5 Of The Most Reliable Motorcycle Models To Come Out Of Asia

5 Of The Most Reliable Motorcycle Models To Come Out Of Asia
Man riding kawazaki motorcycle

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Be it cars or motorcycles, Asian vehicles really stand out for their reliability today just as much as they did 50 years ago, and this trait has garnered them a loyal following across the globe. This reputation for reliability isn’t baseless; it’s built on the back of decades of engineering excellence, particularly from Japan, where the majority of these motorcycles come from. And the secret to their success lies not just in the branding but at the very core of their design and construction.

But what really makes a motorcycle last a long time? It’s all about good engines and quality parts. Asian bikes have strong engines that keep running for ages, and they also have a simple design because complicated things can break more easily. Another, more indirect way of measuring reliability is the ease of maintenance and repair. Asian bikes also tend to be better in that aspect since you can find spare parts easily.

In researching this article, we went through SlashGear’s past reporting on reliable motorbikes, along with reviews from reviewers, users, and owners who offer real-world insights. And, of course, we looked at what the bike makers said about their own bikes, which helped us understand the tech behind the reliability of these models. If you’re looking for British and American bikes, then “The Most Reliable Motorcycle From Every Major Brand, Ranked” is a more comprehensive list, but in the meantime, here are five of the most reliable motorcycles, specifically from Asia.

Honda Super Cub

Vintage Honda Super Cub

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There’s a reason that Honda re-invents and sells brand new Super Cubs every few years since the first Super Cub C100 in 1958 — it’s because this is one of the most reliable Honda motorcycles you can buy and one of the company’s best-selling ones. In fact, the Super Cub is the most-produced motor vehicle in history, with over 100 million units sold worldwide in its lifetime. The creators of the bike, Soichiro Honda and his partner, Takeo Fujisawa, noticed that people needed a simple, cheap, and reliable way to get around after the war. So, they designed the Super Cub to be affordable and easy for anyone to use. Unsurprisingly, it was a huge hit.

A big part of the bike’s reliability comes from the fact that it was built to last — it has a steel frame, protective chain guard, and straightforward mechanical components that ultimately make it a machine that’s as sturdy as it is simple to maintain. According to first-hand experiences by SlashGear staff, this bike doesn’t need a lot of upkeep, and if something does break, it’s usually easy and cheap to fix since parts are widely available. The design of the Super Cub also revolves around ease of maintenance and simplicity. The engine and wires are hidden under the seat, making the bike look neat and relatively easy to fix. The 2024 Super Cub C125 ABS comes at a price tag of $3,899.

Suzuki SV650

Suzuki SV650 parked

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The Suzuki SV650 first showed up in 1999 and has been a favorite ever since. Over the years, it’s gotten some cool updates like ABS and off-road capabilities but has kept one of the best things people love about it — its reliability. And the secret to this is twofold.

First, it has a super reliable motorcycle engine that reviewers swear by — a 645cc V-twin producing 75 brake horsepower at its maximum. According to SlashGear’s own reporting, the reason for this reliability is thanks to the engine’s “perfect primary balance, which places less stress on the engine.” Some owners claim that the engine can even last over 100,000 miles. The second reason is the durability of the bike’s components and overall ease of operation — steel trellis frame, SCEM-coated cylinders, and decent suspension. This also puts the SV650 on the list of 10 motorcycles with the lowest maintenance costs.

That being said, the SV650 isn’t immune to issues. According to Car Directory, early models (1999-2002) often experienced overheating due to cooling system problems and charging system failures, typically caused by a faulty regulator-rectifier. The article says that 2016-2021 models faced fuel pump failures and throttle response delays. Car Directory also mentions some model-specific issues, such as weak brakes and fairing cracks on the SV650S and suspension issues faced by the SV650X. All this is to say that you need to be careful when buying used SV650s. You can find a brand new one under $8,000 from Suzuki dealers.

Yamaha TW200

Yamaha TW200 parked

For a bike that has been around since 1987, the Yamaha TW200 hasn’t really changed much, even when compared to the 2024 model, which really says something about how good it is. It’s exactly for this reason that the TW200 remains simple and, therefore, reliable — perhaps the most reliable motorcycle ever built. People love it because it’s easy to handle, doesn’t cost too much, and keeps going strong year after year.

Even though it might look the part, this bike isn’t about fancy features or super-fast speeds. Instead, it’s all about being straightforward and dependable by being extremely simple at almost everything. Case in point, it has a small 196cc single-cylinder air-cooled engine, which means there’s no radiator, water pump, or coolant. It’s enough to take you on adventures, especially off the road. Its unique big tires also help you ride smoothly over bumpy and tricky paths. The bike also has easy-to-maintain drum brakes, simple suspension designs, and many spare parts.

If you’re new to motorcycles, then the Trail Way might be the bike you should go for. Besides being very reliable, it’s also not intimidating, so new riders can feel confident riding it. It’s also pretty good on gas, with an estimated 78 mpg, according to Motorcyclist. Sure, it’s not the fastest bike out there, but it should get you where you need to go without any trouble. You can find the bike brand new for a decent price of $4,999.

[Featured image by Justin Rocha via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | CC BY-SA 2.0]

Kawasaki Ninja 650

Kawasaki Ninja 650 on display

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The side effect of bikes being very reliable is that they inevitably end up in a “Ten Best” or “Top Ten” list, and the Kawasaki Ninja 650 is no different — it earns a spot on the 10 best Kawasaki motorcycles ever made. The bike started making waves back in 2006, taking over after the ER-6f. It’s lighter and easier to handle; plus it looks cool with its Ninja style. It has a 649cc engine that’s well-liked for being flexible and not guzzling too much gas, but it also remains pretty powerful, offering 67 horsepower. The 650 is quick, too, getting from 0 to 60 mph in just under four seconds and reaching a top speed of 131 mph.

When it comes to reliability, the engine is derived from the ER-6f’s motor, which is already known to be pretty dependable. However, the real benefit to reliability is how simple Kawasaki made the 650, especially for a semi-sportbike. So, maintenance is pretty straightforward, and parts are readily available. Despite being relatively budget-friendly, it doesn’t skimp on features, offering ABS, a slipper clutch, and adjustable levers. It’s got some neat tech features, too, like a smartphone app that connects to the bike for extra info.

However, critics point to the motorcycle’s suspension and brakes as basic. There’s also some debate among owners about throttle response. The 2024 non-ABS version of the bike retails around $8,399, while the ABS version is available at $8,899.

Yamaha XS650

Yamaha XS650 parked

Born in the 1960s, the Yamaha XS650 showed the world that Japanese bikes could compete with the big names from Britain and America.

The engine of this bike has German roots, but the bike evolved under Japanese stewardship from a 500cc into an improved 653cc four-stroke vertical twin engine by 1969 — and this engine is at the center of why the XS650 is so dependable. The horizontally split crankcase was the game-changer even though it wasn’t the norm then, reducing oil leakage and simplifying maintenance. Reliability didn’t come at the cost of performance because the engine delivered an impressive 53 bhp at 7,000 rpm. This power output, coupled with a top speed of 105 mph, offered riders a good balance between the two that’s somewhat uncommon even by today’s standards.

Even though it’s an older model, people still love it because it’s easy to keep in good shape, and parts are easy to find. This is thanks to an estimated half a million units Yamaha made between 1970 and 1983. The bike’s design eliminates unnecessary complexity, which means that even those new to motorcycle maintenance can keep their bike in top condition. However, it’s not without its quirks. Early models had issues with vibrations, which Yamaha addressed with engine mount dampers. Regardless, the XS650 is also affordable to buy and keep. You can find a second-hand XS650 in good condition on sites like Cycle Trader in the $4,000-8,000 range.

[Featured image by SG2012 via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | CC BY-SA 2.0]

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