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&R: Disqus Commenting Enabled

02/02/2015 @ 9:27 am, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

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If you were on Asphalt & Rubber this weekend, you probably noticed that I switched the commenting system from WordPress’ basic system to Disqus’ more advanced commenting engine.

All previous comments should be imported now, and I hope there are relatively few bugs to reports. Hopefully this will mean a more engaged commenting section, since Disqus handles threaded comments more properly, and has already a good community following.

The slight downside is that some of our loyal commenters will have to register with the Disqus service, though that shouldn’t be too much of an issue since it is a very reputable one, and they won’t spam you once you register.

Trackside Tuesday: The Content Economy

07/23/2014 @ 12:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

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A question I pose to my photographer friends: why should I go to your site on a regular basis? For most of the photographers I work with, their websites are more like digital portfolios — selections of their best work, maybe a couple lines of prose to art things up, and a contact button. If they’re really savvy, maybe there are password-protected customer galleries available too…probably being hosted on SmugMug or some other prosumer service.

I get why that is the case, this is the online version of the physical portfolios that photographers used to carry around (some still do) to peddle their wares to editors and fans on race day. Maybe a few years ago, that is the kind of website I would have made as well. Show off my work, get my name out there, I’m starving damn it, buy my prints! Ah, but alas that’s not the kind of website that thrives in the cutthroat digital landscape — we want more, and for free.

As a publisher, I’m constantly juggling the interests of the photographers I work with with the needs and expectations of my readers. I want 10,000-pixel-wide shots that anyone can download without a watermark; that is after all what I would want if I was a reader of Asphalt & Rubber, and that is standard I use when trying to make decisions about this site. “Would I want to read this?” is a common question I ask myself.

For photographers, the game has traditionally been the opposite online. In a world of right-click-save-as, the opportunity for someone to snatch a high-resolution photo for just about any purpose is an easy one. There’s not much that can be done to stop it — for every trick, there’s a workaround. A for every click, money is being taken off the table. They only way to make sure your photo isn’t stolen when publishing online, is not to publish it, and even then…scanners.

I feel the plight for my photographer friends, and perhaps if my own shots were any good, I’d feel just as defensive about my hard work swirling around the interwebs with nary a check coming to my inbox. The game is brutal, and by the time you’ve finally “made it” as a bona fide pro-shooter, you’re on the backs of your feet trying to protect what you’ve worked so hard to earn.

Over the course of our many adventures, I’ve had the fortunate ability to debate these ideas with my good friend and colleague Scott Jones — maybe you’ve heard of him.

I absolutely love Scott’s work, he might be one of the most technically gifted photographers in the MotoGP paddock, and he has an amazing ability to pick-up on the subtleties of situations that are happening in a fraction of a second. I love the fact that I can look his work a dozen times, and each time come away seeing something I didn’t pickup on before. For as much of a bromance that we have brewing, I have however never been much of a fan of his website.

Harley-Davidson Livewire Teaser Site Setup

06/18/2014 @ 6:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

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Three Harley-Davidson posts on Asphalt & Rubber in a single day? Surely the gods must be crazy. But like a Coke bottle to the head, things are about to get pretty out of control in the American motorcycle landscape in a big way. Setting up a dedicated launch site for its first electric motorcycle, Harley-Davidson isn’t tipping its hands too much officially, though in 11 hours we should know a lot more.

Usually with marketing lingo, you can see the hyperbole for what it is, but in the case of the Harley-Davidson Livewire, the Bar & Shield brand’s statement seems more like an honest assessment, rather than typical industry grandstanding:

“There are milestones that change history – those pivotal moments where the future is defined. This is one of them. Just like this country, Harley-Davidson has reinvented itself many times in our 111 years. This is the next chapter of our journey. Whether you’re a rider or not, we’re inviting you to take part in the experience, and be there for this historic ride forward.”

Yamaha YZF-R25 Launch Outed by Website Metadata

03/24/2014 @ 4:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

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It is a brave new world when it comes to the internet and motorcycle companies, and I have no problem saying that Asphalt & Rubber has broken a number of stories simply because we bring a different set of skills to the table when it comes to sniffing out a lead: namely we’re a bunch of nerds, who spend far too much time with computers.

Motorcycle OEMs are still coming to grasp with this internet thing and how the opening of information has changed the landscape, and that is where Yamaha got itself into trouble today. Just hours ahead of their launch, we can confirm that Yamaha is ready to drop the Yamaha R25 250cc sport bike and the Yamaha Tricity three-wheel scooter.

This isn’t exactly new information — it has even been hotly tipped by a number of publications, including A&R — but where the information comes from certainly is: Yamaha’s website metadata.

No TV for AMA Pro Road Racing, But Live Stream for Events

03/13/2014 @ 4:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

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So you want to watch AMA Pro Road Racing and AMA Pro Flat Track this year, but because DMG screwed the pooch on securing any form of TV deal, you think you’re up an apex without a kneepuck, right? Not so fast there speed racer.

To its credit, the Daytona Motorsports Group has created its own live streaming site for AMA Pro Racing, IMSA, and NASCAR content that is not on television: FansChoice.tv, which will be your go-to destination for watching the Daytona 200 live this weekend.

.motorcycles Domain Names Coming Soon

11/13/2013 @ 8:12 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

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Have you ever wanted a .motorcycle domain name for your website? Us neither, but if did, your chance is coming soon. Dealer software solutions group Dominon Powersports Solutions has been granted…ahem…dominion over the new .motorcycles domain, one of many new interest-specific domain names made available by ICANN.

Like the .xxx domain name that came before it, the ICANN hopes that it can corral specific interests into these domains, thereby relieve some of the overcrowding that is going on with the current top-level domains (.com, .net, .org, etc). Will it work? Maybe yes, maybe no.

2011 Triumph Speed Triple Outed by Triumph

09/27/2010 @ 6:45 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Triumph is either really trying hard at leaking information about the 2011 Triumph Speed Triple and its other motorcycles ahead of their unveiling, or there is an intern in the UK right now whose job is about to go under the axe. Either way, the keen eyes at Visordown have spotted the fact that Triumph has outed the new Speed Triple in its online accessories catalog. While not showing the whole bike yet, we do see that the 2011 Triumph Speed Triple gets a much needed face lift, along with a substantially lighter frame. Could this be the street naked of 2011? We’re starting to think so.

Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200 on the Way

08/09/2010 @ 12:02 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

In what must be a case of an over-anxious webmaster, Aprilia’s dealer portal and service manual section now has links to manuals for Dorsoduro 1200 and Dorsoduro 1200 ABS models. Rumored to be in the works since the Dorsoduro 750 came out, the new 1200 will feature an 1197cc v-twin motor, and weigh 492lbs at the curb.

Power figures haven’t been quoted yet, but with the added displacement and increased compression, the Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200 should be able to handle that heft a bit better, but still would seem to pale in comparison to its rivals.

Bandit Goes Mobile – BikeBandit Creates iPhone App

02/24/2010 @ 9:25 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Online parts and accessories supplier BikeBandit.com has unveiled its own iPhone application to help motorcyclists deck out themselves and their motorcycle in aftermarket goodness…all from the comfort of the palm of their hand. The app, which rev’s and vibrates when you open it, is complete with the exploded parts diagram that loyal BikeBandit shoppers have come to use and love.

If this post sounds like a thinly-veiled unsolicited advertisement for a fellow Penn State MBA (We are!..), you’d be right, but for the weekend wrencher who needs to remember how to put a clutch back together without hopping on a computer (and then order the bolt/nut/bracket they just lost) this is a well done, and possibly invaluable addition to your iPhone addiction.

Kawasaki UK Launches Online Test-Ride Booking

02/16/2010 @ 9:02 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Kawasaki UK has announced that it has setup a new website where interested riders can sign up to test ride a Kawasaki street machine from their local dealer. The site, kawasakitestride.co.uk, let’s riders search for new and used green machines by location, and then schedule a test ride directly with the dealerships. While this doesn’t affect us American riders too much, it’s a sign that the at least some portion of the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers are revaluating the motorcycle purchasing process.