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.

Triumph Recalls Multiple Models for Faulty ECUs

12/09/2014 @ 12:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Triumph is recalling a number of its models for faulty engine control units (ECUs), which may improperly activate the bikes’ fuel injectors.

The recall affects the 2014 and 2015 model year Triumph Thunderbird, Thunderbird ABS, Tiger 800,Tiger 800 ABS, Thruxton, and Bonneville motorcycles manufactured between February 6, 2014 and August 7, 2014.

It’s not clear how many total motorcycles this recall affects, as Triumph lists the number currently as “0” with NHTSA, but given the number of models involved and the wide timeframe given on the production dates, we would expect a massive number of motorcycles to be involved.

Motus Sets Two Land Speed Records at Bonneville

10/03/2014 @ 4:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

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This has not been a good year for speed freaks looking to set land speed records at Bonneville, as the Utah course has been subject to a series of storms, which have either left the salt flats flooded, or the salt conditions unsuitable for record-smashing.

That didn’t seem to stop Motus Motorcycles at the AMA-sanctioned 2014 Bonneville Speed Trials event, as the upstart motorcycle company walked away with two records, in the 1650cc P-PP  (165.81 mph) and (168.69 mph) 1650cc P-PG classes –set respectively by Motus founders Lee Conn and Brian Case.

Bonneville: Microclimate of the Salts Video

09/12/2014 @ 5:19 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Bonneville: Microclimate of the Salts Video

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It’s been a tough season on the Bonneville Salt Flats, as the weather has played havoc on the narrow window that land-speed record pursuers have to operate. One of the groups looking to make history is Triumph, which is looking to break the 400 mph mark on a motorcycle.

Campaigning the Triumph Castrol Rocket, with Jason DiSalvo at the helm, Triumph hoped to be speeding down the salt these past few weeks, but instead the team has been rained out of competition thus far.

There are still opportunities remaining this year for the Triumph Castrol Rocket squad, the next being the rescheduled Mike Cook’s Bonneville Shootout, which will take place on October 5th thru 10th, where the streamliners two Triumph Rocket III engines will roar again search for the outright two-wheeled record.

Bonneville Speed Week Cancelled on Account of Rain

08/11/2014 @ 4:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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It’s that time of year again, when the devote followers of velocity congregate at the alter of speed, and make their pilgrimage to the Bonneville Salt Flats. For the Southern California Timing Association though, this month’s Bonneville Speed Week was a wash, literally.

Getting heavy rain in the Salt Lake City area, the Bonneville Salt Flat course is under water this week, unfortunately causing the SCTA to cancel Speed Week, and what would have been the 100th anniversary of the first land speed record at the iconic venue.

Video: Setting a Land Speed Record on a Stock CBR600RR

01/06/2014 @ 1:15 pm, by Bryan Delohery5 COMMENTS

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For SpeedWeek 2013, Shunji Yokokawa  set out on a journey to set a land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats, but what he had not anticipated were the challenges that lay ahead.

Yokokawa had always dreamed of riding on the salt flats, but it was not until 2013 as Assistant Chief Engineer for Honda Japan, that he was afforded the opportunity to fulfill his dream, which he describes as “gliding” across the flats.

Assisted by a 2-man crew, Yokokawa traveled to Utah with a bone-stock 2013 Honda CBR600RR in hopes of adding yet another record to one of the many that Honda holds. The CBR was set up specifically with one goal in mind: to break a land speed record with a production class motorcycle, but as Yokokawa and his team wuold find out, there is a reason why so many fail.

Video: An Honest Review of the Triumph Bonneville

12/11/2013 @ 12:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler39 COMMENTS

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Is there truth in motorcycle reviews? That seems to be a debate that crops up time and time again, as it is hard to believe the journalistic veracity of publications that are entirely dependent on the dollars that flow forth from the major motorcycle OEMs. The conflicts of interest are high, the deadlines are tight, and there is of course the small matter of people having a difference of opinions, which all leads to public mistrust.

So it is refreshing when we see a frank motorcycle review that is free from the entanglements of typical motorcycle assessments — you know, a real honest impression of how a motorcycle is built in the factory and rides on the open road.

With a review as honest as this about the Triumph Bonneville, our protagonist has almost assured himself of a short career in motorcycle journalism. Still, it certainly provides some worthwhile entertainment, as long as you are not easily offended. It is possibly not safe for work as well — not that you read A&R from the confines of your office chair of course.

“World’s Fastest” – Triumph’s 2013 Highlight Reel

10/25/2013 @ 2:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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It has been a busy year for Triumph, and the British marque wants you to know it. Thankfully, they have recapped everything into an awesome three-minute video. From Daytona to Bonneville, from flat track to road racing, and a little stunting sprinkled in for good measure, there are some good audio/video vibes waiting for you after the jump. Happy Friday!

“Castrol Rocket” Makes a Bid on the 400 MPH Mark

08/30/2013 @ 1:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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With only minor modification, most new liter-bikes have no trouble reaching 200 mph, provided that you have a track long enough in front of you (don’t be an idiot and try to go that fast on the street). However, it is north of 200 mph where things start to get difficult. As we saw with the untimely passing of Bill Warner, reaching the 300 mph mark on a motorcycle is a serious matter, and it doesn’t take much for things to go horribly wrong.

It goes without saying then that Triumph and Jason DiSalvo’s attempt at 400 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats is a serious endeavor. Piloting the carbon/kevlar clad the Hot Rod Conspiracy/Carpenter Racing Castrol Rocket, DiSalvo will have two turbocharged Triumph Rocket III engines, good for a combined 1,000+ hp and 500 lbs•ft of torque when burning methanol, hurling him down the land speed record course on two wheels.

The self-proclaimed most advanced streamliner on the salt, the Castrol Rocket was built not only to break the outright AMA & FIM motorcycle land speed records of 376.156 mph (set in 2010 by Rocky Robinson on the Ack Attack streamliner), but the team also wants to go all the way past the 400 mph barrier. It’s a huge undertaking, and also a breathlessly beautiful machine. Check it out after the jump.

Video: Indian Motorcycle – The Spirit of Munro

07/09/2013 @ 5:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Indian Spirit of Munro, Daytona, FL, March 2013

Indian’s war machine continues to gain momentum, and the challenger to Harley-Davidson’s throne continues to impress. A new video comes our way, this time building on the heritage of the American brand through Burt Munro. One of just many stories around the historic marques, it probably helps that Burt Munro’s name was vaulted into the public consciousness by Hollywood’s The World’s Fastest Indian.

Building an all-metal tribute to Munro’s streamliner, we can find a few flaws that gnaw away at us as we watch this otherwise perfect video campaign (salt veterans know what we’re talking about). Still, Indian is bringing a good fight to Harley-Davidson’s doorstop with marketing promos like these. If you are in the legacy cruiser market, you might have a tougher decisions to make than usual when picking a favorite ride.

Video: Speed Week at Bonneville 2012

03/15/2013 @ 10:26 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Video: Speed Week at Bonneville 2012

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Not that California has any real seasons to speak of, but spring has definitely arrived this week in San Francisco, with sun-filled days and warm nights again on the region’s menu. That means our brief winter hibernation from motorcycling  is about to end, as the revving motors of World Superbike at Phillip Island, AMA Pro Road Racing at Daytona, and MotoGP at Doha wake us from our slumber.

For Asphalt & Rubber, our events calendar for 2013 is marked full of great two-wheel escapades that we plan to attend, but at the top of the list, Speed Week at Bonneville ranks highest. Helping us get in the mood for man’s toil against the salt is this great video put together with scenes from last year’s running. Happy Friday people. Get out and ride.