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.

Benelli Makes a Return to the US Market

08/11/2015 @ 12:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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Absent now for more years than we can remember, the historic Italian brand of Benelli is returning to the United States. While it Is always the more brands the better, when it comes to consumer choices, this news is perhaps a mixed bag for motorcycle enthusiasts.

SSR Motorsports will be the official importer and distributer for the Qinjiang Group, bringing Benelli motorcycles and Keeway scooters to the USA. This part we like.

The caveat though is that our favorite machines from Benelli are not going to be making it stateside for now, as SSR will initially only bring the Benelli BN302 and Benelli BN600i, with MSRPs of $3,999, and $6,999 respectively.

Ordos International Circuit – China’s Forgotten Race Track

07/01/2015 @ 11:58 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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In Inner Mongolia, Ordos City is known better to the Western world as “China’s Ghost City” – a name that came about after a report by Al Jazeera and an article by Time magazine, both of which featured the newly built Chinese prefecture-level city, in all its failure.

The name comes about because of the massive construction projects taking place in Ordos, and the essentially non-existent population that lives in them.

This situation even more true in the Kangbashi New Area, where there is a goal to house one million residents (the actual current capacity is 300,000), though only 50,000 to 100,000 people claim the city as their home.

Many words have been written about Ordos, its buildings, its failures, and its future, though little has been said about the Ordos International Circuit.

Benelli Coming Back to the USA

04/17/2015 @ 12:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Benelli-Tornado

In an interview with Cycle World’s Bruno de Prato, Yan Haimei, the CEO OF Benelli, announced that the historic Italian brand will be returning to American soil.

Haimei says that Benelli will make its US return by the end of 2015, though she was not clear on what models the Chinese-owned brand would make available.

“Returning to a market as competitive and selective as the American one will require that we further refine and increase our efforts, adding more personalized models and looking back to our history,” explained Haimei to Cycle World.

China Set to Buy Pirelli for €7.1 Billion

03/23/2015 @ 1:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

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China National Chemical Corp (ChemChina) is set to buy into tire-maker Pirelli, with what is currently a €7.1 billion deal. The move would put the 143-year-old Italian company in Chinese ownership, with ChemChina being the majority and controlling shareholder.

ChemChina had planned to offer €15/share to existing Pirelli stock owners, but that number may have to be lifted after a recent rally in the stock’s price. Once the deal concludes though, it is expected that ChemChina will take Pirelli private once the buyout is complete.

The impetus for the buyout is that Pirelli’s knowledge making tires would be a huge asset to ChemChina’s current tire production, not to mention that Pirelli’s free production inventory could be used to make other ChemChina products.

The deal would also give Pirelli a strong footing in the massive Chinese tire market, a significant leg-up in Asia for the Italian brand over its other European competitors.

Race Highlights from the 2014 Macau GP

11/21/2014 @ 1:24 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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The 48th annual Macau Grand Prix was underway this past weekend, rounding out the 2014 road racing season, all the way on the other side of the world from the normal Irish and Manx roadways.

As much of a spectacle as its European counterparts, the Macau GP is set in the downtown area of the Special Administrative Region of Macu, and is proper elbow-to-elbow motorcycle racing.

A spectacle to see with the tight corners and dense cityscape, we regrettably didn’t cover the race this year due to a communication error on my part with our correspondent (my pay has been docked accordingly).

To try and at least make up for that error, we have for you the video highlights of the race, which Stuart Easton won quite comfortably, bringing his tally of Macau GP wins up to four now.

KTM Posts 26.8% Sales Increase for Q1 2014

04/17/2014 @ 3:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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KTM continues to have successful quarterly sales reports, as the Austrian company has announced that its Q1 2014 sales are up 26.8% over last year’s figures. Moving a total of 32,994 KTM-branded vehicles worldwide, the Austrian brand was assisted in that figure by Bajaj, which sold 2,748 KTM 200 Duke & KTM 390 Duke motorcycles in India.

For that bump in sales, KTM reports that quarterly revenue was up 20% over Q1 2013, for a total of €196.9 million. Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) came to a total of €14.6 million, up a whopping 254% over last year.

ADVers, Your 250cc Prayers Have Been Answered

02/26/2014 @ 11:14 am, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

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Five years at this game now, and I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of what the reaction to an article will be before it’s published.

With big-displacement ADV bikes, there are invariably those who arrive, deploring the unnecessary weight and size of the machine in question, and who adamantly believe that 450cc is all you will ever need off-road (let’s side-step the whole “two-strokes vs. four-stroke” debate on this one).

This group always seems to miss the point though: that one would not want to travel hundreds (if not the thousands of miles we did on our Broventure) on the wooden saddle of a dirt bike — I already cringe at the thought of the handlebar buzz as well.

As cumbersome as a big ADV bike is off-road compared to its dual-sport brethren, they get the job done well enough, without sacrificing too much on the macadam while loaded to the gills. This is what we call compromise

That doesn’t change the fact that these detractors are somewhat right though, it’s high time that motorcycle manufacturers built smaller, lighter, and more comfortable ADV bikes of the sub-800cc variety. Well, one finally has: China’s Zongshen has just debuted its 250cc Zongshen RX3 adventure machine, for your touring pleasure.

Were These the Luckiest Guys at the Macau GP?

11/25/2013 @ 3:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Proper road racing is a dangerous game, as the spectacle unfolds upon all of the uncertainty that comes with public roads, rather than the controlled environment of a proper closed-course racing circuit.

The competitors you find at events like the Irish road races, the Isle of Man TT, or the Macau Grand Prix are a unique breed to be doing what they do, where they do it; and if you talk to many of them, the prospect of an untimely ending is something that has already been factored into the cost of what that choose to do.

No one goes looking for an early death, of course, but the realities of the situation are ever-present. Just last year, Luis Carreira lost his life while qualifying at the Macau GP, a reminder of how dangerous the armco-laced Guia race track can be for motorcyclists.

Thankfully the 2013 Macau Grand Prix was without major incident, but we did have a close-call on the first lap between Horst Saiger and Marc Fissette. The event’s photographers captured the contact and subsequent crashes with their cameras, giving us a frame-by-frame perspective into what was thankfully just a bad day at the office for these two riders.

Watch the 2013 Macau Grand Prix Right Here

11/18/2013 @ 7:12 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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What? You mean the 2013 Macau GP wasn’t on your television, despite the fact you get like a billion channels nowadays? And one flying-lap is simply not enough to ease your motolust?

Don’t worry, if you missed the road racing action this weekend in China’s Special Administrative Region, we’ve got your back. Someone in China has broken the Great Firewall, and uploaded the race to YouTube.

The racing is fierce on this nearly four-mile long circuit, and the fairytale ending is worth the price of admission alone. Enjoy over an hour of racing coverage.

GyroCam: Take a Flying Lap Around the Macau GP Circuit

11/17/2013 @ 2:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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The Macau GP is just nuts, let’s just get that thought out and up front. A proper road race on, you know, the road…it boggles the mind to think that competitors at Macau share the circuit’s near four-mile course length with each other, unlike the Isle of Man TT’s single-rider time trial format.

This of course means riders are angling for apexes with each other, all the while there is virtually no run-off to be seen. No margin for error, triple-digit speeds, and 200+ horsepower machines — like we said, the Macau GP is just nuts.

Don’t just take our word for it, have a look for yourself with this excellent on-board footage from eighth-place finisher Didier Grams and his gyros-stablized camera. It’s epic to watch the armco go flying by while this talented German rider does his thing.