Consumer Reports: BMW & Harley-Davidson Motorcycles Are Less Reliable than Japanese o

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by ta-rider, Sep 28, 2013.

  1. double_entendre

    double_entendre Ticking away the....

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    Pretty much sums it up there. I've said similar things about Japanese vs. Italian cars. Japanese cars are dead reliable. Italian cars have soul.

    Japan can't seem to mass produce something that really inspires passion.

    Even with all their flaws, HD, BMW, and Ducati, among others, have passionate followings. For the most part, the big four don't.
    #21
  2. DiabloADV

    DiabloADV Semi-Occasional

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    My first two rebuilds were a cb350 and an r60/5. Tore down the honda motor first. Got it cleaned up and set the parts aside. Then tore down the BMW motor.

    After I got a good look at the quality of the castings, the machining and the overall design of those motors, I got that CB put back together and out of my garage.

    I now have two airheads and an 1150RT. And no Hondas.

    And my 335i with hacked computer can trigger the traction control flooring it at 50mph. Our Toyota can't do that. So there.
    #22
  3. yobuddy

    yobuddy Been here awhile

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    I have had 5 BMW twins and assorted Japanese bikes. All dead reliable for me. The BMW twins do require more frequent valve adjustments which are very easy but repairs have been non-existent. All of these twins I rode well over 80,000 miles except my current twin. My current BMW needs a fork seal but that's the extent of my failures.
    Just my $.02
    #23
  4. popscycle

    popscycle Fahren Away

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    When I see all the problems with Honda's expensive, flagship Goldwing (i.e., frames cracking, ghost shifting and broken trannys, switch problems, final drive problems, difficulty of replacing the air filter, etc.) I am somewhat less inclined the worship at the alter of Japanese reliability, especially when the BMW's and two Harleys we've had in the family have been or were virtually problem-free. That said, Honda has produced some fun rides that the kids have stored away for posterity (and to ride), such as the Dream, CBX and Rune. In days gone by, we certainly enjoyed the likes of the CB fours over everything else. Today, we're not quite so enthralled with Japan's stuff, although I do have an occasional pang for the FJR. YMMV.
    #24
  5. mefly2

    mefly2 Long timer

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    CR has been wrong before ....
    #25
  6. Bueller

    Bueller Cashin?

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    I'd like to see the specifics of the report, such as average age, average mileage, criteria that they used to constitute a "major" repair, etc.

    And I agree with you. Around these parts Harleys get the nuts ridden off of them. Most Asian bikes I see haven't accumulated many miles.
    #26
  7. MiteyF

    MiteyF Long timer

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    All Harleys get the nuts ridden off of them, as well as bolts and other bits and pieces. It's unavoidable :lol3

    (sorry, you really left yourself open for that one. I couldn't pass it up)
    #27
  8. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    Interstates.

    Yawn.
    #28
  9. gsweave

    gsweave Yinz, blinkers are on, JACKWAD!

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    CR is only as reliable as the cost of subscribing

    They never asked me about my 200,000 mile BMW experience. It's been good, all good
    #29
  10. popscycle

    popscycle Fahren Away

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    As I recall, the CR report was based on telephone surveys (a.k.a. polling) and we know how incredibly accurate those are (NOT!). The very nature of the questions (e.g., those that trigger an emotional, rather than rational, response) can skew the results just about any way you want.
    #30
  11. joexr

    joexr Banned

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    Not that I care for BMW's or Horribley's , but if you check out CR's findings on just about anything , it looks like NOTHING is any good.
    #31
  12. fast4d

    fast4d Long timer

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    almost 65k on my zrx with nothing more than oil, filters, valve shims and the usual maintenance.


    8k on my bmw and I am on my second engine.....

    I will always have one japanese bike in the fleet....just in case.
    #32
  13. JeffinTD

    JeffinTD Long timer

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    I was glad to see someone at least attempt a motorcycle reliability study.

    I would also say I wasn't surprised by the results. German cars often score poorly.

    Having owned a Road King, the only reliability problem I had was caused by the tank vent system. The hose barb for the vent was braised to the tank,, but no hole in the skin of the tank.

    My current BMW suffered a fuel strip failure, and that's it so far.

    Even though BMW and HD might be at the bottom, they still seem to be remarkably reliable. HD has a robust feel and character that Japan can't seem to capture. The BMW has excellent handling, IMHO excellent suspension, and again character that Japan makers haven't been able to duplicate.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against the brands from Japan, and I've owned Hondas and Suzukis that were excellent.


    Anyway: With any luck, this might prod BMW and HD to look at what fails and make improvements.
    #33
  14. anotherguy

    anotherguy unsympathetic

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    What year is the Road King?
    #34
  15. JeffinTD

    JeffinTD Long timer

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    It was a 99. If I recall I think they later had a service bulletin for wide glides for the same problem.
    #35
  16. HanShotFirst

    HanShotFirst Been here awhile

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    I do find it weird that you see a lot of very high mileage Harley's and BMW's but only a smattering of high mileage Japanese bikes. The only thing that I can figure is that people tend to buy Japanese bikes as their first bike and then graduate to Harley's and Bimmers. So the Japanese bike stay with the less experienced riders, and thus are crashed and totaled before they ever get the chance to become senior citizens.

    BMW's and Harley's exude a certain quality about them that attracts seasoned riders.

    Now with that said, I'm a dyed in the wool Japanese motorcycle man. Spent my whole life on Yamaha's which ran flawlessly, but now find myself the proud owner of a couple big Kawasaki's...ZZR-1200 for the street, and a KLX650 for playing in the dirt.

    When I ride BMW's I'm always struck how solid they feel and stable the ride is. But they never accelerate, brake, or turn as well as the Japanese bikes. And there's nothing smoother than a Japanese inline 4. I consider it the perfect engine...especially the one in my ZZR; magnificent.

    Harley's just have class and a nearly perfectly executed finish. But the iconic 45 degree engine just puts off too much vibration. And at some point that vibration will cause some problem.
    #36
  17. HOT DAMN!

    HOT DAMN! ♪ ♪ ♪

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  18. JeffinTD

    JeffinTD Long timer

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    I've seen some very low mile HD's on the market, I think from people who bought them as a status symbol.

    Years ago I remember there was a letter to motorcycle consumer news complaining that they do a lot of articles on BMW, where they are a small % of motorcycle sales.

    They replied, saying that although BMW is relatively small in the market, their survey showed a large percent of their subscribers ride BMW.

    I think BMW owners and a big part of HD owners tend to be motorcycle enthusiasts, as opposed to casual riders.

    Also most of their models are suitable for long rides- not many race replica and smaller around town type bikes.
    #38
  19. Danjal

    Danjal Insert wit here.

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    I'm seeing the opposite as expressed here in terms of milage. Most of the Japanese bike owners I know ride much more than the Harley owners. I've tried the poker runs,and organized rides,but stopping every 15-20 mins isn't for me.

    Most Harley owners never sell due to the cost of getting into another, most Japanese bikes are flipped for something new to ride. I've heard Harley owners wishing they mouth a cheaper just as good Japanese bike,and Japanese bike owners wishing they spent more for a Harley.

    Maintenance is a whole lot of what ifs,how it's ridden,and what's done for basic maintenance.
    #39
  20. PeterW

    PeterW Long timer

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    No, it's just that owners of Japanese bikes don't get as emotionally attached, they are the sort of people who made a sensible choice in the first place after all.

    DL 650, cost around 10k new (local price) put 120,000k's on it, started to burn oil, had been trouble free, didn't owe me anything. I sold it and brought a new one.

    Over the time I had it, a BMW would have cost me at least 3x as much. I probably could have kept the DL running another couple of 100,000k's, but, basically no need to. No emotional attachements, and I prefer a hassle free ride.

    Pete
    #40