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Thread: Motorcycle reliability comparison

  1. #1
    Registered User jad01's Avatar
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    Motorcycle reliability comparison

    Jim
    '78 R80/7 and '84 R100RS (Blues Brothers), '86 K75C (Icy Hot)
    '90 and '93 Mazda Miatas (Jelly Bean and Red Hot), '97 Nissan XE PU (Mighty Mouse)
    '96 Giant Upland (big Kendas, baby!)

  2. #2
    Registered User lkraus's Avatar
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    "Reliability is but one measure. We found that owner satisfaction creates a much different picture..."

    Wish they had printed those results...
    Larry
    2006 R1200RT

  3. #3
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    In my limited sample (me and a few friends who ride), the suggested reliability ratings are not far off reality. All my Japanese bikes (one Honda, one Yamaha, one Kawasaki) were all bullet-proof and unbreakable. My BMW has already had a minor issue or three.
    Royce
    On the coast of Kansas
    2012 F800ST

  4. #4
    Ponch ponch1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by royce View Post
    In my limited sample (me and a few friends who ride), the suggested reliability ratings are not far off reality. All my Japanese bikes (one Honda, one Yamaha, one Kawasaki) were all bullet-proof and unbreakable. My BMW has already had a minor issue or three.
    The sting in any rebuke is the truth.
    My Motorrad
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    Quote Originally Posted by royce View Post
    In my limited sample (me and a few friends who ride), the suggested reliability ratings are not far off reality. All my Japanese bikes (one Honda, one Yamaha, one Kawasaki) were all bullet-proof and unbreakable. My BMW has already had a minor issue or three.
    +1
    MOA #46783

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    I've approximately 600,000 miles spread out over 80 some owned bikes, not every manufacture listed, but all the Japanese models, Harley and BMW. I never had as many recalled or "campaigned" machines as BMW. Do I want to own anything other than the BMW, right now....No! I enjoy BMW bikes however, I wish they were less prone to manufacturing and workmanship errors. I sold all Japanese, BMW and Harley bikes at one time or another...mostly as a part time fun job, so I've seen what I type of here.

    Below are a few examples I recall...sure there are many more from all manufactures (and perhaps an injustice to list from pure recall)...but I still have difficulty getting passed "a seemingly more problems issue for a more costly machine." Certainly part of the answer is "less invested in determining quality of vendors and their wares" vs "what new technology can we be first to the market with?" I could do with less answers to questions that were never asked. Technology for technology and "proprietary" sake....from all brands.

    BMW-

    Antenna ring failure - left many stranded
    Rear strut STOP - left many bike-less or with one less bike for heart of last riding season
    2008/9 R bikes - leaky cases needed re-torqued at dealer, most caught before sold (oil on showroom floor...looked like older day Harley shop)
    F front axle problems and rear sprocket failures
    Fuel strips - wasn't 10 miles down road from purchase when it failed on GS
    Final drives
    BMW machines reportedly have a difficult time running on American gasoline (causes all kinds of problems...many dealers attest?)



    Harley-

    Cam bearings coming apart


    Japanese-

    1980/1 Kawasaki cam cover seals and master brake cover gasket would leak
    1985 V-65 starter slipped
    MOA #46783

  7. #7
    Registered User alegerlotz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Motodan View Post
    BMW machines reportedly have a difficult time running on American gasoline (causes all kinds of problems...many dealers attest?)
    The ethanol in our fuel is bad for almost everything. It is especially bad for things with carbs like yard equipment.
    2016 R1200RT
    2007 KTM 450 XC-W
    2005 R1200RT (2/2015 - 12/2016)
    1985 Yamaha XJ 700 Maxim (7/1989 - 9/1991)

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    Quote Originally Posted by ponch1 View Post
    The sting in any rebuke is the truth.
    The irony, however, is that I got rid of all the dead-reliable Japanese bikes and I now ride a BMW. Why is that? Honestly, I can't tell you. I really can't say that I enjoy the BMW more than any of the others--the FZ1 was the most enjoyable (flat-out fun), and the ST1100 was the best long-range mount and the Nomad was the most comfortable. But I shed them all for the F800ST. It is a nice compromise of all three (FZ1, ST1100 and Nomad) but ... nope, I can't think of a single logical reason why I now ride, and am completely happy with, the BMW. It just is, and I'm happy with it. Go figure.

    I wonder why others ride a BMW if they have had "better" experiences on other brands? It might be interesting to know, but doubt if any analysis will explain much.
    Royce
    On the coast of Kansas
    2012 F800ST

  9. #9
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    It's pretty useful to be an owner of German cars as well as BMW bikes.

    Fact is, if you do you'll be closer to knowing it's all about the same--German cars are pretty much less reliable than Toyota, Lexus, etc., too.

    In addition to the occasional inconvenience, they are likely more expensive to maintain. I wouldn't know, as I'm not for a nanosecond interested in owning a Japanese or Korean vehicle to find out. As with bikes, nothing from the USA is a player at all. Not interested in purchasing the 1950s in 2015. Or something "multifuel."

    Now, there is the statement "if you have to ask how much it costs, you can't afford it." Don't think that's quite applicable here, but in my view the fact that Germany invented the motorcycle and the car (and automotive electrics) and has been ahead ever since and simply leads the automotive world quite thoroughly means I want to participate and will budget accordingly. A failed alternator on a Mercedes has been the only on-road failure I've experienced in owning German vehicles since 1970. I live in the part of the country where I can easily get myself 100 miles from anything, but I'd head out in any of my German vehicles. It's of course not about never changing the oil or doing any maintenance or even an inspection and expecting zero problems--that's not realistic. Yes, it was $2700 to fix a commonly occurring oil leak on my OM642. $400 for a fluid change on a transmission that has no fill plug.

    Why do I want to participate in the "German experience?" It's the feel. It's the quality. It's the style. It's the commonality, as all brands are pretty similar and have Bosch-standard electrics--a brown wire is a ground on a 1970 Airhead and on a 2015 Porsche. To me, nothing beats the feel of a boxer twin, and pretty much nothing sounds like my Porsche. I'm not driving a refrigerator--that's for my kitchen. Said it before and will say it again: "A (insert German brand name) is closer to being a Ferrari than it is to being a Camry."

    Good to know the culture a bit, too. German vehicles are built for Germans, first. That's an intent and they think it works. Germany's a country only about the size of Montana but with very dense population--you're never very far away from help. Go to Germany and see if you can find a NAPA. You can't find a Walmart. I'm convinced the following is true: DIY maintenance by the vehicle owner is not a design priority. There is no cultural history of fixing one's Model T with baling wire. Germany didn't have a "peoples' car" until ... . You're expected to have your vehicle maintained by factory trained technicians.

    Ok, here's the psychological poop-don't shoot me. Nothing about owning and operating a motorcycle--any motorcycle--makes it anything but a toy. A hobby. Those that commute and obsess about fuel economy are rationalizing. Suppose I can understand some guilt or anyway some reluctance to spend too much on such an extravagance. To have it be a bit unreliable. To have it be close to a Ferrari. But, I think it's possible to be conservative and practical when it comes to a budget and that that doesn't mean every purchase has to be conservative or practical. Just affordable. No guilt. It's not BMW's fault if it's not affordable to absolutely everyone. They aren't really trying to build anything for everyone.

    So, it's a non sequitur, or apples/oranges, then, to really even discuss "reliability" with respect to any motorcycle and especially German motorcycles. Makes me giggle. But, that's just me.
    Kent Christensen
    21482
    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

  10. #10
    FUKENGRUVEN SURVIVOR akbeemer's Avatar
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    Wow. I feel like I just saw Spock cry. Actually some good points there Kent. Can't say that I agree with your anti-Nippon stance. I have Beemers and a FJR. And like them all. But so far the Yamaha has had zero recalls and no failures. Cannot say that about any of our four Beemers. I'm awaiting the 6th recall on my R12R and the first on Annie's new 800GS.
    Kevin Huddy
    Tm Pterodactyl MT Outpost

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by lkchris View Post
    It's pretty useful to be an owner of German cars as well as BMW bikes.

    Fact is, if you do you'll be closer to knowing it's all about the same--German cars are pretty much less reliable than Toyota, Lexus, etc., too.

    In addition to the occasional inconvenience, they are likely more expensive to maintain. I wouldn't know, as I'm not for a nanosecond interested in owning a Japanese or Korean vehicle to find out. As with bikes, nothing from the USA is a player at all. Not interested in purchasing the 1950s in 2015. Or something "multifuel."

    Now, there is the statement "if you have to ask how much it costs, you can't afford it." Don't think that's quite applicable here, but in my view the fact that Germany invented the motorcycle and the car (and automotive electrics) and has been ahead ever since and simply leads the automotive world quite thoroughly means I want to participate and will budget accordingly. A failed alternator on a Mercedes has been the only on-road failure I've experienced in owning German vehicles since 1970. I live in the part of the country where I can easily get myself 100 miles from anything, but I'd head out in any of my German vehicles. It's of course not about never changing the oil or doing any maintenance or even an inspection and expecting zero problems--that's not realistic. Yes, it was $2700 to fix a commonly occurring oil leak on my OM642. $400 for a fluid change on a transmission that has no fill plug.

    Why do I want to participate in the "German experience?" It's the feel. It's the quality. It's the style. It's the commonality, as all brands are pretty similar and have Bosch-standard electrics--a brown wire is a ground on a 1970 Airhead and on a 2015 Porsche. To me, nothing beats the feel of a boxer twin, and pretty much nothing sounds like my Porsche. I'm not driving a refrigerator--that's for my kitchen. Said it before and will say it again: "A (insert German brand name) is closer to being a Ferrari than it is to being a Camry."

    Good to know the culture a bit, too. German vehicles are built for Germans, first. That's an intent and they think it works. Germany's a country only about the size of Montana but with very dense population--you're never very far away from help. Go to Germany and see if you can find a NAPA. You can't find a Walmart. I'm convinced the following is true: DIY maintenance by the vehicle owner is not a design priority. There is no cultural history of fixing one's Model T with baling wire. Germany didn't have a "peoples' car" until ... . You're expected to have your vehicle maintained by factory trained technicians.

    Ok, here's the psychological poop-don't shoot me. Nothing about owning and operating a motorcycle--any motorcycle--makes it anything but a toy. A hobby. Those that commute and obsess about fuel economy are rationalizing. Suppose I can understand some guilt or anyway some reluctance to spend too much on such an extravagance. To have it be a bit unreliable. To have it be close to a Ferrari. But, I think it's possible to be conservative and practical when it comes to a budget and that that doesn't mean every purchase has to be conservative or practical. Just affordable. No guilt. It's not BMW's fault if it's not affordable to absolutely everyone. They aren't really trying to build anything for everyone.

    So, it's a non sequitur, or apples/oranges, then, to really even discuss "reliability" with respect to any motorcycle and especially German motorcycles. Makes me giggle. But, that's just me.
    Certainly, to a degree, it's the exclusivity and just possibly there's some well paid for "snob" appeal involved. And that's not necessarily a negative.
    MOA #46783

  12. #12
    Left Coast Rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by jad01 View Post
    I was going to write a long-winded response but I distilled it all down to three words: I don't care.


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    Quote Originally Posted by BC1100S View Post
    I was going to write a long-winded response but I distilled it all down to three words: I don't care.

    Could you please be more specific? HaHa
    MOA #46783

  14. #14
    Hello everyone! I joined this forum months ago because of my admiration for BMW motorcycles. You see, I've never owned one. I feel kind of like a spy here I ride a Honda every day in any weather for my 40 mile work commute. Never do I have a single issue with my bike. It's the one variable that never changes on me. And I'm no maintenance freak. But I've always wondered if I'd be taking my Xterra in to work throughout the year because the BMW's in the shop were I to make the leap and buy one someday. I wondered if all the trouble on this site is mostly because there are a lot of mechanics on here and fixing broken stuff is just what they do for a living.

    I still want to own a BMW bike someday. I don't know why. I wish it were explainable. But I've wanted to put up my first post on the site to ask everybody what the most reliable BMW model/engine has been over the years. So maybe this post can be used as a good excuse to mention the other side of the coin on this topic. Have there been any fairly bulletproof BMW models in years past that really stand out as far as reliability goes?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by lkchris View Post
    It's pretty useful to be an owner of German cars as well as BMW bikes.

    Fact is, if you do you'll be closer to knowing it's all about the same--German cars are pretty much less reliable than Toyota, Lexus, etc., too.

    In addition to the occasional inconvenience, they are likely more expensive to maintain. I wouldn't know, as I'm not for a nanosecond interested in owning a Japanese or Korean vehicle to find out. As with bikes, nothing from the USA is a player at all. Not interested in purchasing the 1950s in 2015. Or something "multifuel."

    Now, there is the statement "if you have to ask how much it costs, you can't afford it." Don't think that's quite applicable here, but in my view the fact that Germany invented the motorcycle and the car (and automotive electrics) and has been ahead ever since and simply leads the automotive world quite thoroughly means I want to participate and will budget accordingly. A failed alternator on a Mercedes has been the only on-road failure I've experienced in owning German vehicles since 1970. I live in the part of the country where I can easily get myself 100 miles from anything, but I'd head out in any of my German vehicles. It's of course not about never changing the oil or doing any maintenance or even an inspection and expecting zero problems--that's not realistic. Yes, it was $2700 to fix a commonly occurring oil leak on my OM642. $400 for a fluid change on a transmission that has no fill plug.

    Why do I want to participate in the "German experience?" It's the feel. It's the quality. It's the style. It's the commonality, as all brands are pretty similar and have Bosch-standard electrics--a brown wire is a ground on a 1970 Airhead and on a 2015 Porsche. To me, nothing beats the feel of a boxer twin, and pretty much nothing sounds like my Porsche. I'm not driving a refrigerator--that's for my kitchen. Said it before and will say it again: "A (insert German brand name) is closer to being a Ferrari than it is to being a Camry."

    Good to know the culture a bit, too. German vehicles are built for Germans, first. That's an intent and they think it works. Germany's a country only about the size of Montana but with very dense population--you're never very far away from help. Go to Germany and see if you can find a NAPA. You can't find a Walmart. I'm convinced the following is true: DIY maintenance by the vehicle owner is not a design priority. There is no cultural history of fixing one's Model T with baling wire. Germany didn't have a "peoples' car" until ... . You're expected to have your vehicle maintained by factory trained technicians.

    Ok, here's the psychological poop-don't shoot me. Nothing about owning and operating a motorcycle--any motorcycle--makes it anything but a toy. A hobby. Those that commute and obsess about fuel economy are rationalizing. Suppose I can understand some guilt or anyway some reluctance to spend too much on such an extravagance. To have it be a bit unreliable. To have it be close to a Ferrari. But, I think it's possible to be conservative and practical when it comes to a budget and that that doesn't mean every purchase has to be conservative or practical. Just affordable. No guilt. It's not BMW's fault if it's not affordable to absolutely everyone. They aren't really trying to build anything for everyone.

    So, it's a non sequitur, or apples/oranges, then, to really even discuss "reliability" with respect to any motorcycle and especially German motorcycles. Makes me giggle. But, that's just me.
    Nope, almost none of what you say applies to me or my situation. However, we both ride the same brand bike--BMW. Isn't it a great world!
    Royce
    On the coast of Kansas
    2012 F800ST

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