Reliability?Subscribe to this blog RSS Feed
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    1 of 14
    Ulywood
    7 years ago
    We often see articles about performance and the latest technology that is applied to our passion.  I have to admit that over the last 40 years I have made many purchases based on tests and reviews that included such statistics.  As I continue to get older and my pocket-book continues to collect cob-webs my interest is less on style and performance and more on ease of maintenance and cost to keep the bike running down the road.  My current ride is up for the season, as it stranded me with a failed charging system and it is now time to address a host of other malfunctions.  

    So my question for everyone to consider is this, What bike have you owned that was the most reliable and easiest and least costly to keep running down the road?  Believe it or not mine was a 1967 Truimph TR6...mostly because I could do all the repairs myself.  Next was a 1982 Honda GL1100 that seemed to be bullet-proof.  So what say you? 
    2 of 14
    Yermo
    7 years ago
    As complexity increases so do maintenance costs. Combine that with the trend of proprietary information systems built into the operation of these vehicles where the diagnostic equipment is not available to end users and the costs are even higher as you end up a slave to shop service rates.

    All systems fail. The question I've always asked myself is whether or not the system I have is a solid foundation that can still serve it's purpose. Assuming I have a solid platform, then how long I keep a vehicle is usually dependent either upon rust or when the cost to repair it is more than buying an equivalent one that has had the same repairs and upgrades already done. 

    I don't remember having had any problems, other than a broken clutch cable, on my Honda CB450 Nighthawk. I think I only put 15, maybe 20K on it, and only owned it for a few years as a teenager. Even then, after a few years, it was already looking pretty beat and rusted. My Honda V65 Sabre was also quite reliable and I put 45K on that bike until the carbs gave up the ghost and rust appeared in the tank. It also looked pretty beat by that time. (All bikes I've owned have been garage kept and maintained to the same standard.)

    The most reliable bike I've ever owned over time is my '92 K100RS which I've owned since new. It's an incredibly solid over-engineered platform. Even after 22 years through all kinds of environments, and more rain and mud than it has deserved to see, it's rust free. It has had a few faults along the way most notably is the exhaust system which had a design flaw from the factory, but even then it went 70,000 miles before that needed to be replaced. The rest has largely been regular maintenance with the exception of a major fault when the drive shaft u-joint failed at 92,000 that took out half the drive train. I repaired it for a cost of about $3000 which, by most peoples thinking, doesn't make sense since the bike is probably only worth $3000. But considering that the motor is probably good for another 200K and the upgrades I've done to it (Racetech front end, ohlins rear, stainless brake lines, Spiegler rotors, heated grips, throttlemeister lock, etc) and the knowledge that it'll likely go another 100K before needing to do anything like this again (and how well I know the machine) compared against purchasing a new unknown bike with increased ownership costs and a lessened ability to do work myself, it makes sense to repair versus replace, at least for me. But it's a quirky machine that's an acquired taste and definitely is not for everyone. (Given the amount of flack I get for riding such an old bike.) And I also have to admit I don't get bored easily so I tend to keep things for a very very long time. (It's the German in me.)

    Photo #7436
    Yermo
    8 years ago
    92 K100RS All Cleaned Up and Ready to Go

    92 K100RS All Cleaned Up and Ready to Go

    After what seemed like an epic push, I managed to get everything bolted back together. Yun applied his tremendous detailing talents to make the bike looks this good.

    It's 23:35 and it looks like everything is in order for a 6AM departure.

    If I /had/ to buy a new bike, for whatever reason, I'd be hard pressed to pick one since all bikes now seem like such technological monsters. There really isn't anything on the market these days that appeals to me and I don't think there's anything that's going to last 10 years or more.  
    3 of 14
    Yermo
    7 years ago
    Sorry, I went a bit on a bit of a tangent there.

    What made you decide to get rid of the '82 GL1100? 
    4 of 14
    David Hardy
    7 years ago
    Like a Sore Dick, The weeStrom is hard to beat.. Besides chain and tire issues (No Fault of the Bike) I've ridden one (Actually 2) almost 97k miles in 47 contiguous United States with nary a hiccup..
    5 of 14
    Yermo
    7 years ago
    David Hardy wow, that's impressive. Actually, now that you mention it, I would probably take a close look at the VStrom if I had to choose another bike. 
    6 of 14
    isurfne
    7 years ago
    Reliability has a direct correlation to the amount of preventative maintenance you perform on a motorcycle. The desire to do maintenance has a direct correlation to the number of motorcycles you have access to  riding. The more motorcycles you have the more likely you are to have a reliable one. Yermo has approx 10 motorcycles at any given time in his garage. Add the number of friends he has willing to lend him a bike and that number jumps to about 30. Therefore...Yermo should have one of the most reliable motorcycle on the planet!
    7 of 14
    Ian
    7 years ago
    Well, I just had a minor breakdown on a short road trip, so I'll chime in.  Reliability is so over-rated!  :)  You meet the nicest people when you break down.

    Certainly some makes and models have proven to be more reliable than others.  I ride a 2000 Ducati Monster 900 and it's been quite reliable, although I wouldn't recommend it for someone whose primary concern was reliability. 

    1) Work on the bike yourself and get familiar with it.
    2) Know what tools you might need and carry them with you.
    3) Regularly check the bike over so that you catch any leaks, loose fittings, etc. before they become a problem.

    That'll go a long way to improving the reliability of any bike.
    8 of 14
    Ulywood
    7 years ago
    I was riding a Suzuki Bandit 1200s and the someone wanted the Goldwing more than I at the time.  The Bandit was breathing real well and it was too much fun so I let the Goldwing go...now that my Buell Ulysses is down, again, I remember the old Goldwing and wish it was still here.  Took it on many of a 800+ mile days without it complaining one bit.  
    9 of 14
    Ulywood
    7 years ago
    Nice pictures of your blue-pride-n-joy.  "Ready to go," indeed.  That bike has timeless appeal, especially to the man who is riding it.
    10 of 14
    robofavo
    7 years ago
    Speaking for one who loves to ride, but really only has time to ride and not much maintenance time other than oil changes...my current ride is a 1991 ST1100.  In 60K miles, the only issue that has kept the bike unridable was a failing thermostat that controlled the radiator fan.  Just could not idle at long stop lights w/o overheating.  Other than that, it's been bomb proof.  Sure I've pined for more exotic rides - (Really want a Guzzi) - but only have space and time for 1 bike at time.  So I chose the ST.  It does everything relatively well, other than rough dirt roads.  Spend long hours on rides in Northern Minnesota in all kinds of weather.  Not much dealer support here...the more reliable my bike, the more adventurous my rides can be.  Perhaps later in life when my I'm an empty nester I can have more time to spend wrenching on my own steed, but for now, my friendly local bike shop can take care of what little is needed, I can spend more time riding.  
    11 of 14
    rick.rutel
    7 years ago
    Been riding since 1968 and have owned well over four hundred bikes during that time. I'm big on preventative maintenance and that has served me well. I've been fortunate to have had very reliable bikes with the exception of two GL1800 Gold Wngs. Both bought new, one Hond took back because it was in the shop more than out, the second had a bad transmission which apparently Hond has known about for years but won't remidy the issue. I have seen people put four-hundred-thousand miles on the Wings, just not mine.
    12 of 14
    Ben Mendis
    7 years ago
    Four hundred bikes?!

    Over 46 years, if we assume a normal distribution, that implies that you go through about 8.7 bikes per year.

    I'd be really curious to know...
    1. At any given time, how many bikes do you typically have in your garage?
    2. How many of those are running and road-worthy?
    3. How often do you get to ride each bike?
    4. On average, how long do you keep a bike? Also, what's the longest and shortest you've kept a bike?
    13 of 14
    rick.rutel
    7 years ago
    Ah, where to start. Back in the seventies, my father bought out the stock of a Honda dealership going out of business and combine that with the collection we already had, we had over sixty bikes at the house at any given time. After they were sold off and time went on, I still bought and resold about ten bikes a year. On average, I buy and sell six to ten bikes a year. It's an addiction. As of now, there are only two in the garage. A 2013 Triumph Bonneville T-100 and a 2011 BMW R1200GS. Within the past year, I bought/sold/traded/ a new Ducati Hypermotard 1100 Corse, a Ducati ST-3S, a Kawasaki Nomad, a Kawasaki zx14r and a H-D Road King. To date, I'd say the Triumph is my all time favorite. Still trying to find a 1960's Honda step through 90. My first bike.
    14 of 14
    Yermo
    7 years ago
    rick.rutel all I can say is wow! That's serious bike addiction. And here I thought I was starting to have an issue with owning 3 bikes (and a parts bike). 
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