A new survey conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center finds BMW and Harley-Davidson  owners are much more likely to report major problems with their motorcycles than owners of Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha motorcycles.

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.

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 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.

What do these numbers tell us? That reliability is only one of the factors that goes into deciding on a motorcycle purchase.

“Reliability is one of many factors consumers might consider when purchasing a motorcycle,” saysRik Paul , Auto Editor, Consumer Reports. “However, other factors like sculpted lines and rumbling engines also strike the right note among motorcyclists.”

Another factor is the nature of the problems faced by motorcycle owners. The Consumer Reports survey found about three-quarters of the issues were inexpensive, costing owners less than $200 to repair. The most frequent issues involved non-mechanical problems, with 21% reporting issues with lights, instruments, switches and radios. More serious are problems with brakes which accounted for 20% of issues. Electrical systems accounted for 16% of issues while 15% were related to the fuel system.

The full report will appear in the upcoming issue of Consumer Reports which hits newsstands March 28.

[Source: Consumer Reports]