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.

1972 Honda CB500, 3D Printed to Life Size

01/13/2015 @ 2:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Jonathan-Brand-3D-printed-motorcycle-10

We’ve talked a bit before about the virtues of 3D printing, and how this increasingly affordable technology could change the consumer landscape as far as how we buy basic parts in the motorcycle industry.

For as practical as how 3D printing, or rapid prototyping, can be, it can also be beautiful and used for art. This story is sort of a merger of those two ideas.

Jonathan Brand has hoped to buy a 1972 Honda CB500 motorcycle, but the birth of his son changed that plan. Where there is a will though, there is a way, and Brand came up with the next best thing — he built a life-size model of a CB500 with his 3D printer.

Aprilia Mounting a Return to MotoGP in 2016

04/05/2014 @ 4:46 pm, by David Emmett4 COMMENTS

2014-Qatar-GP-MotoGP-Friday-Scott-Jones-05

Towards the end of the 800cc era, MotoGP looked to be in dire condition. Grids were dwindling, factories were reducing their participation, and teams were in difficult financial straits indeed. By the end of 2011, there were just 17 full time entries, Suzuki was down to a single rider, and were about to pull out entirely for 2012.

How different the situation looks today. The CRTs have served their purpose – to persuade the factories to help fill the grid, and supply the teams with (relatively) affordable equipment – and the reduction in costs brought about in part by the spec electronics is enticing factories back to MotoGP.

Suzuki is in full testing mode, and getting ready to return to racing full time in 2015, and Aprilia is working towards a full-time return in 2016.

In a recent interview with the official MotoGP.com website, Aprilia Corse’s new boss Romano Albesiano gave a brief outline of their plans. The Italian factory will continue to work with the IODA Racing team for 2014 to collect data on the electronics and tires, which they will use as input on an entirely new project being worked on for 2016.

“Kesh Angels”: The Fierce Females of Morocco

02/27/2014 @ 11:03 am, by Aakash Desai12 COMMENTS

Fesh-Angels-Morocco-biker-chicks-07

It’s always nice to get a firm slap in the face from somewhere in the world that contradicts our notions of what motorcycling is all about.

Toeing the line between the hedonistic expressionism of Western culture and the more austere conservatism of traditional Islamic culture, London-based artist Hassan Hajjaj aims to pull-apart the pretentious self-importance of both worlds.

More importantly, by using female subjects as the protagonists in his compositions, Hajjaj challenges numerous Western and Eastern stereotypes about gender roles in this context.

The poses are playful and challenging and the use of scooters and motorcycles cements the subjects in Moroccan two-wheeler culture as well as in the Western two-wheels-as-freedom narrative. A metaphorical straddling, if you will.

Titled “‘Kesh Angles”, Hassan’s compositions are bright, colorful and chock full of cultural references. The subjects embody bravado, aggression, sexuality and even normalcy in high fashion and hip-hop poses.

The Women’s Motorcycle Exhibition

01/17/2014 @ 2:54 pm, by Aakash Desai52 COMMENTS

womens-motorcycle-exhibit-marie

The Riverside Art Museum is hosting “The Women’s Motorcycle Exhibition,” an exhibit featuring the photography of Lanakila MacNaughton until March 16th.  The Portland-based photographer is also motorcyclist and wanted to capture a female-centric perspective on the colorful and wild side of motorcycling that is either underrepresented or misrepresented in this male-dominant culture.

Lanakila’s portraits show women embodying roles that are typically reserved for male motorcyclists, including images where a male takes on the role of pillion passenger in an obvious gender reversal. Another interesting set of images depicts a desert road scene where two barely dressed ladies (save for the stickers on their breasts) ride missionary (a la Kanye’s “Bound 2” music video).

We were excited by the potential for this exhibit to further the conversation around reimagining the role of women in motorcycling. Although the number of women riders in the U.S. is increasing, in marketing and in product development women are still considered a niche demographic.

There is not much space in the culture for women to stand on their own without being coddled or catered to by patronizing marketing gimmicks or feeling ogled by every dude on the road. Simply developing bikes with lower seat heights and apparel with pink and purple flower schemes is not going far enough to really opening the doors of the industry guys’ club.

Reliving Rossi’s Corkscrew Pass on Stoner…with Paper

01/06/2014 @ 11:08 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Yamaha-Papercraft-Rossi-Corkscrew-pass-03

Got some time to waste? We have just the thing for you, thanks to our friends at Yamaha. The tuning fork brand has long made papercraft models of its various products — scale models made only out of paper, and not to be confused with origami —  and the different designs have been swirling on the internet for as long as we can remember.

Available for download are patterns for building a range of motorcycles, like the Yamaha MT-01, Yamaha YZF-R1, and Yamaha VMAX, and while Yamaha provides the blueprints, you must supply the sheets of paper, bottles of glue, and buckets of patience — this not an undertaking for the ADD inclined.

Now in time for the new year, Yamaha has released perhaps the mother of all papercraft projects, a diorama of Valentino Rossi’s Corkscrew pass on Casey Stoner at Laguna Seca.

It took papercraft designer Mr. Mukouyama a year to design and create the kit, and the detail shows. Getting a chance to show his masterpiece to The Doctor himself, who praised Mukouyama-san’s hardwork, the young artist will have a hard time topping this.

Whether you are riding out the Northeast’s current Freezepocalypse, or just counting down the months until the racing season begins again, here is a new garage endeavor for your undertaking. If any A&R readers complete this papercraft diorama, you must send us some photos of it. We’ll send you a shirt or something.

Video: Roland Sands Design’s “Art of the Machine”

12/13/2013 @ 6:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

roland-sands-design-art-of-the-machine

A little something to end the week with, Roland Sands Design has put together a video called “Art of the Machine” that is a bit different from the usual fare you find in the motorcycle industry, even from the exceptional creative types at RSD.

Using a kaleidoscope treatment on a series of fabrication and riding clips, the short film has an eerily dark and deep feel to it. You don’t have to be a fan of RSD’s work in order to become enthralled by the mesmerizing visual and audios here, and while we’re not quite sure why we like it…we know that we just do. Obey.

Gino Borsoi’s MotoGP Dilemma for Team Aspar

07/05/2013 @ 3:57 pm, by David Emmett7 COMMENTS

randy-de-puniet-aprilia-art-aspar-COTA-Jensen-Beeler

The Power Electronics Aspar team have seized the opportunity offered by the CRT rules with both hands. By teaming up with Aprilia and employing two talented and fast riders, Aspar has helped turn the RSV4-based ART machine into a genuinely competitive machine, in every respect except for horsepower.

At Assen, Aleix Espargaro finished eighth, ahead of two factory Ducatis and three other satellite MotoGP machines. The bike is clearly good.

For 2014, however, Aspar must face a dilemma. With the introduction of the spec-electronics system, teams choosing to race the ART bikes will lose the current advantage those machines have, a highly-developed and very effective electronics package.

Teams running ART machines must choose, either to accept the Magneti Marelli developed software, and keep 24 liters of fuel and 12 engines, or persuade Aprilia to port their software to the spec-ECU Marelli, and try to race with 20 liters of fuel and either 5 or 9 engines, depending on whether the Grand Prix Commission decided Aprilia had already been competing in MotoGP as an MSMA member or not.

Motorcycle Art by Adam Nickel

11/05/2012 @ 12:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

There isn’t a enough motorcycle art in the two-wheeled world. I am not talking about a shortage of photos, paintings, or drawings of motorcycles; but instead, I lamenting my desire for more of these pieces that really move me — works of art that strike a chord with my emotions, and then lead my thoughts down to some longing, proposal, or recollection of good times on a motorbike.

For our own part, A&R strives to pair inspiring photographs with our articles, often showing photos that add another dimension to the story, or at least a double entendre. But alas, the seemingly requisite need for visuals to provide an editorial explanation to the words below them can make achieving both goals often a lost endeavor.

Motorcycling in the western world is about passion though (that’s not to say there isn’t passionate motorcyclists all over the world, of course), so we still strive to straddle both sides of that fence anyways. It is for this same reason that we publish intriguing concept sketches & designs, when we find them, since the reality of the still unknown is a powerful one. You do remember what an imagination is, right?

Coming across the work of Adam Nickel, my imagination was again lit-up. Publishing a few of his drawings on his blog, I was drawn to the alliterately titled pieces Dedication, Defeat, Dreams, & Decisions — which portray four events that are sure to feel familiar to any motorcyclist. Enjoy them after the jump, and be sure to stop by Nickel’s site for more pieces of moto-inspiration.

Photos: Some Classic Motorcycle Line Art Drawings

09/06/2012 @ 3:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

This next article comes to you as a direct biproduct of my Labor Day weekend. While I don’t have any children of my own (none that I know of at least), I did spend the long-weekend around what I hope will be Asphalt & Rubber‘s future generation of readers, as well as motorcycling’s future demographic of riders (their parents may take some more convincing).

Kids seem to be fascinated with motorcycles…along with trains, firetrucks, planes, submarines, etc, so when I saw these line art drawings of some classic motorcycles today on Racing Café, I thought the mothers and father who regularly read A&R wouldn’t mind having something moto-related they could print out, and have their children color, shade, or draw all over.

For those of you without kids, well…here are some cool line art drawings of motorcycles. How’s that for a win/win? If you like these drawings there is a bunch more on Flickr, and it looks like the artist who made these drawings is selling them in poster form. Cool, right?

Cardboard Yamaha R1 Model is so Awesome It Hurts

06/05/2012 @ 3:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

For some time now, Yamaha Japan has had some fun downloadable paper craft sheets that make a variety of paper art motorcycles (if you haven’t made a paper YZR-M1 yet, you are really not living life). Taking that thought a step further, Jack Chen from Australia has made a scale 2007 Yamaha YZF-R1 out of cardboard.

Roughly 60% the size of the genuine road-going version, Chen used Yamaha’s sheets as the basis for his masterpiece, and then super-sized the proportions. Skill, patience, and scissor control…you sir are a cardboard motorcycle Jedi, and we salute you. Photos after the jump.