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 Tops Pied Piper Dealer Rankings, Yet Again

05/02/2016 @ 4:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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Yet once again, Ducati has topped Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index (PSI) – showing the continued prowess of Ducati dealerships in the United States.

For those that aren’t familiar with Pied Piper, the company’s Prospect Satisfaction Index is sort of the Consumer Reports of dealership network experience, and acts as a bellwether as to how a brand is performing while facing the consumer.

As such, the PSI takes into account a mixture of “mystery shopper” experiences along with actual sales success for each brand, thus giving a mixture of subjective and objective measurement for a company’s dealer network.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast – Episode 20 – Fans or Fanatics?

04/25/2016 @ 12:32 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

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Episode 20 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast builds off the previous episode, which covered in-depth the mythos that surrounds Erik Buell, Buell Motorcycles, and Erik Buell Racing. Exploring the differences between fans and fanatics, as they exist in the motorcycling realm, we move from Buell, to other manufacturers with cult followings, before finally landing on MotoGP.

Fresh from the MotoGP round in Austin, we talk about the rise of Rossi fans as a tyrannical force in Grand Prix racing, and how that has permeated through the paddock in various forms. Naturally, a few rabbit holes of side-discussion occur along the way, per usual.

Before all that though, we talk about the Motus Motorcycles project, as I rode the American-built MST and MSTR sport-tourers while in Texas. A very unique motorcycle, the true American machine is a good segue into the topic at hand. We think you will enjoy it.

As always, you can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Enjoy the show!

Two Enthusiasts Podcast – Episode 19 – Debunking Buell

04/08/2016 @ 8:00 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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First of all, apologies for how long it has taken us to get this episode of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast out to you. There are a few reasons why this particular show took so long to get out on the feed, but the biggest reason is that I have been slowly working through a massive backlog of stories. So, apologies for that.

That being said, Quentin and I are very stoked to bring you our third attempt at tackling the Buell/EBR story on the podcast. As such, Episode 19 covers Buell’s divestiture from Harley-Davidson, Erik Buell Racing’s launch from those ashes, and EBR’s very convoluted and complicated receivership process.

We also talk at great length about Quentin’s experience with the racing side of Buell and EBR, as well as my familiarity with EBR’s business operations and products. Whether your a fan of Erik Buell or not, we think you will find the show very interesting.

As always, you can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Enjoy the show!

The Precarious State of MV Agusta

03/23/2016 @ 2:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler39 COMMENTS

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MV Agusta as a motorcycle company has always seemed to have feet of clay, especially when its financial future is concerned. Today is no different, as MV Agusta has announced its intentions to restructure its debt, in order to keep the company afloat.

Afloat is an interesting phrase, as the storied Italian brand has changed hands four times in the past 12 years, with two of those purchase prices being a token euro, as MV Agusta’s liabilities far outstripped the company’s assets and holdings.

Fast-forward in time and it would be easy to say that not much has changed, as MV Agusta now has €40 million in liabilities on its balance sheet, all non-essential staff have been furloughed, the production lines in Varese recently have been motionless.

While this seems like more of the same from MV Agusta, the situation is far more complex, and for once in its lifetime, it isn’t MV Agusta’s lack of sales that are to blame. In fact, it’s the opposite, as it is MV Agusta’s success in growing its motorcycles that is the cause of its current financial situation.

That might seem like a counterintuitive notion, but if you understand the relationships between chickens, eggs, and which came first, then you will understand the situation at hand here with MV Agusta.

And while this impasse isn’t a new one in the business world, it doesn’t change the fact that the future of MV Agusta is in a precarious state.

Recall: Harley-Davidson Street 750 & 500

08/25/2015 @ 11:55 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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Another recall this week, this time affecting the 2015 Harley-Davidson Street 750 (manufactured May 12, 2014, to June 24, 2015) & Street 500 (manufactured January 20, 2014, to June 24, 2015) motorcycles.

According to the information provided to the NHTSA, 10,580 motorcycles have a faulty fuel pump, which has a poor seal at the fuel pump inlet.

Harley-Davidson Recalls 185,000+ Bikes for…Saddlebags

07/27/2015 @ 9:42 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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Harley-Davidson has another massive recall on its hands, as the Bar & Shield has a bevy of models who are affect by saddlebag mountis that may not adequately secure the saddlebags to the motorcycle.

The recall affects certain model year 2014-2015 Road King (FLHR), Street Glide (FLHX), Street Glide Special (FLHXS), Electra Glide Ultra Classic (FLHTCU), Ultra Limited (FLHTK), Police Road King (FLHP), Police Electra Glide (FLHTP), CVO Ultra Limited (FLHTKSE), 2014 CVO Road King (FLHRSE), and 2015 Electra Glide Ultra Classic Low (FLHTCUL), Ultra Limited Low (FLHTKL), Road Glide (FLTRX), Road Glide Special (FLTRXS), CVO Street Glide (FLHXSE), and CVO Road Glide Ultra (FLTRUSE) motorcycles.

Say that three times fast.

Ducati Dealers Top Pied Piper Rankings, Again

05/04/2015 @ 1:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index (PSI) is one of the major ranking systems out there assessing the US motorcycle industry and its dealerships.

To give you a quick primer on how scoring works, Pied Piper takes into account a mixture of “mystery shopper” experiences, along with actual sales success for each brand, thus giving a mixture of subjective and objective measurement.

For this year’s assessment, it comes with little surprise that Ducati is once again taking the top honors, followed closely by Harley-Davidson and Victory — two brands that have high customer satisfaction, according to Consumer Reports.

Harley-Davidson Recalls Motorcycles for Lack of Reflectors

04/29/2015 @ 11:15 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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Yet another recall for Harley-Davidson, this time affecting its 2015 Street 750 and Street 500 motorcycles. In total, the recall affects 8,903 units, which were manufactured without a rear reflector assembly.

Because the lack of reflectors automatically means the motorcycles fails to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 108, “Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment”, the motorcycles in question need to be recalled.

Harley-Davidson Recalling 45,000+ Bikes for Faulty Clutch

04/28/2015 @ 12:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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Harley-Davidson has issued a recall with the NHTSA that affects 45,901 motorcycles, all of which might have a faulty clutch master cylinder that doesn’t have enough force to disengage the clutch, especially if the motorcycle hasn’t been operated in a while.

The recall affects the following models, all of which were manufactured between April 28th, 2014, and October 24th, 2014: Electra Glide Ultra Classic, Electra Glide Ultra Classic – Twin Cooled, Ultra Limited, Police Electra Glide, Street Glide, Street Glide Special, CVO Street Glide, Electra Glide Ultra Classic Low, Ultra Limited Low, Electra Glide Ultra Classic Low – Twin Cooled, Road Glide Special, Road Glide, and CVO Road King.

Harley-Davidson Q1 Sales Down 1.3%

04/23/2015 @ 12:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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Harley-Davidson’s Q1 2015 sales reports are in, and the Bar & Shield brand is reporting a 1.3% drop in unit volume sales, despite posting a $4 million increase in net income over last year ($269.9 million in Q1 2015).

Equally surprising is that the increase in net income comes despite a $60 million decrease in revenue ($1.67 billion in Q1 2015), which Harley-Davidson attributes to the growing currency divide between the dollar and the euro.

Harley-Davidson is using the currency issue, which in theory drives up the cost of American products abroad and allows foreign producers to discount in the USA, as a reason to adjust its year-end sales forecast, which the company now pegs at 2% to 4%, rather than 4% to 6%.