Motorcycle owners a satisfied bunch

Report says satisfaction level reaches record-high

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Dec. 17, 2008
Overall motorcycle ownership satisfaction has increased for the sixth consecutive year, according to a report from J.D. Power and Associates.

The 11th annual Motorcycle Competitive Information Study examines owner satisfaction in five major categories: product; quality; cost of ownership; sales; and service. Researchers combine the results to produce an overall score based on a 1,000-point scale.

Owner satisfaction improved across all five categories in 2008 for an overall score of 814, a new record high and five points higher than the 2007 score. The most notable increases came in the cost of ownership and quality categories.

Satisfaction with the cost of ownership increased 11 points from 2007 to a score of 707. Of the owners surveyed, 18 percent rated the cost of ownership as “outstanding”, compared with only 10 percent from the 2005 report. About 30 percent of motorcycle owners say the value they received for the price paid is “outstanding”, compared with 21 percent in 2005.

Researchers examined the number of owner-reported problems to rate product quality. The number of reported problems decreased to 152 per 100 vehicles, from the 160 reported in 2007. About 42 percent of owners reported having no problems at all, a 3 percent improvement from 2007. Among motorcycle owners who visited a dealer for repairs, 79 percent say the repair was performed correctly the first time, up 4 percent from 2007.

“Despite the fact that owners report paying 14 percent more for their motorcycles this year, they are also more satisfied with the value received for the money spent,” says Tim Fox, research manager of the powersports practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “There are several motorcycle models with a higher price point that owners have indicated are a particularly good value for the money. This demonstrates that if you make a superior product, consumers are willing to pay a higher price for it because they believe it to be an excellent value.”

Rough paint and overheating engines were two problems that had the greatest negative impact on product satisfaction. Other significant factors include gearshift issues, lacking power and the ride being either too stiff or too soft.

The study also found the industry is struggling with attracting younger first-time motorcycle buyers as its current customer base is aging.

“Since 2001, the average age of motorcycle owners has increased from 40 to 47 years,” says Fox. “This indicates that the current population of motorcycle buyers is aging, and a large proportion of these owners are likely to soon exit the market. Because first-time motorcycle buyers comprise 22 percent of all new motorcycle purchases – a figure that has remained relatively flat since 2001 – it is critical for manufacturers to focus on attracting first-time and younger buyers – primarily those in the Gen X and Y demographics – in order to ensure continued growth in this market.”

The 2008 Motorcycle Competitive Information Study surveyed 7,334 owners who purchased new on-road or dual-sport motorcycles between September 2007 and May 2008. Owners were surveyed in September and October 2008.

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