Do You Dig Your Ride?

J.D. Power's Latest Study Says Motorcycle Owner Satisfaction Is Up

Those of us who plunked down hard-earned cash for a brand new bike anytime in the last 5 years might be pleased to learn that a new survey finds overall satisfaction with the motorcycle ownership experience within that time period increased. The latest J.D. Power and Associates 2007 Motorcycle Competitive Information Study, released in December 2007, measures owner satisfaction with new motorcycles by examining five major components of the overall ownership experience: product; quality; cost of ownership; sales; and service.

Now in its 10th year, the study finds that improvements made in product satisfaction and the dealership service experience have helped drive the increase in overall ownership satisfaction across the industry. Service, build quality and product/performance primarily drive the overall motorcycle ownership experience.

"While overall satisfaction has steadily increased, satisfaction with the sales experience has remained relatively flat since 2003," said Tim Fox, research manager of the power sports practice at J.D. Power. "One bright spot regarding the sales experience is that satisfaction among those who purchase a motorcycle from a single-line dealer has increased slightly over the past five years, while satisfaction among those who purchased from a multi-line dealer has slightly declined."

Despite the increase in overall satisfaction, a small portion of motorcycle owners report that the dealer caused a new problem while repairing their bike. More than 20 percent of owners took their bike in for repairs, and when the work was not performed correctly the first time, 22 percent say that the dealer created a new problem. This also marks a considerable increase from the 2006 study (16%).

"While this only occurs for a few motorcycle owners, dealers should be aware that the number of initiated problems among this subset is increasing," said Fox. "Quality of the work being performed significantly drives satisfaction with service, so it becomes critical to ensure not only efficient service, but also accurate and high quality repairs the first time around."

The study also finds that engine problems account for 40 percent of total reported problems. Specifically, excessive heat; unusual noise; excessive vibration; and the motorcycle stumbling, hesitating or dying are the most frequently reported engine problems. Engine problems have the most notable impact on the overall ownership experience, as those reporting an engine problem are much less satisfied than those owners who did not have an engine problem.

The study also reveals the following:

Fifty-six percent of new motorcycle owners report that they acquired information about the model they purchased from displays on showroom floors. Additionally, 38 percent found information on a manufacturer Web site and 32 percent indicate that a past experience with a particular manufacturer aided them in their purchase decision.

Overall satisfaction with the cost of ownership has increased among motorcycle owners for a second consecutive year, with owners being most satisfied with the initial price and resale value of their bike. Satisfaction with maintenance/repair costs, cost of accessories and insurance has also increased.

Motorcycle owners are strong advocates of their brand and dealer, as 68 percent "definitely will" recommend their brand and 56 percent will recommend the dealer from which they purchased their motorcycle.

"Loyalty and advocacy levels are particularly high among motorcycle owners when compared with owners in the automotive and boating industries," said Fox. "For example, only 47 percent of boat and 35 percent of auto owners say they are loyal to their brand. The motorcycle industry is much more of a niche market where consumers have a particularly strong allegiance to a brand compared with automotive and marine industries."

The 2007 Motorcycle Competitive Information Study includes responses from 8,796 owners who purchased new on-road motorcycles between September 2006 and May 2007. Owners were surveyed in September and October, 2007.

About J.D. Power and Associates

Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a marketing information services firm operating in sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement, training and customer satisfaction. The firm's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on reviews and ratings, visit