A Review of the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6

Since 1999, Yamaha has sold over 153,000 YZF-R6 supersport motorcycles, and for the 2017 model year the Japanese manufacturer adds a new chapter to that 19-year history. Big Blue calls the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 a fourth generation motorcycle, but for those paying attention, it is obvious that Yamaha has merely taken its class-leading 600cc sport bike, made some refinements to the machine, and added an electronics package to the mix. While there is disappointment that Yamaha didn’t bring as revolutionary of a debut to the YZF-R6 as it did just recently with the YZF-R1 superbike, we should state quite clearly that the Japanese brand continues its dominance in the 600cc sport bike realm with this most-recent addition to its lineup.

The Honda Africa Twin Gets Rally Raid Ready

When it comes to adventure-tourers that can actually go off-road, the Honda Africa Twin easily rises to the top of the list. Couple that to Honda’s pursuits in the Dakar Rally and other rally raid events, and its easy to see where the Honda Africa Twin Rally could be born. A special model being built by Italy’s Honda importer that was unveiled at this year’s Motodays show, the Africa Twin Rally won’t be hitting other markets any time soon (read: never), though it shows a machine that many ADV riders have been clamoring for, since the first shots of the Honda CRF450 Rally hit the internet. The Honda Africa Twin Rally loses roughly 15 pounds over its OEM predecessor, mostly by using carbon fiber and a minimalist LED headlight assembly. Yes, a roadbook is an optional accessory, for when you find yourself in the middle of The Dakar.

Yes, Winter Traction Tires Exist for Motorcycles

If you are in a region that gets all four of the seasons, you are likely counting down the days to the coming snow-thaw. As such, this article might be coming to you a little late for this season, but for next winter you should consider mounting some winter traction tires to your motorcycle. Yes, such things exist. To be fair, I too was unaware that you could get a motorcycle tire that met the criteria from the DOT, in order for it to carry the “mountain/snowflake” symbol, but apparently Turkish tire-maker Anlas has such tires in its line-up. That’s right, for regions of the world that require special tires during the snowy months, there is a tire out there to keep you riding all-season.

SWM Motorcycles Targets 6,000 Units in 2017

You probably haven’t heard of SWM Motorcycles, the off-road brand that carries on where Husqvarna left off in Italy. Built from the parts that KTM didn’t want when it bought the Swedish brand in 2013, SWM Motorcycles is based outside of Milan, Italy and produces a variety of off-road focused machines using pre-BMW Husqvarna engine designs. Many members of the company’s team are former Husqvarna employees, including the company’s CEO, Ampelio Macchi – all of whom were left out in the cold when the German brand sold Husqvarna to KTM. But, with a new production facility, support from the local government and worker unions, along with Chinese financing (from the Shineray Group), SWM Motorcycles has taken on a new life with a promising future.

How Dorna Is Ending the Spanish Armada in MotoGP

It is terribly fashionable in some circles to regard Dorna as a blight on the face of motorcycle racing. Their alleged crimes are both heinous and manifold. They have dumbed down the sport by exerting an ever tighter grip over the technical regulations. They killed off the two-strokes in favor of four-strokes. They have aggressively pursued copyright and trademark claims, at the cost of broadening the appeal of the sport. They have been relentless in their pursuit of financial gain over the spirit of the sport. They have meddled in the sport to favor one rider, or one nationality over the rest. Most of these complaints are either baseless, or an expression of anger at how the sport has changed over the years.

The 2017 Aprilia RS-GP MotoGP Race Bike Debuts

The final factory MotoGP to debut its 2017 MotoGP Championship race bike, Aprilia has finally debuted the 2017 Aprilia RS-GP that Aleix Espargaro and Sam Lowes will campaign this year. The Italian outfit continues to make quiet strides in its development with the RS-GP, though the efforts from Suzuki and KTM tend to dominate the headlines. For the 2017 season, Aprilia looks ready to take another step forward, especially with Aleix Espargaro at the helm. The biggest task for the 2017 will be to bring more horsepower to the Aprilia RS-GP. The machine reportedly handles quite well, though that is often an item of praise that changes as the power increases.

The Subtle Big Deal That Is Ducati Premier Financing

Ducati released a new financing program this week, maybe you saw the announcement already. If you even bothered to read one of the copy/paste jobs on this announcement, you probably got three sentences into it, and then realized you just lost a minute or two of your life, which you will never get back. It is hard to make this topic sexy, and motorcycle journalists are lazy creatures (myself included)…which is why you probably just saw the press release reprinted on a website, with some Ducati advertising placed next to it, just for good measure. The Ducati Premier Financing program is a big deal though, just not in a way that is immediately sexy to the casual motorcycle buyer.

Washington Lane-Splitting Bill Passes State Senate

Legalizing lane-splitting in Washington State just got a step closer to reality, as the State Senate of the Washington State Legislature has passed a bill that would allow lane-splitting under very specific circumstances. Senate Bill 5378 (SB 5378) would allow lane-splitting only during slow traffic conditions – up to 10mph faster than the flow of traffic, but no faster than 25 mph – and only on numbered highways that have a median and multiple lanes of traffic in each direction. The bill passed the senate with 32 “yea” votes from both Republicans and Democrats, while the 17 “nay” votes came solely from Democrat members.

Indian Working on an Electric Motorcycle?

Polaris Industries says it is working on a new electric motorcycle, to replace the now discontinued Victory Empulse TT model that was scrapped when the Minnesota company closed the doors to the Victory brand earlier this year. According to a report from Reuters, the new electric motorcycle will be released under the Indian Motorcycle brand name, and will be focused towards riders who ride for pleasure, rather than those who commute or do long-distance trips. The report says that Polaris is targeting a 120 to 140 mile range – almost double of what was available from the Empulse TT – from this new electric motorcycle model, when ridden at an aggressive pace.

Indian’s Flat Track Racer Now Available to Mere Mortals

When the Indian Scout FTR750 flat track race bike debuted, our comments section was filled with enthusiasts screaming for a production version of the water-cooled 750cc machine. Well my friends, your prayers have been answered…in part. Indian is making the Scout FTR750 available to anyone who has the coin to spend, with a couple caveats: 1) you will need to pony up $50,000 in order to purchas the bike, and 2) it will be a race-only model. Still, the news should be exciting for privateer flat track racers who are keen to use Indian’s very trick racing package, which looks to be far more purpose-built than Harley-Davidson’s Street 750 based offering.

Extra Notes from the Qatar GP: Zarco’s Exceptionalism, Morbidelli’s Maturity, & Moto3 Madness

Tuesday - 03/28/2017 @ 5:04 pm, by David Emmett2 COMMENTS

We need to talk about Johann Zarco. For a rookie to lead his very first race on a MotoGP bike is not just unusual, it has never been done before. To do so for six laps is beyond remarkable, and a sign that something rather special is happening.

To put this into perspective, it is worth noting that not only did Zarco lead the race, but he also set the fastest lap in his first race. The last rookie to set the fastest lap during their first race? Marc Márquez, Qatar 2013. Before that? Valentino Rossi, Welkom 2000. And before that, Max Biaggi, Suzuka 1998.

Zarco’s downfall came at Turn 2 on Lap 7. Quite literally: he got a little off line, hit a dirtier part of the track, and down he went. There is no shame in crashing out of your first MotoGP race.

Valentino Rossi crashed out of his first premier class Grand Prix too. On the other hand, Marc Márquez, Jorge Lorenzo, and Dani Pedrosa all finished on the podium in their MotoGP debut race. Max Biaggi actually won his first 500cc race at Suzuka.

First Look at the 2018 Yamaha YZ450FM

Tuesday - 03/28/2017 @ 1:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

The All-Japan Nationals for motocross always seem to give us a glimpse on what to expect from the Japanese manufacturers’ dirt bike divisions, so much so, that it has become a thing in moto-journal circls.

This year, Yamaha decided to drop some of the pretenses and help the journalists out, and even provided some photos and a statement about its upcoming motocross machines.

As such, the above motorcycle is the 2018 Yamaha YZ450FM – Yamaha’s revised 450cc motocross racing machine, and while actual details on the new motocross bike are thin, we can glean some details from the photos.

Recall Expected for the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT

Tuesday - 03/28/2017 @ 10:48 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

KTM 1290 Super Duke GT owners should expect a recall notification in the coming weeks, as the Austrian brand has determined that there is an issue with the sport-tourer’s fuel hose.

The recall affects both 2016 and 2017 models, and centers around the possibility that the installed fuel hose may develop small holes or cracks, which could lead to fuel leaking from the fuel hose. As such, it needs to be replaced by a certified KTM dealer.

MotoAmerica Employing New Concussion Test for Racers

Monday - 03/27/2017 @ 7:43 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Thanks to increased public attention on the subject, the issue of riders racing while with a concussion is something that is being talked about at higher levels of the motorcycle industry, and today we see MotoAmerica elevating how it regards brain injuries at the race track.

As such, MotoAmerica will begin using the Vestibular-Ocular Motor Screening (VOMS) system during the 2017 racing season, in order to monitor MotoAmerica participants for head injuries after a crash.

For those who don’t know, VOMS will allow race officials to more effectively and accurately diagnosis whether a rider has suffered a concussion, and is capable of competing after a head trauma.

Recall Coming to Yamaha Three-Cylinder Motorcycles

Monday - 03/27/2017 @ 5:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Multiple three-cylinder motorcycle models from Yamaha are about to be recalled for a safety issue. The recall concerns the lower handlebar, which may have been improperly painted, and as a result the stud bolt threads may not have had enough thread-locking agent applied.

This means that if the handlebar is struck hard enough, the paint on the handlebar holder might be damaged, which in-turn could cause there to be enough of a clearance difference on the stud bolt to allow it to loosen itself from engine vibration.

Since this could cause the handlebar to come loose (or off) while riding, it poses a safety hazard to the rider, and Yamaha intends to recall the affected models, which includes the 2015-2017 Yamaha FJ-09, 2014-2017 Yamaha FZ-09, and 2016-2017 Yamaha XSR900.

CCM Planning New 600cc Dual-Sport ADV Bike

Monday - 03/27/2017 @ 12:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

The good folk over at ADV Pulse have some interesting news for the dual-sport crowd, as British marque Clews Competition Machines is getting ready to discontinue its CCM GP450 dual-sport/adventure-tourer.

Replacing it will be a 600cc model, which will share the same engine as CCM’s recent Spitfire roadster model, which is really a big-displacement single-cylinder lump from SYM, which is really just a liquid-cooled four-stroke motor from the BMW era of Husqvarna. Still with us on that?

Confusing lineage aside, the new CCM GP600 Adventure sounds like it will be the perfect choice for those in the ADV category who want a dirt bike that can go on the highway, rather than a highway bike that can go off-road.

Up-Close with the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6

Monday - 03/27/2017 @ 10:56 am, by Jensen Beeler64 COMMENTS

The 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 is more than just “bold new plastics” as one A&R commenter said, with traction control, ABS, new suspension, and R1-esque bodywork being added to the supersport machine – among other changes.

Still very much “evolution” rather than “revolution” for the Japanese manufacturer, the Yamaha R6 however is a very striking machine, visually, and that’s what we wanted to share with you today.

Yamaha isn’t shy that the R6 gets its look from its older sibling, the YZF-R1, with both bikes sharing a number of visual elements: MotoGP-inspired air intake, koi fish headlights on the fairing, vented tail section, and sinister LED marker lights – just to name a few.

The effect though is perhaps the most dramatic change to the venerable supersport, as it takes the 12-year-old design for the YZF-R6 and gives it a modern look and feel.

Sunday MotoGP Summary at Qatar: Worth the Wait

Monday - 03/27/2017 @ 1:28 am, by David Emmett8 COMMENTS

Race day in Qatar would turn into a microcosm of the entire weekend. The hopes and fears of fans and riders alike were both realized and averted.

The idea that any kind of plan could be made to deal with this weekend went out the window pretty quickly. And yet at the end, three great races (or rather, two fantastic races and one interesting race) happened, and everyone got out more or less in one piece.

Stars were born on Sunday, some prophesied, some appearing out of the blue. It felt like the beginning of the new era we had been hoping for. MotoGP – once it got underway – was as topsy-turvy as expected.

In Moto2, favorites performed as they needed to, while new stars emerged from behind. And in the Moto3 class, last year’s rookies matured, and produced a heady brew of thrilling racing.

The weather conditioned it all. Spots of rain ahead of the Asia Talent Cup – like the Red Bull Rookies Cup at European races, the most frenetic racing of the weekend – soon dissipated, the sun soon breaking through.

Fine weather prevailed for most of the evening, but as the Moto2 bikes rolled back into pit lane at the end of the race, the rain once again made its presence felt. Lightly at first, and quickly disregarded, but a little heavier as 9pm, the scheduled start of the MotoGP race, approached.

Paddock Pass Podcast #48 – WSBK Australia & Thailand

Monday - 03/27/2017 @ 1:10 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Episode 47 of the Paddock Pass Podcast sees David Emmett and Steve English covering the recent the first two rounds of the World Superbike Championship, at Phillip Island an Thailand.

With Jonathan Rea dominating the first two races, the guys talk about the expectations at the opening rounds, and how the season is far from over for the other riders. Tom Sykes is looking to be in his best form ever, Chaz Davies is in the hunt, and Marco Melandri is showing his teeth…all of which is making for good racing.

The show also covers the World Supersport class, which has proven to be anything but predictable. With injuries, mechanicals, and crashes shaking up the leaderboard, the WSS title is still very much any rider’s to claim.

Before wrapping up, the lads talk about the Supersport 300 series, which begins at the first European round of the season, at Aragon. They tip who to watch, and what to expect from the racing, and surely hardcore race fans won’t want to miss the debut of this new series.

As always, be sure to follow the Paddock Pass Podcast on FacebookTwitter and subscribe to the show on iTunes and SoundCloud – we even have an RSS feed for you. If you like the show, we would really appreciate you giving it a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening!

MotoGP: Viñales Wins Season-Opener at the Qatar GP

Sunday - 03/26/2017 @ 1:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS