Supermoto is a riding style that combines elements of both street and dirt, and the bikes are light, nimble machines that can take jumps, ride trails, and corner at insane lean angles. If you’ve been riding street forever and it’s gotten a little old to you, supermoto is wild enough that it might be the perfect cure!
On a sport bike, this lean angle with no traction at the rear means you’re crashing. On a supermoto, that’s just how you take corners!
Working here at BikeBandit, theres one thing weve learned about our customers over the years, they dont really tend to be novice riders. BikeBandit customers are usually veterans of the art of motorcycling; the types who have ridden for years, have owned or ridden lots of different bikes, and do a lot of your own maintenance and repairs. When it comes to motorcycling, you’ve just about seen it all, and done most of it!
But theres a down side to having so much motorcycling experience; when you’ve done only one or two types of riding for so many years, it can sometimes get a little…well…boring. Riding is great, but cruising down the highway or even hitting the twisties on your favorite road can get old eventually. Sometimes, you just want to do something a little…different.
Probably the most beautiful factory supermoto – the elusive Aprilia SVX 550.
Supermotos are definitely different. Initially, the idea of a dirt bike with 17-inch wheels and sticky sport tires on it sounds like some kind of Frankenstein-esque garage creation that probably wouldn’t work well on any terrain. That is, until you try it (or talk to someone who has) and you realize: not only do these motorcycles excel on both pavement and dirt, but they really open up a whole new world of riding possibilities that can challenge even the most seasoned riders.
Theres a reason supermoto is one of the fastest growing riding styles around now; its unusual, its versatile, its cheap, and best of all, its a whole lot of what motorcycling really should be, fun!
What Is Supermoto?
Supermoto racing is challenging for both dirt and road racers (and by challenging, I mean fun as hell.)
Supermoto started as a special racing event (kind of a motorcycle X-Games in the 1980s) where top racers from different motorcycling disciplines motocross, road, and flat-track racing would compete against each other in one event that was a mash-up of all three. Tracks were mostly tight, twisty, paved kart tracks, but with a dirt section complete with jumps and bermed corners, so every type of rider would be challenged.
The sport died out after a few years in the US (though it continued to have a following in Europe.) But after a long hiatus, it has finally made its way back to the states, and now supermoto racing and the purpose-built supermoto bikes made for it are more popular than ever. Today, several manufacturers offer their own factory-built supermoto models; but as before, many racers prefer to build their own supermoto by modifying a dirt bike or enduro themselves.
What Is A Supermoto Bike?
A dirt bike with a modified suspension and street wheels and tires is the perfect recipe for a supermoto.
Typically, a supermoto is a standard dirt bike or enduro, but converted to have 17-inch front and rear wheels, to allow use of sport bike tires. Supermotos also often have other sport bike modifications as well, such as inverted front forks and oversized front rotor braking setups.
The end result: a narrow, light, and hard-accelerating motorcycle that can achieve extreme lean angles in corners, but with a long-travel suspension that can handle bumps and jumps; in other words, a bike that can rip through tight twisties with ease, hop on a dirt trail without a hiccup, and pop wheelies on demand!
The Suzuki DRZ-400SM; the quintessential production supermoto (and a rock-solid all around bike.)
The unusual, hybrid nature of a supermoto creates a kind of niche bike that seems like it might only appeal to a handful of riders who are looking for something a little different. But the truth is, no matter what you ride, or how long you’ve been riding, you’d probably have a blast on a supermoto; in fact, the longer you’ve been riding one style of bike, the more you’d probably enjoy it! Check out these 9 reasons why you should try supermoto if you haven’t already!
9 Reasons You Need To Try Supermoto
- Slow is fun on a supermoto. We riders are guilty of this way too often, but the way we often get our thrills on a bike is by exceeding the speed limit (Im looking at you sport bikers on this one!) But supermotos are built for romping around at speeds well under the speed limit; you’ll never have more smiles per mile around town or on a tight road than you will on a supermoto!
- Versatility on diverse terrain and in diverse conditions. Supermotos are great on the pavement. But if you see a fire road you can cut across, or just want to go exploring down a trail, a supermoto will eat it right up. Street tires won’t get you far on mud or sand, but for most hard-packed off-road stuff, you can just hop the curb and go for it.
- You can have a dual wheel setup for dirt and street. Ok, so you’ve ridden a dirt road on sport bike tires, and sliding around wasn’t as fun as you thought. That’s the beauty of supermotos; they’re still fundamentally dirt bikes, so you can always get a second wheel set with some knobbies, and really attack the trails when you feel like it.
- Better in tight turns than just about anything. Sport bikes are usually the preferred weapons for attacking a curvy road. But supermotos are narrow, super light (most weigh in the two or three hundred pound range), have wide bars for easy control, and roll on sticky sport bike rubber so they gobble up technical roads like nothing!
- Wheelies on demand. Supermotos are super light bikes, are powered by torquey thumpers, and roll on grabby street rubber; thats a recipe for power wheelies are usually just one throttle chop away. And who doesnt like wheelies?
- Doing a supermoto conversion is a fun project. If you’re the type who likes to wrench on his own bike, then converting a bike into a supermoto could be really fun for you. There is a basic recipe (17″ wheels, inverted suspension, bigger brakes, etc.) but how you choose to do the conversion is all up to you. They’re a bike modders dream, and won’t break the bank in the process!
- Racing and track days are cheap. If you’re a rider who’s raced or done supersport track days, you know that it’s not by any means a budget hobby. But supermoto is a much cheaper alternative; the bikes are relatively inexpensive, track days are a fraction of the cost of those on road race courses, and it’s not unheard of to make a set of tires last a whole season!
- Crashes are cheap too. If you’ve ever had a motorcycle accident, you know that laying down a bike can be a very expensive mistake. But on a supermoto, you can literally just pick it back up, give it a once-over, and hop right back on the road. Remember, they’re dirt bikes at heart; they’re made to be dropped and picked back up!
- It’s fun for rookies and veterans alike. Because supermotos are fun, forgiving, relatively inexpensive, and cheap to crash, some models make good bikes for riders still new to the sport. But truth be told, a lot of the biggest fans are people who have been riding for decades and have done it all, and just love the versatility, fun, and challenge that supermoto riding gives you!
What do you think of supermoto – would you try it? If you have, what did you think?