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.

Ducati 959 Panigale Spotted – Not Much Has Changed

10/05/2015 @ 7:56 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

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Ducati was all the talk of last week, after its Ducati 959 Panigale and Ducati Hypermotard 739 were outed in filings with the California Air Resources Board.

According to the CARB documents, the new “middleweight” Ducati sport bike is set to get a 955cc displacement increase, though we wondered what else would change.

Now we have a pretty good answer, as “spy photos” of the production machine are floating around the internet now, which show that the 959 Panigale is very similar in shape to the 899 Panigale it replaces.

2016 Ducati 959 Panigale Revealed in CARB Documents

09/28/2015 @ 10:40 am, by Jensen Beeler40 COMMENTS

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It appears one of our predictions for the 2016 model year has been confirmed, as Ducati is set to update its “supersport” model, the Ducati 899 Panigale, with a replacement.

Outed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), we know that the new model will come with a two-cylinder engine, with a 955cc displacement, and officially be called the Ducati 959 Panigale.

Could Ducati’s New Model Be an Updated 899 Panigale?

08/05/2015 @ 12:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

Ducati-899-Panigale-sketch

When it comes to Ducati’s new model rumors, the only thing we know for certain is that in roughly two months’ time, the Bologna Brand will to debut, at a track in Spain, a new motorcycle.

Early speculation pegged that new model as a 1299-based Streetfighter – a model that we concluded we were unlikely to see in Spain, if for no other reason than it us a very “un-Ducati” way of launching an entirely new model motorcycle.

Taking a longer look at Ducati’s lineup, and having a few other rumors float our way, a more likely supposition would be an update/addition to the Ducati 899 Panigale, likely something along the lines of an “S” model.

The logic here is simple: 1) it isn’t crazy to see the two-year-old 899 Panigale get a refresh, 2) the model certainly fits the bill for an on-track debut, and the real kicker, 3) there is a $4,300 gap to bridge between the 899 ($14,995) and base model 1299 ($19,295).

Ducati Sets Sales Record for 2014 – 45,100 Bikes Sold

01/15/2015 @ 12:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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Ducati Motor Holding is reporting another record sales year, and that the Italian motorcycle manufacturer sold 45,100 bikes in 2014. This marks the fifth year in a row that Ducati has shown sales growth, and it’s the third year in a row that the sales figures have been an all-time record for the Italian brand.

Sales for 2014 were up 2% over 2013, with the USA again leading as Ducati’s most important market (8,804 units sold in the USA). Unsurprisingly, the Asian market is growing quickly for Ducati as well, up 11% in 2014.

Pierobon’s Take on the Ducati 899 Panigale

11/05/2014 @ 5:59 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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When the Ducati 899 Panigale came out, there was some pushback from Ducatisti over the middleweight superbike’s double-sided swingarm. Ducati clearly had to water-down distinguish the 899 from the 1199 for would-be owners, especially after giving the Ducati 899 Panigale a near-literbike engine displacement.

We think if Ducati had fashioned the 899’s swingarm after the piece built by Pierobon, then perhaps the Italian manufacturer’s fans would have been less upset. Throw in an aluminum fuel tank, racing fairing stay, and trellis rear subframe, and you have one sharp looking 899 Panigale…and it doesn’t even have all its clothes on yet.

Oh No, Not Again – Ducati 899 Panigale: Japan Edition

01/22/2014 @ 12:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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If you’re in the market for a Ducati 899 Panigale, and have the misfortune of living in Japan, the above is what you will be forced to buy. You see the Ducati 899 Panigale, like the Ducati 1199 Panigale and MV Agusta F3, is too loud in its stock form for the Japanese market.

Compounding the issue, the Island Nation is too small of a market for Ducati to revamp its design to meet homologation in its stock form, so an obvious quick-fix has been implemented instead.

It’s a bit of an eyesore on any model; but on the Panigale, the long carbon fiber pipe detracts from the hard work Ducati designers and engineers put into the attractive under-slung unit on the middleweight sport bike. Also of note is the revised big black plastic clutch cover, for added sound dampening.

We’re told the eyesore can be easily removed, with most dealers taking that liberty for an owner at the time of purchase, but still…somethings just aren’t right. A big hat tip to loyal A&R reader Trane for snapping these photos. The sake is on us.

On-Board Video of the Ducati 899 Panigale at Imola

10/15/2013 @ 12:21 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Ducati-899-Panigale-sketch

Asphalt & Rubber may not have been in Bologna for the international press launch for the Ducati 899 Panigale “super-mid” sport bike, so unfortunately we can’t give you any first-hand experience with Ducati’s newest sport bike (newest for a little while longer, at least).

However, we are in luck because Ducati test rider Alessandro Valia was on-hand for the event, and did some hot laps for the camera. A super nice guy and a very talented rider, we met Valia earlier this year at the Ducati 1199 Panigale R press launch, where he helped us find the right lines around the very technical Circuit of the Americas.

Now, Valia takes us for a spin around one of Italy’s most iconic circuits, Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari — or as it is better know, Imola. No music, to fast-cuts, just a bike being ridden hard on a sunny afternoon. Enjoy!

2014 Ducati 899 Panigale Mega Gallery

09/12/2013 @ 10:45 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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By now you have heard all about the 2014 Ducati 899 Panigale, Bologna’s new “supermid” sport bike. You’ve heard about the Babigale’s 898cc Superquadro motor, which produces 148hp  and 73 lbs•ft of torque.

You’ve heard about the Ducati 899’s monocoque “frameless” chassis design and 372.5 lbs dry weight. And of course, you have heard of the 899’s extensive electronics suite that includes ABS, traction control, engine braking control, and ride-by-wire.

But have you seen Ducati’s sport bike, and its double-sided swingarm? We have 117 high-resolution photos of it after the jump for, just in case you haven’t gotten a glimpse.

Remember, pricing starts at $14,995 for the red model, and  $15,295 for the white model.

Video: Ducati 899 Panigale – Your Road to the Track

09/10/2013 @ 11:37 am, by Jensen Beeler55 COMMENTS

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In case you missed the news, the folks in Bologna have debuted their new “supermid” sport bike, the eagerly anticipated 2014 Ducati 899 Panigale. Like its larger sibling, the Ducati 1199 Panigale, the 899 features a “frameless” chassis design, a suite of electronic rider aids, as well as the new 148hp Superquadro engine.

Putting together a little video to help launch the machine, we figured Ducati fans and non-Ducatisti alike would enjoy the premise of this short clip, as Ducati’s test rider is portrayed as being unable to end his day with the Babigale — hopping back on the bike for one more romp. What a tough job he must have.

2014 Ducati 899 Panigale Breaks Cover

09/09/2013 @ 9:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

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Confirming rumors that Borgo Panigale has been working on a smaller-displacement version of its namesake superbike, and that the machine would have a double-sided swingarm, Ducati debuted today its new “supermid” superbike, the 2014 Ducati 899 Panigale.

Showcased ahead of the IAA International Motor Show, where Ducati will preview its 2014 motorcycle line, the Ducati 899 Panigale features an 898cc Superquadro motor that produces 148hp (73 lbs•ft of torque), a monocoque “frameless” chassis design (372.5 lbs dry), and a bevy of electronics (DQS, DTC, RbW, EBC, & ABS).

Priced at $14,995 (red model) & $15,295 (white model), Ducati hopes that the 899 Panigale will create a more affordable entry for motorcyclists that want to own a Ducati superbike.