“The survey, which will appear on the April 2013 issue of Consumer Reports, says one in three BMW owners reported experiencing a major problem with their bikes in the last four years. Harley-Davidson owners were slightly better, with one in four reporting serious issues. By contrast, only one in 10 Yamaha owners reported serious issues with Honda and Kawasaki owners having similar numbers.The article goes on to say that “reliability is only one of the factors that goes into deciding on a motorcycle purchase”. That’s true, but I think they are missing the key point and that is that the Japanese motorcycles are, for all intents and purposes, interchangeable. And I say that as a prior owner of numerous Japanese motorcycles over the years. Sure there are model differences between and among manufacturers from year to year but whether I owned a Honda or a Kawasaki or a Yamaha was of no importance to me. I had a Kawasaki 900 Z1, a Honda CB550, a Yamaha 350LC among others, each bought because that particular model appealed to me at that particular time for one reason or another. So if I had a brand loyalty at all (and I’m not sure I did) it was to Japanese, or metric, bikes and not to a specific marque. And if only “60% of Kawasaki owners would make the same choice” the other 40% would, I’d suggest, be looking at another metric bike and not a BMW, Harley-Davidson, or Moto-Guzzi.
And yet despite the issues, BMW and Harley-Davidson owners are more likely to buy their motorcycles again, if given the chance to do it over. According to the report, 75% of Harley-Davidson owners say they would definitely buy still (sic) their motorcycles if given the chance to make the decision again. BMW owners were nearly as loyal with 74% saying they would repeat their purchases, all things considered.
Honda owners were not far behind, with 72% saying they would make the same decision. Yamaha and Kawasaki owners were less emphatic. Despite reporting better reliability, only 63% of Yamaha owners would buy their motorcycles again. Only 60% of Kawasaki owners would make the same choice.”
So I would suggest that a better comparison would be between Harley-Davidson, BMW, Japanese motorcycles collectively, possibly British motorcycles (basically Triumph now with a few Nortons thrown in) and maybe Italian (Ducati, Moto-Guzzi). I think those are the major ‘brands’ from a loyalty perspective.