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.

Brough Superior SS100 Finally Begins Production

06/23/2016 @ 1:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Brough-Superior-SS100-10

Back in 2013, I was at the EICMA show in Milan, and watched the Brough Superior SS100 makes its world debut. The rebooted British marque had a stunning bike to show-off, and an intriguing game plan to re-enter the motorcycle industry, which included a Moto2 race bike.

Almost two and a half years later now, some things have changed, but the big news is that the Brough Superior SS100 is finally going into production, with three finishes: traditional, racing full black, and titanium.

Available later this year, and already certified for sale in Europe, the Brough Superior SS100 can be yours for a cool €50,000.

BMW Brings Emergency SOS “eCall” System to Motorcycles

05/11/2016 @ 12:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

BMW-Motorcycle-SOS-Intelligent-Emergency-Call-03

In an effort to improve safety for motorcyclists, BMW Motorrad has developed what it calls an “Intelligent Emergency Call” system, which allows motorcyclists to call for help with the touch of a button on their motorcycle

The system is part of a larger push in Europe for an “eCall” emergency SOS program that would alert emergency personnel to a vehicle crash with greater expediency and efficiency.

According to the pan-European eCall trial, systems like BMW’s can bring emergency services to a crash scene 40% to 50% faster, and the European Commission estimates that an eCall system like BMW’s could save up to 2,500 lives each year (saving €26 billion in the process, as well).

The BMW Intelligent Emergency Call feature has been available on cars in Europe since 1999, and by will be mandatory for vehicles in the EU by 2018. To aid two-wheeled motorists, BMW Motorrad hopes to bring eCall technology to motorcycles by 2017.

Yamaha Tracer 700 Sport-Tourer Debuts for Europe

04/20/2016 @ 12:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

Yamaha-Tracer-700-studio-06

There are two big things to note with the debut of the Yamaha Tracer 700 in Europe today. One, Yamaha firmly believes in the future of the sport-touring segment; and two, the Japanese brand is getting excellent mileage out of its three-cylinder and two-cylinder machines that comprise its new FZ/MT line of motorcycles.

As such, the Yamaha Tracer 700 offers to be a fun and affordable machine for those riders who find themselves many miles down the road after a “spirited” ride.

With bike sales in Europe finally on an upward trend, Yamaha hopes that the release of the Tracer 700 is well-timed, and of course the brand has more models in the works that are based on the same 689cc parallel-twin power plant.

Using a similar chassis and the same motor as the MT-07 (that’s the FZ-07 for us Yanks), the Yamaha Tracer 700 adds a longer swingarm (+50mm), larger fuel tank (+3 liters), revised suspension settings, manually adjustable windscreen, a new seat and headlight, as well luggage options.

Euro4 Claims Its First Victim – No Two-Stroke 125cc Enduros from KTM & Husqvarna for 2017

02/25/2016 @ 1:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

2016-Husqvarna-TE-250

It looks like Europe’s new Euro4 emissions standard has claimed its first victim (if you don’t count the exhaust pipe on the Ducati 959 Panigale), as neither KTM nor Husqvarna will be producing their 125cc two-stroke enduro models for 2017, and the foreseeable future afterwards.

The move is a euros and cents decision, and a slightly complicated one at that, but it boils down to the fact that making the small-displacement smokers meet the more stringent Euro4 emissions requirements was financially prohibitive.

Yamaha MT-10 Specs & Pricing Finally Revealed

02/23/2016 @ 4:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

2016-Yamaha-MT-10-01

The Yamaha MT-10 was probably the big reveal of the 2015 EICMA show, with the 1,000cc streetfighter putting the two-wheeled establishment on notice with its radical design.

The kicker though to the MT-10’s debut however was the utter lack of technical specifications when Yamaha unwrapped the street bike. Thankfully, that’s now changed.

Ducati 959 Panigale Comes with a Shotgun Exhaust*

11/16/2015 @ 7:47 am, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

2016-Ducati-959-Panigale-29

We knew from CARB filings to expect a Ducati 959 Panigale at the EICMA show, with Ducati’s “middleweight” getting a displacement boost that puts its well into superbike territory. And now that the show Milan is finally upon us, we have all the details of the 2016 Ducati 959 Panigale.

As expected, the Ducati 959 Panigale gets a 955cc displacement increase on its now Euro4 compliant engine, via a longer stroke. This means that the 2016 Ducati 959 Panigale makes 155hp of peak power, and 79 lbs•ft of peak torque.

Suspension is done by Showa and is fully adjustable, while the double-sided swingarm remains. However, we predict it is the bike’s titanium shotgun exhaust that we think most Ducatisti will be talking about.

Finally, Here is the Husqvarna 701 Enduro

10/27/2015 @ 11:53 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

2016-Husqvarna-701-Enduro-38

We already blew the cover on the Husqvarna 701 Enduro last month, but now the Swedish brand is officially showing the big enduro to the general public. As expected, the 701 Enduro will be the off-road compliment to the 701 Supermoto, with the two machines sharing the same 690cc single-cylinder platform.

This means that the Husqvarna 701 Enduro will make 67hp, have dual-spark ignition, and use a SOHC setup. The 701 machines also have ride-by-wire with selectable engine maps, ABS as standard, as is the ATSC slipper clutch.

For bonus points though, it is possible to get the Husqvarna 701 Enduro compliant for A2 licensed riders, which should help some less experienced riders get onto this big bike when it debuts in Europe (yes, it’s coming to the USA and Canada too).

“Choose Your Own Adventure” with the Honda Africa Twin

10/20/2015 @ 4:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

honda-africa-twin-choose-your-own-adventure

If you are a Gen-X male, you probably remember the Choose Your Own Adventure series of books. If you don’t happen to fit this demographic, and don’t have a clue what I am talking about, don’t worry the idea is pretty simple – let me break it down for you.

Each book contained an adventure for the reader, and every dozen pages or so, the story would give a choice on how to continue. Each choice you had to make also had a certain page in the book that you would skip to, in order to continue the story on the path you desired. If you were like me, you almost always failed or died in your task. There is probably a life lesson in there…somewhere.

What does this have to do with motorcycles you may ask? Ah well, Honda has for us the modern-day version of the Choose Your Own Adventure books, using YouTube in a very similar manner. What are they promoting, you may ask? The Honda Africa Twin adventure bike, naturally.

The story found in the YouTube might not be of the same page-turning qualities as the original namesake, but we doubt you can take a wrong turn in Honda’s variable story line. Check it out, after the jump…and yes, for those keeping score, this is yet another video from Honda on the Africa Twin. Sweet merciful Jesus.

Another Africa Twin Cometh from Honda?

10/14/2015 @ 12:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

2016 Honda Africa Twin

Honda Motorcycles Europe has a peculiar video on its YouTube channel, which teases that “the adventure continues” starting this Friday, October 16th. The video is peculiar, because we have already seen the Honda Africa Twin, which debuted at last year’s trade shows.

The video itself doesn’t give away much, other than two riders making their way through some backcountry on a pair of Honda Africa Twin motorcycles.

Best guess seems to be that we’ll see a model variant or two from Honda, most likely including a “touring” model. More radical guesses would be a smaller displacement machine to accompany the 1,000cc adventure-touring beast.

While the latter makes a great deal of sense from a segment point-of-view, there is nothing to suggest such a thing, so we are thinking it’s more likely the prior. We won’t have to wait long to find out though.

2016 Husqvarna FS 450 – Less Weight, More Swede

09/18/2015 @ 12:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

2016-Husqvarna-FS-450-supermoto-05

The Husqvarna brand will continue with its FS 450 offering for the 2016 model year, though you would be wrong to confuse the 2016 bike with its predecessor.

Trimming the fat off the 2015 model, it is clear that Husqvarna looked for ways to make the FS 450 even lighter than before, for 2016, and the Swedish brand look successful in that endeavor, with a 232 lbs machine (sans fuel).

To hit that target weight and other benchmarks, the 2016 Husqvarna FS 450 needed a new chromium molybdenum steel frame, a potent 63hp, 450cc, SOHC, engine, and a bucket of weight-saving items.

Our press release says the new FS 450 will be out in dealers in September of this year, but we take that to surely mean European showrooms, not American. We hope this bike will come the USA though, as it sounds like two wheels of hoon for sumo enthusiasts, and a lighter option than the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto.