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.

We’re Going to Try a New Motorcycle Review Format

03/22/2017 @ 12:55 am, by Jensen Beeler79 COMMENTS

For a long time, I have been unhappy with how we do motorcycle reviews here at Asphalt & Rubber – and if I am being real honest, I have been unhappy with how the industry as a whole deals with motorcycle reviews, especially in this new crazy online world.

Mea culpa, A&R is just as guilty as the rest when it comes to publishing motorcycle reviews. We have been just as lazy as the next publication, as we try to chase elusive pageviews at the end of each bike launch, with timely but flaccid prose (with varying degrees of success, on both accounts, I should say).

Well, I want that to stop. It is dumb, and it is bad for the ecosystem.

So, starting today we are going to try a new motorcycle review format – one that I have been chewing on for several months now. It is a three-pronged approach to bike reviews, which sees us trying to achieve different goals with each of our three postings about the new motorcycles we ride. Let me break them down for you.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast #47 – Adam Waheed

03/17/2017 @ 10:41 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Episode 47 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast sees us with another special guest in the studio, as Adam Waheed from Riders Domain joins us to talk about some motorbikes. 

Adam is a stalwart of the moto-journalism space, a total haul-asser, and downright fun dude, so we had a good mix of conversation, ranging from what is going on in the industry right, what bikes he has been riding, and the shifting media landscape for two-wheeled enthusiasts.

Always a fun and energetic human being, we think that Adam’s passion for motorcycles might even surpass our own, and it comes through during this episode. We think you will enjoy what he has to say, and how he says it.

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!

Motorcyclist Magazine Moving to Six-Issue per Year Format, As Editor-in-Chief Marc Cook Leaves the Publication

11/23/2016 @ 3:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler31 COMMENTS

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Changes are afoot at Motorcyclist magazine, as the monthly publication is set to move to a six-issue per year format starting in Spring 2017. That transition will come from the direction of a new leader too, as Editor-in-Chief Marc Cook will be leaving Motorcyclist as well.

Cook outlined his departure, and announced the new format for Motorcyclist, in a short post to his “Cook’s Corner” column online, citing the many contributions his team of writers have made over the course of his tenure at the magazine.

As the opening paragraph to Cook’s goodbye letter coyly suggests, the media landscape in the motorcycle industry is shifting, pushing Motorcyclist magazine in a new direction, which also seems to be pushing hardcore journalists out of the medium.

Introducing A&R Pro Premium Memberships

11/18/2016 @ 2:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler98 COMMENTS

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We are launching something very special today, which is geared towards our most diehard readers. We call it A&R Pro. It is a premium membership that offers more features to the Asphalt & Rubber website, and more of the A&R content that you have grown to love.

For some of our readers, Asphalt & Rubber is maybe one of several websites you stop to read during the day, and it helps feed your two-wheeled addiction during the work week.

For others, your relationship with Asphalt & Rubber is more infrequent, stopping by A&R maybe whenever an interesting article shows up in your news feed or social media accounts.

That is great, and we are stoked to have you here. Your experience of Asphalt & Rubber isn’t going to change very much going forward, as we are deeply committed to providing free access to timely news, smart analysis, and unbiased reviews to all of our readers.

But, for the Asphalt & Rubber readers who can’t get enough of A&R – often coming here multiple times per day to get the latest stories – we wanted to offer you more of the content and community that you thrive on; and in the same breath, give you a way to help support Asphalt & RubberThat’s where A&R Pro comes in.

RideApart Acquired by Motor1.com

05/23/2016 @ 11:32 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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There is more movement in the online two-wheeled space, as RideApart.com has been sold to Motor1.com, the entity behind the popular racing website Motorsport.com, and other online destinations.

The news was made public via a press release on RideApart, and from its wording it seems that operations at the RideApart.com website will continue as they have been, with Motor1 instead looking to leverage the RideApart brand into other spin-off sites, the same way it has done with the “Motor” brand.

“We’re extremely excited to add RideApart to the growing Motor1 network,” said John Neff, Editor-in-Chief at Motor1.com.

“The site will continue to be a leader in coverage of the motorcycle world, publishing the news, reviews, and motorsports coverage that RideApart readers have come to expect. Now joined with the resources and reach of Motor1’s global footprint, it will be our template for launching more editions devoted to motorcycles around the world.”

Ride in Peace, Rob Harris – Founder of Canada Moto Guide

05/15/2016 @ 7:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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It is again with a heavy heart that we have to report the passing not only of a colleague, but also a friend, as Rob Harris passed away yesterday, while riding dirt bikes in Ontario, Canada.

A Brit who found his way into Canada, “Editor ‘arris” was very much the engine that drove the Canadian motorcycle news website Canada Moto Guide, serving as its Founder, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief.

His departure will mean the creation of a huge hole in the Canada’s motorcycling landscape. The intersection of old-school journalism values, with new-school media savvy, Rob was one of the good ones.

No, MV Agusta Hasn’t Declared Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

03/28/2016 @ 6:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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Despite what you may have read, MV Agusta isn’t declaring protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the United States Code. But, we can understand the confusion.

Just so we are clear, by definition Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings are a figment of American law. Since MV Agusta is an Italian company, it would be fundamentally wrong to say that MV Agusta Motor S.p.A. was seeking a protection under the US Code that pertains to bankruptcy.

The branch of MV Agusta that would be able to file for Chapter 11 would be MV Agusta USA, but the US subsidiary is not embroiled in MV Agusta Motor’s financial troubles, which makes the use of the term incredibly inaccurate.

Celebrating 10 Years of David Emmett & MotoMatters

03/14/2016 @ 4:28 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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I want to take a break from our usual daily slew of news and opinion, to give my dear friend David Emmett a moment in the spotlight (something I’m sure he will hate), as this week will mark 10 years of David covering the MotoGP Championship.

David explains the genesis story of MotoMatters much better than I ever could, so I will simply refer you to his posting today on the subject, which can be found on his website. Simply put though, what started out as a modest forum posting on the ADV Rider forum, has turned into one of the most influential websites covering the MotoGP paddock.

As a mutual friend and colleague once said to me, there isn’t a press officer, team member, or rider that doesn’t read MotoMatters with regularity, and there is good reason for that – such is David’s influence on Grand Prix motorcycle racing.

It is a surprise that he has achieved such a mantle in 10 short years.

Cycle News Acquired by Powersport Media, LLC

03/03/2016 @ 6:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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The MAG Retail Group has  completely divested itself of its media holdings, as we can now bring you word regarding the sale of Cycle News to the newly formed Powersport Media LLC company, which was founded by Sean Finley, Bryan Robb, and Jesse Ziegler.

In the interest of transparency, Asphalt & Rubber readers should be aware of the fact that Finely and Robb also own Digital Throttle, an advertising network that caters to the motorcycle and automotive industries, and that Asphalt & Rubber is one of Digital Throttle’s clients, as is Cycle News.

Back to the matter at hand, the change in ownership for Cycle News is the second such change in recent times, as Cycle News was sold to MAG near the end for 2010.

Industry gossip suggests that this deal likely saved Cycle News from following the fate of its sister publication, Motorcycle USA, which was shutdown last week.

Motorcycle USA Closing Its Doors After 20 Years

02/24/2016 @ 4:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler36 COMMENTS

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After 20 years of service, Motorcycle USA is going to shut its doors at the end of this week.

The news is a shock to anyone in the industry, as Motorcycle USA was one of the largest daily news outlets in the space, with extensive industry knowledge, racing coverage, and bike reviews on its pages.

The news came over Twitter, though we are sure that the MotoUSA team will have a prepared statement on their site shortly, which will explain the MAG Retail Groups decision more clearly.