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.

Our Top 5 Bikes from the 2017 One Moto Show

02/13/2017 @ 11:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler36 COMMENTS

Over 17,000 people flocked to the northern end of Portland this year, braving the cold interior of a vacant building with their plaid shirts, in order to drink PBR, listen to loud music, and look at the occasional motorcycle. Yes, it us that time of year for The One Motorcycle Show in Portland, Oregon.

More than just a much larger venue, The One Moto Show continues to gain traction with vendors and sponsors, all the while attracting more and more bike-curious attendees through its doors.

Main-lined into the zeitgeist that we recognize as two-wheeled hipsterdom, “mainstream” motorcyclists can roll their eyes while shuffling through the PDX masses, but you cannot deny the pulse the show keeps with younger motorcyclists.

As such, there were more than a few pillars of the motorcycle industry circulating in the show’s ranks – all incognito, of course – trying to understand how the next generation interacts not only with motorcycles, but also with each other.

Over 150 bikes were on display for those in attendance – I heard a figure as high as 170 motorcycles were hidden throughout the multiple rooms and floors of the show’s venue – and a couple trends struck me over the course of the show.

Super Hooligan Flat Track Racing Is A Thing Now

02/13/2017 @ 12:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Super Hooligan Racing is officially a thing now, with the big-bike flat track racing event taking-on a nationwide racing series format for 2017.

The brainchild of Roland Sands Design, Super Hooligan racing adds a sort of “production racing” element to flat track racing, with competitors on motorcycles that are 750cc and up, along with stock frames, dirt track tires, and no front brakes.

The first race of the season has already taken place here in Salem, Oregon – tied into the The One Moto Show – and other Super Hooligan events will take place at similar motorcycle festival events throughout the year.

With contingency money and purse prizes going to race winners, and an Indian Scout FTR750 race bike going to the series winner, there is a good incentive here for riders to come out and try wrangling 500+ lbs street bikes around a dirt oval.

Here’s a Custom Ducati XDiavel by Roland Sands Design

08/15/2016 @ 4:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

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In the event’s 76-year history, this year marks the first time that Ducati has ever participated at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally – the Italian company hoping to showcase its Harley-Davidson alternative, the Ducati XDiavel.

Helping fuel that fire was a collaboration between Roland Sands Design and Ducati, which has given way to the creation of a one-off XDiavel with the usual RSD touches.

This means a flowing single-piece body, the addition of a 19″ front wheel, and shotgun-style exhaust are added to the already stylish XDiavel. The RSD Ducati XDiavel is then finished off with metallic flake paint job, along with the usual bits and bobs from the RSD catalog.

There is a lot of “Southern California” transmitted through RSD’s design into the Italian-born XDiavel. It makes for an interesting mixture. We’ll be curious to see how this resonates with American cruiser riders.

Yamaha XSR900 Adds to Yamaha’s Sport-Heritage Range

11/16/2015 @ 2:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

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If you’ve ever wondered what the FZ-09 would look like as a café racer, the Yamaha XSR900 is it. Fresh off its EICMA debut, the 2016 Yamaha XSR900 is the Japanese brand’s attempt to build out its “sport-heritage” line. That is to say, it’s Yamaha’s attempt to appeal to the skinny jean and beard crowd.

That’s about all the hate we can muster for the Yamaha XSR900 though – probably because we used it all up earlier on the Yamaha MT-10 – but truthfully, Yamaha’s appeal to the “heritage demographic” feels a lot more genuine than say, a certain Italian brand that also debuted a hipster bike today.

A BMW Scrambler Cometh?

04/20/2015 @ 11:39 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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It appears that BMW Motorrad wants in on the retro-styled scrambler game that Ducati and Triumph are playing, and is looking to use its R nineT platform to do the job.

The scrambler model, which has already been previewed to BMW’s European dealers, would be just the first of several budget-oriented models to come from BMW, all of which would be based off the BMW R nineT.

The scrambler is expected to debut later this year with its 100hp air-cooled engine, while the other models, namely a café racer model, will come in 2016.

Video: Roland Sands Design’s “Art of the Machine”

12/13/2013 @ 6:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

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A little something to end the week with, Roland Sands Design has put together a video called “Art of the Machine” that is a bit different from the usual fare you find in the motorcycle industry, even from the exceptional creative types at RSD.

Using a kaleidoscope treatment on a series of fabrication and riding clips, the short film has an eerily dark and deep feel to it. You don’t have to be a fan of RSD’s work in order to become enthralled by the mesmerizing visual and audios here, and while we’re not quite sure why we like it…we know that we just do. Obey.

Roland Sands “Hypermodifies” the 2012 Yamaha Tmax 530

11/12/2012 @ 6:43 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

What happens when you give Southern Californian bike builder Roland Sands few instructions beyond “build something cool”? and a 2012 Yamaha Tmax 530? You get one of the most pimped out Tmax scooters ever seen…and that is saying a lot. A popular choice with bike tuners and builders in both Europe and Japan, the Yamaha Tmax 530 hasn’t caught on here in the “scooters are for girls” United States of America.

Based around a 46hp 530cc parallel-twin motor, the Tmax 530 has some pep underneath its feet-forward design. Disguised as docile scooter, the Yamaha Tmax is no stranger to shedding its clothes for some performance persusasion, and Roland Sands has tapped into that vein of the Tmax here with his build, which will debut at EICMA tomorrow.

A “hypermodified” 2012 Yamaha Tmax 530, Sands has his usual touches in the machine, which is both a tasteful and raw representation of the looming scooter apocalypse. If Mad Max rode a scooter, this might be it. We love the tan leather seat with its subtle beige stitching, and of course the “braaaaaap” of the baffle-less exhaust. More photos after the jump.

Another Day in the Roland Sands Office

05/10/2011 @ 4:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Making custom bikes of his choosing in Southern California is pretty lush gig, and helping prove the point that we should give up this crazy blogging lifestyle, Roland Sands Design has come up with this “typical day in the office” video. Tracking a promotional photo shoot that starts in the RSD shop, and ends in some apocalyptic industrial park, there’s a bevy of women, motorcycles, and Roland.

After crushing a small mutiny here in the office (we must not have enough bikes for our decor here in the A&R office), we can share with you  the video of a typical day in the Roland Sands Design office. Employers beforewarned as your workforce may start complaining of unfair working conditions. Employees beware, not all the scenes here are strictly work safe.

Roland Sands Design Ducati Desmo Tracker

03/14/2011 @ 7:42 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

Those boys in Southern California are at it again, as Roland Sands Design has taken on building a customer’s Ducati Desmosedici RR into a custom street tracker. According to RSD the lucky owner is Justyn Amstutz, and this zero miles Desmosedici RR is one of three in his stable. With 989cc 200+ hp V4 motor that revs to 16,000 rpm, RSD hopes to take Ducati’s beast of a street bike, and turn it into something that requires a steel boot to ride.

Roland Sands Talks about Bell Helmets

01/17/2011 @ 4:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

We’ve had more than a few Bell Helmets rolling around the A&R office these past months, and one of the things we’ve really liked from this American-based company is how it has teamed up with notable designers from inside and outside of the motorcycle industry to bring attractive and fresh looks to consumers. While it’s been the Bell Star and Vortex that have been keeping our brains firmly in-between our ears, it’s the designs by Roland Sands and Jona Cerwinske that have been attracting us to Bell, and propelling the company back into the motorcycle helmet market as a whole.

Taking some time to talk to Roland Sands at his new Southern California shop, Bell Helmets has put together this short video with the former motorcycle racer turned designer. While Bell and RSD are obviously out to hock the new gold-leaf-over-carbon fiber “Speed Freak” helmet they’ve created for 2011, Roland has some interesting stories about his process and growing up around motorcycles…the photography is spectacular too boot.

With Bell in the process of restoring its name after having its motorcycle helmet division operated overseas by another company, we expect to see more videos in the future like the one after the jump that engage riders with this once-defunct American brand.