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.

Don’t Call It a Merger: RevZilla & Cycle Gear Come Together

02/10/2016 @ 12:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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The speculation about RevZilla and Cycle Gear can stop now, as the brands are finally talking about their plans together for the future.

In a letter posted to RevZilla’s in-house publication, Common Tread, RevZilla CEO Anthony Bucci announces that RevZilla will be acquired by a new holding company, which will also own Cycle Gear.

The holding company’s board of directors will include Bucci, and his fellow RevZilla founders Nick Auger and Matthew Kull, as well as the private equity firm J.W. Childs, which bought Cycle Gear back in 2015.

While Bucci’s letter to RevZilla customers states that the two brands will only be “sister companies” that will operate independently of each other, his FAQ on the subject leaves the door open for collaborations between the two brands, which would be the obvious benefit of their new ownership structure.

Where Do Internet Trolls Go When They Get Banned?

02/09/2016 @ 2:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler77 COMMENTS

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Managing the community aspect of a website like Asphalt & Rubber is no easy feat, especially considering the online personalities some people take on while behind the keyboard.

The history of the internet troll is as rich and long as the internet itself, as anonymity (or at least the appearance thereof) allows a cultivation of personality traits that would otherwise not manifest themselves in public.

In essence, what I’m trying to say is that people online can be dicks.

We are fairly lenient in the comments section, but that doesn’t mean that our ban hammer is sitting in the corner collecting dust – every once and a while, we have to banish a user from the pages of A&R. But once gone, where do they go? Alas, we finally have the answer.

Report: Cycle Gear to Acquire RevZilla?

02/08/2016 @ 10:12 am, by Jensen Beeler68 COMMENTS

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Respected newswire Reuters is reporting that Cycle Gear is close to finalizing the purchase of motorcycling e-commerce giant RevZilla. Citing a source “familiar with the matter” at hand, Reuters suggests that the deal could close in the next coming days, with the new venture worth between $400 million and $500 million.

If true, this acquisition would mark a titanic shift in the motorcycle retail space, with America’s largest brick and mortar chain combining with the industry’s most prominent online parts and apparel purveyor.

Pro Italia Online Sold to AMS Ducati Dallas

01/12/2016 @ 12:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Though the announcement is only going public today, Pro Italia Online was sold to AMS Ducati at the end of last year, on December 31, 2015.

The news is a big deal in the world of Ducatisti, as Pro Italia’s online store is one of the largest online retailers for Ducati parts in the United States.

Therefore, its movement from one top Ducati dealership (Pro Italia in Glendale, CA) to another (AMS Ducati in Dallas, TX) is tectonic shift in the retail power found in Ducati’s online landscape.

Daytona 200 Gets Online Streaming

03/13/2015 @ 8:37 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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At first it seemed the only way to watch the Daytona 200 was to be there in-person, but DMG has been able to swing a last-minute deal with FansChoice.tv to bring the internet live streaming of the historic race.

Sanctioned now by the American SportBike Racing Association (ASRA), it is not clear at this time what ASRA’s coverage will include, but the green flag drops at 1pm Eastern Time, Saturday, March 14th — commentary, or not.

How To Watch The Superprestigio Race Tomorrow

12/12/2014 @ 10:51 am, by David Emmett3 COMMENTS

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Saturday night is the last chance to see the stars of motorcycle racing turning a wheel in anger.

On 13th December, the cream of both the MotoGP and AMA flat track paddocks meet for the second running of the Superprestigio, an indoor invitation dirt track race, at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona.

The setting is a classic location: the Palau Sant Jordi is part of the former Olympic park, set atop Montjuic, scene of many legendary motorcycle races of the past.

For those who could not make it to Barcelona themselves, they need not despair. The event is to be broadcast in several countries around the globe, as well as streamed live online.

Is This How Much the Kawasaki Ninja H2R Will Cost? Nope.

10/14/2014 @ 3:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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It has certainly been interesting to see the buzz around the Kawasaki Ninja H2 these past few weeks, especially as everyone tries to cash in on the supercharged hype-machine that Kawasaki has been running.

First we saw Motorcycle.com just create a story out of thin air, to help its owner VerticalScope promote a new web property. That was…uhh…the most ridiculous thing I’ve seen while in this industry, not to mention just sloppy journalism. Now lately we have seen a supposed dealer invoice for the track-only Kawasaki Ninja H2R, with a price tag just north of $60,000.

Many publications have latched onto that price point — which isn’t the craziest conclusion to come to, considering that the H2R is Kawasaki’s halo-bike project, and will likely cost a pretty penny — though with just a quick glance, we can see that the alleged paperwork has clearly been a work of Photoshop, and not inside information.

That Was Not the 2015 BMW S1000RR & Here’s Why

08/28/2014 @ 5:52 pm, by Iwan van der Valk11 COMMENTS

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A couple days ago we ran a story that purported to show the front section of the 2015 BMW S1000RR in a CAD rendering. We already know from spy photos that the S1000RR is getting an update, and we are curious to see if BMW will introduce a symmertrical headlight, like it seems to be doing with the S1000XR sport-tourer.

The story was bogus, and as many of our readers pointed out in the comments, the photo in question was a rendering of the original S1000RR, circa 2009. I asked our good friend Iwan at Oliepeil, who has written several times here at A&R already, to elaborate on why this bogus story was run because it’s an important topic when it comes to digital publishing.

I don’t pretend to boast that Asphalt & Rubber is immune from the follies of online journalism, though we might be the most transparent. Any reader online, reading any subject matter, should consider their sources and apply critical thinking to what they read. If you’re ever looking for ours, they’re at the bottom of ever story, usually with a link. – Jensen

Maybe you’re asking yourself how all those websites and magazines are able to bring motorcycle news to you every day. Let us explain how that works, with an example.

Our amazingly handsome and hyper-intelligent Dutch friends at Oliepeil.nl, the best motorcycle website in the world, have quite a reputation of serving up scoops, for which they often upset the worldwide motorcycle industry complex, every now and then. We are also known for our pratical jokes.

So the site I run, Oliepeil, put up a photo of the 2011 BMW S1000RR on our website, with a hint and a link to a spyshot of the rumoured 2015-version of that bike here on Asphalt & Rubber. We didn’t use a real photo, but a rendering that we “borrowed” from a website that sells 3D CAD models. What happened afterwards shows how news is being made in 2014.

How to Watch the Suzuka 8-Hour Endurance Race

07/25/2014 @ 6:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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UPDATE: Sorry folks, look like race day coverage is live-timing only.

I was trying to think this week how to frame how important the Suzuka 8-Hour Endurance Race is for Japanese motorcycle enthusiasts and Japanese motorcycle manufacturers. It’s certainly more prestigious than any single MotoGP or WSBK round, and I would hazard that it is as big of a deal to the Japanese as the Isle of Man TT is to the Manx.

A race known for seeing factory teams stacked with the top riders from around the world, this year’s Suzuka 8-Hours sees some of Japan’s finest joined by the likes of Kevin Schwantz, Jonathan Rea, Randy de Puniet, Josh Brookes, and Josh Waters. It can be hard to follow the race in Japan though, but we’ve got you covered for this year’s event.

The Suzuka Circuit puts up a live stream of the racing sessions on Ustream, and the link is right here. There is also an official Twitter feed in English which you should follow. We have embedded the Ustream into this post as well…because the internet is awesome.

Trackside Tuesday: The Content Economy

07/23/2014 @ 12:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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A question I pose to my photographer friends: why should I go to your site on a regular basis? For most of the photographers I work with, their websites are more like digital portfolios — selections of their best work, maybe a couple lines of prose to art things up, and a contact button. If they’re really savvy, maybe there are password-protected customer galleries available too…probably being hosted on SmugMug or some other prosumer service.

I get why that is the case, this is the online version of the physical portfolios that photographers used to carry around (some still do) to peddle their wares to editors and fans on race day. Maybe a few years ago, that is the kind of website I would have made as well. Show off my work, get my name out there, I’m starving damn it, buy my prints! Ah, but alas that’s not the kind of website that thrives in the cutthroat digital landscape — we want more, and for free.

As a publisher, I’m constantly juggling the interests of the photographers I work with with the needs and expectations of my readers. I want 10,000-pixel-wide shots that anyone can download without a watermark; that is after all what I would want if I was a reader of Asphalt & Rubber, and that is standard I use when trying to make decisions about this site. “Would I want to read this?” is a common question I ask myself.

For photographers, the game has traditionally been the opposite online. In a world of right-click-save-as, the opportunity for someone to snatch a high-resolution photo for just about any purpose is an easy one. There’s not much that can be done to stop it — for every trick, there’s a workaround. A for every click, money is being taken off the table. They only way to make sure your photo isn’t stolen when publishing online, is not to publish it, and even then…scanners.

I feel the plight for my photographer friends, and perhaps if my own shots were any good, I’d feel just as defensive about my hard work swirling around the interwebs with nary a check coming to my inbox. The game is brutal, and by the time you’ve finally “made it” as a bona fide pro-shooter, you’re on the backs of your feet trying to protect what you’ve worked so hard to earn.

Over the course of our many adventures, I’ve had the fortunate ability to debate these ideas with my good friend and colleague Scott Jones — maybe you’ve heard of him.

I absolutely love Scott’s work, he might be one of the most technically gifted photographers in the MotoGP paddock, and he has an amazing ability to pick-up on the subtleties of situations that are happening in a fraction of a second. I love the fact that I can look his work a dozen times, and each time come away seeing something I didn’t pickup on before. For as much of a bromance that we have brewing, I have however never been much of a fan of his website.