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.

Tip: Don’t Break Your ADV Bike in Your Teaser Video

01/25/2016 @ 9:19 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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For reasons we haven’t fully been able to understand, there has been a lot buzz lately about the new Himalayan model from Royal Enfield, the Indian company’s foray into the ADV market.

The premise might seem obvious enough, a small-displacement (410cc) adventure-tourer that is supposed to be cheap, rugged, and easy to work on.

There has always been a trade-off to make in buying a Royal Enfield though, with the “unique” charm of owning a motorcycle from the historic brand having to be balanced against its less than stellar reputation for quality and reliability.

While the idea of a simpler and easier adventure-tourer is certainly appealing to a demographic that is like to have to make repairs on the side of some single-track trail, it just seems you are just as likely to be making those repairs because something on the bike broke for no good reason. There’s a chicken and the egg thing going on somewhere here with this logic.

That being said, if you’re a brand that is try to tackle that very problem, it would probably be best not to show your rough and tumble ADV bike breaking when it is used on a modest of jump. Skip to 1:51 in the video, after the jump, and look for the right footpeg coming off during landing. Hrrm.

Wunderlich Hybrid BMW R1200GS LC with Electric 2WD

11/19/2015 @ 2:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Wunderlich-X2-Electric-2WD-BMW-R1200GS-03

BMW aftermarket parts specialist Wunderlich really knows how to promote itself. The German company is known for its one-off machines and concepts, some which have tipped BMW’s hand when it comes to new models. For a boutique German brand, it is impressive that it is known around the world.

So, it shouldn’t surprise us that Wunderlich is grabbing headlines once again, this time with an intriguing concept: a two-wheel drive BMW R1200GS that uses a hybrid drivetrain with an electric front-end that was developed with Italy’s electric specialist Evolt.

Wunderlich calls its creation the BMW R1200GS LC, and it features a 10 kW hub motor on its front wheel, in addition to the GS’s boxer-twin gas engine. The electric motor has regenerative braking, which helps charge its modest battery pack (located under the front beak, to our eye).

Triumph Debuts Six New Tiger Explorer Models

11/18/2015 @ 9:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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For 2016, Triumph is revamping its Tiger Explorer offering, and like with the Tiger 800, the big adventure-touring machine gets a bevy of different variations to cater to a wider variety of riders.

The lineup is a bit of an alphabet soup, so we’ll try and break it down for you. First up, there are two basic models: the Tiger Explorer XR & Tiger Explorer XC. The XR is Triumph’s on-road ADV bike, while the XC is geared to go off-road.

Within the Triumph Tiger XR on-road line, the base XR model is the cheapest and most basic model, and the line has two higher-spec machines: the XRx & XRt. Similarly, the the Triumph Tiger XC off-road line and the XC is base model. The higher-spec off-road models are the XCx and XCa.

We asked Triumph to clarify the differences between the four higher spec models, and the six models in general, but it seems that the OEM doesn’t have that answer at their fingertips. I have no words to respond to that with.

There’s no information on the company’s website, we’ll tell you just about everything that is in the company’s press release in this article, and it seems even other publications don’t seem to have an answer – this is a first for me, in my seven years of running Asphalt & Rubber.

So You Say You Want a Small, Light, & Cheap ADV Bike?

11/18/2015 @ 10:48 am, by Jensen Beeler47 COMMENTS

2016-Benelli-TRK-502

Comments on certain stories are predictable, and as such, we always expect some enduro rider to show up on an ADV story, and lament the weight of the bike in question, calling it too heavy to really go off-road.

That argument is bullshit, of course. Though, it is easier to handle a lightweight machine in the dirt than a heavy one, but you would be surprised at how capable any motorcycle is with a pair of knobby tires on it.

Just in case you are not convinced, we have got a little something for you. Behold the Benelli TRK 502. It’s got the profile of a condor, but the little 500cc adventure-tourer looks like it should do the job you are asking of it.

2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak

11/16/2015 @ 11:21 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on 2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak

2016-Ducati-Multistrada-1200-Pikes-Peak-04

I have a soft spot for the Pikes Peak models to the Ducati Multistrada 1200 line. Perhaps it’s because I have spent many a cold morning on Pikes Peak, photographing the race version of these machines. Or perhaps it’s that I’m drawn to the Ducati Corse livery, which drips carbon fiber and Rosso Corsa.

Either way, here we are, talking about the 2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak motorcycle – the latest model from Ducati to get the special livery from “The Race to the Clouds”, which also comes with Öhlins suspension, forged aluminum Marchesini wheels, and a Termignoni exhaust.

If you have seen the previous Ducati Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak models, this is perhaps not something that moves the dial on your rev-limiter too far, but the newly updated Ducati Multistrada 1200 certainly looks good with the Pike Peak package.

It seems that the 2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak will be available in both Europe and North America, thus bringing more awareness to Ducati’s racing efforts on the 14,000+ foot mountain.

More photos are after the jump. Bring your drool-rag with you.

2016 BMW F700GS & F800GS Get Cosmetic Changes

11/16/2015 @ 10:36 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on 2016 BMW F700GS & F800GS Get Cosmetic Changes

2016-BMW-F800GS-20

BMW Motorrad said it had some announcements coming for its F-series, and now we know that means that the BMW F700GS & BMW F800GS are getting some cosmetic changes for the 2016 model year.

The changes include the tank and ignition covers, the knee and radiator covers, and the two-color seat – the latter having five possible seat levels, making the BMW F700GS & BMW F800GS versatile of riders of varying heights.

BMW has also made four different seats available, as well as optional lowered suspension, which makes the F700GS & F800GS truly a friend to shorter riders.

You can check out the new look on the 2016 BMW F700GS/F800GS in the photos, after the jump.

2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro – More ADV

11/16/2015 @ 7:14 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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This is Ducati’s first real foray into the adventure-touring segment of motorcycles, and the 2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro promises to up the ante on the Multistrada 1200’s off-road ability, with a purpose-built trail stomper.

As we can see from the photos, there have been several changes to the Multistrada 1200 to make it more ADV capable, the most important of which is the double-sided swingarm, for added strength and rigidity.

Other changes include a 19″ front wheel, shod with knobby tires, a skid plate, and a higher-mounted single exhaust can. We are told the fuel tank has been punched out to 30 liters, which is almost 8 gallons – certainly enough fuel to get you properly lost in the great outdoors.

Of course, with any ADV bike, the scales are the machine’s worst enemy, as the Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro weighs a hefty 516 lbs.

2016 Honda CB500X…With You Guessed It, Modest Changes

10/22/2015 @ 2:21 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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For 2016, we know that Honda will bring its big “adventure-tourer” the US market, known to Europeans as the Honda Crosstourer, and introduced to Americans as the Honda VFR1200X. For the 2016 model year, the Crosstourer gets some minor updates, as does its 700cc sibling the Honda NC700X.

So if you’re keeping score, that leaves one more machine to get a modest update for 2016…yup, Honda CB500X, we are talking about you!

A Goldilocks-busting lineup of street-focused ADV machines, the 2016 Honda CB500X rounds out Honda’s lineup with a lightweight and nimble machine that is also good for the A2 licensing countries.

Modest Changes Come for the 2016 Honda NC700X

10/22/2015 @ 2:01 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

2016 NC700X Teaser 2

Modesty might be the name of the game so far for Honda’s 2016 lineup, as Big Red announces its lesser models for next year, ahead of the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, where we expect to see some interesting machines.

One of those models getting a modest refresh for the upcoming model year is the Honda NC700X, Honda’s other road-hobbled adventure-touring machine. The big change for 2016 will be “exciting new styling”, though other changes are afoot as well.

Honda VFR1200X “Crosstourer” Comes to the USA for 2016

10/22/2015 @ 1:37 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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The European market has already had the Honda Crosstourer for some time, and now it will come to the American market as well, as the 2016 Honda VFR1200X.

The Crosstourer gets some updates for 2016, namely a Euro4 compliant engine, an adjustable windscreen, three levels of S-Mode for the dual-clutch transmission (DCT), and a software upgrade that detects uphill and downhill slopes and adjusts shifting accordingly.

For those who may not be familiar with the Honda Crosstourer, or the Honda VFR1200X as American Honda is calling it, the machine features the same 1,237cc V4 engine as the Honda VFR1200F, though it has been tuned to 127hp. It also has the optional DCT gearbox, which riders either love or hate.