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.

Caution: Radioactive Material

03/02/2017 @ 10:02 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

The warning label for radioactive substances (technically, the warning label for ionizing radiation) was born in 1946, at the UC Berkeley Radiation Laboratory, and the now iconic symbol began life a bit different from how we know it today, originally colored with a very hip magenta "trefoil" on a blue background.

The shape of the three-bladed trefoil is quite specific and purposeful - drawn with a central circle of radius R, an internal radius of 1.5R, and an external radius of 5R for the blades, which are separated from each other by 60° of empty space.

It's shape is tightly defined because it is to noticeably and clearly warn you against the dangers of ionizing radiation, which at their very worst would cook you instantly like an egg, or in less worse conditions, still potentially cause life-changing mutations to your cells and DNA.

The yellow and black trefoil is supposed to be a literal warning (the IAEA and ISO adopted this new coloring in 2007) of course, but labeling something radioactive carries with it a metaphorical weight as well. And, it too demands a cautious interaction from the user.

In the motorcycle industry, we have our fair share of radioactive elements, though few come with a warning label. On Episode 45 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast, you may have heard me refer to a motorcycle company as being radioactive. I thought it was worth spending some words on what that means in that context.

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EBR Motorcycles Shutting Down, Yet Again

01/26/2017 @ 10:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler35 COMMENTS

EBR Motorcycles is closing its doors…again. Yes, you heard that right. America’s superbike brand will be winding down its production operations, starting next week, and is looking for a strategic investor to takeover the brand.

Liquid Asset Partners (LAP) attributes its decision to shutdown EBR Motorcycles to the company’s difficulty to secure new dealerships, and thus increase sales. As a result, LAP says that its production volume for 2016 and 2017 was below expectations.

The company then finishes its explanation for closing EBR Motorcycles with the following line: “the combination of slow sales and industry announcements of other major OEM brands closing or cutting production only magnified the challenges faced by EBR.”

Whether you believe that line of reasoning or not, the result is the same, Erik Buell’s motorcycle brand once again has a dim future.

Bottpower BOTT XR1R – The Street Tracker You Deserve

07/07/2016 @ 2:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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If you missed our teaser on the Bottpower BOTT XR1R, then you are in for a real treat, as the race version Spanish firm’s street tracker is a very fetching machine.

The Bottpower BOTT XR1R is the bike that Harley-Davidson should be building right now, and it’s the kind of machine that actually would have benefitted from Buell’s “innovations” for street bikes.

With 150hp and a target weight of 150kg, the BOTT XR1R should be plenty of fun on tight circuits, but still powerful enough for longer courses.

And then of course, once you’re done flogging the XR1R for the day, you will still want to spend a couple hours drooling over its titanium frame, carbon fiber bodyworks, and modern-day electronics.

We have always been a fan of Bottpower’s work, but it still feels strange to say that the Spanish builder has created the bike that America has been dreaming of for the past decade or more.

The Bottpower BOTT XR1R Is Coming to a Track Near You

07/05/2016 @ 11:43 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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We’ve been following the guys at Bottpower for quite a while now, with their latest efforts revolving around the Bott XR1 – an intriguing street bike concept that uses a Buell “Thunderstorm” v-twin engine.

They project lead to the Bottpower XC1, a café racer variant of the street bike, and today we are going to give you a preview about Bottpower’s third iteration, the BOTT XR1R.

A torquey track bike, for those who want something a little different. For right now, the Bottpower BOTT XR1R is a testing platform for the Spanish outfit, serving as a the proving grounds for new bike components and systems.

As such, the BOTT XR1R features a titanium frame and a full suite of racing electronics, which includes traction control, launch control, three selectable engine maps, and data acquisition. Bottpower’s aim with the BOTT XR1R is to achieve a 1:1 power-to-weight ratio, with a target of 150hp and 150kg.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast – Episode 20 – Fans or Fanatics?

04/25/2016 @ 12:32 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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Episode 20 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast builds off the previous episode, which covered in-depth the mythos that surrounds Erik Buell, Buell Motorcycles, and Erik Buell Racing. Exploring the differences between fans and fanatics, as they exist in the motorcycling realm, we move from Buell, to other manufacturers with cult followings, before finally landing on MotoGP.

Fresh from the MotoGP round in Austin, we talk about the rise of Rossi fans as a tyrannical force in Grand Prix racing, and how that has permeated through the paddock in various forms. Naturally, a few rabbit holes of side-discussion occur along the way, per usual.

Before all that though, we talk about the Motus Motorcycles project, as I rode the American-built MST and MSTR sport-tourers while in Texas. A very unique motorcycle, the true American machine is a good segue into the topic at hand. We think you will enjoy it.

As always, you can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Enjoy the show!

Two Enthusiasts Podcast – Episode 19 – Debunking Buell

04/08/2016 @ 8:00 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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First of all, apologies for how long it has taken us to get this episode of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast out to you. There are a few reasons why this particular show took so long to get out on the feed, but the biggest reason is that I have been slowly working through a massive backlog of stories. So, apologies for that.

That being said, Quentin and I are very stoked to bring you our third attempt at tackling the Buell/EBR story on the podcast. As such, Episode 19 covers Buell’s divestiture from Harley-Davidson, Erik Buell Racing’s launch from those ashes, and EBR’s very convoluted and complicated receivership process.

We also talk at great length about Quentin’s experience with the racing side of Buell and EBR, as well as my familiarity with EBR’s business operations and products. Whether your a fan of Erik Buell or not, we think you will find the show very interesting.

As always, you can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Enjoy the show!

Erik Buell Racing Sold at Third Auction, Will Live On Again

01/14/2016 @ 2:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler48 COMMENTS

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Don’t believe everything you read on the internet today. Much like the spirit of its riders, Erik Buell Racing refuses to go quietly into that good night. After two failed receivership auctions, the brand has now been acquired for $2.05 million via a third auction held Wednesday, and seems set for another revival.

The winning party of this latest auction is the same winner from the second auction, Liquid Asset Partners – the same company that liquidated Buell Motorcycles when it was shutdown by Harley-Davidson, which makes for some interesting trivia.

Walworth County Circuit Judge Phillip Koss approved the winning bid today, despite a similar bid from Bruce Belfer, the first auction winner. According to a report by the EBR receiver, Belfer’s bid did not conform to the terms of the auction, and thus was not recommended to the court.

Ronin – 47 American Street Bikes Like No Other

10/01/2014 @ 1:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

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You will have to go back almost five years to remember Magpul’s Ronin motorcycle concept. Based off the Buell 1125R chassis and engine, the Magpul Ronin was very refreshing and different approach to an American street bike.

Fast-forward to the present, and Ronin Motor Works (the company spun out of Magpul to make the Ronin motorcycle) is ready to sell its first 12 units of the avant-garde bike.

Key items on the Ronin include a linkage fork design, with a Penske shock handling the bumps traveling up the aluminum girders. Our favorite feature, the radiator has been place high up, near the handlebars, and features an integrated headlight design.

Bottpower’s BOTT XC1 Cafe Racer Rendered

03/06/2014 @ 4:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

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Earlier this year, we announced to you that Bottpower was working on a café racer version of its XR1 street-tracker motorcycle. Using a Buell XB as a donor bike, the Bottpower XC1 Cafe Racer kit transforms the big-displacement American twin into something a little bit more hipster.

Though we are not big on the café racer scene (you wouldn’t know it, looking at our posts lately though) we have been enchanted with the work done by Bottpower on this project so far. We imagine the finished result will be coming forth shortly; until then though, we’ll just have to drool over these nearly finalized renders.

Buell Firebolt XB12R Concept by Holographic Hammer

12/30/2013 @ 4:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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It’s funny that we should come across Holographic Hammer’s concept renderings of a reworked Buell Firebolt XB12R at the end of the year, because the work is perhaps the most intriguing we have seen in 2013.

More of cult classic than big hit, the Buell Firebolt XB12R was never honestly considered an appealing machine in terms of design and function, though the two-wheeler has found a special place in the hearts of Buellisti around the world.

Featuring the typical gimmicks innovations of Erik Buell’s tenure at Harley-Davidson, things like the Firebolt’s in-frame fuel tank and underslung exhaust create some interesting freedoms for designers to work with visually.

While many Buell customs have come across our desk, we think the work done by Holographic Hammer, the work of love by BMW Motorrad designer Sylvain Berneron, is the only one to really embrace the opportunity that Buell’s create.