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A&R Rubbies: Least Reliable Motorcycles of 2009

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One way of measuring a motorcycle’s reliability is to see how many recalls were made for the model in a given year. Recalls are almost invariably created when a malfunction or design flaw poses potential harm to a rider’s life, or impedes the basic operation of the motorcyce. This past year saw 21 recalls from motorcycle manufacturers, with a few bikes and companies gracing our pages more than they’d care to admit. Check after the jump to see who these repeat offenders are.

Least Reliable Motorcycles of 2009: Harley-Davidson/Buell







Although the Harley-Davidson and Buell loyalists won’t like to hear it, American made motorcycles were the most recalled bikes in 2009. Not only did both brands have the largest combined volume of bikes recalled (HD: 110,000+, Buell: 3,400+), but they also built one of the bikes with the most individual recalls (the Buell XB12 series had 3 recalls this year, and 4 recalls in the past 18 months). With these two black-eyes on the American company, there is little wonder why Harley-Davidson stock has taken a hit from the recall announcements.

First Runner-up: Ducati & The Ducati Streetfighter







Despite claims by Ducati that the company has achieved quality on par with the Japanese manufacturers, Ducati is responsible for the most overall recalls of 2009, with six individual recalls that included over 3,500 motorcycles in 2009.

Responsible for three of these recalls is the Ducati Streetfighter, which shares a recall with the 1098R/1198S Superbikes. Also seeing the NHTSA’s email list were the Ducati Monster & Ducati Desmosedici. For the record, the Japanese Four had a combined recall volume of 439 motorcycles, which came from only 2 registered recalls (Kawasaki & Yamaha).

Second Runner-up: BMW & The K-Series







BMW recalled over 2,000 K-Series motorcycles in 2009, along with an unknown number of GS series motorcycles. Perhaps changing some perspective on the German manufacturer’s aura of reliability, the Bavarian brand was our third least reliable manufacturer, and long with the other companies in this list, comprises a group that is noticeably apart from the rest of the industry on the recall count.







Jensen Beeler

Despite his best efforts, Jensen is called one of the most influential bloggers in the motorcycle industry, and sometimes consults for motorcycle companies, whether they've solicited his expertise or not.

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