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.

Two Enthusiasts Podcast #30 – The Need for Speed

08/30/2016 @ 5:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Your weekly two-wheeled podcast addiction continues with Episode 30 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast. This installment sees us discussing three different powertrains, the motorcycles that they power.

First up is Harley-Davidson’s new Milwaukee-Eight engine, which will power its Big Twin touring models for the 2017 model year. We then turn our attention to Ducati (no surprise there), and discuss the seeming return of the air-cooled Ducati Monster, which was spied last week.

We finish the show with a lengthy debrief on the Alta Motors Redshift MX, as Quentin and I had previously spent a day riding this electric dirt bike in the mountains near Portland, Oregon.

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!

“I Am From the Future, You Are Not”

07/21/2015 @ 10:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler33 COMMENTS

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Last week I was down in California, mostly for the World Superbike round at Laguna Seca, but also to replace a dead hard drive on a server named Heather, and for the Arai Corsair-X helmet press launch. It was a busy week, to say the least.

I was lucky though to stop be and see the folks at Alta Motors, the ranks of whom have swelled greatly since I was last there, as the company is readying itself for production and is soon moving to its new facility for that very purpose.

It might be too early to talk about 2016 model year motorcycles, but the RedShift SM is definitely a bike I am eager to see in its production form, since the prototype definitely impressed me…all the way back in 2011.

Alta seems just about ready to deliver on its “faster than gas” marching orders, and they have been quietly letting friends and family ride their pre-production units at the shop.

One such person was Jon Bekefy, a stalwart of the motorcycle industry, and no stranger to electric motorcycles, having recently worked for the now defunct Mission Motorcycles.

Equipped with a RedShift SM, a helmet cam, and a microphone…good things ensue. We imagine soon-to-be RedShift owners will have similar reactions once they get their bikes. Enjoy the video, after the jump…and Jon, do you really kiss your mother with that mouth??!

BRD Working on an Affordable Electric Scooter?

02/19/2014 @ 12:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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I was just in the BRD Motorcycles office the other day, and managed to get a glimpse of a near-production version of the startup’s RedShift supermoto/motocross platform. A more refined version of the prototype I rode in December 2011, though fundamentally and visually a very similar machine, we here at Asphalt & Rubber are eagerly awaiting the release of these lites-class bikes.

Unfortunately for my brief tour, the BRD team took away my phone, and gave me only vague responses to my questions about the RedShift in exchange. I can’t fault them on either account — the San Franciscan company doesn’t mess about with the “spy photo” nonsense, and would rather comment on realities, rather than push marketing hype.

CEO Marc Fenigstein did say that the company would have some announcements very soon though, which I would presume to be about additional company funding, which in turn leads to more concrete delivery dates of production bikes. Of course, time will tell on that.

However, one of those announcements might have been leaked out in one of the company’s job postings though: a cheap, powerful, affordable electric scooter for 2015.

Video: Riding the BRD RedShift SM

12/09/2011 @ 12:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

During our chance to ride the BRD RedShift SM prototype, Wes Rowe was on-hand to document the event with photos and video. Sidelined by legal technicalities at Infineon Raceway (damn lawyers), Wes still managed to grab enough footage from outside the fenced-in perimeter of the karting track, and made this short promo video of the BRD RedShift SM. A day choked full of journalists, investors, racers, and extremely curious petrol heads, my time on the RedShift was short, but very intriguing.

Considering that BRD hopes to be delivering bikes to customers this time next year, the RedShift SM is already a very polished machine. Still true to its prototype name though, we had some technical issues during the test, but because electrics are powered by software, not mechanics, the team was able to clear the blue screen of death, and smooth out the lurching issue we encountered. What would have taken weeks in re-tooling and machining, was accomplished essentially overnight. Is the power of the electric drivetrain sinking in yet people?

Pay no attention to the no-talent internet hack at the 1:20 mark. No one really likes him.

Ride Review: BRD RedShift Supermoto Prototype

12/04/2011 @ 10:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

It is a rare opportunity when a journalist gets to swing a leg over a prototype motorcycle. Virtually assured by definition to have perceivable flaws, effectively all the companies in the motorcycle industry prefer to keep the public and media at arm’s length until they have massaged their work into something that is ready for primetime consumption. Testing the BRD RedShift SM electric supermoto at Infineon Raceway today, we could attribute our good fortune to the fact that BRD Motorcycles (faster-faster.com) does not subscribe to the motorcycle industry’s status quo.

Conversely, we could also just as easily say that the boys at BRD are easily crazy enough to let a couple moto-journalists test the only existing example of what nearly a million dollars in motorcycle technology builds you, and the fact that those journalists are online blogger internet nerd types, well that just proves BRD’s insanity, right?

That notion of craziness comes almost without question though, as you would have to be crazy to think that you can take on the major OEMs in their own backyard. You would have to be crazy to give up the security of your day job to start a new venture in the worst recession since the 1930’s, crazy to convert your successful existing business into a risky startup, crazy to spend your accumulated life savings so every dollar raised goes into the company’s shared vision.

There is something crazy about what is going on with a small motorcycle startup in the San Francisco Bay Area, and as I not-so-prudently signed my life away on the test ride disclaimer today, Asphalt & Rubber got to see what manifestations BRD’s farce had produced since we last saw the BRD RedShift SM in August of this year.

BRD RedShift Price & Specs – $14,995 (MX) / $15,495 (SM)

09/28/2011 @ 7:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

After several months of testing and refining the BRD RedShift electric motorcycle, pricing and technical specifications from BRD Motorcycles has just graced our inbox. Wanting to make sure the BRD RedShift SM & RedShift MX lived up to the company’s hype, BRD has been reluctant to quote exact figures and prices until the San Francisco startup was confident it could back up those announcements with actual product performance. True to our prediction at the time of the BRD RedShift SM’s launch, the MX version will come with a $14,995 price tag, while the SM supermotard will tack on an extra $500 for a $15,495 MSRP.

Making 40 peak-horsepower, the BRD RedShift touts 250cc bike specs, especially with its 260/265 lbs (SM/MX) curb weight for street use (headlight and switchgear). In racing trim, both the SM & MX shed an additional 10 lbs. Because of the interest being generated in the police-style model (RedShift PD), BRD will make the model available with its more robust tail section, hard luggage, and more powerful electrical system for powering electrical components. These added components add an additional 35 lbs to the RedShift’s base weight, though the PD model is expected to be the company’s best selling model, as public and private fleet vehicles are increasingly pressured to include electrics into their vehicle pools.

Up-Close with the BRD RedShift SM Electric Supermotard

08/09/2011 @ 5:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

After launching its electric equivalent of a 250cc four-stroke supermotard, A&R spent a little quality time with the BRD RedShift SM at its future production facility in San Francisco. That’s right, not only is BRD hoping to tackle gas bikes head-on (we hear they only want to race in gas events), but the company, thanks to some clever design work, will be producing its electric motorcycles in the otherwise expensive SF/Bay Area. Instead of using a chassis architecture that would require hand or machine welds (the latter being far more expensive to setup for small production), BRD is using a combination of a casting and milling build process to create a motorcycle frame that is dependent more on machine operation, than worker labor. This means labor costs will be low, and production is limited only by how many milling machines the small startup can keep running at anyone one point in time.

Looking at the photos, you will have a hard time finding a weld on the RedShift’s frame, as the four pieces that make the main chassis are designed to be bolted together. Replacing what would normally be a single-cylinder thumper, BRD’s bright orange 5.2 kWh battery pack is exposed for aesthetics, and in conjunction with the powder blue and avalanche white bodywork, the overall livery hints at the Gulf Racing color scheme, without screaming it. At 40hp and tipping scales allegedly at the 250 lbs mark in its current form (we hear word it actually weighs less than 250 lbs at present), BRD thinks there’s more weight to be lost in the bike as the company refines the motorcycle for production.

The BRD RedShift SM is wearing prototype wheels from OZ Racing in these photos, which are made from forged aluminum, and reportedly are so light as to be practically buoyant. Overall the fit and finish of BRD’s pre-production model looks very nice, and as long as the SF company can keep that kind of build quality in its final product, it should be off to a strong start. Due to hit the streets before the KTM Freeride makes it stateside, it will be interesting to see if Zero can put out an offering next year to match the claimed performance specs from the RedShift. Similarly, it will be interesting to see if the Brammo Engage will make its debut with its six-speed gearbox by that time as well.

At a rumored $15,000 a pop, the price tag is hefty compared to gas equivalents, but that hasn’t kept orders from flooding BRD”s offices the morning after the RedShift’s launch last week in San Francisco. For those craving more photos of the BRD RedShift SM, we have 24 hi-res shots waiting for you after the jump.