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Harley-Davidson Isn’t the Best Motorcycle Brand, According To Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports rates all sorts of products and provides lots of information that is helpful for consumers, including info about cars, trucks, and motorcycles. Buyers looking for a new motorcycle may be surprised by the brand ratings from Consumer Reports. The best motorcycle brand isn’t Harley-Davidson, but instead, it’s Victory, a brand that’s no longer around today. Here’s a look at the companies and the ratings, which are from several years ago.

Victory is Consumer Reports’ highest-rated motorcycle brand

Consumer Reports rated each motorcycle brand in four categories plus a reader score. The reader score gives the “percent of owners who would definitely purchase the same motorcycle if they had it to do all over again.” Victory had an 80 for its reader score. In the four categories of owner satisfaction, fun, styling, and acceleration, Victory received five out of five across the board. Owner satisfaction is the overall satisfaction. Fun is satisfaction with how fun the motorcycle is to drive. Styling is satisfaction with the motorcycle’s design. And acceleration is satisfaction with the motorcycle’s acceleration.

Victory is a much newer brand than Harley-Davidson, producing its first motorcycle in 1998, according to Money Inc. The brand was a division of the Polaris company and was created to compete directly with Harley-Davidson. Most of its motorcycles were similarly large and heavy. The Victory brand went out of business in 2017 after profits dried up. The parent company, Polaris, had already purchased Indian Motorcycles and decided to focus its motorcycle efforts on that brand instead of Victory. Indian is not rated on Consumer Reports’ list of rankings.

Harley-Davidson and owner satisfaction

RELATED: Is Harley-Davidson Going Out of Business?

Harley-Davidson has a lower reader score with a 72, showing that fewer owners would rebuy the same motorcycle. There’s only one other difference in the scores for Victory and Harley-Davidson. Harley-Davidson received five out of five for fun, styling, and acceleration, but the brand did get a four out of five for owner satisfaction.

Harley-Davidson is an American motorcycle company that was started in 1903, according to Business Insider. The iconic company produced motorcycles during both World War I and World War II. The brand’s motorcycles appeared with Evel Knievel and in Easy Rider. Today Harley-Davidson is best known for large, expensive highway cruiser motorcycles.

To attract new riders as its customer base ages, the company created smaller motorcycles and released the LiveWire, its first electric motorcycle, in 2019. Also in 2019, Harley-Davidson purchased a company that produced electric balance bikes for children, according to TopSpeed. This helped introduce the brand to a new demographic and expand into the electric market.

The Consumer Reports motorcycle data is from 2014

Consumer Reports does explain that the data are from its 2014 Annual Autos Survey, which is currently six years ago. The survey checked in with more than 11,000 Consumer Reports subscribers asking about more than 12,300 motorcycles that they’d purchased new between 2008 and 2014. The statistical model looked at four-year-old motorcycles, adjusting for how many miles they were driven during 12 months, to come up with the satisfaction ratings.

The data points are a little old at this point, so it’s possible that some owner opinions could have changed in recent years as their motorcycles continued to age. Most importantly, since Victory no longer makes motorcycles, it’s hard to translate this data to purchasing a new motorcycle today.

While Consumer Reports gives super helpful info on everything from mattresses to laptops, its rankings on motorcycles may be less helpful. The data is valid for the years represented, but since the top brand no longer exists, it may not be as helpful for buyers right now.