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Thread: Who makes the most reliable motorcycle?

  1. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by jconway607 View Post
    ...One issue I don't think I saw mentioned is also critical to me: resale. In the past (pre-BMW) I found that it was nearly impossible to sell a Japanese bike. I had to just about give them away. I swore I wouldn't be in that predicament again...
    I had a similar problem when I went to sell my Honda...but I think it is a problem for all used motorcycle sales.

    When a motorcycle costs as much as some cars to buy new, most of those who buy them are well off old men. We are buying our dream bike, and so we're willing to pay whatever it takes to get it. For the most part, we want it new. Pristine. Unridden by anyone else. We have the ability to pay cash with no problems. But we are dieing off. Those coming after us, don't have the money. Even if they get a loan, the cost is prohibitive for a toy. (And yes, IMHO, a motorcycle of any brand is a toy unless you use it as your only transportation.) And so there aren't many to buy our toys when we're done without us taking a bath in the process by selling it at a huge loss.

    The only way you can minimize the loss you'll take in depreciation, is to look for a bike that is used. Let the first owner pay the depreciation loss and put on the farkles...and then buy it from them when they've only put a few thousand miles on it.

    Chris
    Elnathan - 2014 BMW F800GT
    IBA# 49894 True Rounder = 0-20's - Rounder -- to -- 100's+ Red Hot Rounder
    John 14:6

  2. #47
    Comparative reliability aside, BMW's are certainly “good enough” motorcycles when you consider other criteria such as riding comfort, handling, and braking. That and many models have the electronic doo-dads that many modern riders consider essential for their riding enjoyment.

    Certainly the technology exists to make them more reliable, however, so the question might be “why doesn't BMW fix some of these issues?”. Well, who would really benefit from that investment?
    A replacement ESA front shock for an R1200GS is $2300, an ABS unit goes for about $2500, and rear drives are certainly expensive. Other brands don't seem to have issues with these costly components, but when one considers the profitable revenue stream BMW must enjoy from these and similar replacement items well beyond the new bike sale, it begins to make sense.
    The dealerships benefit too, as the necessary goal for many car and bike dealerships today is to structure the parts and service department to cover fixed expenses for the ENTIRE dealership (see “dealer service absorption ratio”).

    As I see it, the rider has a couple of choices; ride the BMW(s) you like and take the occasional (and perhaps very expensive) repair bill hit, or keep 2 bikes, a BMW for club participation and “biker cred”, and a Japanese bike (Goldwing perhaps?) for longer trips where long term reliability might be a more important factor.

  3. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by 43912 View Post
    Comparative reliability aside, BMW's are certainly “good enough” motorcycles when you consider other criteria such as riding comfort, handling, and braking. That and many models have the electronic doo-dads that many modern riders consider essential for their riding enjoyment.

    Certainly the technology exists to make them more reliable, however, so the question might be “why doesn't BMW fix some of these issues?”. Well, who would really benefit from that investment?
    A replacement ESA front shock for an R1200GS is $2300, an ABS unit goes for about $2500, and rear drives are certainly expensive. Other brands don't seem to have issues with these costly components, but when one considers the profitable revenue stream BMW must enjoy from these and similar replacement items well beyond the new bike sale, it begins to make sense.
    The dealerships benefit too, as the necessary goal for many car and bike dealerships today is to structure the parts and service department to cover fixed expenses for the ENTIRE dealership (see “dealer service absorption ratio”).

    As I see it, the rider has a couple of choices; ride the BMW(s) you like and take the occasional (and perhaps very expensive) repair bill hit, or keep 2 bikes, a BMW for club participation and “biker cred”, and a Japanese bike (Goldwing perhaps?) for longer trips where long term reliability might be a more important factor.
    And that was the exact attitude the Detroit guys had in the 60s and 70s. Look what happened to them. I love my '15 RT, but I am not happy that a "premium" bike has so many warranty issues. This is my 2nd BMW bike, and both have had warranty work. My Toyota and Honda cars did not have that problem. Now that the Japanese manufactures see the money that BMW made in the sport touring class, they are building some competitive bikes. As the money gets tighter, you will lose the new buyers to the other brands. They (the competing brands) just need to copy BMW, but build it better, faster, and cheaper. They will, and BMW will see sales drop. I love my RT, but I haven't had enough of the Kool-Aid to not see the engineering failures of BMW bikes. I just choose to live with them. Expecting that attitude from the customer base in the future is shortsighted.


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  4. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by daboo View Post
    The only way you can minimize the loss you'll take in depreciation, is to look for a bike that is used. Let the first owner pay the depreciation loss and put on the farkles...and then buy it from them when they've only put a few thousand miles on it.

    Chris
    I'm old enough. Have the money and can pay cash... but my dream bike is always lightly used.

    I'm currently riding a 2016 S1000XR fully equipped with all options that someone paid $23325 for with Givi Trekker Outbacks less than one year and 2880 miles ago. I bought it in February, from a dealer with all the farkles in place for under $15k, tax, tags, on the street. The dealer still made a profit so... what do you suppose they gave that poor schlep for his new bike? I did the same kind of thing with my R1200GS Adventure in 2014.

    BMWs don't really hold their value any better than anything else... they just cost so damn much to start with that losing 25-40% riding it off the floor still leaves a bloody expensive used bike.

    Still, there must be something about them. I keep buying the damn things after riding the competition.

  5. #50
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    Buying.

    poor schlep? I doubt it.
    Marty Hill
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    ride till you can't

  6. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by huckleberry View Post
    ...BMWs don't really hold their value any better than anything else... they just cost so damn much to start with that losing 25-40% riding it off the floor still leaves a bloody expensive used bike.

    Still, there must be something about them. I keep buying the damn things after riding the competition.
    I did much the same as you. I picked up my bike from a retired cardiologist. Nice guy. He wanted to go touring with the bike, so he did the research and fixed it up with every conceivable mod you could do to make it more suitable for touring and comfort. Then he found he wanted a side car and bought a larger BMW. He sold the F800GT to me with about 2000 miles for about $3-4000 less than a new one would cost, and included about $3000 of accessories...and priced it below the current Kelley Blue Book.

    When I went looking for the bike though, I did not go looking for a BMW. I was looking for something in the sub-1000cc engine size, with a fairing and without a chain. There aren't many choices.

    Chris
    Elnathan - 2014 BMW F800GT
    IBA# 49894 True Rounder = 0-20's - Rounder -- to -- 100's+ Red Hot Rounder
    John 14:6

  7. #52
    Now this is just my impression but it seems we are perhaps a very forgiving owners group. That's OK. If that's part of the characterization of a BMW owner so be it.

    But I wonder why the MOA does not advocate on behalf of owners for better reliability or parts, service and warranties. When surveys like the Consumer Report comes out, it's understandable to that many will want to defend the brand, but shouldn't we also be asking what's up? I happen to believe BMW builds great bikes but I also believe they could build better bikes. Part of the issue may be a tracking problem. For example late last summer I purchased a 2016 R1200RS. I had to exchange three Nav 5 Units before I got one that worked. My dealers response to the issue was to just give me a diffenrent one to try each time I went in until it was sorted. I suspect that BMW NA never heard a word about GPS failures from my dealer and if you don't know there's a problem its going to be real hard to solve it.

  8. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by romany View Post
    Now this is just my impression but it seems we are perhaps a very forgiving owners group. That's OK. If that's part of the characterization of a BMW owner so be it.

    But I wonder why the MOA does not advocate on behalf of owners for better reliability or parts, service and warranties. When surveys like the Consumer Report comes out, it's understandable to that many will want to defend the brand, but shouldn't we also be asking what's up? I happen to believe BMW builds great bikes but I also believe they could build better bikes. Part of the issue may be a tracking problem. For example late last summer I purchased a 2016 R1200RS. I had to exchange three Nav 5 Units before I got one that worked. My dealers response to the issue was to just give me a diffenrent one to try each time I went in until it was sorted. I suspect that BMW NA never heard a word about GPS failures from my dealer and if you don't know there's a problem its going to be real hard to solve it.
    Oh, if only it were that simple, Grasshopper.

    When my two final drives were gutted from my R1200RT, I asked the BMW Master Mechanic at my dealership if he tore them down to actually identify the problem. He stated "No. They get shipped back intact to Germany." I asked if they definitively tore them down there - he smiled, shook his head and said they simply "disappear into a black hole. We never hear anything about them again."

    Some mistakes are corrected - some are just buried, in the name of corporate greed.

    I agree BMW makes great bikes. I agree BMW could make them better.

    I would disagree with anyone who tells me they are trying. The emphasis has for many years now, to make their bikes as light (delicate?) as possible, and as electronically complicated (reliability?) as possible. Not exactly what every motorcyclist is hoping for?!
    Kevin Greenwald - MSF Lead RiderCoach # 121656 (BRC,SBRC,IS,IME,SMARTrainer)
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  9. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenwald View Post
    ...I would disagree with anyone who tells me they are trying. The emphasis has for many years now, to make their bikes as light (delicate?) as possible, and as electronically complicated (reliability?) as possible. Not exactly what every motorcyclist is hoping for?!
    You really captured a thought I've had, but couldn't put into words as well as you just did. A light bike will perform better in testing than a heavier more durable bike. And motorcycle reviewers don't keep a bike long enough to see how the bike lasts over time. Also, the more gadgets on the bike, the more it appeals to guys. We like gadgets. It's something we get to fiddle with and point out to our buddies in the parking lot. Never mind that we need a manual to figure out how to operate them.

    Your description of what happens with those final drives is interesting. The cost of the bike is high enough to cover BMW's potential costs for warranty work. As long as someone will pay the price for the bike, they will continue to sell it just like it is. There's no incentive to lose profits to fix the problem. The dealership gets paid for the work they do on broke motorcycles. There's no incentive there either. In fact, a BMW franchise looks like a better franchise to have than one from the Japanese manufacturers. The Japanese bikes don't break that often, so there's not as much work for the staff.

    When I mentioned on a non-BMW forum that I was buying my BMW, I was surprised by the negative comments there from former BMW owners. They had been stung badly by costly repairs.

    Chris
    Elnathan - 2014 BMW F800GT
    IBA# 49894 True Rounder = 0-20's - Rounder -- to -- 100's+ Red Hot Rounder
    John 14:6

  10. #55
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    Silly question, all told.

    Do guys/gals that own Ferraris care much about reliability? Porsche GT3s? MV Agustas? Ducatis? Do they punish themselves with Camrys if they have a problem?

    Good to define reliability, too ... I wouldn't define it as never having to have scheduled dealer service and never having a problem with that. Or that dealer service is cheap. Being able to fix things with baling wire or fasteners from Home Depot isn't a definition of reliability, either.

    And the psychology ... motorcycles are essentially toys--like the Ferrari and Porsche--and the expectation that this adventure can be cheap and trouble-free may be unrealistic.

    IMHO there's a lot of guilt and buyer remorse involved here ... and the antidote is an attempt to define motorcycling as economical and trouble free rather than the ego-driven adventure in toyland it more realistically is. There's really nothing wrong with conspicuous consumption. What are problems are guilt and jealousy. Yeah, the government shouldn't buy $600 screwdrivers, but no problem if you do.

    The BMW RT seems to remain the world's Police bike, which should suggest some quantity of reliability ... something more expected with industrial equipment. The recent change to wet clutches a reaction to customer feedback.
    Kent Christensen
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  11. #56
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    [QUOTE
    I agree BMW makes great bikes. I agree BMW could make them better.

    I would disagree with anyone who tells me they are trying. The emphasis has for many years now, to make their bikes as light (delicate?) as possible, and as electronically complicated (reliability?) as possible. Not exactly what every motorcyclist is hoping for?! [/QUOTE]

    I would also agree with that. I find it interesting that the vast majority of American's don't buy Porches, Audi, or BMW cars. They buy Japanese vehicles. Why? Superb reliability shown over many years, and a much better financial deal. They want something that lasts and requires a minimum of repairs. But motorcycles seem to have such a strong emotional pull that people readily overlook their faults. I guess I include myself in that category, although I have never carried it to the extreme of buying a new Harley.

    Motorcycles certainly are toys, but if they are constantly needing repairs, that takes a lot of the fun out of it. There comes a point when pizzazz takes a back seat to just having something that works flawlessly all the time. I believe that may be the corporate philosophy over at Honda, Yamaha, etc.

    BMW charges a lot for their bikes, and a lot to repair them when they break, which seems to be too frequent for the quality they always profess to be proud of. They have always been a niche company compared to other manufactures. If they can't get their reputation for quality back up, they likely will stay there.

  12. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by jconway607 View Post
    [QUOTE
    I agree BMW makes great bikes. I agree BMW could make them better.

    I would disagree with anyone who tells me they are trying. The emphasis has for many years now, to make their bikes as light (delicate?) as possible, and as electronically complicated (reliability?) as possible. Not exactly what every motorcyclist is hoping for?!


    I would also agree with that. I find it interesting that the vast majority of American's don't buy Porches, Audi, or BMW cars. They buy Japanese vehicles. Why? Superb reliability shown over many years, and a much better financial deal. They want something that lasts and requires a minimum of repairs. But motorcycles seem to have such a strong emotional pull that people readily overlook their faults. I guess I include myself in that category, although I have never carried it to the extreme of buying a new Harley.

    Motorcycles certainly are toys, but if they are constantly needing repairs, that takes a lot of the fun out of it. There comes a point when pizzazz takes a back seat to just having something that works flawlessly all the time. I believe that may be the corporate philosophy over at Honda, Yamaha, etc.

    BMW charges a lot for their bikes, and a lot to repair them when they break, which seems to be too frequent for the quality they always profess to be proud of. They have always been a niche company compared to other manufactures. If they can't get their reputation for quality back up, they likely will stay there.
    (jconway607)

    Well said.
    Kevin Greenwald - MSF Lead RiderCoach # 121656 (BRC,SBRC,IS,IME,SMARTrainer)
    Nationally Certified Law Enforcement Motor Officer (Ret.) / IBA Member #34281
    Motorcycle/High Performance/Teen/Winter Driving Instructor - ROAD AMERICA Race Track

  13. #58
    Quote Originally Posted by mikegalbicka View Post
    Saw this on BR&TMR today. A Consumer Reports study from 2015 data ranked BMW 9 out of 10.
    Sounds correct to me. I never considered riding a BMW to be a well thought out decision and I totally believe Japanese quality is at the top of the list and certainly ahead of BMW. However, there is no accounting for what we fall in love with. So please excuse me while I go for a ride on my RTW! I sure hope I don't break down. Buy just in case I did purchase a Good Sam's tow package which seems to have rather remarkable coverage.

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