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Interesting... IMO it really shows how bikes with more 'personality' elicit stronger feelings of satisfaction with the brand - because it's entirely obvious that if satisfaction was determined by practical factors like reliability and value for $$ then the graph would be a lot different.

Or put another way... the Japanese (who IMO make the best bikes in world on average) tend to also make bikes that are designed to appeal to a broad audience, which tends to dampen any characteristics that would give those bikes that slippery 'personality' factor. Ducati's are OUTRAGEOUS, Harley Davidson and Indian are ICONIC, BMW's are PRECISION... and owners clearly choose those brands because those traits speak to them personally (creating a strong affinity for the brand).

I suspect that if you split the Japenese brands and just looked at their limited appeal offerings (like the top tier of their superbike offerings) you'd probably get a result more like the Ducati results.
 

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Interesting... IMO it really shows how bikes with more 'personality' elicit stronger feelings of satisfaction with the brand - because it's entirely obvious that if satisfaction was determined by practical factors like reliability and value for $$ then the graph would be a lot different.

Or put another way... the Japanese (who IMO make the best bikes in world on average) tend to also make bikes that are designed to appeal to a broad audience, which tends to dampen any characteristics that would give those bikes that slippery 'personality' factor. Ducati's are OUTRAGEOUS, Harley Davidson and Indian are ICONIC, BMW's are PRECISION... and owners clearly choose those brands because those traits speak to them personally (creating a strong affinity for the brand).

I suspect that if you split the Japenese brands and just looked at their limited appeal offerings (like the top tier of their superbike offerings) you'd probably get a result more like the Ducati results.
Agreed. But on that basis, how does KTM end up at the bottom? My experience with the brand is that the owners are almost as defensive/deluded as Ducati buyers. The only thing I can come up with is that the rider/poseur ratio is probably much higher with KTM, so maybe their own reliability shortcomings are viewed more objectively?
 

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I think you are both raising valid points. The poll speaks just as loudly about the consumers as it does the brands.
 

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On the other hand, the purpose of any product is to satisfy the consumer, and a main goal of a company is to provide products (and/or services) that satisfy their consumers. From that standpoint, this criterion is very meaningful -- more so than "practical factors like reliability and value for $$" for a luxury good such as motorcycles. About 90% of motorcycles (in America) are emotional purchases, as toys. 10% at most are bought for practical transportation. So owner attachment and emotional satisfaction *are* more important for this type of purchase than practical considerations. It's not generally a practical product being used for practical ends.

Also, that said, I ride a Ducati ('93 M900 Monster), and I did buy it for use as daily practical transportation. I have been using it as such for over 22 years and 250K miles (400K km), and I've gotten way more than my money's worth out of it. I've been extremely satisfied with its reliability and value for money, as well as its less tangible qualities. YMMV.

PhilB
 

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Agreed. But on that basis, how does KTM end up at the bottom? My experience with the brand is that the owners are almost as defensive/deluded as Ducati buyers. The only thing I can come up with is that the rider/poseur ratio is probably much higher with KTM, so maybe their own reliability shortcomings are viewed more objectively?
With KTM and Husqvarna you get a lot of dirt bike riders, maybe their criteria for satisfaction are more performance & reliability based?
 

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On the other hand, the purpose of any product is to satisfy the consumer, and a main goal of a company is to provide products (and/or services) that satisfy their consumers. From that standpoint, this criterion is very meaningful.
PhilB
I think the poll is definitely meaningful... just that it might not mean exactly what you'd think at first.

For instance... I wouldn't necessarily expect the result of this poll to correlate with sales, because while people who buy Ducati's are more satisfied with them than people who buy Yamaha's, we have no basis to assume that both groups are judging 'satisfaction' the same way (you can pretty much guarantee they aren't).

Ducati buyers are self-selected and in general buy the brand for specific reasons (and reliability isn't one of them) but from my experience reliability IS one of the reasons people buy Yamaha. So already the criteria for 'satisfaction' are a LOT different. And even though Yamaha's ARE very reliable... reliability isn't likely to induce that passion that makes you overlook other shortcomings of the bike. When it comes to Ducati, their combination of performance and beauty is without a doubt one of the more powerful inducers of 'rose colored vision'. I've not had any significant problems with my bike... but I have had little aggravations like the bike not wanting to start on occasion, so I'll grouse and grumble and finally get the bike running - and within 30 seconds of hitting the road I have a big stupid grin on my face. :)

We put up with a LOT more than most Yamaha owners would ever be willing to and still remain not just 'satisfied' but passionate about our bikes. When a Yamaha model taps into the passion I'd be willing to bet they'd get the same positive satisfaction. My brother has an original V-Max (has for many years)... the bike is the musclecar of motorcycles, big motor, no handling, no brakes, no worries... fast as snot in a straight line. I'd wager that VMax owners are in general very satisfied with their bikes even with all their shortcomings.
 

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I mostly agree. Although it might be noted that Yamaha created the Star nameplate to do exactly as you suggest -- split the brand and separate out their limited appeal top tier offerings. But the Star brand (at least on this survey) doesn't rate particularly high.

I think it is fair to note that there is an inverse correlation between volume production and satisfaction shown here. The only manufacturer that rates above average and also has high volume sales is Harley-Davidson. All of the others above average are relatively small volume. All of the Japanese marques rate at the bottom, despite that (as you have noted) they make consistently excellent quality machines for reasonable prices.

Personally, I have had very high satisfaction my Ducati and with the Hondas I have owned, quite low satisfaction with the BMW I had, and everything else in the middle.

Even though I ride daily for practical purposes, though, I do want something that holds strong appeal, and isn't stamped out by a cookie cutter. I do like Hondas, much for their quality, but as much as that, because Honda is creative. They push the edges, they advance the technology, and they often make bikes that are different from everyone else. Sometimes they do build things that make you tilt your head and say "WTF were they thinking", but I like and respect that they do that repeatedly.

Yamaha, Suzuki, and Kawasaki all build perfectly fine bikes, but they (to me) lack creativity and appeal. They pretty much all fit into the same well-defined categories, with little variation.

I like to testride bikes whan I have the opportunity. For fun, to keep up with the tech, and to see what is out there that I might replace my Ducati with if/when I need to. I've tested about 70 bikes over the last 8 years, looking for good quality machines that also hold high appeal. My shortlist has three Ducatis, the MOTUS, an MV Agusta, a Moto Guzzi, and a KTM on it (with a question mark on the quality of the KTM). I also have a shorter shortlist, of bikes that are more affordable, in case I have to worry about that when the time comes; it has a Ducati, a Triumph, a Kawasaki, and a Suzuki on it.

Again, YMMV. But for me, it is the Italian marques that consistently deliver the most appeal and satisfaction.

PhilB
 

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Also, if some quibbles are allowed, I note that the chart includes Polaris as a separate nameplate from Victory and Indian, yet the only motorcycle sold under the Polaris nameplate is the Slingshot, which is new and hasn't got much history or sales yet. Meanwhile, they omit Vespa, Piaggio, Royal Enfield, MOTUS, Ural, Hyosung, Norton, Kymco, and EBR/Buell -- several of which have more history and presence in the motorcycle market than the Polaris Slingshot.

PhilB
 

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Good on Indian for earning a score that is the exact same as the name (and displacement) of their engine. The survey is prophetic !! ;)
 

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One of the issues with owner satisfaction is the the reception that motorcyclists receive based on their ride. Harley riders want to be perceived as all-American, Triumph Thruxton riders as old school, etc. Ducati has always marketed itself as passionate, eliciting the combined images of speed, expense, elitism, design sophistication, etc.

Over on the ST forum, we often comment jokingly on how attractive young things become inflamed with seeing us on the bike — until we take off our helmets, and then the awful reality of the over-the-hill-gang becomes apparent. It's fun to see them blush.

Nonetheless, I almost always feel that Ducati as a brand impresses the peanut gallery out there, and the brand sits in the sweet spot between utter obscurity (Bimota? who ever heard of that?) and blanket ubiquity (yawn - another Honda). The fact that they are foreign but not idiotic (Rokon), and have a Hollywood dimension (Sprint, Matrix, I am number Four, etc.), are ridden by celebrities (Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise), and speak of the European obsession with the GP system.

Bingo - Ducati riders are perceived as partaking in the charisma of all of those things, even though mostly it is bullshit. And we (or at least most of the guys in my club do) enjoy the reception we get, the raised eyebrows, the elegance of Dainese leathers - so even if we are all living the Walter Mitty fantasy in real time, no one is the wiser.

And we just kind of wink at each other, knowing that we ride our superbikes far too slow, and can't use but a tiny fraction of their abilities. But every once in a while, we're in the zone for a brief shining moment and it feels really good.

So - yeah, the poll makes sense to me.

Ron
 

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Nonetheless, I almost always feel that Ducati as a brand impresses the peanut gallery out there, and the brand sits in the sweet spot between utter obscurity (Bimota? who ever heard of that?) and blanket ubiquity (yawn - another Honda). The fact that they are foreign but not idiotic (Rokon), and have a Hollywood dimension (Sprint, Matrix, I am number Four, etc.), are ridden by celebrities (Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise), and speak of the European obsession with the GP system.
I would say there's some merit to that thought. I have nine bikes in my garage: four Japanese, four European and one American. Inevitably my non-motorcycling friends will pick out the Ducati, even though it (Hypermotard) doesn't have the classic superbike look. On the other hand, even though they're up and coming in the motorcycling community, the 'who makes those?' KTMs still appear to have a lot of brand recognition ground to make up with the general proletariat.
 

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I like Ducati cause I like engines ,
My mind works like hey that is so neat the way they put their spin on what the norm is.

A Different way to do things, When I think Ducati obvious the valve train come up first in the brain,
A H-D it is the Twin factor.
BMW well it used to be the Horizontally opposed twin pops up.

Jap Bikes inline four.

The other brands lack the BASIC picture that pops into the head.

Now we could go a step further and picture the riders, and their gear???

Old Iconic vehicles that bring back fond memories, WELL BUILT vehicles from yesteryear,
Brought back to their original condition and they still wow us.

Like Comparing a Camaro to a Civic one wows and the other stirs zero "Emotion".

Now How much $$$ does Ducati earmark for Marketing??? Compared to the obscure brands...
And WHERE does the money? go to TV ads aren't so effective with the non TV watching crowd.

Ducati is sealing their future enthusiasts with the Scramber entry model.
They could even get the youngsters hooked with an even less powerful smaller bike for the kiddies, but too much competition out there, let the Ducati brand remain exclusive and a dream almost unreachable till you grow up some more...
 

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I belong to the South Bay Riders forum (SBR). Ducs seem to be losing their "unreliable" stigma (which I don't think was true as long as I have owned one) as several SBR members have recently purchased Multis for sport touring.
 

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It seems to me that Owner Satisfaction surveys are all about "what did I expect and what did I get." So, if you love H-D and want to have a life style identity maybe just having a Harley does it. That's all it means. Doesn't move me. I see this all the time with Consumer Reports.
 
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