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.

A Lap Around the Isle of Man TT with Michael Dunlop

03/25/2014 @ 4:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

michael-dunlop-isle-of-man-tt-supersport-bungalow-richard-mushet

Stop what you’re doing for the next 18 minutes — just stop right now. Take a ride with Michael Dunlop on his Honda CBR600RR during the Isle of Man TT’s second Supersport race.

We enter the race on lap three of four, Michael Dunlop has just finished his pit stop, and is in second place on corrected time — Bruce Anstey is leading. On the course, Michael is behind John McGuinness and Cameron Donald, who serve as his carrot.

At this point in the TT fortnight, Dunlop has already won three races and the nephew of Joey is looking for win number four as he puts the hammer down coming down Bray Hill. This is more than a video of an epic lap around Snaefell Mountain Course, it’s a lap of Michael Dunlop’s determination. There should be no doubt about Michael being a force to be reckond with in 2014.

Superlatively “The World’s Most Awesome Road Race”

06/25/2013 @ 6:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Isle-of-Man-TT-Monster-Energy-video

Monster Energy doesn’t really have a reputation for being understated, so we should probably cut them some slack when “The World’s Most Awesome Road Race” is the title of the their four-and-half-minute tribute to the Isle of Man TT. After all if you have seen TT in person, you will probably agree with Monster’s assessment. As the kids say, it’s cray.

The title sponsor for the two Supersport races, and the personal sponsor to a number of riders, namely the King himself John McGuinness, Monster Energy is a great supporter of this iconic road race, and has been doing its part to help cross-polinate athletes with the Manx race, so it’s good to see them promoting the sport even further with videos like this.

If you are like us and going through a bit of Isle of Man TT withdrawal, here is a little something more to help you ease those pangs. A video of the “most awesome” road race is after the jump.

Trackside Tuesday: From Over the Hedge

06/25/2013 @ 12:20 pm, by Tony Goldsmith6 COMMENTS

Trackside-Tuesday-Isle-of-Man-TT-2013-Tony-Goldsmith-04

The Isle of Man TT is widely acknowledged as the most demanding motorcycle road race on earth for both rider and machine.  For a motorsport photographer the 37.75 mile course offers a wealth of opportunities as well as a unique challenge.

The opportunities are obvious: stunning scenery, spectacular jumps and spectators literally within arms-reach of the riders as they blast through towns and villages.

It goes without saying that capturing a sharp image of a 200bhp motorcycle can be tricky even when they are not moving particularly quickly.  In my opinion, the difficulty level at the TT is greater due to the sheer speed the bikes are travelling at.

The key to successfully photographing the TT has nothing to do with technical ability or gear, it is, as with most things in life, down to experience – although a bit of location planning and local knowledge doesn’t hurt either.

Trackside Tuesday: Do Motorcycles Dream of Electric Sheep?

06/18/2013 @ 1:09 pm, by Richard Mushet14 COMMENTS

OSU-Rob-Barber-TT-Zero-Isle-of-Man-TT-Richard-Mushet

Now the dust has settled on another TT, a look back over the numerous pages of lap times and race results can only tell us so much. With so many incredible stories to be told it is difficult to choose one for this article.

From the blatantly obvious, such as; Dunlop’s incredible four wins, McGuinness’ new outright lap record or Ian Lougher rounding out his career on the Mountain course, which spanned four decades, tallying nine wins plus an additional nineteen podiums.

To the equally awe-inspiring, like; David Johnson’s impressive return to the island on privateer machinery, Dave Madsen-Mygdal completing his 100th TT race, and the first ever Chinese competitor at the TT, the likeable Cheung Wai-On.

Above all these, one team’s story caught my eye – the Buckeye Current team from the Ohio State University’s College of Engineering, whose Honda CBR1000RR-based electric motorcycle was tackling the Mountain course.

Consisting of a number of students from various science and engineering programs, the team’s RW-2 bike was the sole American entry from an educational institute and was pitting itself against three other teams from similar institutes and six non-collegiate teams from across the globe.

Dainese’s The TT Trilogy – Part 3: The Legend

06/17/2013 @ 12:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

fairy-bridge-dainese-tt-trilogy

The final installment in Dainese’s TT Trilogy, “The Legend” appropriately features famous World Superbike racer Carl Fogarty. Talking first about The Fairy Bridge and the supersitituions that motorcycle racers have, Fogarty goes on to explain how important the Isle of Man TT is to him, as a former racer of the course.

We couldn’t agree more with his assessment of how laid back and approachable the TT paddock is for fans and racers — it truly is the best part of the two-week long show. With famous names trolling Glencrutchery Road every day, it isn’t just movie magic to see a legend like Foggy talking to riders, and signing a few autographs for fans. Mega.

On-Board Joey Dunlop’s Honda RS850R at the 1983 IOMTT

06/13/2013 @ 2:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

joey-dunlop-1983-isle-of-man-tt-honda-rs850r-v4

We’ve just about wrapped up our coverage of the 2013 Isle of Man TT, but I wanted to leave you with this final video. On-board with Joey Dunlop during the Formula 1 practice session for the 1983 Isle of Man TT, you can hear the roar of Joey’s Honda V4 RS850R production racer, and watch one of the greatest riders ever on the Mountain Course.

With its ultra-short stroke, titanium valves, magnesium case covers, and a reported 135hp at the rear wheel, the RS850R is the machine that Joey took to his first win with the Japanese brand — a landmark occasion, which HRC just celebrated the 30th anniversary of at this year’s TT, with John McGuinness wearing Joey’s old livery.

We can’t think of a better way to end the TT season, nor can we think of a better way to remember Joey. Listen carefully as he narrates the course, you are listening to a true legend of the sport.

Dainese’s The TT Trilogy – Part 2: The Race

06/12/2013 @ 2:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

dainese-tt-trilogy-the-race

The second installment of Dainese’s little Isle of Man TT video series, we get to hear from Milwaukee Yamaha rider Conor Cummins. “You should be fully focused on the road ahead, because it bites hard,” says Cummins in the video. No rider should know the truth of those words better than Conor, as in the 2010 TTT the Manx man had a horrific crash that he was lucky to survive.

Back to full-health now, Cummins clocked a third in the Lightweight TT, a fifth in the Superbike TT, and a fifteenth in the second Supersport TT. The fastest Manx rider ever around the Isle of Man’s Mountain Course, Cummins is the pride of the Isle, and a serious contender in any race he enters.

However, Milwaukee Yamaha didn’t get the results they wanted this year, but you can’t rule Cummins out for 2014. As he says himself,  “we’re not going racing to finish second. We’re going to win.”

After the TT: At the Billown Circuit Races

06/10/2013 @ 3:52 am, by Richard Mushet1 COMMENT

2013-Billown-post-TT-races-Richard-Mushet-19

In keeping with yearly tradition, the close of the Isle of Man TT meeting was celebrated with the Post-TT races at the Billown circuit. Held on public roads in the south of the Island, the 4.2 mile circuit attracts a number of riders looking to round off their time on the Isle, as well as a number of short circuit and road riders solely attending this meeting.

Video: Still Think Electric Motorcycles Are Slow?

06/10/2013 @ 3:35 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

motoczysz-michael-rutter-on-board-video-tt-zero

The progress in the last five years on electric motorcycles has been astounding. Taking their first laps around the Isle of Man TT Mountain Course, a 87.434 mph pace was the best an electric motorcycle could do at the prestigious road race in 2009 — a pace that was on par with the 50cc record set in 1971. Since that time though, the development of these machines has grown by leaps and bounds.

In just five years after the first laps were taken by electric motorcycles at Snaefell, these machines have grown their average lap speeds by over 20 mph at the TT Zero race, setting a new record of 109.675 mph in 2013, and boasting a rate of improvement of roughly 5 mph each year since 2009.

If hitting 142.2 mph down the Sulby Straight speed trap wasn’t further proof of the speeds these bikes are achieving, maybe some visual evidence will help support the notion. Checkout the on-board videos of Michael Rutter (on the 2013 MotoCzysz E1pc) and John McGuinness (on the 2013 Mugen Shinden Ni) after the jump.

IOMTT: Rhencullen with Richard Mushet

06/08/2013 @ 8:20 pm, by Richard Mushet1 COMMENT