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.

Aprilia RS-GP Dresses in (RED) for the Valencia GP

11/11/2016 @ 12:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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When you watch the Valencia GP this weekend, keep an eye out for a pair of strikingly red motorcycles on the track, piloted by Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl.

This is because their Aprilia RS-GP race bikes will be sporting a special (RED) livery, supporting the charity that fights acquired immune deficiency syndrome – better known as AIDS.

A disease that once generated massive headlines in the United States in the 1980s, now for many in the western world, AIDS is no longer the specter it once was.

Modern antiviral treatments can reduce the presence of AIDS in affected patients to below detectable levels, thus making AIDS a chronic instead of terminal disease, and which allows patients to lead mostly full and normal lives.

However in other countries, AIDS is still very much a death sentence once it is contracted, with access to life-saving medication incredibly more difficult to acquire, and prevention efforts woefully inadequate.

Over 37 million people worldwide are currently infected with AIDS, with 2 million more contracting the disease with each passing year – many of them in Africa. (RED) aims to change that epidemic, and has contributed $360 million to the stop of AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in the region.

Hopefully with the help of Aprilia and the MotoGP Championship this weekend, even more support can be channeled to this worthy cause.

BMW Lac Rose Concept – A Vintage-Styled ADV Bike

06/13/2016 @ 6:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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What you see here is an homage back to a day when men were men, and the Dakar Rally actually went to Dakar, the capital of Senegal and the western-most point of Africa.

Called the BMW Lac Rose Concept, this retooled BMW R nineT is named after Lac Rose (Lake Retba to some), which is just outside of Dakar – a picturesque locale, for a photogenic motorcycle.

BMW Motorrad styled the Lac Rose concept after the Dakar Rally bikes of the 1980s, which adds to the retro flare that the German brand has been channeling though its R nineT platform.

If you believe the rumors, the Lac Rose could very well go into production, as a 2017 model year machine, thus adding a trifecta of throwback machines to BMW’s R nineT lineup, with the R nineT roadster and scrambler models already strong sellers.

Motorcycle Charity Riders for Health Shuts Its Doors

05/24/2016 @ 2:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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If you are a regular reader of Asphalt & Rubber, then you surely have seen our banners supporting Riders for Health, one of the great charities to come out of the motorcycle industry.

The non-profit organization, based out of the UK, provides healthcare services to remote locations in Africa, utilizing motorcycles to traverse the uncertain terrain.

Started by Andrea and Barry Coleman, along with Randy Mamola (yes, that Randy Mamola), Riders for Health even had HRH Princess Anne as its patron, with major support from the FIM and the MotoGP Championship as well.

If you attended a MotoGP round in the US or UK, then you may have seen the Riders for Health auctions, or participated in the Day of Stars or Day of Champions events.

Therefore, it is unfortunate for us to report that Riders for Health will be closing its UK offices, effectively ending the charity’s operations.

Thankfully, some of Riders’ operations in a number of African countries will continue on despite this closure, as their operations have already transferred to local actors, governments, or organizations.

Benelli TnT25 Coming to the USA

10/26/2015 @ 4:08 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Benelli motorcycles will finally be coming back to the American market, with SSR Motorsports taking on the importation and distribution duties for China’s Qinjiang Group – the owner of the Benelli motorcycle brand.

Benelli’s debut model in the USA seems set to be the Benelli TnT25, which looks suspiciously like the Benelli BN251 that we showed you back in November of last year.

If that’s the case, then it will be stark contrast to the Benelli we have been used to seeing in the US, namely an Italian brand that invokes all aspects of the Italian motorcycle heritage: utterly beautiful machines that are also notoriously unreliable.

The #1 BMW Motorcycle Fan? — That’s a Tall Order!

08/15/2014 @ 12:36 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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I’m not complaining, but it’s been a busy week for Asphalt & Rubber’s Editor-in-Chief. Monday was spent getting back from the Indianapolis GP, where Dan and Tony once again proved how they are some of the most amazing photographers in the business, David as usually decrypted the paddock and wrote what should be considered the gold standard of daily summaries, and I…well, I tried to stay out of everyone’s way.

Finally back in California, Tuesday saw the hard drive in my laptop give up the ghost, and thus was spent knee-deep in nerdom with Scott — who knew that a #6 pentalobe screwdriver would be so difficult to find?! Wednesday was spent at the Honda CBR300R press launch, which for reasons beyond comprehension I drove to, instead of flying. Thursday meant swimming through the 800 or so emails that I neglected throughout the weeks’ activities, which just leaves me to say how is it Friday already?

Again I’m not complaining, but thank goodness it’s the end of the week. Anyhoo, I’m sure everyone has had their share of busy weeks, especially as summer is beginning to wind down. To help lighten the load, here’s a video of a giraffe that really loves himself some BMW motorcycles. If anyone asks, I’m saying a reader sent this to me…yeah…a reader…that’s what happened…

Pitching the BMW R1200GS – OEMs, Take Note

10/02/2012 @ 2:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Making effective market communications in the motorcycle industry should be a relatively straight-forward and easy task. After all, motorcycles in North America and Europe have a strong personal component that revolves around self-expression and a rider personal identity. Making things easier, the motorcycle industry is littered with enthusiasts who themselves ride on a daily basis, and should understand this concept first-hand.

The idea that an ad or campaign should reach out and grab the intended consumer is not a novel concept, and motorcycle marketing professionals have their job simplified since they need only to develop and publish creative that would speak to them personally, in order to be successful. For whatever reason though, motorcycle industry marketers, by-in-large, were absent the day they taught marketing in business school…and it shows.

It is a subject I rail on about far too often, probably because it just simply baffles me how it occurs in the first place. How a motorcycle enthusiast fails to connect with people just like himself or herself boggles my mind, and yet it routinely happens in the motorcycle industry. However, every now and then, an OEM puts together something that renews my faith in the establishment, and for a split-second I have a vision that this whole two-wheeled thing isn’t going to hell in a hand basket. Such is the case with this promo video done by BMW TV.

The 2013 BMW R1200GS in 293 Hi-Res Photos

10/02/2012 @ 6:54 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

The big news out of the INTERMOT show in Cologne, Germany is the public unveiling of the 2013 BMW R1200GS — the liquid-cooled progeny of the venerable air-cooled GS line. The bike that continues to define the adventure-touring market, the R1200GS not only gets a mechanical makeover for 2013, but a cosemetic one as well.

Wanting to give us the utmost insight into the design and engineering process that went into the new BMW R1200GS, the Bavarians have dumped nearly 300 photos into their media site for our consumption.

Naturally, we’ve uploaded them all here to Asphalt & Rubber because we loves us some tasty photos. Chances are the image viewing lightbox is too big for your monitor, so right-click as you see fit. We’ve picked our favorites out, and have them on display after the jump.

Video: A Different Kind of Race in Dakar

01/12/2012 @ 12:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

With the Dakar Rally a little over halfway through its 32nd running, the historic race has yet to show a decisive winner between the Despres/Coma grudge match. Shifting from its African namesake in 2009 because of safety concerns, the rally now takes place in South America instead. Some fans of The Dakar lament this change, citing various reasons for their desire to see the race continue on African soil, but beyond sentimental reasons, I would wager this year’s venues of Argentina, Chile, and Peru provide just as stunning and challenging of a course as the old Paris to Dakar route ever did.

I have done my fair share of traveling through this job and my previous lives, but for some reason I have yet to step foot onto the African soil, which is something I hope to change this year. Thinking about the landscapes I grew up watching during the “original” Dakar, Africa seems every bit the National Geographic adventure I believe it to be, and of course the Boy Scout in me would cherish a night under the African savanna’s sky.

Continuing a vein we have been exploring this week though, the motorcycle culture in Africa is something entirely different to our Americanized perspective on motorcycling. Often the more reliable means of transportation between cities and villages, I have partially gotten to know motorcycles in Africa through my experience with the folks from Riders for Health, but the cultural element to this is something I have yet to truly understand. Maybe this music video for Parachute Youth gets us all a little bit closer to that understanding, and in the process brings us back to where we ourselves started on two wheels as well. Thanks for the tip Q$-Bling!

Dainese No Longer “Made in Italy” – Moves Remaining Italian Production to Tunisia

01/19/2010 @ 3:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Italian apparel manufacturer Dainese, (who also owns Mavet and AGV) is shutting down its Molvena, Italy plant, and moving the bulk of its production to Tunisia. The move is presumably to help lower costs to the Italian brand, as sales have slumpped during the industry-wide economic slowdown. It’s unclear whether Dainese will open a new factory in Tunisia, or add the capacity to one of its two factories already in the North African country.

Yamaha Opening Pakistani Manufacturing Plant to Serve Asian/African Markets

09/21/2009 @ 2:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Investing in emerging markets, Yamaha Motors is set to invest $150 million in a new motorcycle manufacturing plant located in Pakistan. The plant, which is to be established in the National Industrial Park at Bin Qasim, Karachi, will serve as a central location for Yamaha’s move into Pakistan, India, and other emerging Asian and African markets.