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.

Do You Have 20/20 Vision?

01/11/2012 @ 12:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Because motorcycles can move from lane to lane with ease, and even vary their position in a single lane with regularity, motorcyclists are sadly hard to spot when automobile drivers are accustomed only to looking out for larger slow-to-move cars that take up an entire lane’s width. Yes, as motorcyclists we impose a special duty on automobile drivers, a duty which more often than not gets pushed back onto us. This then requires motorcyclists to ride defensively. It requires us to assume a cage doesn’t see us, and is gong to move into our lane.

Nissan Responds Over Juke Commercial Controversy

09/09/2011 @ 11:32 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

After an outpouring of criticism of its Nissan Juke commercial, it looks like someone at the Japanese company has yanked its videos of the motorcycle-eating CUV from the internet. With the videos on YouTube and Vimeo now set to “private” and requiring a password to watch, it would seem that Nissan wisely doesn’t want you to see one of its latest promotions of the Juke, where a computer animated version of the Nissan Juke turns the tables on the “predatory” motorcycles, and hunts them down by running-over the motorcyclists. The pièce de résistance to this motorcyclist massacre is that the Juke’s motorcycle-inspired center console is in fact a trophy from one of the CUV’s many kills from the video. We seriously couldn’t make this up if we tried, and yet that very storyboard somehow made its way through an ad agency pitch.

Getting a proper roasting here at Asphalt & Rubber, we can only imagine that the frustration vented by motorcyclists in our comments showed a glimpse into the emails that Nissan recieved from the advertisement. Luckily one of our readers here at A&R shared with us the response they got from Nissan Canada, the branch responsible for the online Nissan Juke campaign in question. The reply confirms that the videos are in the process of being removed, though we’re not sure the duration of the campaign, nor its “super-natural” fell has much relevancy to the situation, and it certainly does not ease the fact that Nissan is showing an automobile maliciously run-over motorcyclists.

Considering that many of the members of the motorcycle community can share a common story about how a negligent or road-raged driver has nearly run them of the road (or worse, succeeded in that endeavor), we stand behind our position that Nissan probably could have picked a better way to make references to motorcycling-inspired design elements than what the company produced in this “trophy” storyline. A copy Nissan Canada’s response, with redacted names, is after the jump.

Video: Stay a Hero, Stay Safe

06/13/2011 @ 6:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

It seems more often than not, the video advertisements we feature here on Asphalt & Rubber are examples of what is wrong with marketing in the motorcycle industry. However every once and a while, we get a gem like this safety campaign for The Sussex Safer Roads Partnership, which was done by director Daniel Cox , the maker of a similar car campaign that was quite the rage in the advertising world.

The best part about this ad is that it centers around a little boy who seeS the motorcycle of his father, and wants to share in that experience. In a way, a lot of us are like little boys when we get on our bikes, and there certainly is a captivating element with motorcycles and small children. It just makes the imagery seem more fitting, and then there is of course the whole rolemodel message. It’s good heartfelt stuff, and it’s waiting for you right after the jump.

Video: Casey Stoner Helps Hock Some Hondas

05/09/2011 @ 8:54 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

It’s been a while since we had a motorcycle advert to critique, but with the thawing of winter’s ice, we should have a plethora of videos to show in the coming motorcycle friendly months. First up for the new riding season is Honda with this CBR1000RR ad that features MotoGP star Casey Stoner, and what appropriately looks to be Oz’s Repsol Honda Casey Stoner race replica that he is riding.

As far as motorcycle marketing goes, this clip is a pretty good effort by Honda Australia. Star GP rider, good production quality, and a demand generation focus all make for a compelling advert. Honda will need all the help it can get though, as it’s hard to sell the same bike that’s been out for four years, albeit with some fresh paint and some minor tweaks here and there.

In a market segment where dyno graphs and high-tech gizmos rule the sales sheet, here’s to hoping that quality in adverts can make up for quantity on the dynamometer in the Land of Kangaroos. Check it out after the jump and let us know what you think.

I Think They’re Selling Gasoline…

04/01/2011 @ 4:09 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on I Think They’re Selling Gasoline…

Repsol Honda has debuted a new advertisement to go in-line with the MotoGP Championship stopping in Jerez, Spain this weekend. Drawing on the petroleum company’s sponsored riders in GP racing, we see Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa, Andrea Dovizioso, and Marc Márquez making an appearance for their benefactor. We can only imagine the acting direction that must have been given to the riders for this video: “Marc, you’re the youngest so no talking and only use your hands. Dani, divide a really big number by another really big number while staring off into space. Andrea, you’re hot, so very, very, very hot…do something about it. Casey, you’re a sweaty boy, and everyone knows it.”

While we don’t speak a lot of Spanish here in the A&R office, we imagine the real message here is about teamwork, winning, and using Spanish gasoline…at least that’s what we’re hoping for, and that this is not the making of a motorcycle-themed boy band music video. Honestly though, it’s a pretty cool video with the slow-motion shots, and luckily for Repsol it looks like they have a good chance of being on the podium this weekend to go along with this campagin. Check out the making of this video after the jump, as it looks like there’s some A-quality footage still to be used. Do we smell a sequel coming on?

“Crash Proof” Motorcycle Hoax Video Revealed

03/15/2011 @ 9:50 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

You’ve likely seen the video where a “crash proof” motorcycle, which has rider detection aids on-board, gets plowed by a truck as it enters the highway. If you haven’t seen this video, well…we just sorta ruined it for you, and we’re going to ruin it some more for the rest of you who thought it was real, as the group behind the video’s making has finally stepped forward, and revealed it was all a hoax to get you thinking about rider safety.

Produced by the Thames Valley Safer Roads Partnership (TVSRP), as part of the Safer Rider campaign, the locale has been trying to make riders in their 30’s and 40’s aware of the area’s high casualty rate on the roadway. “Our aim was to produce a video that encouraged people to discuss the attitudes and ability involved when riding a motorcycle and for it to spread virally within the motorcycle community,” said Craig McAlpine of TVSRP.

Caution: Smoking May be Hazardous to Your Health

12/29/2010 @ 12:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Pirelli (makers of the 2011 Pirelli Calendar) and the Italian arm of ad firm Y&R (the NY arm of Y&R did the Xerox/Ducati ad set) want you to know that smoking can be hazardous to your health. Playing off the Surgeon General warning labels found on cigarette packages, Pirelli’s new ads show a motorcycling protagonist full of gusto putting one of his Italian doughnuts to good use with a puff of smoke and a mighty burnout (we’re working on our ad copy hyperbole).

There’s some good play on words going on here, which Y&R has put to good use with motorcycling imagery. We especially like the line “smoking can cause circulation problems” as the photo focuses on the time-warped spinning tire, while the “protect chicks: don’t make them breathe your smoke” seems a bit more pedestrian and blunt. Good photography, a hot custom bike, clever ad work. Chalk up a win for Pirelli (more photos after the jump).

Video: Ducati Helps Xerox Sell Some Copiers

09/09/2010 @ 11:46 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Xerox essentially foots the bill for Ducati’s World Superbike racing adventures, so it’s not surprising that the company, whose name is synonymous with photocopying, would like to capitalize on that relationship. It’s hard to imagine how one can make an intriguing commercial about xeroxing some documents (see what we did there?), which may be why Rochester-based brand is involved with WSBK in the first place, as the company has tapped its relationship with Ducati to help sell some copy machines. The result is an actually semi-engaging ad, but we’re just not sure what Xerox is going to do next year. Video after the jump.

Splitsville: Ad Agency Carmichael Lynch & Harley-Davidson to Part Ways

08/31/2010 @ 7:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Carmichael Lynch, the ad agency behind Harley-Davidson’s “Screw it, Let’s Ride” campaign, has just announced that it will be parting ways with the Milwaukee motorcycle manufacturer. In a pair of “it’s not you, it’s me” press releases, the two companies, which have partnered together for the past 31 years, cite different reasons for their mutual departures.

Harley-Davidson CMO Mark-Hans Richer said in the company’s statement that, “our strategies have been moving away from a singular consumer target and a one-size-fits-all agency solution. Rather than accept this new reality, Carmichael Lynch chose a different path and we respect that.” Meanwhile according to Advertising Age,  President of Carmichael Lynch Doug Spong said that, “Our agency leadership came to the consensus that we’ve taken the Harley-Davidson brand as far as we can. It’s in our best interest to part ways.”

We just think that Harley-Davidson is on Step 1 of our three part strategy on How to Save Harley-Davidson.

Harley Continues to Chase a Younger Audience

08/24/2010 @ 8:05 am, by Jensen Beeler38 COMMENTS

We’ve gotten more than a few emails from readers between the ages of 18-30 saying they’ve been approached at motorcycling events by market research company representatives working for Harley-Davidson. In conjunction with beefing up its Sportster line-up (the goto motorcycle at Harley-Davidson for catering to Gen-Y/X riders) with more youth-oriented motorcycles, Harley-Davidson is clearly trying to latch onto a new generation of rider.

Looking for the next generation of rebels, Harley’s focus lately has been on the skateboarding inclined, hoping perhaps that the demographic’s lifestyle of “skateboarding is not a crime” is a value that transfers over easily to two-wheeled transportation. Of course this marketing effort wouldn’t be complete without a new ad campaign, and Harley is clearly making ads for the customer it wants, not the customer it has.

Giving credit where credit is due, this is one of the better ads to come out of the Milwaukee brand. Check the video out after the jump, and note how many times you see a woman behind the handlebars.