Harley-Davidson Motorcycles Aren’t Nearly as Reliable as Yamaha, According to Consumer Reports

It’s hard to find any brand as well known as Harley-Davidson motorcycles. They’ve earned this reputation by maintaining a loyal following that keep it at the forefront in an ever-changing industry. However, just because the brand is strong, a 2015 test by Consumer Reports may show more reliable options from another industry giant. 

Is Yamaha the new king? 

A Row of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles parked outside in front of a building.
Row of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles | Getty Images

Consumer Reports surveyed its community in 2015 by asking users about their bikes’ reliability on the road. The results were somewhat shocking for those who equate motorcycles with the Harley-Davidson brand. While Yamaha came out on top, with just 11% of users reporting failures, several other brands tested better than Harley as well. 

Suzuki and Honda came in second and third with 12% failure rates each. Kawasaki, peeled into fourth place with a 13% failure rate. Victory rounded out the top five, with 17% of users reporting failures. Perhaps, even more jarring than its sixth-place finish, was just how far behind the other brands Harley-Davidson landed. 

Harley-Davidson users reported a 26% failure rate, edging out Ducati, BMW, and several other major brands. While this can draw attention to various important issues, it also comes with certain caveats that could explain the varied numbers.  

A word of caution for Harley-Davidson enthusiasts

Consumer Reports are an industry standard for cars, trucks, and SUVs. However, they are not typically known for motorcycles. While this does not take away from the studies’ findings—it was, done in 2015. What makes Consumer Reports so valuable is its dedicated fan base and commitment to an unbiased outlook.

However, when a sight with Consumer Reports’ status goes against its standard work, questioning results is less about integrity and more about their qualifications and technique. For instance, while failure rate might be important to some buyers, others might want to see more data about their satisfaction. While individual pages give us more information, lists like this might be hard for newcomers to guide. However, the customer feedback shows that Harleys might not have the lead they once had.

How to decide? 

There is no universal right or wrong when it comes to motorcycles. While Consumer Reports’  gives a good glimpse at a significant problem, Monimoto broke down other ways the numbers can be skewed. In the end, it’s not about finding the top of the crop but weighing different problems based on what a user wants and needs. 

Yamaha had low failure ranks, but they also polled 20% lower than Harley-Davidson when customers were asked if they were likely to buy it again. In other studies, Yamaha performed well but could not surpass Honda’s reliability. New motorcycle buyers may want to employ a close enthusiast or peruse other communities and ask questions before they make a choice. 

Harley-Davidson has been an industry leader for a while now. When it comes to who is truly in the lead, a lot of times it depends on who you ask. Everyone has their own preferences and the hard decision of who is best shows how versatile motorcycle riders are.

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