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.

A Race Weekend with the Monster Energy Graves Yamaha MotoAmerica Superbike Team

08/01/2016 @ 1:54 pm, by Andrew Kohn6 COMMENTS

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It’s 7am at Utah Motorsports Campus on Day One of a three-day MotoAmerica race weekend. Being my overly punctual self, I’ve shown up at the track too early, but it’s given me a unique opportunity to watch the teams arrive and get set up.

As I walk around the paddock, I can hear the sounds of a race weekend beginning. The quiet tones of the teams waking up and starting their day; eyes still bleary from the long drive to Utah. I could smell coffee brewing and breakfast cooking in some pits, while others were still devoid of activity.

I came around a corner and saw the unmistakable blue awning of the Monster Energy Graves Yamaha Factory Superbike Team. Yamaha invited me to spend a weekend with them to see the inner workings of a professional racing team, and all of the hard work that goes into such an undertaking.

Over the weekend, I’d have opportunities to sit down with Racing Division Manager and AMA Hall of Famer, Keith McCarty, 2015 Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier, four-time Superbike Champion Josh Hayes, and Crew Chiefs, Rick Hobbs and Jim Roach.

Since it was still early and the tent flaps were still down, I stood and watched as the paddock awakened.

Donington Park World Superbike Debrief: Twice Tested

05/31/2016 @ 10:34 am, by Kent Brockman2 COMMENTS

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Donington Park has become the personal playground of 2013 World Superbike champion Tom Sykes.

The Yorkshire rider has now claimed an incredible eight wins in a row at his home circuit, and after Sunday’s races Sykes explained how much it meant and also what it means going forward.

In this debrief, Tom Syke’s crew chief, Marcel Duinker, offers his insight into whether Sykes has an advantage at Donington Park due to his riding style.

Also of note this weekend was the addition of new riders to the WorldSBK grid, as for the majority of last year PJ Jacobsen was the sole American riding in the WorldSBK paddock, but last weekend the numbers swelled to three, with Cameron Beaubier joining the Superbike Circus.

The MotoAmerica champion aquitted himself well and we will assess what it means for MotoAmerica, having him race against some of the world’s finest.

Can Cameron Beaubier Revive the Stature of US Racing?

05/26/2016 @ 6:34 pm, by David Emmett23 COMMENTS

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When opportunity comes knocking, it is a fool who does not open the door. That is especially true when the opportunity is as unique as the chance to race at a World Championship level event.

Given the chance to shine on the world stage, you have to take that shot. So when Cameron Beaubier was asked to replace the injured Sylvain Guintoli inside the Pata Yamaha team for the Donington round of World Superbikes, I cannot imagine that he hesitated for very long before jumping at the chance.

As commendable as Beaubier’s choice is, it comes with some considerable risk. Not just to the reputation of Beaubier himself, but also to the standing of American motorcycle racing in the world.

As arguably the best motorcycle racer in MotoAmerica, the US domestic championship, his performance will be weighed on a silver scale, and used as a yardstick for the standard of racing in the US. The hopes and dreams of many a young American racer may lie fallow if Beaubier falls short.

Is it fair that the weight of responsibility should fall so heavily on Beaubier’s shoulders? Absolutely not. Yet fair or not, that is what will happen.

The reasons for this lie in the historical strength of US racing, and the important role it has had in the history of both the MotoGP and World Superbike championships.

Cameron Beaubier Racing WSBK at Donington Park

05/20/2016 @ 9:07 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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American race fans will see a familiar face during next weekend’s World Superbike races at Donington Park, as its has just been announced that MotoAmerica’s Cameron Beaubier will be ridng with the Pata Yamaha factory team.

Cameron Beaubier will be filling in for the injured Sylvain Guintoli, who fractured his ankle during the Superpole session at the Imola round – an injury that is taking longer to heal than expected.

While it’s bad news for the Guintoli, the move is a boon for Beaubier, as the weekend will likely serve as a public audition for the young American in the World Superbike paddock.

At the Yamaha Wall of Champions Induction

12/23/2015 @ 2:23 pm, by Andrew KohnComments Off on At the Yamaha Wall of Champions Induction

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What makes a champion? Is it talent? Desire? Drive? Today we had an opportunity to learn about those things from the champions themselves, as Yamaha closed out their year-long 60th Anniversary celebration by inducting twelve members into the Yamaha Wall of Champions.

The celebration occurred at Yamaha’s headquarters in Cypress, CA with much of Yamaha’s senior leadership team present. Four of the inductees came from the motocross and supercross side of the house, two were ATV champions, and six prefer the slick tires of motorcycle roadracing.

Yamaha used this ceremony as an opportunity for its employees to celebrate the holiday, to give back to the community, and to enjoy some time with factory racers, both past and present.

The mood was festive and spirits were high. A band comprised of Yamaha employees added to the festive atmosphere and a couple of food trucks ensured that everyone was well fed.

Watch Graves Yamaha Put the New R1 Through Its Paces

01/05/2015 @ 9:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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Short and simple here. MotoAmerica’s Monster Energy Graves Yamaha team got their hands on a stock 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1, and decided to give their rider Cameron Beaubier a go at it on the Chuckwalla Valley Raceway.

The bike is mostly stock, save for a few Graves improvements, and we get one of our first glimpses of the new R1 on the race track. Enjoy!

MotoGP Silly Season, The Brno Edition

08/14/2014 @ 2:31 am, by David Emmett1 COMMENT

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Riders and managers will be very busy this weekend at Brno, as negotiations continue for the open slots left on the 2015 MotoGP grid. The deals that saw Stefan Bradl leave LCR Honda for Forward Yamaha and Cal Crutchlow depart Ducati and head for LCR Honda have kicked negotiations for the remaining seats into overdrive.

Forward Yamaha still has one seat open, with Aleix Espargaro set to join Maverick Viñales at Suzuki, a deal due to be announced in September. There are two Open class Hondas available, at Gresini and Aspar, with Scott Redding moving up to take the factory RC213V, and Hiroshi Aoyama set to lose his seat.

Pramac Ducati has one seat available, now that Andrea Iannone has moved up to take Crutchlow’s place in the factory Ducati team. And Aprilia will have two seats to fill when they re-enter the class in 2015. All that means a packed paddock at Brno.

Thursday Summary at Austin: Edwards Retires, Blandspeak Returns, & The Dearth of US Racers

04/11/2014 @ 7:58 am, by David Emmett8 COMMENTS

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It was fitting – some might say inevitable – that Colin Edwards chose the Grand Prix of the Americas in his home state of Texas to announce his retirement. He had just spent the last couple of weeks at home, with his growing kids, doing dad stuff like taking them to gymnastics and baseball and motocross, then hosted a group, including current GP riders and a couple of journos, at his Bootcamp dirt track school.

He had had time to mull over his future, then talk it over with his wife Ally, and come to a decision. There wasn’t really a much better setting for the double World Superbike champion to announce he was calling it quits than sitting next to former teammate Valentino Rossi, the American he fought so memorably with in 2006, Nicky Hayden, the latest US addition to the Grand Prix paddock Josh Herrin, and with Marc Marquez, prodigy and 2013 MotoGP champion. It felt right. Sad, but right.

You can read the full story of Edwards’ retirement here, but his announcement highlighted two different problems for motorcycle racing. One local, one global, and neither particularly easy to fix.

The loss of Colin Edwards sees the MotoGP paddock, indeed all of international motorcycle racing, robbed of its most outspoken and colorful character. Edwards was a straight talker, with a colorful turn of phrase and uninhibited manner of speech.

His interviews were five parts home truths, five parts witticisms and a handful of obscenities thrown in for good measure. He livened up press conferences, racing dinners, and casual conversations alike.

With Edwards gone, motorcycle racing is a much blander, less appealing place. Though Edwards was always careful not to upset sponsors too much, he refused to toe the line and just spout the politically acceptable line handed down by his corporate paymasters. He spoke his mind, complained when he was annoyed, gave praise where it was due, and always, always entertained.

Josh Herrin Will Race Next Year in the Moto2 Championship

09/29/2013 @ 9:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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After sewing up the AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Championship, Monster Energy Graves Yamaha rider Josh Herrin is now headed to greener pastures, as the 23-year-old will make the trek across the pond, and join the Moto2 Championship for the 2014 season.

Announcing the move at the AMA awards banquet, Herrin was tight-lipped on who he would be racing for, but Asphalt & Rubber sources have confirmed that the American will be racing with Caterham Racing for the next two seasons. Replacing Herrin at Monster Energy Graves Yamaha is Cameron Beaubier, who will be Yamaha’s investment in the future, as he races alongside Josh Hayes.