Harley-Davidson motorcycles not as reliable as Yamaha, Consumer Reports says

It’s hard to find a brand as famous as Harley-Davidson motorcycles. They have earned this reputation by maintaining a loyal following which keeps them 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?

Row of Harley-Davidson motorcycles | Getty Images

consumer reports polled its community in 2015 by asking users how reliable their bikes were on the road. The results were somewhat shocking to 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 also outperformed Harley.

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

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

A word of warning for Harley-Davidson enthusiasts

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Consumer Reports is an industry standard for cars, trucks and SUVs. However, they are generally not known for motorcycles. While that doesn’t take away from the studies’ findings, it was done in 2015. What makes Consumer Reports so valuable is its dedicated fanbase and commitment to an unbiased perspective.

However, when a show with Consumer Reports status goes against their standard work, the results of the interrogations are less about integrity and more about their qualifications and technique. For example, while failure rate may be important to some buyers, others may want to see more data about their satisfaction. While the individual pages give us more information, listings like this can be difficult for newcomers to navigate. However, customer feedback shows that Harleys may not have the edge they once had.

How to decide?

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There is no universal right or wrong when it comes to motorcycles. While Consumer Reports provides good insight into an important issue, Monimoto broken down other ways the numbers can be skewed. Ultimately, it’s not about finding the best of the crop, but about weighing different issues based on what a user wants and needs.

Yamaha had low failure ratings, but they also polled 20 percent lower than Harley-Davidson when asking customers 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 wish to employ a nearby enthusiast or browse other communities and ask questions before making a choice.

Harley-Davidson has been an industry leader for quite some time now. When it comes to who is really in the lead, it often depends on who you ask. Everyone has their own preferences and the difficult decision of who is the best shows just how versatile motorcyclists are.

RELATED: What to Know Before Buying Your First Motorcycle

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