of the ooh aahs.

Also watch a "lifestyle show". They push HD and BMW.

As well as that you have the experienced rider that will purchase a bike with full knowledge of the pros and cons and then there are the "wannabes" that will buy what they have seen on TV to impress the friends.
The marketing campaign started in the 80's when the Europeans were being thrashed. All they had was lifestyle, lifestyle and lifestyle. It is now paying off.

The Japanese, Koreans will have to learn that. The Chinese will compete on price.

But I don't know how the Japanese are supposed to sell patriotism in European countries.
Maybe they have been a bit busy lately selling shed loads of bikes to Developing countries to figure it out. But they are being squeezed by the Chinese there as well.

I think at some point they have to learn to stop being so humble and let some arrogant pricks design some bikes and make some stars out of them.
Let 'em get into some slanging and ego matches but realize that that is a marketing problem. The engineers know what they are doing.

They also need some straight up Halo bikes to get some attention.
Thanks for the link.
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Old 03-27-2013, 01:46 AM   #3
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Considering cars, if I want reliability I'll buy a toyota or a honda. If I wanna park on the beach and pose for de ladiez I'll buy a beemer. And expensive ray bans. Pretty much the same goes for motorcycles. Personally, since I don't have money flowing out my bum I'd go Jap over German any day. Besides, most Japanese motorcycles rarely lack in image and styling compared to the German, anyway.

The Italians are nice and stylish and... well, quirky. If not all of'em, most of them. Aprilia, Ducati etc., all of them have something on the quirky side. I do believe they get a little more of a bad rap than they deserve, though.
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Old 03-27-2013, 02:33 AM   #4
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I see parts prices as a huge issue with European brands. I once owned a 1977 Mercedes Benz 300D. It was about 15 years old when I bought it, had high mileage, but was in beautiful condition. Real classy car. And I got it for what I thought was a steal. It didn't take me long to realize how wrong I was, the first trip to the parts department was all it took. Parts cost several times what parts cost for a typical American car. I soon realized that the reason I got it so cheap was probably because the PO couldn't afford to keep it going. After about 2 years, I also gave up.

I have never owned a European motorcycle, but from everything I have heard, Parts for BMWs and Ducatis have the same issue. Japanese parts are next in line, while Harley parts are cheap compared to the rest.

And I can understand why bikes with quirks have more repeat buyers than dull, bland, boring brands. People tend to develop an emotional bond with these machines, while a sterilized Japanese transportation appliance is just that. It might as well be a microwave. Kinda hard to develop feelings for a microwave. They may get the job done, but almost guarantee you won't have any fun doing it. And motorcycles are supposed to be almost 100% about fun. Remove the fun factor, and what have you got left? Might as well drive a car.
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Old 03-27-2013, 06:59 AM   #5
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sterilized Japanese transportation appliance



You want a shitbox that makes you ok with fixing it on the roadside because you have a crush on it?



I'm into old cars and bikes. I get that a little bit. But, it's not so glamorous when you're miles from home and the nearest parts with no one around to tell you how cool your _________ is.
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Old 03-27-2013, 08:13 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by kraven View Post



You want a shitbox that makes you ok with fixing it on the roadside because you have a crush on it?



I'm into old cars and bikes. I get that a little bit. But, it's not so glamorous when you're miles from home and the nearest parts with no one around to tell you how cool your _________ is.
I get your point, that reliability is important when you have to get somewhere. But, truthfully, there are very few to no bad motorcycles built today. Yes, there are some well-publicized weak parts, like BMW's FD problems, that can leave you stranded on the road, but the actual occurrence of that is rare compared to the miles they log. Most of the other weaknesses I hear about won't leave you stranded. (Now you'll go find some....)

But, just as important to reliability is parts availability. And the Japanese dealers are awful about that, stocking very little and ordering most everything with a several day wait for the parts to arrive from half a continent away.
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Old 03-27-2013, 09:36 AM   #7
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Hey, I agree with that.
But, I've had the pleasure of staring at a busted Beemer while on the phone with Bob's or Max's and hearing "oh, that's coming from Germany."

That did teach me to stock parts for my bikes though. Service parts, anyway.
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Old 03-27-2013, 09:58 AM   #8
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It's really stupid to me how people divide motorcycles along country lines. Suzuki is not the same company as Honda and Aprilia is not the same company as Ducati. If you are going to arbitrarily divide motorcycles and put them into categories to consider the reliability, do it by company. In America, I have a much better opinion on Victory and Indian reliability compared to Harley. Triumphs have always been plagued with reliability issues, I have no hard data about modern ones but co-workers have been stranded on them.

The real smart thing to do is to look at whatever model motorcycle you are interested in and go to the forums and see what the common issues are. Honda as a company probably has the best reputation, but they've produced some real clunkers with problems over the years, same as any other company.
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Old 03-27-2013, 10:27 AM   #9
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I didn't find any new information in the article.
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Old 03-27-2013, 10:43 AM   #10
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If I used a bike for work/commuting I guess reliability might be the most important factor, not sure I even believe that since I've owned a couple of Beemers and the Japanese cars I've owned required less work but I still liked the Beemers more. Lifestyle mmm don't really buy into that,never considered myself the typical Beemer owner nor do I think that I'm the typical Harley owner. There are just cars or motorcycles that I want jusr because of how I feel driving/riding it, but if I had terrible experince with the brand I would not buy again. There are plenty of people that buy a bike for transportation but I think many buy a bike for visceral reasons.
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Old 03-27-2013, 10:45 AM   #11
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I own 3 Japanese motorcycles and 1 Japanese car that are all 1st year models. One of the bikes and also the car are over 25 years old (will need to update my signature, the two oldies on there are not the ones I'm referring to -- they're undergoing restoration, SLOWLY) They continue to be as reliable as any of the brand new Japanese cars and bikes I've owned. I'd never feel as confident buying 1st year models from any other country. In my case, unless the Japanese really lose the plot, I just feel like it would be crazy for me to risk it with vehicles from another country. And as for the Japanese making 'sterilized' transportation appliances, that is true in some cases. But my Hawk GT and early Toyota MR2 have plenty of character in the European idiom. Only with anvil-like reliability. When they choose to, the Japanese can make vehicles with character. I think the accusation that no Japanese vehicles have character is a tired old mindset from long ago, when the Japanese were still finding their way. I think the reason that not all their vehicles have this elusive character is that for most people, their vehicle is an appliance! And if it's reliable as the sunrise, that's all they care about. Who else but the Japanese have a reputation like that?

That's not to say I don't lust after some of the Euro brands, hell, I even like a few of the current Harleys. I guess I've just been drinking the made-in-Japan Kool-Aid so long that I've learned to love and embrace it.
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Old 03-27-2013, 10:47 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by EricD10563 View Post
If I used a bike for work/commuting I guess reliability might be the most important factor, not sure I even believe that since I've owned a couple of Beemers and the Japanese cars I've owned required less work but I still liked the Beemers more. Lifestyle mmm don't really buy into that,never considered myself the typical Beemer owner nor do I think that I'm the typical Harley owner. There are just cars or motorcycles that I want jusr because of how I feel driving/riding it, but if I had terrible experince with the brand I would not buy again. There are plenty of people that buy a bike for transportation but I think many buy a bike for visceral reasons.
And... It doesn't mean BMW's and Harley's aren't reliable. It simply means they are less reliable than the Jap bikes. It's not really a big deal. It's tough to buy a bad bike these days. Like you said, most people buy a motorcycle for visceral reasons anyway.
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Old 03-27-2013, 11:12 AM   #13
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Uh-Oh.
I must be having an identity crisis..... as our current inventory includes Harley, BMW, Yamaha, Honda, and Suzuki....

And we drive (gasp) Ford cars.

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Old 03-27-2013, 11:57 AM   #14
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Toyota is living on its reputation. They have become conservative, bloated and lethargic in design and marketing. Their reputation for quality is living on borrowed time too.
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Old 03-27-2013, 12:18 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Scoobynut View Post
I think the reason that not all their vehicles have this elusive character is that for most people, their vehicle is an appliance! And if it's reliable as the sunrise, that's all they care about. Who else but the Japanese have a reputation like that?
There's a lot of truth to this. I'm a big fan of European motorcycles. Until recently, I hadn't owned a bike that wasn't British or German in 15 years or more. There is no denying that many (most) of the offerings from Japan (for me) are less exciting than their European counterparts for various reasons. However, if I'm honest with myself about it, much of a bike's "character" is ascribed to it by the owner. It MUST be cool/unique/desirable....otherwise I wouldn't have paid so much for it.

In reality, if a BMW/Triumph/Ducati, etc. badge were placed on the tank of a new bike from Japan at the initial press release, I think it would be an eye-opener to read about the bike's cutting-edge styling and character-drenched motor. Perception IS reality.
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