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 #26 – Return of the Kickstands

08/03/2016 @ 1:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

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Episode 26 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out for your listening pleasure. To make up for a lack of shows the past few weeks, this episode is a two-part recap of the Jensen’s adventures in Italy, California, and North Carolina. As such, keep an eye out for Episode 27, which will be out later this week, to give you something extra to listen to over the weekend.

In the meantime, we are going to Tarantino the order of events, and talk first about Jensen’s most recent trip, the press launch for the Yamaha FZ-10 street bike, which he rode at The Tail of the Dragon.

The show starts with some current headlines though, talking first about MotoGP’s decision to ban winglets, Harley-Davidson’s rumored hostile takeover by a private equity firm, and Honda’s decision to abandon support of the supersport street segment.

Naturally, the guys find some rabbit holes to crawl down, along the way, which includes a discussion on the role of prototype racing, the oddity that is the “cripple triple” racing motorcycle, and the realities of a tiered licensing systems.

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!

Some Photos from the 2016 Southern 100

07/31/2016 @ 11:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Our friend and photographer Stephen McClements was recently out at the Southern 100, that other road race that’s held each year at the Isle of Man.

Set in the scenic town of Castletown, the Southern 100 doesn’t run on the famous TT course, instead racers compete on the Billown Circuit.

Though it’s not as famous as the Isle of Man TT, the Southern 100 still manages to attract some recognizable names from the TT and Irish road racing championship.

For instance, this year’s race saw entries from Michael Dunlop, Dave Molyneux, Dean Harrison, Ivan Lintin, Dan Kneen, and James Cowton.

Stephen brought Asphalt & Rubber some great high-resolution photographs from the 2016 Southern 100, we hope you enjoy them, after the jump (above: Dan Kneen at the Church Bends stone wall).

Two Enthusiasts Podcast – Episode 25 – Mur-Diddly-Urdler

07/08/2016 @ 8:59 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

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Episode 25 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is an omnibus episode that covers a number of topics (we even had to cut a couple out, since the show went waaaay long).

We start the show with a discussion about Indian’s upcoming flat track racing effort, which will see Jared Mees helping develop a new Indian motor that was recently teased. We also talk about the new Husqvarna FS 450 supermoto and its cool go-fast parts (traction control, launch control, air forks, etc).

Fresh off the Isle of Man TT, we also look at the TT-styled road race that Australians are trying to organize near the Sunshine Coast. Our last news item see us talk about what the VerticalScope hack means for motorcycle forum enthusiasts.

We finish the show by trading stories about racing in the Baja 500, and Quentin’s adventures endurance racing an old clapped-out vintage MX bike. Both conversations somehow involve the mentioning of coconut water, strangely enough.

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!

2016 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Motorcycle Results

06/27/2016 @ 2:21 am, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

Australia Considers TT-Style Road Race near Sunshine Coast

06/20/2016 @ 10:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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It seems appropriate that just a week after the Isle of Man TT, we should be talking about efforts in Australia to host a similar event.

Dubbed the Sunshine Coast International TT (SCTT), the 29.2-mile race would center off of Australia’s Sunshine coast, near Brisbane, and could potentially bring in $8.5 million to the local economy.

The Sunshine Coast is already a popular destination for motorcyclists, among other types of tourists who flock to the area’s beaches and other topography.

While we have seen other proposals interested in taking the Isle of Man TT formula abroad, some at the whim of the Isle of Man government, the SCTT seems to have some legs, with two public hearings on the subject already held with locals and interested outsiders.

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.