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.

Brutus, This Is What Half an ATV Looks Like

11/15/2012 @ 3:43 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

You know that scene in Crocodile Dundee where Mick says, “that’s not a knife, this is a knife!” and whips out a big-ass bowie blade? That’s the inner-dialogue Alessandro Tartarini (of modern Lambretta fame) must have had as he designed the simply named “Brutus” motorcycle concept. Likened to being half an ATV, the main calling in life for the Brutus is to go where no other motorcycle dare dream.

Helping it achieve that lofty goal, the Brutus has a massive 750cc water-cooled single-cylinder motor, which is rated at around 50hp, and is paired with a CVT transmission. 14″ wheels are mated to Maxxis Big Horn tires, which give the two-wheeler that Bigfoot look, though we were surprised to learn that the Brutus is only one-wheel drive.

Expected to debut a production model later this year, with public availability in Spring 2013, the Brutus will come with a bevy of options, including sidecar, ski, and fire-fighting configurations. Massively over built, the Brutus is completely ridiculous in almost every way, yet the idea of monster-trucking our way through the most rugged terrain seems oddly appealing. Hrmmm…

Video: KTM Freeride E in Action

06/18/2012 @ 9:17 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

The KTM Freeride E is quite the buzz in the electric world, as it is the first proper electric motorcycle to be announced by an OEM. As it did with its street-bike debut with the RC8, KTM is set to test the market’s waters first with a limited production run of 100 units in 2012, likely to pre-select KTM owners/dealers. Assuming a favorable review, the Austrian brand would then presumably ramp-up production of its €10,000 electric dirt bike.

With 30hp peak & 10hp continuous, the KTM Freeride E boasts four-stroke 125cc specs, albeit on the heavy side with a 204 lbs curb weight. Running time is said to have a 20 minute ride time in the hands of a professional, the KTM Freeride E is rated to last 45 minutes in the hands of an amateur…whatever that means. While the world at large will likely have to wait another year before it can truly asses the KTM Freeride E, we do have at least our first glimpse in the bike’s performance.

BRD RedShift MX – Your Electric Lites-Class Race Bike

03/15/2012 @ 1:44 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

First breaking cover at the Indy Dealer Expo, BRD Motorcycles has finally gotten the BRD RedShift MX into the studio for some glamor shots, and it is showing off its “goooollllddddd” paint scheme very nicely indeed. The off-road variant to the BRD RedShift SM prototype that we tested several months ago, the RedShift MX is the San Francisco company’s electric equivalent to a 250cc lites-class off-roader. Promising a super-linear 40+ hp on tap, the model currently has 5.2 kWh of battery on-board, which should be good for two hours of mixed use.

Tipping the scales at 270 lbs in street trim, the BRD RedShift MX is a paltry 250 lbs in racing form, which makes for a very competitive power-to-weight ratio in this category of dirt bike. Priced at $14,995, this electric dirt bike is still an expensive proposition (even with its WP suspension), though its competitive race performance, low-cost of use, and super-smooth electric drive train helps make it a more attractive package for more serious riders. Enjoy the high-resolution photos after the jump.

SX Riding Tips, Slow-Mo Footage, & James “Bubba” Stewart

01/06/2012 @ 12:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

We should probably just go ahead change our name to Dirt & Rubber already, as A&R is on an off-road kick today. We’ve shown our fair share of slow-motion MotoGP videos from our friends at Red Bull, and today the brand that gives you wings has a treat for you dirt bike enthusiasts. Incorporating some great dirt track shots with James “Bubba” Stewart talking about the basic theories of motorcross racing, Red Bull has a nice little promo video here for Bubba and the Yamaha squad. Learning patented tips like “turn the bike like no other and get it done,” and “the Bubba scrub” we expect our street-leaning selves to be riding at JS7‘s level in no time at all. Video goodness after the jump, and be sure to note the slow-mo exhaust puffs at the 1:50 time marker.

Dovizioso Breaks His Collarbone During Training Accident

01/05/2012 @ 4:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Staying fit during the off-season is critical for any serious motorcycle racer. At the pinnacle of the sport, the off-season raises the stakes even higher as MotoGP riders are differentiated only by minute ticks on a very exacting scale of talent. Keeping one’s body and mind ready for battle is only part of the equation though, and we often see the top riders cross-training with a variety of sports, most notably off-road riding. Of course, with the added pressure to continue training hard in the off-season, there is bound to be accidents and injuries.

Nicky Hayden was caught out last week, as the American broke his shoulder and ribs during an indoor flat-tracking training accident. And this week, the off-season has claimed Monster Tech 3 rider Andrea Dovizioso, as the Italian broke his collarbone while training on his dirt bike. Though the full extent of Dovi’s injuries are not yet known (Tech 3 was between press officers the last we heard), it is expected that the Yamaha rider will be fit enough for MotoGP’s second off-season test January 31st at Sepang.

KTM Freeride E – OEMs Enter the Electric Motorcycle Fray

11/08/2011 @ 2:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

The writing has been on the wall for sometime now, as the entire electric motorcycle community has been waiting for a major OEM to debut its own electric motorcycle. Answering that call, KTM unveiled at EICMA today the new 2012 KTM Freeride E. Saying that as the leading off-road motorcycle manufacturer (KTM accounts for about 50% of the worldwide dirt bike market), the Austrian motorcycle manufacturer could not afford to sit idly by while other companies innovated in its space.

Built along the Freeride’s ride anywhere mantra, the KTM Freeride E comes with 2.1kWh of battery power on-board, and is powered by a permanent magnet synchronous motor. With a rated output of 10hp, KTM says the electric motor is good for 30hp peak, with a maximum of 300 Volts going through the system. Helped by its small battery size, the Freeride E weighs only 204 lbs and can be recharged off a 220V socket in 90 minutes. As for range, KTM has an interesting rating system for the electric Freeride, quoting a 20 minute ride time in the hands of a professional, while the KTM Freeride E is rated to last 45 minutes in the hands of an amateur.

Husqvarna Debuts Off-Road Anti-Lock Braking System

11/04/2011 @ 7:13 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Taking the “anti-lock brakes don’t work off-road” mentality head-on, Husqvarna has debuted an anti-lock braking system (ABS) package designed specifically for off-road use. Derived from BMW’s extensive experience with the technology (BMW Motorrad was the first OEM to fit ABS to a production motorcycle), Husqvarna has taken the lessons learned by its German parent company, specifically BMW’s Race ABS from the S1000RR superbike, and adapted the technology for its dirt models for off-road racing.

Continuing to prove our “electronics are the new horsepower” hypothesis and fitting the flagship Husqvarna TE 449 with the new off-road ABS technology, Husqvarna hopes to make a statement not only about the use of ABS in off-street conditions, but is taking things a step further by putting anti-lock brakes on a race-bred dirt bike. The key to the off-road ABS technology from Husqvarna is two-fold. First, Husqvarna’s dual-channel ABS still allows for the rear tire to be locked-up while under heavy braking (this can also be achieved on the S1000RR’s ABS package under the “slick” mode setting). Second, the system, like its road-going counterpart, is extremely light, and only adds 1.5kg (3.3 lbs) of weight to the bike.

KTM Freeride Coming 2012 – Cheaper than €10,000

07/08/2011 @ 2:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

As we reported back in March, KTM’s electric dirt bike is coming closer and closer to being ready for consumers, and now information has come out that it will be a 2012 model from the Austrian company. This information is in-line with a November EICMA debut that we’ve been hearing, but perhaps the most tantalizing news we’ve heard is the bike’s sub-€10,000 price tag in the EU. This would put the KTM Freeride (oh man, we hope that name gets changed) directly in competition with Swiss electric dirt bike manufacturer Quantya and American electric motorcycle manufacturer Zero Motorcycles, both of whom are in the sub-€10,000 category with their dirt bike offerings.

Kiska Helps Decorate the 2012 KTM SX Bikes

05/31/2011 @ 3:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Out of all of the industrial design firms that dabble in the motorcycle industry, it has to be the angularly inclined folks at Kiska who we admire the most. Responsible for more than their fair share of “Ready to Race” motorcycles and cars, the Austrian firm has brought us favorites like the KTM RC8 Superbike, KTM Crossbow track car, and the recently debuted KTM 125 Duke street bike.

Helping KTM spruce up its 2012 line of dirt machines, we’re digging the chrome on white color scheme…and we’re not even dirt bike guys. To describe the work in the words of Paris Hilton: “that’s hot” and you can check out more of the 2012 after the jump.

Brammo Engage – Electric MX & Supermoto from Ashland

05/04/2011 @ 4:02 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

A part of Brammo’s announcement that it will be entering the electric dirt bike scene, the Brammo Engage is the cornerstone of the Ashland, Oregon company’s off-road line. Featuring the S.M.R.E. designed Integrated Electronic Transmission (IET), Brammo is not only getting into the dirt bike and supermoto scene with the Engage (going squarely after players like Zero and Quantya), but is raising the ante by offering a six-speed transmission specifically designed for electric motors.

Details and specifics are still coming together about the Brammo Engage, and even the photos given to the press are of pre-production machines that are based-off S.M.R.E. prototypes. However, early speculation is that the IET system will also feature regenerative braking, another first for the Oregonian company. Photos, video, and more after the jump.