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.

Husqvarna 701 Café Racer Spied

08/27/2015 @ 12:30 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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The spy photographer who sent us these photos calls this mystery motorcycle a “Husqvarna 701 café racer” which honestly is as good of a guess as any when it comes to figuring out what the Swedish brand is doing with this machine, and its 2016 motorcycle lineup.

Based off the KTM 690 Duke, as is the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto, this machine promises to have a 70hp thumper at its heart, mixed with a short seat-height, clip-on handlebars, underslung exhaust, and an attractive trellis swingarm.

To our eye, the motorcycle in question looks like Husky’s take on the KTM 690 Duke – a naked street bike that’s equally at home in the city as it is in the twisties – more than it does a café racer.

More Modern Streamliners by Mehmet Doruk Erdem

06/30/2015 @ 1:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Continuing our thoughts from last week about streamliner designs, there are a few more concepts from Mehmet Doruk Erdem that are worth sharing.

While the Turksih designer’s BMW “Apollo” streamliner is a more stylized version of the designs we are accustomed to, his Eternity, Alpha, and Spirito concepts tread more into the futuristic realm, and are our subjects for today.

Before we get to the renders themselves though, it is of note that Erdem’s concepts relate to car manufacturers, thus leading us to the idea that at some point the quest by automakers to make small and efficient vehicles will lead them eventually down a two-wheeled road.

BMW Apollo Streamliner Concept by Mehmet Doruk Erdem

06/26/2015 @ 4:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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I have had dustbin fairings on the brain lately, and yesterday’s story about golf ball dimples on motorcycle helmets isn’t helping things.

From a pure design perspective, there is something I enjoy immensely about streamlining — I think its the sleek lines and low-slung bodywork that hugs the asphalt, looking for any edge over the wind. Despite being something of motorcycling’s past, there is something futuristic about a well-designed dustbin.

That’s an interesting thought, because from a practical point-of-view, I’m rather indifferent to the whole idea.

The two-wheeled examples I’ve seen of extreme aerodynamic efficiency are not machines I would want to ride, let alone own…sans maybe the 2012 MotoCzysz E1pc — that bike was downright fun to ride, but I don’t think that was because of Michael Czysz’s aerodynamic work. I digress.

The streamlining designs that have been catching my fancy lately though are modern takes on an old-school aesthetic and method for cutting through the wind.

It doesn’t take much to find modern builders who are recreating old dustbin designs into their modern-day builds, but I’m more interested in how the aerodynamic principle of streamlining can evolve as alternate to today’s aerodynamic compromises, in the same way steampunk explores a worldly evolution that never happened.

The first concept to catch my fancy, as such, is the BMW Apollo Streamliner by Turkish designer Mehmet Doruk Erdem.

Monty by XTR Pepo

06/22/2015 @ 1:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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The “Monty” is the latest build from XTR Pepo, and as you can tell from the styling, this is the work of the same mind that brought us the Radical Ducati.

Pepo has since branched out from Ducatis though, taking on other brands, so it shouldn’t surprise us that the Monty started life as a 1978 Laverda 500 Alpino — the name being a nod to the Laverda Montjuic, which was based off the Alpino, and affectionately called “Monty” in-short by its owners.

While there are a number of Laverda parts in the build, if you look closely at XTR Pepo’s Monty, you will see the swingarm from a Suzuki Bandit, front forks from a Ducati Monster, a GSX-R600 clutch lever, and Honda CBR600RR footpegs — all in the name of continuing of XTR Pepo’s motorcycle pick-and-pull build style.

There is something to be said about the recycling of parts that normally would have little value to most riders, yet can be integral in making Pepo’s imagination come to fruition. Of course, there are also a number of XTR Pepo’s bespoke parts on Monty as well.

Ducati Scrambler Hero 01 by Holographic Hammer

06/11/2015 @ 1:53 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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We’ve been big fans of the work done by Holographic Hammer for a long, though we have only curious featured their work once before — and that’s a shame, since the French outfit is making some interesting concepts, both digitally and physically.

We’re therefore happy to share with you their latest work, the Ducati Scrambler “Hero 01”.

Holographic Hammer tells us that they wanted to keep the purpose of the Scrambler at the Hero 01’s core, namely a bike that you actually used on a day-to-day basis. It would get dirty, it would get scratched, it would tip over…therefore a bunch of intricate and expensive kit wouldn’t do.

The changes therefore are practical and affordable, sans maybe the $3,000 carbon fiber Rotobox wheels…after all though, one has to live. Right?

BMW R nineT Concepts by Iban Domigo & Xavier Vairai

05/22/2015 @ 8:01 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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We have already talked about how important, from a customizer’s perspective, the BMW R nineT is with its modular design. The tragically named, yet intelligently built motorcycle can be the foundation for a multitude of different ideas, styles, and trends.

Nothing illustrates that more than the concepts put together by Iban Domigo (of Ruleshaker) and Xavier Vairai (of Dream Machines), as they take the German café racer and apply streamline moderne and art deco lines to them.

The result is beautifully smooth machines that give the impression that motorcycle design evolved purely from a baseline rooted in the 1920’s, 1930’s, and 1940’s. There is something distinctly modern about the bikes, but the air-cooled heads and aerodynamic fairings tell another older story.

There’s something very visually pleasing here, and so we thought we would share it. More examples await you, after the jump.

A BMW Scrambler Cometh?

04/20/2015 @ 11:39 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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It appears that BMW Motorrad wants in on the retro-styled scrambler game that Ducati and Triumph are playing, and is looking to use its R nineT platform to do the job.

The scrambler model, which has already been previewed to BMW’s European dealers, would be just the first of several budget-oriented models to come from BMW, all of which would be based off the BMW R nineT.

The scrambler is expected to debut later this year with its 100hp air-cooled engine, while the other models, namely a café racer model, will come in 2016.

“Scrambler Café Racer” Ducati Scrambler by Mr. Martini

01/29/2015 @ 5:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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The third, and last, Ducati Scrambler concept from the Verona Motor Bike Expo, the “Scrambler Café Racer” by Mr. Martini is exactly what the name implies: a cafe racer styled scrambler motorcycle.

Mr. Martini appropriately added a high-mount exhaust to his “scrambler” and retained the Scrambler’s Pirelli knobby tires. The addition of a cafe racer fairing though is an interesting choice, and leaves this concept straddling the two staples of hipster motorbiking in the custom scene.

We’ll let you decided whether this doubles the “post-authentic” nature of the Scrambler, or if the work is just an overload of the self-ironic.

Husqvarna 401 Concepts Will Be 2017 Production Models

01/12/2015 @ 2:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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One of the more intriguing things to come out of the 2014 EICMA motorcycle show in Milan were Husqvarna’s two “401” concepts, the Vitpilen and Svartpilen. The café-styled bikes are based off the KTM 390 Duke platform, though you wouldn’t know it from looking at them.

Husqvarna said at EICMA that if there was sufficient interest, the Vitpilen and Svartpilen could go into production. With an overwhelming critical response from the press and fans, it should come no surprise then that our friends at Bike.se are reporting that Husqvarna intends to make the small-displacement machines a part of its 2017 model lineup.

2015 Yamaha XJR1300 Racer — Japan’s Cafe Racer

09/29/2014 @ 10:09 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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Yamaha has debuted three machines ahead of the INTERMOT show, and the first two birds of the same feather: the Yamaha XJR1300 and Yamaha XJR1300 Racer. Based around Yamaha’s 1,300cc air-cooled inline-four engine (98hp / 80 lbs•ft), the XJR1300 and XJR1300 Racer take on the lines of the classic “naked bike” aesthetic — building upon Yamaha’s previous offering.

Yamaha says that it has worked closely with motorcycle customizers to update the 2015 Yamaha XJR1300, and the result is an addition to its “Sport Heritage” line, with a decidedly sporty twist coming from the 2015 Yamaha XJR1300 Racer, which has carbon fiber bodywork and clip-on handlebars.