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.

XXX: Ducati Desmosedici RR

11/04/2012 @ 3:03 am, by Jensen Beeler32 COMMENTS

Before Honda started working on its road-going version of its V4 MotoGP race bike, there was the Ducati Desmosedici RR. A fairly close approximation to its namesake, 1,500 units of the Desmosedici RR were built by the Bologna Brand, with the coup de grâce being the hyperbike’s $72,000 price tag.

Despite its racing pedigree, with a MotoGP World Championship at the hands of Casey Stoner too boot, sales for the Ducati Desmosedici RR were surprisingly sluggish. You can even find a few remaining models still on the showroom floors of some select Ducati dealerships.

Maybe it was the price tag, maybe it was the public’s less-than-adoring relationship with the new MotoGP Champion, or maybe it was the fact that the production-based Ducati Superbike 1098R was said to be faster than the RR around certain tracks (Motorcyclist & MCN). Maybe it was a function of all the above.

However, in our eyes, the Ducati Desmosedici RR remains one of the most drool-worthy sport bikes produced in the past decade — after all, it really is as close as you’re going to get to a road-going GP machine…besides the Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC.

After Ducati completed its production run of the Ducati Desmosedici RR, many began to speculate as to the company’s encore uber-exclusive model. Despite Ducati’s internal belief that the Desmosedici RR was a relative failure as a model (it would be safe to say that Ducati didn’t expect sales of the RR to take nearly as long as they did), as far as halo products go, the Desmosedici RR ticks all the right boxes, and begs for a next-generation.

In many ways, the Ducati 1199 Panigale is the company’s follow-up to the Desmo, and interestingly enough, the Panigale is now also beginning to struggle with sales, admittedly not to the same extent as the RR.

Looking at the photos after the jump, you can see a lot of the Panigale in the Desmosedici, which is of course due to the Ducati 1199 Panigale’s MotoGP-inspired “frameless” chassis design that uses the motor as the basis for the motorcycle’s structure.

Building the headstock/airbox off the forward-facing cylinder head, and the tail/rear-subframe off the rearward cylinder head on the Panigale, we see the same design elements in the Ducati Desmosedici RR, except maybe one or two generations behind the current superbike (Ducati went from a steel trellis design, to a carbon design, to an aluminum design, and now rests on a aluminum perimeter-frame design).

Allowing Ducati to make a ridiculously light motorcycle, the design philosophy holds some serious strong potential. We don’t imagine the thought process on this chassis is over just quite yet, regardless of what is occurring in MotoGP right now, though Ducati Corse certainly has its work cutout for itself in that arena.

Is there a point to all this? Maybe not, beyond something to mull over on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Daydreaming fodder is after the jump.

Honda RC213 Concept by Luca Bar Design

10/01/2012 @ 11:15 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Our friend Luca Bar has been busy since the last time we showcased his work, and today the young Italian designer brings us his vision of the heavily rumored, and now confirmed, MotoGP-inspired V4 superbike that Honda will bring to market in 2014.

With Honda CEO Takanobu Ito drawing a distinct connection between the upcoming model and the Honda RC30, Bar has obviously chosen to dress his machine in the RC30’s livery, which has recently also made an appearance on this year’s Honda TT Legends machine.

Honda CEO Confirms V4 Sport Bike Project is Underway

09/20/2012 @ 10:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler49 COMMENTS

It has been a long time coming with this announcement, but Honda has finally officially announced that work has begun on what is presumed to be a V4 sport bike. In the same vein as the Honda RC30 that was introduced back in 1987, Honda has apparently seen the light, and according to the company’s own words, the company has started “with a goal to create a new history.”

Announcing the new model in his end-of-the-fiscal year speech, Honda CEO Takanobu Ito was terse with his words in describing the new Honda sport bike, but referencing the RC30 project, along with heavy rumors that we have been hearing about a V4 street bike project in the works that was being based of Honda’s MotoGP program — this almost assures that the bike referenced is a V4 superbike based loosely on the RC213V race bike.

2014 Suzuki GSV-R Spotted – The Inline-Four Cometh?

05/23/2012 @ 10:39 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

The eagle-eyed camera’s over at Cycle World have caught Suzuki conducting tests for its MotoGP project, and the early indications are that the Japanese brand has dropped its V4 motor configuration in favor of a more traditional transverse inline-four cylinder arrangement — at least for this present stage of testing.

Cycle World‘s sources say that while the cylinder configuration may be fairly standard, the 2014 Suzuki GSV-R is anything but your typical four-pot. Showing the makings of a crossplane crankshaft via the bike’s exhaust routing, it would seem Suzuki has taken a page out of Yamaha YZR-M1‘s playbook, with rideablility being the name of the game. If you are keen for a good read, checkout Kevin Cameron’s article on Cycle World for more pictures and his analysis of what they mean for Suzuki’s MotoGP prototype.

Suter 500 Factory V4 – Thank You for Smoking

05/14/2012 @ 12:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

Asphalt & Rubber is based out of California, so that means smoking is akin to a cardinal sin out here, and on the hierarchy of egregious crimes against humanity, it ranks just slightly under torturing babies with hot pincers (heaven forbid you cause a baby to start smoking).

Smoking indoors in outright verboten virtually everywhere, while puffing some nicotine anywhere outside that is near a restaurant, bar, club, ATM, hospital, pre-school, or tobacco shop is liable to cause a citizen to go murder-death-kill on you John Spartan.

The issue is so pervasive here, that it has even extended beyond cigarettes and into the realm of motorcycling, with The Golden State leading the charge on the banning of two-stroke motorcycles.

We are now purely a “suck, squeeze, bang, blow” society, and while that suits many motorists just fine, there are some who enjoy the smell of pre-mix in the morning — you know who you are.

You enjoy the sound of angry bees following you from apex to off-camber. You think a displacement for “serious riders” starts at around 250cc. You like your engine compression low, and your powerbands narrow. You sir (or madam), are a two-stroke junky, and we have just the fix you need.

Just as MotoGP replaced 500GP, we know see Moto2 & Moto3 replacing the lower two-stroke classes that remained in Grand Prix racing. Leading the charge on this mechanical front are a slew of new companies, most notably the chassis manufacturers, of which Suter is perhaps the most well-regarded.

Making the weapon of choice for Marc Marquez in Moto2 this year, the Swiss company already had a sterling reputation before it went racing at an international level, but the firm’s success in the 2010 Championship exposed it to a whole new world of tw0-wheel performance.

Having a bevy of intriguing two-wheeled projects within its walls, the Swiss bike that catches our eye today is the Suter 500 Factory V4: a two-stroke, 500cc, V4, track weapon that puts out over 200 hp and weighs 284 lbs ready to race — no, that is not a typo.

We’ll let you take a moment before continuing past the jump for more.

New Ducati Desmosedici GP12 is 90% New Says Preziosi – But Will It Be an L-Four?

01/11/2012 @ 3:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

On what typically would be the formal unveiling of Ducati’s next GP race bike, Ducati Corse General Manager Filippo Preziosi stood alone on the stage at Madonna di Campiglio, and instead talked briefly about the “totally new” GP12, while fielding questions from the assembled press. Releasing very little information about the team’s off-season progress, Preziosi shared very few concrete details about the new Ducati Desmosedici GP12 (you could also read that sentence to mean that the assembled press failed to press for more detailed information concerning the GP12…it really could go either way). From what information could be gleaned from Preziosi, we now know that that the new GP12 is comprised of roughly 90% new parts when compared the previous iterations of the MotoGP contender.

Expected visually to look similar the GP12’s of the past, the finalized GP12 will have an aluminum perimeter-style frame, carbon fiber swingarm, and a better balance with the motor placement. Declining to state the angle of the cylinder heads, Preziosi added some more fuel to the fire and speculation that the Ducati Desmosedici GP12 will not have a 90° cylinder arrangement. At the very least, the GP12 will allow for greater adjustment with the engine placement specs, as well as the overall geometry of the motorcycle. This should help Ducati Corse develop the GP12 over the course of the season, and set it up better for each race circuit. However, Preziosi did caution that the team was trying to compress two years worth of R&D into three months, a daunting task to say the least.

Motus KMV4 Motor Will Be Available as a Crate Motor

08/10/2011 @ 12:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Talking to Lee Conn when Motus was on its US tour here in California, the Motus founder revealed that part of Motus’s business plan incorporates selling the Katech-designed KMV4 motor as a crate motor for enthusiasts and tuners. Though the Motus MST motorcycles will be using a 1,645cc 160+ hp version of the gasoline direct injection (GDI) motor, Katech and Motus have left plenty of beef to the KMV4’s cyclinder housings, allowing the V4 lump to be bored out to a 2L displacement.

Rumor: Honda Working on a 1,000cc V4 Sportbike

05/26/2011 @ 9:09 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Fanned by a recent article in Motorcyclist (and an earlier article in MCN from the same author), rumors abound that Honda is working on a 1,000cc V4 sportbike, likely to be called the RVF1000R. A supplement to Honda’s superbike offering, and not a replacement to the CBR line, the new RVF would be a more premium superbike offering, differentiating itself from its inline-four cousin in a similar manner as the Rc-45 and RC-51 motorcycles did in previous decades.

If rumors are to be believed, we could see the new Honda V4 as early as the end of this year, with the major differentiation over the CBR1000RR being both the RVF1000R’s price, performance, and exclusivity. If done properly, the new Honda superbike could be an opportunity for the Japanese company to build some brand value beyond making cheap & reliable motorcycles. While the Japanese manufacturers have a reputation for making quality bikes, their work has never been translated into lifestyle status brand value, which is something a premium superbike could help foster.

Yamaha VZ1 Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

02/01/2011 @ 2:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Obiboi has done up a Kenny Roberts paint scheme version as well. Find it after the jump.

Do you dream of Yamaha producing a V4 sport bike? How about naked-variant that supplants the popular FZ1? Does a carbon/aluminum trellis frame work for you, with a titanium exhaust of course? If you answered yes to these questions, and envision such a bike late a night when you’re forming your dream garage in, then Oberdan Bezzi has just the concept sketch for you.

Drawing on the same 1,000cc fairing-less street bike theme as the FZ1, Bezzi imagines a Yamaha with a forward-tilted V4 motor that has an almost perpendicular cylinder arrangement, and is capable of being a platform with worldly appeal.

Norton Working on 1,000cc V4 for MotoGP

01/28/2011 @ 11:02 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Norton, the Lazarus of motorcycling, continues to gain steam with its MotoGP project, as the latest news is that the British company is working on a 1,000cc V4 for its racing platform, which will debut in 2012 when the pinnacle of motorcycle racing reverts back to a liter bike capacity. Rumors had swelled that Spanish MotoGP hopeful Inmotec, who consistently fails to get its bike on the GP grid, could link up with Norton, likely in helping the British firm design its motor.

We don’t know if that partnership ever materialized, but MCN has snagged a CAD drawing of a Norton V4 motor that presumably is for the new GP bike. Initially the MotoGP race bike was expected to lay the tracks for a production sportbike, which could bode well for Norton fans who wanted something more than just a run-of-the-mill inline-four.