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.

Yamaha T7 Concept Hints at a 700cc Ténéré for 2018

11/07/2016 @ 2:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

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Part of Yamaha’s 2016 EICMA show program includes a nod to the future, teasing us today with the Yamaha T7 concept. Picking up the torch where the Yamaha XT600Z Ténéré left off, the Yamaha T7 concept uses the same 270° parallel-twin engine found in the Yamaha MT-07/FZ-07 street bike.

Yamaha has wrapped that stout twin-cylidner engine in a brand new chassis that is suited for dual-spot riding, and hopes to focus its efforts on offering a middleweight adventure-tourer that is high on off-road brapping, and low on electronic wizardry.

This should appease those who complain about ADV bikes being too road focused and sophisticated for true adventure riding, and Yamaha hopes to use the T7 concept to develop a bike that meets this ethos, and is suitable for production, but also capable of proper rally raid riding.

As such, the Yamaha T7 is a fully functional prototype, and it is being developed with help from the Official Rally Team in France, Yamaha R&D in Italy, and GK Design in The Netherlands.

Yamaha Teases a New TMAX Scooter

11/04/2016 @ 10:12 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

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The Yamaha TMAX doesn’t make too many waves in the US market, but abroad it is one of the most popular scooters on the market, and the TMAX custom scene is as strong as any other “proper” motorcycle.

So it is pretty big news to hear that Yamaha will be updating the TMAX for the 2017 model year, with the new design set to debut at EICMA next week.

It’s not clear if Yamaha will make any technical changes to the TMAX for 2017, or if we simply will see new bodywork and graphics in the coming model year.

Judging from the waves that Yamaha is making abroad though, we expect some good things.

The Husqvarna 401 Vitpilen Readies Its EICMA Debut

11/03/2016 @ 11:25 am, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

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Husqvarna says that it will be debuting two new street bikes at the upcoming EICMA show, along with one new concept bike. We have known for some time that one of those machines would include the Husqvarna 401 Vitpilen, the Swedish brand’s neo-retro take on the KTM 390 Duke platform.

Teasing us now with a short video of this “white arrow”, we get our first obfuscated glimpses of the 2017 Husqvarna 401 Vitpilen, though we doubt the bike has changed much from its concept form.

Video: How to Ride a Sidecar

10/31/2016 @ 11:35 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Every motorcyclist should ride a sidecar at some point in their life, if for no other reason than to live on the wild side. If you really want to get silly with it, you should take vintage-fueled romp on a Ural – a Russian sidecar that is “based” off a pre-WII BMW sidecar design.

You really have to be a special breed to own a Ural, and while a good mechanical background isn’t a pre-requisite, it certainly helps with those “unplanned stops” that may occur.

While most motorcyclists are turned off by the quirks of the sidecar brand, Ural owners love their machines, and have an almost cult-like relationship Russian company.

Take this video from the good folk at Good Spark Garage, which instructs us on how to properly ride a sidecar. Like everything else in the Uralverse, it takes a light-hearted approach to life, the universe, and everything. We think you will enjoy it.

FGR Midalu 2500 V6 – The Boss Hoss of Sport Bikes

10/31/2016 @ 9:58 am, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

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The FGR Midalu 2500 V6 has been in the motosphere for some time now, but finally the six-cylinder Czech-built motorcycle is available for purchase and going into production. Just in case you wanted a V6-powered street bike, right?

At 577 lbs…dry…it is east to dismiss the FGR Midalu 2500 V6 as being too heavy, and an exercise in excess. The sport bike world’s Boss Hoss, if you will.

But, we have to admit that there is something interesting about FGR’s creation, if for no other reason than the Czech company’s willingness to make something that is a standard deviation or two from the normal motorcycling fare.

Finally, A Better Look at the Upcoming Norton V4 Superbike

10/28/2016 @ 3:26 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

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It seems like we have been talking about the Norton V4 superbike for ages, with not much to go on beyond concept sketches and vague promises. Well, this unicorn of a machine seems closer to reality now, with Norton giving us another teaser that we can sink our teeth into.

Debuting in three weeks’ time, it seems that we will finally get to see this 1,200cc V4-powered machine. The British brand says it has already sold out of the Norton V4 SS model (~£40,000), while you can still get your hands on one of the 250 units of the Norton V4 RR, which will cost £28,000.

Details on the bikes are still very much in short supply, which makes it hard to believe Norton has found already 200 individuals who are willing to buy the sold out SS model, sight unseen. Stay tuned though, the Brits are supposed to give us the full monty on November 19th.

Here’s a Sneak Peek of the KTM RC16’s V4 Engine

10/26/2016 @ 8:39 pm, by David Emmett41 COMMENTS

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With the KTM RC16 MotoGP bike nearing its very first race, as a wildcard at Valencia, the Austrian motorcycle manufacturer is starting to preview that first appearance.

They are doing so through a series of videos, which they are sharing on their YouTube channel and via their Social Media channels. The videos include interview fragments with the team behind the bike, as well as footage of the machine.

The video is remarkably revealing. The engine layout is clearly shown, as is the 90° V4 engine, though this was no secret. The video also shows the engine performing a simulation of Mugello, which gives a good idea of what the bike sounds like.

The engine being tested on the dyno sounds remarkably similar to Honda’s V4 RC213V engine, which uses a “screamer” firing interval, each cylinder firing separately.

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Alta Motors Beats Gas Bikes at Red Bull Straight Rhythm

10/25/2016 @ 3:15 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

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A bit of history was made this past weekend, at the Red Bull Straight Rhythm event in Pomona, California.

Amongst the star-studded lineup of riders who competed head-to-head in the straight-line supercross races, we were also treated to the return of Josh Hill, who pulled himself out of retirement to ride the electric-powered Alta Motors Redshift MX.

Winning his quarter-final heat, Hill gave Alta Motors its first national-level supercross win, the first for an electric motorcycle. However, succumbing to Mitchell Oldenburg in the semi-finals, Hill finished the day fourth overall, meaning Alta Motors narrowly missed out on a podium debut.

Josh Herrin, The Making of a Hero’s Story

10/25/2016 @ 12:45 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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In literature there are basic themes that stories follow, and commonly used literary devices that authors build their stories upon – one of which is called the “hero’s journey”.

In stories that follow a monomyth or hero’s journey format, a hero with superhuman strength falls from grace and is sent upon a great task to earn their redemption.

The story then follows their trials and tribulations, which forge and transform the hero into something stronger than what they once were, before the hero then returns home and accomplishes more than he or she was capable at the beginning of the tale.

There can perhaps be no matter telling of this story in the motorcycle racing community than Josh Herrin.

Ducati Scrambler Café Racer Cometh Soon

10/19/2016 @ 12:26 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

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In addition to bringing the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled to market at the upcoming EICMA show, Ducati will pair its off-road focused scrambler model with a café racer version of the Scrambler, which has cleverly been named the Ducati Scrambler Café Racer.

The models will use the same 803cc air-cooled v-twin engine that we’ve seen already in the Scrambler lineup, and as you would expect, the machine will have the typical café racer aesthetic, with a round headlight and bullet fairing.

As with all of the Scrambler Ducati lineup, you can expect customization to be a big part of the Ducati Scrambler Café Racer’s appeal. Keep an eye out for its debut, November 7th in Milan, Italy.