Is There a Consumer Reports for Motorcycles?

Consumer Reports is an invaluable tool for car buyers, especially where reliability is concerned. However, as stalwart as the publication is, it’s not necessarily perfect for everyone. That’s particularly the case for motorcycle riders. But if you can’t use Consumer Reports to guide your motorcycle shopping, is there an alternative choice?

Consumer Reports did test motorcycles once upon a time

A rider emissions testing a red Gas Gas FSR 450 on a CARB motorcycle dynamometer
Emissions testing a Gas Gas FSR 450 on a CARB motorcycle dynamometer | Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

To be clear, Consumer Reports has tested motorcycles in the past, Autoblog reports. And, just like it does with cars, it’s posted reliability reports based on subscriber feedback. However, that’s not exactly the case today.

Consumer Reports released its most significant motorcycle reliability report in 2015 when it gathered information from over 11,000 riders. This report, which put Harley-Davidson in 6th place, is based on over 12,300 bike purchases made between 2008 and 2014, Motorcycle Shippers reports. However, while publications—including ours—still occasionally quote this report, it’s been arguably a long time since becoming obsolete. Some of the data it incorporates is over a decade old at this point.

Also, that 2015 report was the last one of its scale that Consumer Reports released. And although the publication still has a motorcycle buying guide on its website, it’s no longer being updated. Basically, apart from the occasional product spotlight, Consumer Reports doesn’t do motorcycle testing anymore.

Do other motorcycle publications approach testing like Consumer Reports?

So, if you can’t rely on Consumer Reports for motorcycle reviews and reliability info, is there a similar choice? The answer, inevitably, is complicated.

RELATED: How to Improve Your Fuel Economy According to Consumer Reports

One of the biggest reasons why consumers trust Consumer Reports is because of its neutrality. The publication doesn’t allow ads and has its own 327-acre private facility where it tests cars’ handling, braking, off-road capability, and fuel economy. Plus, rather than relying on press vehicles, Consumer Reports independently buys its own cars for testing.

Unfortunately, when it comes to motorcycle testing, no one publication offers a similar setup. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get Consumer Reports-quality information. It just requires pulling from several sources.

A red-clad KTM employee testing a 2016 1290 Super Duke R on a motorcycle dynamometer
A KTM employee testing a 2016 1290 Super Duke R on a motorcycle dynamometer | Lisi Niesner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Cycle World and its sister site Motorcyclist, for example, have their own motorcycle dynamometer for testing power. Insurance provider Bennetts tests riding gear independently of any “consumer relationships.” And Motorcycle News’ buying guides include not just riding impressions but also reliability reports, fuel economy ratings, and owner reviews.

Admittedly, no one has a motorcycle testing facility that can match what Consumer Reports has. But in terms of the kind of information Consumer Reports provides, together these sources come fairly close.

Are there alternative ways to get information about reliability or gear/bike recommendations?

RELATED: Can a $1000 Kawasaki Versys 650 and Honda CBR300R Be Good Track Bikes?

As we said before, as thorough as Consumer Reports is, it isn’t infallible or perfect. The same thing goes for motorcycle testing publications, especially if they can’t get their hands on the specific gear or bike you’re interested in. Luckily, the Internet can help with that.

If you’re interested in buying a new pair of motorcycle boots or a helmet, RevZilla provides buyer reviews on all the gear it sells. And the site posts plenty of video guides to picking out whatever piece of gear you’re after.

RELATED: Should You Upgrade Your Motorcycle Suspension?

Rider and owner forums can also be good places to get second opinions on potential purchases. Whether you’re after a used Ducati or eyeing a new Indian, owner forums can clue you in on potential problem areas, future upgrades, and even suggest repair shops. Yes, these forums aren’t necessarily as rigorous as Consumer Reports or another publication can be. But sometimes they can provide information on issues that even long-term reviews don’t catch.

Follow more updates from MotorBiscuit on our Facebook page.