Nearest Office:

The Most Reliable Motorcycle Brands

most reliable motorcycle brands

Motorcycles are exhilarating, adrenaline-inducing, thrill rides. They are also among the most dangerous motorized ways to enjoy the open road or get from point A to point B in a flash.

As such, bike reliability has to be one of (if not THE) most important considerations when evaluating motorcycle brands for your next ride.

Picking the Most Reliable Motorcycle Brand

Most of us are familiar with the ‘big’ names in motorcycles. The Harley-Davidson’s and Kawasaki’s of the biking world. But there are plenty of other reliable motorcycle options out there on the market; some with more than a century of experience in the industry and a stellar track record to boot.

From lower maintenance costs, to safety, comfortability and performance, making the right choice when it comes to the bike manufacturer matters…a lot.

PRO TIP: For those comparing bike brands not included in this guide, the industry average ‘failure rate’ of a motorcycle after four years of operation is 24%. What does this mean? After four years of ownership, a large-scale motorcycle owner survey revealed that, on average, 24% of bikes needed major repairs or experienced a major breakdown (no matter the brand).

PRO TIP: An ounce of planning is worth a pound of pain. This begins with researching the bike brands, makes and models you’re considering buying, to the best motorcycle insurance policy and routine regular maintenance of your motorcycle.

Most Reliable Types of Motorcycles Reviewed

In this guide, we explore some of the industry’s most reliable motorcycle brands, known for producing quality bikes year in and year out.

Yamaha / Star

Yamaha FJR 1300 motorcycle

Founded in 1955, Japanese born Yamaha has risen from its humble beginnings to the ranks of the Motorcycle elite. Notably, it is one of the most popular and reliable motorcycle brand in the world, Yamaha’s notoriety was solidified in the MotoGP racing circuit, led by famed moto-racer Valentino Rossi.

What About Reliability?

Data from Consumer Reports reveals that the Yamaha motorcycle brand is rated by it’s customers as one of the most reliable motorcycle brands, with only around 11% of bikes failing at the four-year mark. Not only are these bikes reliable, but they’re also affordable.

Among the most popular bikes Yamaha produces, are the infamous Yamaha R6 and Yamaha V-Star.

Honda

Honda Nighthawk motorcycle

Another Japanese based bike company, The Honda Motor Company was founded in 1948, but didn’t start producing motorcycles until 1955. Although slow off the starting line so to speak, by 1982 the company was producing almost 3 million bikes per year (a number that only went up from there). To this day the Honda motorcycle brand remains a reliable favorite among motorcycle enthusiasts and automotive gear heads alike.

What About Reliability?

According to Consumer Reports, Honda tied for 2nd place for the most reliable motorcycle brand, just behind Yamaha with 12% of Honda produced motorcycles failing or requiring major repair within four years of ownership/use.

Among the most popular bikes Honda produces, is the infamous Honda CRF230L.

Suzuki

Suzuki DR Z400 motorcycle

If you’re noticing a trend here, you’d be right. With Suzuki, we highlight yet another bike brand of Japanese origin. Founded in 1909, it took Suzuki more than four decades to start producing motorcycles. It wasn’t until 1952 that the first bike of theirs rolled off the assembly line.

The brand strength and recognition of Suzuki bikes to date are undeniable, ranking among the most reliable brands participating in MotoGP. It’s hallmark bike models include the GSX-R750 and the GSX-R1000. Some other popular models are the Suzuiki DR-Z400 and the Suzuki Boulevard S40.

What About Reliability?

Tied for second place with Honda for the most reliable motorcycle brand, by the fourth year of ownership, only 12% of Suzuki brand bikes require significant mechanical work to remain safely in operation.

Kawasaki

Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle

The mighty Kawasaki, born in Japan, since inception this company established itself with an iconic one-of-a-kind look and performance-minded approach. Launched in 1949, it wasn’t until 1963 that this brand began producing motorcycles.

What About Reliability?

Kawasaki scores high in reliability being the fourth most reliable motorcycle brand, with only 15% of its motorcycles failing within the first four years of operation.

Among the most popular bikes Kawasaki produces, is the infamous Kawasaki Z300.

Victory

With Victory Motorcycles, we introduce you to the first American-made motorcycle brand to make our list. Owned by Polaris Industries and with its assembly facility (formerly) situated in Northwestern Iowa, this iconic bike brand brought more than just style to the streets.

Capitalizing on the success of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle brand, Victory hit the US market in 1998, selling its first motorcycle, the V92C. Despite early success, Victory hit a slump, and with three of its last five years in operation failing to produce a profit, it was discontinued.

What About Reliability?

If you’re able to get your hands on this iconic 2-wheeled motorcycle, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that they are quite reliable. Victory Motorcycles are the fifth most reliable motorcycle brand.

Interestingly, many riders say they prefer the build and durability of the Victory motorcycle over Harleys. Consumer Reports agrees, putting the 4-year failure rate of Victory Motorcycles at just 17% (less than Harley).

This translates to 80% of Victory bike owners stating they would hands down buy the exact same motorcycle if given a chance for a ‘do-over’.

Harley-Davidson

Harley Davidson motorcycle

There is nothing quite as symbolic as the mighty Harley motorcycle. Although certainly the most notorious and recognizable brand in motorcycles, it isn’t necessarily the most reliable.

Founded in 1903, this American company screams history, heritage, and a hefty dose of good ‘ole American pride.

What About Reliability?

Harley-Davidson falls just short of the overall average for motorcycle reliability, with around 26% of bikes in use for four years requiring significant maintenance and/or repair. Harley-Davidson is the sixth most reliable motorcycle brand. Of consideration, is that Harleys also cost a lot of money, and this premium translates to higher repair costs and replacement motorcycle parts as well.

BMW

Next up, we take you internationally to Europe, in Germany, where BMW isn’t just synonymous with automobiles. German engineering has well been known to exceed standards of reliability and performance in vehicles, but does that translate to it’s motorcycles?

Founded in 1901, it wasn’t until 1923 that the company made the leap into the motorcycle manufacturing arena.

What About Reliability?

Despite it’s foothold in the luxury car market, and as a status symbol among the upper-middle class, its bikes leave more to be desired. Around 40% of its bikes require significant repair work in the first four years of ownership. This makes BMW the seventh most reliable motorcycle brand. Not very reliable in our opinion. Again, as with Harley, expect to pay a premium here to invest in this brand of motorcycle.

Ducati

Ducati Scrambler motorcycle

Considered the “Harley Davidson” of Italian-made motorcycles, this bike has been a source of Italian pride since it raced onto the motorcycle scene in 1929.

Notable for its V-twin motorcycle engine and Italian aesthetic, Ducati produced it’s first motorcycle in 1950 and has been in operation ever since. Among it’s most popular bikes include the iconic Scrambler.

What About Reliability?

Here the Italian-born machine falls short in reliability standards. Around 33% of all Ducati’s will inadvertently run into mechanical issues within the first few years of ownership. This makes Ducati the eighth most reliable motorcycle brand. As an added challenge, it may be more difficult in the USA to find a motorcycle mechanic that specialized in this brand.

Can-Am

Lesser known among non-bikers, Can-Am is actually made by Bombardier Recreational, a Canadian company. What makes a Can-Am bike so unique is its three-wheel design, featuring two front wheels and a singular rear drive wheel in the back.

Some have called the Can-Am brand the snowmobile of the roadways, although in actuality its chassis is more similar to that of an ATV.

Classified as a ‘trike’ or ‘roadster’ these misfits tend to fall into the broad category of motorcycles and are thus included here.

What About Reliability?

A relative newcomer to the scene (2007), Can-Am hasn’t had as much time to perfect its rides and make them a reliable bike. This clearly shows in the 42% of Can-Ams that need mechanical work by their fourth year in operation. This makes Can-Am the ninth most reliable motorcycle brand.

Triumph

Triumph Speed Triple R motorcycle

A hop and a skip across the ‘pond’ takes us to the United Kingdom, where Triumph reigns supreme as the largest UK-owned motorcycle brand.

Founded in 1983, Triumph Motorcycles ltd. might seem like a newer contender, however, the company continued the lineage of motorcycles first started by “Triumph Engineering” in 1902.

Among its most popular models include the Tiger 800XC and a whole line-up of ‘café racer’ style bikes.

What About Reliability?

Although a fair bit more reliable than much of the competition, this manufacturer still comes in just under the average reliability rating at the four-year mark, with around 29% of its bikes needing repairs. This makes Triumph the tenth most reliable motorcycle brand.

Victory

Founded in 1997, Victory quickly gained notoriety for its styling and performance. Sadly, this brand closed its doors after almost two decades of serving its loyal fanbase. Despite no longer being available for purchase new off the showroom floor, there are a LOT of these bikes in circulation.

What About Reliability?

Victory ranks among the most reliable bikes during the first four years of ownership, coming in well below the overall average at just 17% of bikes needing repair work.

Motorcycle Manufacturers on Our ‘Buyer Beware’ List

Fact is, just as with cars, there are some bike brands notorious for producing bikes that require more ongoing maintenance and repair work than others. That’s not to say that these brands are ‘bad’, or that their bikes don’t run well (when working). But, it’s worth noting that they will likely require more upkeep and are less reliable than others.

Shortlist Includes:

  • Benelli
  • Aprilia
  • Moto Guzzi
  • Royal Enfield

What Kinds of Things Can Go Wrong with a Motorcycle?

Knowing what to expect from your motorcycle is half the battle. Below we detail the most common bike parts that tend to malfunction or require repair over time.

A Quick Breakdown of Bike Parts that Can Malfunction by Percent:

  • Electrical system (24%)
  • Accessories (19%)
  • Brakes (18%)
  • Fuel System (13%)
  • Clutch (8%)
  • Body Panels (6%)
  • Drive System (6%)
  • Valvetrain (5%)
  • Front Suspension (5%)
  • Cooling System (4%)
  • Piston (4%)
  • Transmission (4%)

Looking to read more about Motorcycles? Read Our Guide on the Different Types of Motorcycles.

Receive a car insurance quote in 2 minutes or less!
Auto

Auto Insurance

Motorcycle Insurance

Homeowners Insurance

Renters Insurance

arrow_select