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.

KTM Videos – A Case Study on Promoting a New Motorcycle

11/14/2011 @ 2:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Loyal readers to Asphalt & Rubber should know by now that on semi-regular basis I like to lambast motorcycle companies, both individually and as a whole, for they’re dismal understanding of what often gets referred to as “new media” (the fact that such a title is applied to a medium that has been in commercial form for over two decades should shed some insight on the situation I’m dealing with here). Now often this tradition of mine revolves around pointing out some of the gems of imagination that emanate from our industry, which in turn leads to me saying things that result in A&R being uninvited to future events held by the company in question. C’est la vie.

Of course if you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. So in the interest of trying to make the world a better place, I’ll offer these three videos by KTM as examples to the companies that have received my ire, and suggest that if you need some inspiration on how put together a rich and compelling video media campaign for a motorcycle you’ve recently launched, then compare and contrast the following with your own work-product in order to highlight your deficiencies.

Lastly, a couple points to ponder. If motorcycles are an aspirational purchase, then put some aspiration into your message. If motorcycles are an expression of individuality, then make sure your bike’s identity shines through. If motorcycles are supposed to be a form of recreation, then better damn well be grinning ear-to-ear after you are done. Videos after the jump.

2012 Kawasaki ZX-14 Comes Together in Teaser Videos

09/16/2011 @ 1:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Kawasaki is gearing up to launch its new hyperbike, the 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14 or the 2012 Kawasaki ZZR1400 as it’s known to our friends outside of the US market. Keeping a constant stream of video teaser videos over the past few weeks, Team Green has finally given us a glimpse at the new Kawasaki ZX-14 in it’s latest “Ultimate” video. Flashing the dimensions “84 x 65mm” in the video, the new ZX-14/ZZR1400 will surely live up to its name with a 1,440cc engine displacement, and is expected to make over 200hp in production trim.

The new ZX-14 is also likely to include anti-lock brakes and traction control, in order to help tame all that hyperbike power on-tap. If you’ve missed out on Kawasaki’s teaser campaign, we’ve got all of them waiting for you after the jump in reverse chronological order. Expect to see the 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14 unveiled on October 10th if Kawasaki can keep it under wraps for that long, sooner if the Japanese company can’t.

Videos: The Ducati Diavel Explained

07/14/2011 @ 10:44 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

We’ve already talked at length at how much we liked riding the Ducati Diavel, as the Italian company’s take on the American power cruiser is a peppy and fun machine to ride on the streets and in the canyons. While there’s been plenty of reservations prior to the Diavel’s launch, Ducati seemingly has a winner on its hands as many dealerships in the US are sold-out on the machine, and the Bologna factory just reported that 5,000 units have been sold worldwide already this year (about 1,000 or so of those ending up in the United States).

There’s also a strong business case as to why Ducati had to build the Diavel, and by most journalists’ accounts, the company has successfully walked the line between staying true to the Ducati brand and extending the Italian company’s reach onto riders in other demographics. Shedding some insight onto the development and features of the Ducati Diavel, the Italian company put together a series of videos that expound further on perhaps one of the hottest bikes for 2011.

They’re obviously marketing materials and an overview of some of the Diavel’s core features, but for someone on the fence about buying a new Ducati Diavel, there’s a bit of edutainment to be had here. Find all five videos after the jump.

Paul Sr. Quietly Selling Bikes from His Personal Collection

01/31/2011 @ 8:58 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Add a 1943 BSA M20 to the list of bike’s available from Paul Teutul Sr.’s personal collection.

Paul Teutul Sr. cannot seem to stay out of the news lately. First the senior Teutul sued his son for ownership of Orange County Choppers, invoking a minority buyout clause that would pay Paul Jr. the market value of the business, which was allegedly valued at nothing, thus robbing Paul Jr. of his shares.

Then just recently at the end of the last week we learned that GE Capital and OCC were in disagreement over the terms of OCC’s loan from the credit company. Displeased by having to pay full-price on a devalued building, Paul Sr. has stopped paying back his loans to GE Capital, which have resulted in the financing firm filing for foreclosure on the custom chopper crew.

Allegedly Paul Sr. has the money, but wanted to sway GE into renegotiating the loan. While we were skeptical of this claim, it’s interesting to note that Paul Sr. has since quietly put two motorcycles from his personal collection up on eBay (a Ariel T-5 & BSA B33).

Using the account of OCC Head Assembly and Technician Supervisor Nicholas Hansford to list the bikes, it looks like at least two more motorcycles (maybe an A&R reader can help us identify them) are set to go up for sale. While Hansford has a video of the BSA B33 sitting in his YouTube channel, two other unlisted bikes (another BSA and a Norton) are included in the channel with video titles labeled “bikes for sale.”

Where there’s smoke there’s fire, and it all sorta makes you wonder what’s really going on in Orange County, New York. More info on the auctions after the jump.

Here’s One for the MV Agusta Fans

01/20/2011 @ 11:57 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

If you’re a lover of all things Italian (MV Agusta‘s in particular), and near the Midland, Michigan area, then you should stop by the Alden B. Dow Museum of Science and Art before April 10, 2011. A part of the Midland Center of the Arts, the museum is showing an exhibit on Italian art that includes a gallery full of classic and modern MV Agusta motorcycles, along with photographs of Italian cars, and 17th century Italian sketches.

Showing the merger of form and function, MV Agusta motorcycles easily top our list as some of the finest-looking two-wheeled machines ever made. As much as we slog the Italian company for going to the well on its most recent creation, the 2012 MV Agusta F3, its predecessor the MV Agusta F4, whose lines were penned by the master Massimo Tamburini, has to be the most gorgeous modern motorcycle ever produced by mortal man.

A video of the exhibit is embedded after the jump, along with a gallery of the MV Agusta F3. If any A&R readers go to the exhibit, we’d love to post your photos of the MV’s on display.

MotoGP: The 100 Million Dollar Moving City

12/10/2010 @ 1:04 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on MotoGP: The 100 Million Dollar Moving City

A lot of people don’t realize that during the racing season MotoGP takes on the role of a small moving city. Hopping from venue to venue and setting up camp where they land, GP teams are perhaps the more modern take on the traveling circus business model, erecting hospitality structures, team offices, rider amenities, and of course the team garage, all in the name of the big show.

Stick around the race track after a Sunday race, and you’ll see GP teams breakdown the paddock and hospitality amenities in a matter of hours, stuffing the building and bike components into container crates. Those crates in-turn are packed onto team trucks, or loaded onto Dorna’s airplanes, so that MotoGP can travel to its next venue, and start the process over anew. Rinse & repeat 18 times, and you’ve got yourself a GP season.

Compressing the hours of work it takes to setup and takedown the team garage, Rizla Suzuki, with the help of Troy Lee Designs, put together a time lapse videos showing the process. Enjoy it and a bonus video of the Rizla garage during race day after the jump.

Confederate C3 X132 Hellcat Gets Rendered – Due Date Pushed Back to Q2 2011, Price Increased

11/26/2010 @ 11:47 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Confederate is readying its next iteration of its Hellcat series, posting these CAD renderings of the Confederate C3 X132 Hellcat on its website. Originally set to debut on Halloween of this year, Confederate has pushed back the launch date to the second quarter of 2011. For a bike that seemingly only exists on a computer screen, Confederate is being rather cheeky with its tech specs, simply stating that the new Hellcat will have 145 lbs•ft of torque, while listing the horsepower as “sufficient”.

Videos From Behind the Scenes as Rossi Meets the GP11

11/19/2010 @ 3:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

UPDATE: Well looks like the party is over, as Dorna has sent us a cease and desist.

What was it like watching Valentino Rossi swing his leg over the Ducati Desmosedici for the very first time behind closed garage doors? Well thanks to someone in the Ducati pit box who had either a small camcorder or smartphone with video enabled, we can finally see what that experience was like, and what sort of atmosphere surrounded the moment.

Taking a total of six videos of the historic occasion, we can experience the first reactions of Rossi and crew as he gets ready to complete Italy’s motorcycling wet dream. Videos after the jump, and be sure to check out the first official images of Rossi riding the GP11 at Valencia, and the behind the scenes photos from Rossi’s favorite photographer Gigi Soldano.

Mick Doohan Tells You to Gear Up

11/19/2010 @ 8:46 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Famed five-time 500GP Champion Mick Doohan wants to make sure you’re wearing all your gear all the time in this latest motorcycle safety commercial that was put together in South Australia. A part of the Motorcycle Accident Commission’s “Gear Up” campaign, we start off seeing a rider wearing just a shirt, jeans, and sneakers flying through the air after his motorcycle has crashed.

As Doohan points out though, this sort of attire is just about as good as riding naked, which in fact our protagonist is, as he is actually only covered in body paint, not clothing. This sort of shock safety video is a continuation of MAC’s first commercial “No Place to Race”, which can be found after the jump.

2011 KTM 125 Duke Officially Named

08/31/2010 @ 3:16 pm, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

After holding an online contest to name its 125cc four-stroke based learner street bike, KTM has shockingly come to the conclusion that it should stick to its Duke nomenclature. Schedule to be the 2011 KTM 125 Duke, KTM debuted the concepts at the 2009 EICMA show in Milan. KTM’s plan is to engage young riders with the “Ready to Race” mantra, making them lifetime Team Orange riders with this stepping-stone model.

With a sporty street bike and a stunter variant, KTM hopes the pair of bikes will resonate well with actual mischievous teenagers, just as its done successfully with adults who have a healthy go-fast inner-child residing inside them.

Look for the 2011 KTM 125 Duke to hit shops in Europe sometime in March, and hit shops in the United States in…well…never. Let KTM USA know how much fun a KTM 350/450 Duke would be in the comments section, and check out the photos and video of the KTM 125 Duke after the jump.