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.

KTM Sets Sales Record During First-Half of 2014

09/08/2014 @ 6:20 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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KTM continues to challenge BMW Motorrad as the top European motorcycle manufacturer (by sales volume), and has set a company record for sales in the first half of this year.

Selling 70,469 units in total, KTM is just shy of the 70,978 mark left by BMW Motorrad during the same sales period, so it will be interesting to see if the Austrian brand can close the gap in the final six months, as it has done the previous two years.

Friendly competition aside, the news is quite positive for KTM. The six-month sales figure represents a nearly 28% increase in unit volume, while top-line revenue is up 17.6% (€410.3 million, a record as well) and bottom-line income (EBIT) is up whopping 82.6% (€33.6 million). KTM has also increased its ranks by 204 people during the first half of 2014.

Video: The Genesis of the KTM 1290 Super Duke R

03/04/2014 @ 6:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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The Austrians refer to the KTM 1290 Super Duke R as “The Beast” whenever possible, and as our trained crash test dummy Iwan found out first hand, the name is appropriate for the 180hp streetfighter. The first motorcycle from KTM with traction control, the new Super Duke R is mighty, but pliable…and for good reason: KTM designed it that way.

It may not have as robust of an electronics package as the Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS, but the 1290 Super Duke R has unsettled the Italian bike as the sport-naked to have in your garage…that is, if you can afford it.

How did The Beast come to be from its RC8 R roots though? Never fret, KTM has put together a short video, which tells the genesis story of this monster machine.

Watch Jeremy McWilliams Embarrass Some Journalists at the Track While on a KTM 1290 Super Duke R

11/15/2013 @ 5:54 am, by Jensen Beeler32 COMMENTS

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Judging from how the KTM 1290 Super Duke R stacks up against its competition (like the Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS, BMW S1000R, and Ducati Monster 1200 S), the Austrian’s were right in calling the new Duke “The Beast” in their pre-launch marketing.

With 180hp coming from its 1,301cc v-twin engine, and 106 lbs•ft of torque (74 of which start at just 2,500 rpm), KTM has built a road-eating monster in the new Super Duke R.

Taming that beast is no easy task, though luckily the KTM 1290 Super Duke R is one of the Austrian company’s first motorcycles to get traction control. But as our friend Iwan learned at the international press launch in Spain, the Super Duke R still packs quite the punch.

KTM’s tame motorcycle racer, and development rider for the Super Duke R, Jeremy McWilliams was on-hand for the press launch as well. Unfortunately for McWilliams though, there appears to be something wrong with his race-spec Duke, as the front wheel has trouble staying attached to the ground. He should probably have the boys take a look at it.

38 Hi-Res Photos of the KTM 1290 Super Duke R

10/24/2013 @ 2:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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KTM called it “The Beast” when it teased the 2014 KTM 1290 Super Duke R ahead of the bike’s official launch, and our man Iwan from Testmotor.nl is inclined to agree with that moniker, after attending the international press launch in Spain this past week. As aggressive in appearance as it is riding on the street and track, KTM’s new streetfighter sits at the top of the class with its 180hp 1,301cc v-twin engine.

Though an MSRP for the USA hasn’t been released yet, European pricing suggests that the new KTM 1290 Super Duke R will be only for a discerning few, which is alright because KTM doesn’t intend this machine to be for everyone. Coming against stiff competition for 2014, the new Super Duke R will hit dealer floors at the same time as the still unseen BMW S1000R and liquid-cooled Ducati Monster 1200.

With the 2014 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS also getting more letters in its name for the new year, the choices are tough in the big-displacement sport/naked category. These are good problems to have though. To help you mull over which bike should be in your garage, we have 38 high-resolution photos of the 2014 KTM 1290 Super Duke R waiting for you after the jump. Enjoy!

Ride Review: KTM 1290 Super Duke R

10/21/2013 @ 3:31 pm, by Iwan van der Valk17 COMMENTS

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Attending KTM’s launch of the 2014 KTM 1290 Super Duke R in Spain, or friend Iwan van der Valk from Testmotor.nl has been kind enough to share his thoughts and review regarding Austria’s newest hooligan machine.

Getting a chance to put the KTM 1290 Super Duke R through its paces on the road as well as the track at Ascari, we are supremely jealous of Iwan’s experience. Hopefully KTM USA will let Asphalt & Rubber have a turn on the 1290 Super Duke R soon. – Jensen

For 2014, KTM is launching the third model of the Super Duke line, which they have been selling since 2005 (note: KTM mentions it’s the fourth edition because of the small upgrade in 2011).

The new KTM 1290 Super Duke R has a brand new 1,301 cc v-twin engine, that delivers a huge amount of horsepower (180bhp) and a mountain of torque (106 lbs•ft). The 1290 Super Duke R only weighs 417 lbs dry.

KTM Super Duke 1290 R Debut Coming Very Soon

09/18/2013 @ 1:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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In just eleven days, the KTM Super Duke 1290 R is going to make its official production debut. We have already seen the KTM 1290 Super Duke R prototype, which took the 2012 EICMA show by storm.

We have also already seen Jeremy McWilliams take the RC8-powered street-naked up “The World’s Most Famous Driveway” at the Goodwood Festival of speed, which of course only whet our appetite further for “The Beast” that KTM has created.

Just in case we forgot about all that though, KTM has created a teaser website for the Super Duke 1290 R, complete with countdown clock, along with another teaser video.

KTM 1290 Super Duke R Prototype Rides at Goodwood — There’s a Reason Why They Call It ‘The Beast’

07/19/2013 @ 7:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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Set to debut at the 2013 EICMA show, we best know the KTM 1290 Super Duke from the prototype concept that zie Austrians showed at the Milan trade show last year, though the bevy of spy photos that have cropped up on the internet also hels to form the bike in our minds. While much will be said about KTM’s RC8-powered streetfighter later this year, the buzz on the 1290cc v-twin machine is just how much of a beast it is in real life.

Taking to the world’s most famous driveway for the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the “Beast” was put through its paces by none other than Jeremy McWilliams — and the former MotoGP racer certainly had his work cutout for him. Really more of an exhibition than a race, McWilliams still showed how fast the new Super Duke will be…in every direction.

We have been really looking forward to riding the KTM 1290 Super Duke R when it comes out, but after watching this video…well…we’ll takeout a bit more life insurance, that’s for sure. Watch the bucking, sliding, dragging, wheelieing machine at Goodwood after the jump.

Moar Photos of the KTM 1290 Super Duke R Patriot Edition

07/01/2013 @ 12:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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Greeting American KTM dealers this past week, the KTM 1290 Super Duke R Patriot Edition is a Stars & Stripes hat-tip to the soon-to-be-released KTM 1290 Super Duke R. Expected to be in dealerships by December of this year, “The Beast” will make its official public debut at the 2013 EICMA show.

However, we might get a glimpse of the bike before then, as KTM will be hosting moto-journalists this autumn for a road and track test, but until then, these are the best photos of the machine to-date.

Looking past the paint, which is a bit too ‘merican for our eyes, the lines to the new Super Duke R seem to be taking shape, as the exhaust here matches what we have seen in spy photos. What is most interesting is the headlight, which you will either love or hate, but we hope it’ll make it to final production (the one on the test mule is so ‘meh’).

KTM 1290 Super Duke R Patriot Edition – Meanwhile, Super Duke R Confirmed for December Arrival

06/28/2013 @ 8:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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American KTM dealers are in Austria this week visiting the mothership in Mattighofen, and to help greet them is the KTM 1290 Super Duke R prototype. Dressed for the occasion though, KTM is calling this one-off Stars & Stripes adorned hooligan machine the KTM 1290 Super Duke R Patriot Edition — ’cause you know, ‘merica!

The name might be a little over the top, but the bike is the visual centerpiece to some good news on the Super Duke front. Debuting a prototype of “The Beast” at last year’s EICMA show, KTM will unveil the final production model at the 2013 EICMA show in Milan, and says that the bike will be on dealer showroom floors in December.

KTM Super Duke 1290R Concept by Mirco Sapio

04/10/2013 @ 3:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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One of the most eye-catching machines at the 2012 EICMA show in Milan, the KTM 1290 Super Duke R shows the Austrian brand’s return to making beastly asphalt-churning street-nakeds. Edgy in design, and featuring a bored-out version of the KTM 1190 RC8 R’s v-twin engine at its core, we are counting down the days until the Maestros at Mattighofen release the new Super Duke upon us.

Helping tide us over until that day is this very interesting re-imagining, Micro Sapio’s KTM Super Duke 1290R concept. We have featured Sapio’s work here on A&R before, though we have to say we are more smitten with his more recent take on the Super Duke than his last.

Taking some cues from KTM’s concept design, the highlights of Sapio’s concept are its gorgeous tail section and exhaust, as well as the unique front-end fork and air-intake design. We wouldn’t mind seeing some of these ideas incorporated into KTM’s final work, though we think the LED headlight and some other details are going to put off some enthusiasts. More photos after the jump.