This has bothered me since I started riding in the 70's. In those days if you rode Japanese bikes you were sneered at by the Brit bike brigades. You would here things such as "They are plastic", "They will never last" "They are not real bikes" and always the "They have no character"
I really did not understand what they meant. Some of my riding friends had Triumph Bonneville's and if breaking down all the time, leaking oil every time we stopped and dodgy electrics was character then I wanted no part of it.
When I look back at the Japanese bikes from that period and later in the 80's there are many that are now considered to have lots of character. H1 and H2, Yamaha, RD and LC, Z1, RG500, GSXR series. In fact too many to list. Surprise, surprise, they have lasted as well, with many on the road and here in the Philippines some still running that have had effectively no maintenance.
Is "Character" related to image, is it related to history or is it just fashion? Does a bike that vibrates a lot, give it character? Does a bike have to break down often to have character? Is a bike that does not go quickly, cant go around bends quickly and sounds like a tractor automatically have character? (my bias showing there)