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Who Makes the Most Reliable Motorcycle Engines?

Who Makes the Most Reliable Motorcycle Engines?

If someone is talking about exclusivity, stock equipment, and hi-tech rider aids packages installed in motorcycles, several motorcycle manufacturers will come across your mind. However, when it narrows down to reliability, longevity, ease of maintenance, and low upkeep cost, the list of the top motorcycle brands that produce the most reliable engines will immediately click in your mind.

Offering durability, particularly a reliable engine, is a comprehensive branding and marketing strategy that speaks for itself. Continue reading this article to get to know who makes the most reliable motorcycle engines.

1. How Important Is a Reliable Engine When Buying a Motorcycle?

Reliability may not be the most significant factor when you are in the market looking to buy a new motorcycle as you are overloaded with the thoughts of owning a luxurious, powerful, sleek, fully-equipped, nimble, and affordable bike with an exceptional fuel economy. Some of these mentioned characteristics are undoubtedly crucial to look for in a motorcycle. However, when you stop dreaming about your new bike, you immediately realize the key characteristic you are missing in the list of requirements and that is reliability.

Doesn’t matter how expensive, plush, technologically advanced, and superfast your motorcycle is, if it fails to guarantee peace in terms of durability, maintenance, and repairs, it will always be a reason for your headache. As we discuss reliability, the most noteworthy component that decides the score of durability of your motorbike is its engine. If your motorcycle engine runs smoothly, ensures reliable performance, doesn’t show any problems, and only requires routine maintenance checks and servicing, you should be thankful to the manufacturer.

A good engine means a good motorcycle. A used motorcycle only holds its value if the engine is in good shape. Any fault in the engine can cause a huge dent in the price you are expecting to receive in return for your motorbike. Therefore, you must ensure engine reliability when you plan to visit the market to buy yourself a new or a used motorcycle.

With these benefits of having a reliable motorcycle engine, let’s continue to delve into the main question:

2. Who Makes the Most Reliable Motorcycle Engines?

2.1 Honda

Photo Credit: Bike Bound

When it comes to the list of the top most reliable motorcycle manufacturers, the Japanese Big Four has no competition. It is either Honda or Yamaha in the first spot, followed by Kawasaki and Suzuki. However, on the list of “Who makes the most reliable motorcycle engines?” Honda outshines. There is no motorcycle brand on earth other than Honda which breaks the records of motorcycle production, has command over almost every motorcycling niche and category, is highly affordable despite meeting modern standards, and still be the most reliable.

Honda CB750: The Most Reliable Classic Motorcycle

Starting from the Honda CB750 which is considered to be one of the most reliable motorcycles ever produced by a manufacturer that can last easily for as long as you want with proper care. If you dig deeper into what the Honda CB750 was like, it was probably not extremely exceptional in terms of chassis, handling, and power delivery. However, what took this bike to another level was its extremely sophisticated and reliable engine which was easy to work on and provided unmatched smoothness at the time when the motorcycling technology wasn’t at its peak.

Other most reliable Honda motorcycles with reliable engines include the Honda Gold Wing , Honda CX500, Honda CRF series, Honda Rebel platform, the Honda Super Cub, and the list goes on.

Stalwart Nature of Honda Engines

The most amazing fact that justifies why Honda ranks on top is the stubborn nature of its engines. The one motorcycle brand that is widely seen being used roughly with no proper care and maintenance and still runs smoothly without failing, ensuring maximum lifetime, is Honda.

Simplicity in Construction

How did Honda manage to make the most reliable engines? It is because the company keeps it simple. Honda engines are one of the easiest to work on. You can learn by yourself to maintain and make small repairs to the engine if you own a Honda motorcycle. Another exceptional perk of owning a Honda motorcycle is that you can save a lot of money that goes into maintenance and repairs in case your motorcycle has an average-quality engine.

The money you have saved due to low maintenance and labor costs can be utilized more effectively to make several improvements to your bike. Viking Bags , a class-leading name in the motorcycle luggage bags and aftermarket parts industry, offers the best solutions to turn your simple-looking bike into a dapper using a variety of luggage options available at the company’s online store, including saddlebags , tank bags , backpacks , sissy bar bags , and more. In the aftermarket parts category, Viking Bags manufactures sissy bars , backrests , fairings , and crash bars .

2.2 Yamaha

Photo Credit: Motorcycle News

Yamaha is the closest competitor of Honda in terms of reliability and according to several surveys and reports, it also beats Honda with a slight margin. Consumer Reports which is considered to be a reliable source that evaluates different products, particularly automobiles, found that Yamaha is the most reliable motorcycle brand. In the 2015 survey, Yamaha motorcycles proclaimed the lowest failure rate of only 11% after owning the motorcycle for 4 years, which beats the major industry giants like Honda.

Attention to Details

Yamaha and Honda are both synonymous with reliability. The Research & Development Department at Yamaha works tirelessly to meet the highest standards of engine durability. This Japanese producer has remained successful in bringing the best fusion of technology, performance, and durability. Yamaha gives strong attention to detail and uses superior-quality components while manufacturing motorcycle engines. Like Honda, engines by Yamaha are also easy and cost-effective to maintain.

Most Reliable Yamaha Motorbikes

One of the bestsellers by Yamaha, the naked bike MT-07 is known for its exceptional power delivery and fuel efficiency. The engine of the Yamaha MT-07 is the most favorite feature among reviewers who see it as extremely reliable and a number of them even say that it lasts beyond 75,000 miles.

The XSR lineup, Yamaha's retro-styled motorcycles, uses the reliable engines from their MT counterparts. Owners of the Yamaha XSR deeply praise the bike's reliability which makes it a fantastic choice for riders who want the classic looks coupled with modern reliability.

2.3 Kawasaki

Photo Credit: Ride Apart 

Kawasaki motorcycles are very well-known for their outstanding performance and the engines have also won a reputation for being long-lasting and reliable. Kawasaki takes their time to ensure they use only the best materials and they build their bikes with the utmost robust construction techniques. This durability requirement makes their engines strong enough to deal with everyday rides and even occasional hard-core riding styles.

Constant Technical Improvements

Kawasaki has been racing for a long time and their engines have driven them to the utmost limits, due to which they have been constantly improving their designs. The company now uses the same innovative engine technology in almost all of its production lines so that everyday motorcycle riders get their hands on the company’s most reliable machines.

A 2020 J.D. Power research that ranked Kawasaki second among motorcycles in customer satisfaction overall, is a testimonial to their dedication to make strong and reliable vehicles.

Kawasaki Ninja 650 and Vulcan S

Similar to Yamaha, Kawasaki engines have a reputation for providing high mileage with their proper maintenance. There are plenty of user reviews of Kawasaki motorcycles, particularly about the widely-known Ninja 650, reaching 100,000 miles (and beyond) without breaking down.

The Kawasaki Vulcan S is another top choice in the cruiser category if you are more concerned with comfort and user-friendliness than with speed or performance. The Vulcan S is equipped with a solid engine that is widely recognized for its low-maintenance nature.

2.4 Suzuki

Photo Credit: Motorcycle News

Last, but not least in the Japanese Big Four category, we mustn't forget Suzuki. The company has found its place through a mix of great value for the money and unrelenting performance that no other motorcycle manufacturer can match. Suzuki uses the "less is more" strategy, as they lean towards well-proven technologies over highly complicated equipment.

Suzuki V-Strom – The Epitome of Reliability in Adventure Touring

As the company’s main feature, Suzuki engines are extremely durable, which is a good reason why they are so popular. The Suzuki V-Strom series is just the type of motorcycle that epitomizes the concept of reliability. These adventure touring bikes are synonymous with their versatility and robust performance. However, their engines are still the top key factor for their worldwide success. 

2.5 BMW

Photo Credit: Lone Rider

Bavarian Automobile Engineering has had a rife history since ancient times and BMW motorcycles are among them. There may be some arguments as to whether they deserve to be at the top of the reliability podium, but there’s no doubt that they are well known for their high-tech, turbocharged engines that get you into an incredibly thrilling ride.

Providing the Top-Notch Engine Manufacturing Quality

BMW engines are considered to be high-performance engines by many motorcycle enthusiasts. Technology and top-quality materials are the core of their business. Another notable trait of BMW bikes is the Boxer engine, a special type of engine that cranks the cylinders horizontally. This design gives the motorbike a lower center of gravity, which means you will have more power on the road to navigate the bends.

Where Does BMW Stand in Terms of Reliability?

Now that we have looked into this reliability conversation, where does BMW stand? They may not be the simplest or the least expensive choices for the riders who wish for a high-powered, technologically advanced machine with an emphasis on performance and expeditions, but these bikes can be reliable travel companions for thousands of miles to come with good maintenance.

Comparatively, BMW's expertise is in the area of innovation. The technological innovations incorporated in BMW motorbikes make them a bit more complicated compared to their Japanese counterparts, and riders who prefer good old-fashioned simpler, and low-maintenance motorcycles can opt for them.

Tough and Durable

BMW motorbikes can take a beating and keep on going. If treated with attention and diligence, they can confidently surpass the normal expected life expectancy while taking you on the most ruthless adventures. Many owners of BMW bikes say they have ridden over 200,000 miles and the BMW R1200GS adventure bike is well known for its capability to tame the most difficult terrains in the world.

2.6 Victory

Photo Credit: Hot Bike

Victory Motorcycles, which is no longer operational, was cherished by many American cruiser fans. They had a reputation for their striking and aggressive-looking physique and were famous for their outstandingly powerful engines that made a distinctive American growl.

A True and Reliable American Cruiser Champion

Victory Motorcycles was a true champion in the American cruiser category and had maintained a high level of reliability which earned it a status of national treasure for the entire American motorcycling industry. Meanwhile, Victory motorcycles are not necessarily rivals of the established Japanese manufacturers, but they made a name for themselves in the realm of reliability.

This is for sure that Victory engines were built with quality materials. It was their mission to provide an alluring effect to its motorcycles and owners were always thrilled with the bikes’ muscle-like feel. You can find countless testimonials online where owners of Victory motorbikes claim a mileage of over 100,000 miles with good care.

Challenges after Closing Down

As of 2017, when the manufacturing of Victory bikes stopped, the search for replacement parts became quite challenging and this is especially true for the newer models, resulting in costlier aftermarket parts and equipment and long-time repair. It became a major concern for Victory owners, particularly for those who wanted to keep their Victory bike for long.

2.7 Ducati

Photo Credit: Ultimate Motorcycling

Ducati motorcycles allure motorcyclists towards them with their distinctive pure Italian persona. With a sleek design, roaring exhaust noise, and overwhelming thrill, Ducati motorcycles epitomize class and perfection. While the Ducati brand is well-known for its performance excellence, the reliability of its engines is something that sets it apart from the rest.

Reliability Comes with a High-Maintenance Schedule

Ducati engines are state-of-the-art and very powerful. They utilize premium-quality materials and high-tech fabrication in the production of their racing bikes, which give them breathtaking performance. Nevertheless, Ducatis that are usually associated with rigorous maintenance routines requires more considerate treatment from their owners. This is the kind of machine that gives you peak performance if you stick to the high-maintenance schedule. Intervals between regular maintenance of Ducati machines tend to be shorter, which is because spare parts are often specific and labor costs are higher.

It doesn't mean that Ducati is an unreliable brand. If they are looked after with love and care, they can be faithful friends. Ducati has carried out a massive overhaul in the past few years to move towards more reliable machines, and many owners report passing 60,000 miles with their Ducatis. On the contrary, the people who are habitual of overlooking their bikes must go for a different brand.

2.8 Triumph

Photo Credit: Motorcycle News

The notable British motorcycle brand, Triumph, has been a staple in the motorcycling community. The bikes are particularly known for classic styling, comfortable ergonomics, and iconic engines, which add to the authentic British heritage of the experience. However, this is a critical element that needs to be taken into account in terms of how they perform in the world of engine dependability.

Reasonably Reliable

Triumph engines to some extent, are in the middle of the spectrum. They are not widely known for the robust dependability that the Japanese Big Four tend to have, but at the same time, they do have not the same troubles as most of the others. Present-day Triumph engines are high-quality and utilize only top materials, the main goal of which is the creation of a compromise between high performance and daily usability.

Some models have a more reliable reputation than others, but this depends on the specific bike and the era. Earlier Triumph models, especially those from the 1970s and 80s, were sometimes a bit of a headache for their owners and required more attention.

Engine Reliability Becomes the Focus

The streamlining of engines has been one of the main priorities of Triumph, along with the production of high-quality motorcycles in the last few years. Owners of most new Triumph models seem to like their rides and can run at least 60,000 miles before any major issues arise.

The strength of Triumph's portfolio lies in its variety of engines. The Triumph Bonneville T120 model has a fuel-injected parallel-twin engine, which is famous for its comfortable power delivery and convenience of use. The owners who own the T120 are constantly grateful for the reliability of the motorcycle and it is a good choice for those who need a motorcycle with reliable performance and timeless styling.

2.9 KTM

Photo Credit: Rider Magazine

KTM motorcycles are considered the landmark in terms of unmatched rip-roaring performance, and overcoming off-road challenges. They are the best machines that adventure seekers and dirt riders use to add thrill and adventure to their lives. Reliability may not be the biggest forte of KTM bikes as they are built for extreme and harsh riding, but they still occupy a very unique space in the realm of engine reliability.

Engine Reliability Vs Aggressive Use

KTM engines are designed to be strong. They are known for using high-performance components and for power delivery which is a priority more than comfort.

Although performance is sometimes the greatest goal, reliability is sometimes neglected. KTM engines have higher maintenance intervals required than some of the other brands. This is because the KRM motorbikes are often involved in more aggressive training routines and adventure rides.

Despite this fact, with proper care and maintenance, KTM engines can become the best friends of every motorcyclist. KTM motorcycles, mostly adventure models, such as the KTM 1190 Adventure, exceed 100,000 miles. KTM has recently achieved significant progress in the area of engine reliability, and many owners report to have significantly less trouble compared to the earlier models.

3. Ranking Factors for Reliable Motorcycle Engines

Getting a reliable motorcycle that will not stuck on the roadside has to be your priority. However, in the modern world of motorcycles, there are numerous brands with various engines to choose from. The question is, how do you tell which engine is built to last?

3.1 Manufacturing Quality

First and foremost, let's delve into the heart of the matter: the manufacturing quality of the engine. Seek out the ones based on the quality of the materials. Cast iron cylinder liners, for example, have a stronger structural durability compared with aluminum counterparts.

3.2 Maintenance

Maintenance is the key, so don't underestimate it. Engines that allow longer time intervals between oil change and valve adjustment might be tempting to buy, but keep in mind, that periodic maintenance is the basis for extended engine life.

3.3 Design

Engine setup is another factor that influences the outcome. Air cool engine may be old-fashioned and simple, but it may not operate well in traffic jams the way that liquid cooling does. While the former are more susceptible to variations in operating temperatures and may undergo higher wear rates.

3.4 Performance

Lastly, the engine's performance can be considered a signal of reliability. The high-stressed engines, if they are always pushed to a limit, will have a higher chance of wear and tear. For a reliable ride partner to accompany you on your everyday rides and weekend trips, an engine known for its balanced performance and reasonable power-producing capability would be the best option.

3.5 Brand’s Reputation

In addition, weigh the manufacturer's reputation. The brands whose engines are reliable over time should be on your list. For example, Honda's iconic CB750 or Yamaha's XS650, these great bikes deservedly have their reputations.

3.6 Online Reviews and Forums

Researching online forums and owner reviews is a way to get some valuable information about the real-life experience of particular engine customers.

4. Wrap-Up

There is a list of candidates who deserve to be on the list of those who manufacture superior and long-lasting engines. Nonetheless, the ones on the top spot beat the rest of the manufacturers on the list with a substantial margin in terms of engine reliability score. The engines made by Japanese brands like Yamaha, Honda, and Suzuki are regularly rated high in reliability surveys due to their longevity. These engines are typically among the most practical and simple ones, making them great companions for long journeys and daily commutes.

Motorcycle engine reliability is not something that can be expressed in terms of numbers on paper. The boxer engine by BMW, the parallel twins of Yamaha, or the iconic inline four-cylinder engine of the Honda CB750 are all legendary engines that have earned their reputation for being tough and durable, something more than just pure stats. Lastly, the best reliable motorcycle engine is the one that gives you freedom of travel and saves you from the worry of breakdowns and other problems.

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