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European vs Japanese – Part 2 — 3 Comments

  1. I don’t think it’s subjective. Have you traveled beyond the USA and Europe on a Husqvarna? It’s a lot less reliable and difficult to fix in primitive conditions. It pretty much has to be dealer serviced. It’s also a lot less robust offroad than a deathproof XR.

    • Colin,

      I think most would agree with your belief that the XRL is deathproof and more reliable than the Husky 701. Japanese motorcycles certainly do have a reputation for reliability. Unfortunately, we don’t have any real data – facts, figures, studies, etc – comparing long term reliability of one brand of motorcycle to others. Consumer Reports informs us of the expected reliability of any make or model automobile but does not offer the same insight when it comes to motorcycles. Which leaves us all guessing as to the actual reliability of any brand or model of motorcycle.

      I’ve personally owned two KLRs (one 1st gen, one 2nd gen), two DRZs, one Honda XR650L, one KTM 500 EXC, and three Husqvarnas (TE610, TR650, 701 Enduro). My personal experience has been that the KTM and the three Huskys have and were noticeably more reliable than any of the five Japanese bikes. The first KLR I owned had multiple issues, one of which required a new head. The second KLR was an oil burner and had electrical issues, leaving me stranded on the side of the road a long way from home. The DRZs were the most reliable of the Japanese bikes I’ve owned but both had multiple minor issues while I owned them. The “deathproof” Honda was the least reliable motorcycle I’ve ever owned, also leaving me stranded on the side of the road a long way from home. The motor had to be rebuilt twice during the time I owned it and costs me several thousand dollars.

      In comparison, I put almost 20,000 miles on the TE610 – twice as many miles than I put on any of the Japanese bikes – and had one significant issue during that time. The rectifier fried, leaving me stranded on the side of the road. I never had any issues with the TR650 in 10,000 miles of ownership. I’ve put 5,000 miles on the KTM with one minor issue (the horn bracket broke). I’ve only put 3,000 miles on the 701 so it’s a bit too early to judge but I’ve had no issues yet.

      None of the above is to suggest that Japanese motorcycles are not reliable or that KTM and Husky motorcycles are more reliable. There is no way to tell if my personal experiences with the motorcycles I’ve owned is representative of other’s experiences owning the same bikes. For example, none of us have any way of determining the overall reliability of the XR650L compared to similar motorcycles. Were the issues on my XRL an anomaly or have other XRL owners experienced similar issues? Unfortunately, we have no way to tell.

      All that being said, my personal bias is that there likely isn’t any real difference in reliability amongst the various major motorcycle manufacturers. I suspect that they are all about the same when it comes to reliability. But that’s one man’s opinion. As always, your mileage may vary (YMMV).

      Cheers,

      Rich

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