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.

Chip Yates to Defend Electric Motorcycle Record at Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with Lightning Motorcycles

04/15/2013 @ 5:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Chip-Yates-Pikes-Peak-electric-superbike

As the kids in the arcade used to say, it’s on like Donkey Kong. Upon hearing the news that Greg Tracy and Amarok Racing would be making an appearance at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Chip Yates has set aside his tinkering with electric airplanes for the time being, and come out of two-wheeled retirement to defend his title.

Trading in the world’s fastest pizza delivery bike for the Richard Hatfield’s Flying Banana (there really is no good way to write that, sorry Richard), Yates will compete on one of Lightning Motorcycle’s electric superbikes at the 91st running of the Race to the Clouds.

So You Want to Know How to Build a Front Wheel Regenerative Braking System on a Motorcycle?

04/20/2012 @ 12:23 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Eighteen months ago, Chip Yates filed for a patent on his front-end KERS design for motorcycles, which means that today the United States Patent and Trademarks Office (USPTO) can disclose Yates’s patent application to the public. Detailing the only front-wheel regenerative-braking system for motorcycles that we know to exist, the design built by Yates allows a motorcycle to scavenge power from the braking force applied to the front wheel of a motorcycle, and store it in an electric battery system.

Current regenerative-braking systems on the market, like the ones that help power the 2012 Zero S that we tested just a few months ago, use regenerative-braking off the rear wheel, and are more prone to locking the rear tire up if too much force is applied to the system. With 70% or more of a bike’s potential braking force coming from the front wheel, a front-end KERS system has a substantially greater ability to put power back into an electric motorcycle’s battery pack, thus either increasing the range of an electric motorcycle or allowing more electric power to be used over the same distance.

Chip Yates Retires After Setting Four FIM/AMA Land Speed Records at Bonneville

09/01/2011 @ 2:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

We got a quick message from Chip Yates this afternoon, saying that the SWIGZ Racing team just completed setting four FIM/AMA land speed records at the BUB Speed Trials currently being held at the Bonneville salt flats. Getting off to a rocky start after crashing through a mile-marker pylon, Yates went on to salvage the outing, setting his first FIM/AMA record on Tuesday with a 196.421 mph LSR in the “over 300kg class” (the team also hit a 200.7 mph speed trap velocity at BUB).

Yates followed-up that LSR over the next two days, with a second record: 181.439 mph in the “over 300kg naked” fairing-less class, a third record: 173.574 mph in the “150-300kg” class, and lastly a fourth FIM/AMA record: 187.143 mph in the “150-300kg naked” class. Rumors of a fifth record for being the certified fastest pizza delivery bike have not been confirmed, and like these other four FIM/AMA records, will have to be certified by the respective regulatory bodies before becoming truly official.

Chip Yates’s Track Notes from Pikes Peak

06/30/2011 @ 5:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

The course for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is 12.42 miles long, includes 156 turns, and goes from 9,390 ft at the starting line to 14,110 feet at the finish. Learning the course can take years, mastering it even longer, and considering that many of the higher elevation turns have sheer drop-offs with no guard rails, mistakes are not an option. To keep all of the turns straight, and to come up to speed as quickly as possible for his rookie year on Pikes Peak, Chip Yates constructed a crib sheet of notes on Pikes Peak.

With the actual notes sheet about four feet long and two feet wide, Chip’s track notes are more like conquistador’s map to the summit, and from what he tells us…he can redraw the whole thing from scratch, blind-folded, while jumping out of an airplane with not parachute (well, maybe he can just draw and annotate the whole thing from scratch). Check out Chip’s notes on racing to the clouds after the jump, and click the photo for the life-size version that aided him in his double-record run.

On-Board Chip Yates’s Electric Superbike at Pikes Peak

06/28/2011 @ 4:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Chip Yates claimed two records at the 89th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb: the most powerful motorcycle ever to race on the mountain, with 241hp, and the fastest electric motorcycle ever to finish the 12.42 mile climb and its 156 turns. Finishing with a time of 12:50.094, Yates not only smashed the previous electric motorcycle record by over four minutes, but also raced to the top of Pikes Peak with a very respectable time on a motorcycle, even for a rookie.

In the video you can see how much time Chip loses in the dirt section (he was officially the 97th fastest out of 112 racers in that section), though on the paved sections showed true speed (9th fastest overall on the first section of asphalt). With Pikes Peak to be completely paved for its 90th running in 2012, Yates and his crew will have a leg-up on the competition for further dropping the mountain’s fastest pace, and for showing that electrics can compete, and even best, their internal combustion engine counterparts. Click pas the jump to see Chip’s record run on the SWIGZ.com Electric Superbike.

PPIHC: Chip Yates Races the Most Powerful Motorcycle Ever on Pikes Peak – Sets New Record for Electric Motorcycles

06/27/2011 @ 9:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Chip Yates and the SWIGZ.com crew were on hand at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this past week, racing the team’s 240+ hp electric motorcycle. An event that highlights the advantages of electrics over internal combustion engines, Pikes Peak saw not only the most powerful motorcycle ever to race its 156 turns, but also saw its electric motorcycle record time fall under Chip’s throttle hand. Blowing the previous record of 16:55.849 set by John Scollon out of the water, Yates posted a respectable under time of 12:50.094, which would put him well above the median of the super-fast Supermoto 450 class, and fourth in the heavyweight 1205cc class.

Pleased with his result, Yates was hindered by the dirt section and nearly 600 lbs motorcycle. Still, the up-beat competitor views the 89th annual hill climb as paying his dues for when Pikes Peak becomes fully-paved for its 90th running in 2012. “I felt bad for the fans that watched me through the dirt section. They saw an electric superbike going 1 mph around the hairpins in the dirt,” admitted Yates to A&R. “After the dirt section though, it’s called Glen Cove, it goes paved again, and there’s some tight twisties were I can kind of hold my own.”

Video: Chip Yates Practices for Pikes Peak

06/14/2011 @ 9:11 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

In just a week’s time, Chip Yates and the SWIGZ.com Pro Racing crew will be headed out to Pikes Peak to compete in the famous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC). At 14,110 feet tall, and boasting over 156 turns, Pikes Peak features some of the scariest turns on the planet, no better exemplified than with the “Bottomless Pit” corner which boasts a 3,000 foot sheer drop down the mountain. Yates will of course be racing his 240hp electric motorcycle up the hill climb course, and will have a distinct advantage over his ICE competitors, as the extreme altitude won’t affect the fastest electric pizza delivery bike in the slightest.

We’re really excited here at Asphalt & Rubber for Chip’s participation in the 2011 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, not only because we like Chip’s mantra of taking ICE bikes head on with his SWIGZ.com racing machine, but also because we think the PPIHC is the ideal event to showcase how electric motorcycles have actual advantages over internal combustion engines. Starting at roughly 9,400 feet, ICE bikes will be already down on power at the start of the race, and will only continue to lose power as their engines struggle to breath on the 12.5 mile race to the clouds (electric bikes of course aren’t meaningfully affected by the thinning air at altitude).

Caption this Photo: Learning Process

04/21/2011 @ 4:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Normally in our “Caption this Photo” series we just fire up a provoking picture, drop-in a photo credit, and let you the readers haver your way with it in the comments section; but for today’s photo, I thought our selection deserved a little background story, since not everyone is familiar with what Chip Yates and the SWIGZ.com Pro Racing team has been up to this past year.

Having a day of testing in the desert outside of Victorville, California, the SWIGZ crew have been practicing with Larry Kleinschmidt to hone Chip’s dirt-riding skills, as the team is set to compete in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb later this year. Yates is an accomplished road racer, but his dirt racing experience stems from four-wheeled endeavors, not two — hence the coaching from Kleinschmidt to help tackle the 2.6 miles of dirt road that still remain on the Pikes Peak course.

Chip Yates Hits 190.6 MPH at the Mojave Mile Shootout

04/11/2011 @ 2:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Chip Yates and his crew might be SOL for the electric motorcycle racing season, after both the FIM and TTXGP lowered their maximum allowable weights for electric race motorcycle, but that hasn’t stopped the Southern Californian engineer from taking on the gasoline-powered bikes on their own turf. Already showing that his SWIGZ.com Pro Racing Electric Superbike can compete with the WERA racers in the Heavyweight Twins class, Yates was out at the Mojave Mile this weekend seeing what sort of top speeds his electric motorcycle could produce. The answer to that question is quite succinct: 190.6 MPH.

While the team is laying claim to the “Fastest Electric Motorcycle in the World” title, the distinction comes with a couple caveats as the Mojave Mile is a single-run event, meaning there’s no return-run the opposite direction that would meet the requirements for a land speed record (the official LSR for an electric motorcycle is 173.388 MPH). Additionally, previous top speed passes from other electric motorcycle makers have been conducted on salt flats, which typically suck 10% off the top speed compared to those run on asphalt. Still as Yates pointed out to us, the purpose of the entry was to prove his technology and see what bike would do, simply stating “it was a really fun weekend event” in his eyes.

Gas vs. Electric: Chip Yates Takes Podium Finishes in WERA Heavyweight Twins at Fontana [UPDATED]

01/09/2011 @ 5:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Race results from both races, video of the first race, and a photo from SWIGZ Racing.

Reports are coming in from Fontana (AutoClub Speedway if you will) this evening, where Chip Yates the SWIGZ Racing team were competing against the gasoline-powered liter bike v-twins in the WERA Heavyweight Twins Superbike & Superstock race classes earlier today. Hitting at one point 158mph on the banked walls of Fontana, Yates finished an impressive 2nd place in the WERA Heavyweight Twins Superstock class, and had another podium finish (3rd place) in the WERA Heavyweight Twins Superbike class, racing against KTM RC8 and Ducati 1198 Superbikes.