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.

The Motorcycle Industry’s Very Best April Fools Jokes

04/04/2016 @ 1:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Another year, and another April Fools Day is in the bag. I am fairly certain that for journalists, April 1st is better than Christmas, as it marks the one day where media outlets make the news the wish they could report on daily. And as usual, the imaginations of the motorcycle media pool didn’t fail to disappoint.

As usual, David had a timely piece on MotoGP adopting regulations that govern aerodynamics, namely that a spec-winglet shape would be entering into racing starting in 2017. The Grand Prix Commission has already banned winglets in Moto2 and Moto3 for next season, so there was some precedent already for this story.

Less of a product review, and more of a satirical rant that focused on that guy at your next track day, we ran a story about the Dainese “D-Bag” luggage. The bags are made by Ogio, and are actually very good. I have two Ogio Rig 9800 bags, for some reason, and would highly recommend them or Dainese’s branded version.

Our last April Fools story was about Honda patenting a three-stroke engine design, which seemed to be very popular and catch more than a couple readers unaware. There is such a thing as a three-stroke engine…sort of…you can read its description here, but don’t expect Big Red to adopt the design any time soon.

How about from the rest of the industry though? In case you missed them, the highlights of April Fools Day are after the jump.

April Fools: Spec Winglets to be Mandatory in MotoGP

04/01/2016 @ 5:25 am, by David Emmett9 COMMENTS

Ducati-Desmosedici-D16-GP-22

Winglets are to be made compulsory in MotoGP from 2017, we can exclusively reveal, using a spec design to be implemented much along the lines of the current unified software introduced this year in the premier class.

The decision was taken in response to concerns over costs spiraling out of control should all of the factories become engaged in a winglet war.

The marginal gains to be had from increased spending on CFD computer modeling and wind tunnel work were a red flag for Dorna, who have spent the last seven seasons since the start of the Global Financial Crisis tweaking the rules to reduce costs and raise grid numbers.

With the grid now healthy, and set to rise to 24 in 2017, Dorna and the FIM feared all their hard work could be undone, and teams would once again be forced out of racing by rising costs.

Iannone Pays Homage to Dead Seagull with Winter Helmet

02/04/2016 @ 5:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

andrea-iannone-seagull-winter-test-helmet

You don’t have to be a raging Ducati Corse fan, or even a fan of Andrea Iannone, in order to appreciate the humor in the Italian rider’s winter test helmet this week at Sepang.

In case you missed it, the bright red AGV Pista GP helmet is adorned with a familiar face, Gavin the seagull. If you don’t remember Gavin, we are sure the mentioning of last year’s Phillip Island race will help jog your memory.

Coming down the hill, into Turn 10, Andrea Iannone found a spectator whose vantage point was a little too close to the action. The seagull, finally realizing the error of his ways, took flight, though not in time to avoid the outcome everyone feared.

The bird struck Iannone’s Ducati Desmosedici GP15, while it was in mid-flight, leaving a gaping whole in the front of the race bike and a puff of feathers in its wake.

Joking aside, Iannone was lucky not to be injured in the collision, and actually went on to take third in the race. Bird strikes are not uncommon at Phillip Island, and they can cause grave injuries when they occur at speed. Thankfully for Iannone, Turn 10 is one of the slowest corners on the Australian track.

While we mourn the loss of Gavin, as he has made his way to the big race track in the sky, it is good to see that he has not been forgotten. A few photos of Iannone’s helmet are after the jump.

“Due Process??! Do Wheelies!!!” – The Texas Law Hawk

11/03/2015 @ 11:08 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

bryan-wilson-texas-law-hawk

Things have been pretty heavy here lately at Asphalt & Rubber, especially with the “Sepang Clash” nonsense continuing to collapse the sport in like a dying star. The Tokyo Motor Show had a lot of hard news too, with a bevy of models and concepts making an appearance.

So much has been going on, we nearly forgot the number one reason we ride motorcycles: they’re fun! Never fear, we have our eyes on the prize here at A&R HQ, so here’s a little something to brighten your day.

If you ever need a lawyer in Fort Worth, Texas area, we know a guy…Bryan Wilson, the Texas Law Hawk. Click past the jump for so much internet win.

PSA: For the Love of Motorcycling, Don’t Taste Your Fluids

04/02/2015 @ 3:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

motorcycle-fluid-leak

One of the more amusing stories I think we’ve ever come across in A&R history, a Reddit user published his/her account of having a mystery fluid leak on their Suzuki V-Strom (shown above).

Unable to initially identify the fluid that was leaking down their forks, brakes, and front tire, our protagonist did the only logical method left to them: guess and check.

Tasting the fluid they found on their garage floor, and comparing it to the various “jus de vie” that make a motorcycle come to life, this Goldilocks of motorcycling was puzzled…nothing quite seemed right to their tongue.

The whole story, especially its ending, is perhaps best left to the original account on Reddit. But just so we’re clear…for the love of everything that’s holy, don’t taste the fluids on your motorcycle. It’s never a good idea.

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2015 April Fools Motorcycle Pranks Round-Up

04/01/2015 @ 3:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

breakdown

Another year, and another April Fools Day is in the bag. I am fairly certain that for journalists, April 1st is better than Christmas, as it marks the one day where media outlets make the news the wish they could report on daily. And as usual, the imaginations of the motorcycle media pool didn’t fail to disappoint.

David had a timely piece on Dani Pedrosa going back to Moto3 with KTM, in order to win his fourth championship. Drawing on the Spaniard’s recent news about having severe arm-pump and needing to take a break from racing — the story caught out more than a few readers.

For those of us still working on our 2014 tax returns, and have deductions on the brain, we ran a story that the IRS would be allowing tax deductions, up to $500, on new helmet purchases — something we wouldn’t mind having occur in reality.

Our last story for the day on A&R was about Honda on the verge of releasing an autonomous motorcycle for the mainstream, a story we hope won’t come to reality for a very, very, very long time — if not ever.

How about from the rest of the industry though? In case you missed them, the highlights of April Fools Day are after the jump.

Kawasaki USA Rebrands “Good Times Protection Plan”

08/19/2014 @ 5:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

kawasaki-logo

Kawasaki USA announced today that it is rebranding its tragically named extended warranty program from the “Good Times Protection Plan” to “Kawasaki Protection Plus” for reasons we feel are too obvious to elaborate upon.

However, the real astonishing story here is that for the past 28 years, Kawasaki has made its dealers say with a straight face “Good Times Protection Plan” to would-be buyers, who were looking for more protection for…umm…what was between their legs.

Ahh, I remember in college when I had a “good times protection plan” — though you either had to buy a pack at the grocery store, or suffer through the line at Student Health to get them for free. That and other penis jokes await you in the comments section. Don’t plan on seeing Kawasaki advertise on A&R anytime soon after this.

The #1 BMW Motorcycle Fan? — That’s a Tall Order!

08/15/2014 @ 12:36 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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I’m not complaining, but it’s been a busy week for Asphalt & Rubber’s Editor-in-Chief. Monday was spent getting back from the Indianapolis GP, where Dan and Tony once again proved how they are some of the most amazing photographers in the business, David as usually decrypted the paddock and wrote what should be considered the gold standard of daily summaries, and I…well, I tried to stay out of everyone’s way.

Finally back in California, Tuesday saw the hard drive in my laptop give up the ghost, and thus was spent knee-deep in nerdom with Scott — who knew that a #6 pentalobe screwdriver would be so difficult to find?! Wednesday was spent at the Honda CBR300R press launch, which for reasons beyond comprehension I drove to, instead of flying. Thursday meant swimming through the 800 or so emails that I neglected throughout the weeks’ activities, which just leaves me to say how is it Friday already?

Again I’m not complaining, but thank goodness it’s the end of the week. Anyhoo, I’m sure everyone has had their share of busy weeks, especially as summer is beginning to wind down. To help lighten the load, here’s a video of a giraffe that really loves himself some BMW motorcycles. If anyone asks, I’m saying a reader sent this to me…yeah…a reader…that’s what happened…

2014 April Fools Motorcycle Pranks Round-Up

04/02/2014 @ 11:42 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

jorge-lorenzo-valencia-motogp-scott-jones

Another year, and another April Fools Day is in the bag. I am fairly certain that for journalists, April 1st is better than Christmas Day, as it marks the one day where media outlets make the news the wish they could report on daily. And as usual, the imaginations of the motorcycle media pool didn’t fail to disappoint.

David had a wonderful timely piece on Red Bull acquiring the media rights to the MotoGP Championship, ousting Dorna from its position as Bridgepoint Capital cashed out its position. Red Bull has of course had its own issues in the Formula One Championship, and with energy drinks being the new tobacco, the premise was at least plausible.

Speaking of tobacco, we also ran a story about California mandating tabacco-style warning labels for motorcycles, a nod to our more libertarian readers and their growing concerns of “freedom” on two-wheels. Thankfully this story was a complete fabrication and not grounded in any truth, though maybe unfortunately for some, so was David’s piece as well.

How about from the rest of the industry though? In case you missed them, the highlights of April Fools Day are after the jump.

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Just So We’re Clear, This is How You Market a Race Team

03/12/2014 @ 12:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

triumph-ama-jason-disalvo-elena-myers

The start of the AMA Pro Road Racing calendar is just around the corner, and that means manufacturers, teams, and riders are getting their PR machines in full swing. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get excited about our venerable national racing series (DMG’s shenanigans aside), but duds like this don’t help in whetting our two-wheeled racing appetite here at Asphalt & Rubber.

Just when we were about to lose all hope though, Triumph shows up and saves the day…with a little help from Jason DiSalvo and Elena Myers. Kneedragging, wheelie popping, backwheel drifting two-wheeled fun, all packaged in a well-done YouTube video that even manages to show a little personality from the riders.

We dig it, we dig it hard. A quick warning though: several orange cones were hurt during the filming of this video. Some footage may not be suitable for adult-sized children with a history of brrraaappptitus. Thanks for the tip Matt!