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.

IOMTT: Bennetts Lightweight TT Race Results

06/12/2015 @ 12:13 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on IOMTT: Bennetts Lightweight TT Race Results

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The final day of racing at the Isle of Man TT is usually set by two extremes: the “beginner class” Lightweight TT and the blue-ribbon event, the Senior TT.

The rules for the Bennetts Lightweight TT are pretty simple, bikes with two-cylinders, no bigger than 650cc, and the riders must perform at least one pit stop during the three-lap race.

This means that pit stop strategy is king for the Lightweight riders, and the shuffling of positions adds a bit of drama to the usually tight racing already found on the course.

The man to beat in the Lightweight TT class is Ryan Farquhar, one of the top privateer riders at the TT (if not, the top privateer). Farquhar is responsible for tuning and building many of the top Kawasaki race bikes on the Lightweight TT grid as well, though other brands and builders have started to find competitiveness in the class.

Not to spoil the results for the Senior TT, but Friday would see records drop at the Isle of Man, and we start that trend off first in the Bennetts Lightweight TT.

Hillier Sets 206 MPH Sulby Record on a Kawasaki H2R

06/11/2015 @ 4:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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The Sulby Straight is the fastest part of the Isle of Man TT course, and when the conditions are right, it’s not uncommon for the big Superbike and Senior TT bikes to break the 200 mph mark on the nearly mile-long stretch.

It is, however, a bit uncommon for riders to reach the 200 mph mark during the TT’s parade laps, but don’t tell that to James Hillier. “Parading” the supercharged Kawasaki H2R around the Mountain Course, Hillier set an outright top speed record down the Sulby Straight, with an official speed of 206 mph.

Wednesday Race Day from Keppel Gate by Tony Goldsmith

06/11/2015 @ 3:15 pm, by Tony Goldsmith3 COMMENTS

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We were treated to the best conditions of the 2015 Isle of Man TT for Wednesday’s racing. With that in mind, I decided to head for the hills and to Keppel Gate/Kate’s Cottage. Around three miles from the finish of the lap, Keppel Gate marks the point the riders start to descend from the mountain section.

As I’ve already mentioned the conditions were great with very little wind and warm sunshine. With the perfect conditions came the photographers worse nightmare, heat haze. I will therefore use that excuse for any pictures that look a little soft.

Above: The hard working volunteer marshalls at Kate’s Cottage, without them there would be no racing.

IOMTT: Colin’s TT Blog – I’m Hooked & I’ll Be Back

06/11/2015 @ 1:08 am, by Colin Evans1 COMMENT

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A world traveler on two-wheels, Asphalt & Rubber reader and good friend Colin Evans is attending his first Isle of Man TT this year. We asked him to share his perspective on the trip, as both someone new to the Isle of Man, but also as a veteran of the world and riding motorcycles. Our hope is that it will be an informative, yet different, perspective than your typical coverage of the IOMTT. Please enjoy! -Jensen

Sadly I had to leave before the end of the Isle of Man TT festival but, I admit it: I’m addicted and I’ll definitely be back. But why? It’s just a motorbike race and there are lots of motorbike races that don’t require booking bloody ferry tickets a bloody year in advance.

So what’s so special that brings people back time after time after time?

IOMTT: Monster Energy Supersport TT Race 2 Results

06/10/2015 @ 6:20 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on IOMTT: Monster Energy Supersport TT Race 2 Results

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In addition to the TT Zero race, Wednesday at the 2015 Isle of Man TT played host to Race 2 of the Monster Energy Supersport TT. Despite the weather that had played havoc during the practice week, conditions for the second Supersport TT were perfect.

As such, the fans were out in force to see who would grab the checkered flag. Bruce Anstey had shown himself capable of winning, taking the RST Superbike TT, and of course Ian Hutchinson has been the talk of the TT.

Generally not a top pick in the supersport class, John McGuinness has been off his pace this year, though coming off the TT Zero win, he certainly seemed on point Wednesday.

Reversing his decision to sit out the second supersport race, Michael Dunlop lined up on Glencrutchery Road, and certainly cannot be counted out of a solo-class race, especially one on a 600cc machine.

Superstock TT at Quarry Bends with Tony Goldsmith

06/09/2015 @ 4:26 pm, by Tony Goldsmith1 COMMENT

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I headed to Quarry Bends today for the delayed Superstock race.

Just after the famous Ballacrye jump and about a mile from Ballaugh Bridge, the Quarry Bends series of corners are amongst the most important on the track as any speed lost through here will effect the riders’ speed onto the Sulby Straight and vital seconds can be lost.

Above: Lee Johnston took his debut TT podium in today’s Superstock TT race. He pipped James Hillier to third place by 3/10sec which is staggering statistic after 151 miles of high-speed racing.

Video: Ian Hutchinson Gives Michael Dunlop a Surprise

06/09/2015 @ 4:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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The Isle of Man TT is a time trial event, meaning that riders are ultimately competing against the clock, not necessarily against the other riders on the course.

Usually when a rider has caught another rider on the course, it means one of them overcame an initial 10 second separation, and thus is considerably faster than the other.

The general protocol then is to let the faster rider through. This benefits the faster rider, who clearly has a superior pace to the slower rider. But, it also benefits the slower rider, who can get a tow from the faster rider, and benefit from their added confidence on the course.

As such, it’s rare to see riders get too close to each other on the Snaefell Mountain Course. Then again…this is motorcycle racing, and these are motorcycle racers…

IOMTT: RL360 Superstock TT Race Results

06/09/2015 @ 3:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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The Superstock TT is an interesting part of the Isle of Man TT. As the name implies, it features liter-class machines, but in a near-stock level of trim. That being said, the speeds attained by the Superstock machines touches near to the highly tuned Superbike machines, with 130+ mph laps being a reality.

The Superstock machines only compete once in the TT fortnight though, whereas there are two Supersport races, and the Superbikes basically get two goes of things, with the Superbike and Senior TT having a staggering overlap in machinery.

With all the weather, the sole chance to run the RL360 Superstock TT was pushed to Tuesday, and was the only race to run today. But, it certainly did its part in providing TT fans with some entertainment.

IOMTT: Guy Martin Will Race Victory’s Electric Bike

06/09/2015 @ 12:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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In a surprise move last night at the 2015 Isle of Man TT, Guy Martin climbed aboard the Victory Motorcycles electric bike that will race in Wednesday’s SES TT Zero race.

The move came about after Martin’s teammate, William Dunlop, who was also set to race for Victory in the TT Zero, crashed at Laurel Bank during the Superstock practice session yesterday, breaking his ribs in the process. As such, Dunlop will not compete in the rest of the TT races.

IOMTT: Colin’s TT Blog – Someone I Can Cheer For

06/08/2015 @ 11:06 pm, by Colin Evans1 COMMENT

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A world traveler on two-wheels, Asphalt & Rubber reader and good friend Colin Evans is attending his first Isle of Man TT this year. We asked him to share his perspective on the trip, as both someone new to the Isle of Man, but also as a veteran of the world and riding motorcycles. Our hope is that it will be an informative, yet different, perspective than your typical coverage of the IOMTT. Please enjoy! -Jensen

Everyone here it seems has their favorite rider, and it’s usually someone from their home towns across the UK and across the world; whether it be Morecambe, Ballymoney, Wellington, Bingley, or Grimsby.

But I could not find a team to cheer from my part of Nottinghamshire until this afternoon, when I found sidecar outfit driver and passenger brothers Ben and Tom Birchall – from Mansfield.

I didn’t ever live in Mansfield, but it’s the town next door where I went to school. The picture of them on the podium says it all; they are clearly instantly likable blokes who are pleased as punch with their victory – and they speak with the same accent as I do. All good enough for the fan club registration.