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.

A Race Weekend with the Monster Energy Graves Yamaha MotoAmerica Superbike Team

08/01/2016 @ 1:54 pm, by Andrew Kohn6 COMMENTS

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It’s 7am at Utah Motorsports Campus on Day One of a three-day MotoAmerica race weekend. Being my overly punctual self, I’ve shown up at the track too early, but it’s given me a unique opportunity to watch the teams arrive and get set up.

As I walk around the paddock, I can hear the sounds of a race weekend beginning. The quiet tones of the teams waking up and starting their day; eyes still bleary from the long drive to Utah. I could smell coffee brewing and breakfast cooking in some pits, while others were still devoid of activity.

I came around a corner and saw the unmistakable blue awning of the Monster Energy Graves Yamaha Factory Superbike Team. Yamaha invited me to spend a weekend with them to see the inner workings of a professional racing team, and all of the hard work that goes into such an undertaking.

Over the weekend, I’d have opportunities to sit down with Racing Division Manager and AMA Hall of Famer, Keith McCarty, 2015 Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier, four-time Superbike Champion Josh Hayes, and Crew Chiefs, Rick Hobbs and Jim Roach.

Since it was still early and the tent flaps were still down, I stood and watched as the paddock awakened.

Racing Likely to Return to Bonneville Salt Flats This Year

07/13/2016 @ 8:36 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Racing Likely to Return to Bonneville Salt Flats This Year

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Racing seems set to return finally to the Bonneville Salt Flats this year, as the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) has found the conditions favorable to run its Speed Week event next month (above is a photo taken of the salt flats, just two weeks ago).

This is good news for land-speed racers, as racing at Bonneville has seen a two-year hiatus because of deteriorating salt conditions in 2014 and 2015.

Now, the SCTA says that it sees the Bonneville Salt Flats as being suitable for three courses – an 8-mile “long course”, 5-mile “short course”, and a 3-mile “rookie course” – and has begun prepping the salt for its Speed Week event next month.

Gone Riding: Honda Africa Twin CRF1000L

05/03/2016 @ 7:28 am, by Jensen Beeler50 COMMENTS

2016 Honda Africa Twin

Hello from the road, dear readers. I’m out in Moab, Utah for the next few days, testing the Honda Africa Twin CRF1000L adventure-touring motorcycle. We have a solid couple of days riding ahead of us, with Tuesday being an on-road day, and Wednesday seeing our feet get dirty with some off-road action.

Weather here in Moab has been fluctuating for the past few days, with rain, hail, and flurries being previously on the menu, but the forecast promises us some sunshine for our stay. Hopefully the weatherman right.

One of the most anticipated machines for the 2016 model year, the Honda Africa Twin is finally about to arrive in motorcycle dealerships (though, in limited numbers). We’ve been looking forward to swinging a leg over this off-road focused ADV machine for some time, to see if it lives up to the hype.

Miller Motorsports Park Sale Vacated by Judge

12/18/2015 @ 10:56 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Miller Motorsports Park Sale Vacated by Judge

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Miller Motorsports Park is set to change hands, after the Miller family’s LHM Group decided not to renew its lease with Toole County on the property.

This created a situation where bids were tendered for a new operator, which lead to Mitime Utah Investment, LLC — a subsidiary of Chinese company Geely Holding Group, which is also the owner of automotive company Volvo — winning the bidding process with a sum of $20 million, two months ago.

That sale though has been vacated by Third District Judge Robert Adkins, who agreed with the petition of Center Point Management (CPM) that the company’s $22 million bid should have won, since it was higher and the County has an obligation to sell the property for the most money.

Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials Now Canceled

08/17/2015 @ 10:30 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials Now Canceled

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After being a tentative “go” for racing last week, the 2015 Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials has now been canceled because of conditions on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

The announcement comes after rains in the Salt Lake City, Utah area put water on the salt flat racing course, and now currently half an inch of water sits on what the BMST calls its “Mountain Course” area.

Triumph Postpones Land Speed Record Attempt

08/13/2015 @ 12:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

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Racing at the Bonneville Salt Flats has been a tumultuous affair for 2015, with the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) forced to cancel its Speed Week event for the second year in a row, just to see the AMA now proclaim its Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials event a tentative “go” barring more weather in the Salt Lake City area.

One of the teams we hoped to see competing on the salt flats was Triumph, with its Triumph Rocket III Streamliner and Guy Martin at its helm. With Guy Martin’s savage crash at the Ulster GP leaving the Lincolnshire-man with a broken back, sternum, and ribs, Triumph has had to re-think its 2015 land-speed record program.

As such, Triumph is calling this year a wash, and will return to the salt flats in 2016, where hopefully conditions, and more so fate, will allow the team to race towards its 400 mph goal.

AMA Says Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials Still a “Go”

08/11/2015 @ 9:04 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on AMA Says Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials Still a “Go”

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UPDATE: The 2015 Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials has now been canceled, due to salt conditions.

The conditions at the Bonneville Salt Flats are worrying, to say the very least. Each year the conditions of the salt flats are worse and worse, and 2015 marks the second year in a row that Speed Week has been cancelled by the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) because of the conditions.

Last month, when Speed Week was cancelled, there was a lot of doubt cast on the rest of the land-speed record season, but the AMA says that its Speed Trials event has found a suitable course its motorcycle-only land-speed racers.

Set to run August 29th thru September 3rd, as of right now the “AMA Land Speed Grand Championship” that is the Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials is a tentative “go” for racing.

SCTA Cancels Bonneville Speed Week, Again

07/21/2015 @ 1:41 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on SCTA Cancels Bonneville Speed Week, Again

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Bad news continues from the Bonneville Salt Flats, as the SCTA has officially cancelled its upcoming Speed Week event — an event that was cancelled last year as well.

As we reported earlier, Speed Week was put into serious doubt because of the conditions of the salt flats, which were shown to have a thin salt layer and wet/muddy conditions that made the historic site unsuitable for land speed racing.

Spending Tuesday morning at Bonneville looking for a suitable stretch of salt for a 2.25-mile course, SCTA President/Race Director Bill Lattin & the BNI Chairman Roy Creel deemed the conditions unsafe for a race course, and thus dashed any hopes of the event being salvaged.

Perhaps the only silver-lining to today’s news is that if the salt dries out, future land speed racing events might be possible at Bonneville this year.

SCTA Speed Week in Peril as Bonneville Loses More Salt

07/13/2015 @ 1:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Conditions at the Bonneville Salt Flats continue to deteriorate with each passing year, and 2015 is no different. Testing for the upcoming Speed Week, put on by the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA), has been cancelled, and the salt conditions for the August 8th event are questionable, at best.

Readers will remember that last year’s Speed Week was cancelled, after torrential rain flooded the salt flats. This year, the salt layer is so thin that the uneven desert floor is poking through in some spots.

Out surveying the salt flats last week, Russ Eyers from the SCTA told the Salt Lake Tribune that he couldn’t find a 7-mile stretch of land suitable to land speed racing on the Bonneville Salt Flats, with some portions still underwater and others where the salt is mixed with mud.

Guy Martin Racing at Bonneville with Triumph

07/09/2015 @ 7:30 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

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After competing in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb last year, Guy Martin continues his pursuit of racing beyond just road race courses, with an announcement today that he will compete with Triumph for a land speed record at Bonneville.

The news sees the Lincolnshire-man aboard the Triumph Rocket III Streamliner, which is powered by two turbocharged 2.3-liter Triumph Rocket III engines that make a combined 1,000 horsepower.

Triumph and Martin hope to top the current FIM motorcycle land speed record, which is 376.363 mph, pop the 400 mph barrier, and thus bring the land speed record back to the Triumph brand, and the UK, after a 45 year absence.