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.

Tony Goldsmith’s Favorite Photos from 2016

01/04/2017 @ 12:14 pm, by Tony Goldsmith2 COMMENTS

Last year we covered a lot of motorcycle racing, and at many of those events Tony Goldsmith was the man swinging a lens for Asphalt & Rubber. We asked Tony to share some of his favorite snaps from 2016. We hope you enjoy them. -JB

As we look forward to the 2017 season I thought I’d share some of my favourites images from 2016. Above, the eyes of a man after a very fast lap at the Isle of Man TT.

Norton Announces V4 Superbike, Again

08/10/2016 @ 1:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

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A year ago, to the day, Norton announced that it was working on a street-going superbike that featured a 200hp, 1,200cc, V4 engine. Now, Norton confirms that news, saying that we will see the limited-production (200 units) machine later this fall. Yay.

On the bright side, Norton posted a concept drawing of the new bike to its Facebook page, giving us at least something new to whet our appetites on the new motorcycle.

The concept looks very similar to the sketch we saw last year, making today’s new a little bit about nothing. But, our friends at MotoFire report that Norton is still working on a 650cc project, which will debut later this year as well.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast – Episode 24 – It’s A Brap

06/20/2016 @ 2:02 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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Episode 24 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out, for your podcasting pleasure. In this episode of the show, Quentin and I have a chat about the race week at the Isle of Man TT, which is split between talking about the races themselves, and the evolution of racing motorcycles.

We then focus our attention to my recent trip to Los Angeles, where I saw first-hand the 2017 Yamaha SCR950 and FZ-10 street bikes from Yamaha North America. Next, we talk about the second part of my trip, which involved riding the Energica Eva electric street bike.

To finish the show, Quentin talks about riding a motorcycle that belonged to a good friend, who died not too long ago. It’s an interesting story that involves a very special motorcycle and getting back out on the track. We think you’ll enjoy it, and the rest of the show.

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!

Paddock Pass Podcast – Episode 30 – Isle of Man TT

06/16/2016 @ 11:51 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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A very special installment of the Paddock Pass Podcast, episode 30 takes us to the Isle of Man TT, where Steve and Tony have been for the past two weeks, covering this iconic road race. They are joined on the show by yours truly, where we have a detailed conversation about the fortnight’s activities, as well as the future of the TT.

The show also includes a lengthy interview with John McGuinness, who discusses what it’s like behind the scenes as a racer at the Isle of Man TT, and how he’s seen the TT change over his 20-year career at the Isle of Man. It’s a pretty frank and honest report from McPint, and surely worth a listen in its own regard.

The show is fairly long, even by PPP standards, but we think you will find it immensely enjoyable. Be warned though, if you haven’t been to the Isle of Man before, we are not responsible if this episode makes you book your ticket for next year’s TT.

As always, be sure to follow the Paddock Pass Podcast on FacebookTwitter and subscribe to the show on iTunes and SoundCloud – we even have an RSS feed for you. If you like the show, we would really appreciate you giving it a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening!

Michael Dunlop Sets New TT Record: 133.962 MPH

06/11/2016 @ 1:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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To say that Michael Dunlop rode to an impressive win on Friday’s Senior TT, might be an understatement. While winning the Senior TT is his second TT race win for the 2016 Isle of Man TT, Dunlop’s true accomplishment can be found on the time sheets, with his record-breaking pace.

A fortnight of records dropping, this year’s Senior TT was no different, and Dunlop set not only the fastest lap of the Senior TT race, but also the fastest lap of any Senior TT race ever held at the Isle of Man TT: 133.962 mph.

This mark is also the fastest lap ever recorded during an Isle of Man TT race, and is the fastest outright lap ever at the Isle of Man TT. In other words, this is the new mark that all other riders will aspire to surpass in the coming years.

Senior TT & Sidecar TT Race 2 with Tony Goldsmith

06/11/2016 @ 1:34 pm, by Tony GoldsmithComments Off on Senior TT & Sidecar TT Race 2 with Tony Goldsmith

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John McGuinness claimed his 46th TT podium, with a 3rd place in the Senior TT.

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Ben & Tom Birchall at Signpost Corner, on their way to victory in the Sidecar TT Race 2.

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Bruce Anstey at Braddan Bridge.

Two More Competitors Have Died at the Isle of Man TT

06/10/2016 @ 7:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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Again this fortnight, it is with a heavy heart that we report the passing of two competitors who died in separate incidents while at the Isle of Man TT. Ian Bell died during today’s Sidecar TT Race 2, and Andrew Soar who died during the Senior TT race.

Ian Bell, a 58-year-old from Bedlington, Northumberland, was killed in an incident at Ballaspur in the sidecar race. His passenger, who is also his son Carl, was uninjured in the crash.

The father-son team of Ian and Carl Bell dropped out of the Sidecar TT Race 1, after circulating in the 4th position, and were looking for a better result in Friday’s race. A distinguished TT racer, Ian Bell won the newcomers trophy in 1995, and had five podiums in his TT career, including a race win in 2003.

The day’s other fatality Andrew Soar, was a 32-year-old from Loughborough in Leicestershire. Andrew died at an incident at Keppel Gate.

He was an experienced TT competitor, and made his debut at the Isle of Man in the 2013 Manx Grand Prix, where he finished second in the Newcomers A and Senior MGP races.

He would go on to win the Senior MGP the next year, and make his Isle of Man TT debut in 2015. This year, Andrew retired in Lap 2 from the Superbike TT, though he would go on to finis 39th in the Supersport TT Race 1, 47th in the Superstock TT, and 32nd in the Supersport TT Race 2.

The TT paddock surely feels the loss of their presence today. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Ian and Andrew’s family, friends, and fans.

IOMTT: PokerStars Senior TT Race Results

06/10/2016 @ 5:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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The Senior TT is the blue ribbon event at the Isle of Man TT – it’s the race that every rider wants to win. Don’t let the name fool you, the Senior TT isn’t for riders that are over the hill; in fact, it is the most hard-fought class at the Isle of Man.

Most of the machines on the Senior TT grid are the same as those found in the Superbike TT, but in years passed we have seen specialty bikes built just for the class’s looser set of rules. The last race of the Isle of Man TT fortnight, the Senior TT ends things with a supreme spectacle.

For 2016 though, riders and fans would have to wait a considerable amount of time before the Senior TT would kick off, with the the fog and mist delaying the day’s start considerably. Thankfully the weather gods eventually gave way, and racing commenced. And it was good.

Up-Close with the 2016 Victory RR Electric Race Bike

06/10/2016 @ 3:37 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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It has been a while since we’ve done one our “up-close” sets of photos, so we sent our man Tony Goldsmith into the Victory Motorcycles tent at the Isle of Man TT, to get some snaps of the 2016 Victory RR electric race bike.

The Victory RR is an evolved version of the Brammo Empulse RR project, Brammo of course being one of inaugural participants in the Isle of Man TT’s first electric race, which was called at the time TTXGP.

2016 marks the second year in a row that Victory Motorcycles has competed at the Isle of Man, with William Dunlop taking his seat on the Victory RR this year, after missing 2015’s ride due to injury (Guy Martin filled in last year).

This year, it was another podium finish for Victory, and the team improved its result to a second-place finish, and more importantly increased their best lap time to 115.844 mph.

Interview: John McGuinness and the Isle of Man TT

06/10/2016 @ 12:58 am, by Tony Goldsmith7 COMMENTS

John McGuinness is the winningest active TT racer at the Isle of Man, and has been competing at the iconic race for the past 20 years. Once a teammate to Joey Dunlop, McGuinness is creeping up on the legend’s overall TT race wins, with just three more needed to tie Dunlop’s mark.

This makes him a formidable rider in any of the TT’s solo-class races, and it also makes him a walking encyclopedia of the Manx circuit.

At the end of the Isle of Man TT practice week, our man Tony Goldsmith managed to grab some time with 23-time TT winner John McGuinness, who gave us some insight into how he prepares for the challenges of riding the Snaefell Mountain Course, and what the TT is like from his eyes.

We think you’ll enjoy what McGuinness has to say about racing at the Isle of Man, and gain some insight into what it like to compete at this iconic event. Enjoy! -JB