It's supermoto-a-go-go as Team Two heads to France on a madcap mission to raise the Pyrenees to the ground. Allez!
Supermotos. What are they all about? It's a question that's been floating around for years and no one seems to really know the answer. Having started out as a hardcore minority of converted 'crossers, the supermoto scene has bubbled away in the background and is now spilling over into the mainstream.
But is it really in the mainstream? While we have several UK supermoto race series coverage hasn't leapt beyond obscure satellite TV stations and the whole concept of supermoto has been morphed into something completely different. Gone are the back-garden specials, replaced my mass-produced models of what manufacturers think supermotos are. Which is where the confusion really starts.
With our five bikes unloaded from the back of the TWO van the variation between them was clear to see. On one side of the spectrum you have the KTM LC4, which is about as close as you can get to a true competition supermoto. As well as the chunky, racing wet-style tyres, the KTM has all the makings of a converted enduro tool, which it is - the LC4 E it's evolved from (that's 'E' for 'Enduro' in case you were confused) is virtually identical but comes with off-road wheels and different suspension.
Moving along we get Suzuki's DR-Z400SM, which again is a converted enduro bike. But it's a converted enduro bike that was fairly road-biased to start with. So it's a road bike that has come from a fairly easy-going enduro bike that was really just a road bike anyway. Clear? Let's move on. Next comes Yamaha's XT660X, which is a descendent of the good old XT660. In 2004, the XT got a bit of a makeover and out popped the supermoto 'X' version, as well as a funked up 'R'. So it's a soft enduro bike that has been re-designed with supermoto in mind.
Aprilia's ancient Pegaso big trailie has been re-born as the Pegaso 650 Strada, all street focused and supermoto-styled but with a decent nod towards daily practicalities. And finally there's the FMX650, which Honda says isn't a supermoto at all, it just looks like one. It's a Funmoto, whatever that is. Confusing, ain't it?
Then there's the big question: Why do you want a supermoto? You can't go touring, the tank range is tiny, there's naff all comfort and they vibrate like an Anne Summers party after a case of Lambrini. Motorways are out because the engines struggle to hold a constant 70mph, while the riding position hangs you out like a human kite. So, apart from riding in town, what can you do? You've got to get creative. Dunk these babies in the right environment - sunshine, tight twisty roads, and away from prying plod - and suddenly nothing else matters; they could just be the best toys on the planet. Which is why we punted ours to the South of France in the back of a van (expenses wouldn't stretch to the pile cream bill if we rode them) for a few days' charging around the Pyrenees.
Perpignan's only 40-odd miles from the Pyrenees and thanks to local knowledge we know the N116 from the town into the mountains is a stunning road to ride. And anyway, if things aren't good in France it's just a short hop into Spain or Andorra.
So it came to pass that Jim, Rob, Wozza, dedicated van man Daryll and myself found ourselves looking out over one of the most stunning twisty roads we'd ever seen. "I'm not sure I'd fancy that on a sportsbike," said Jim. "It'd be too fast. The only thing between you and a very long drop is a bit of rusty Armco. These bikes should be perfect, fast enough for fun, but without getting messy."
Perfect supermoto country then. Lots of 40-50mph corners, a surface that, on the whole, is excellent, but with a few bumps thrown in. Leathers and helmets on (er, motocross or road lid?) boots done up (same dilemma) and away we go.
Thirty miles of chaos later the road behind is covered with black lines from pointless and highly amusing skids, cars have been wheelied past and every pedestrian within earshot has been backfired at as five grinning riders pull up at a petrol station.
"This is the real deal, a proper supermoto," KTM mounted Jim virtually sobbed. "It vibrates so much at high revs I can hardly see the mirrors let alone what's reflected in them, and I think the seat's broken my coccyx." It's worth pointing out that Jim is particularly brittle, but it shows the nature of the KTM. The orange peril isn't pretending to be friendly so you get a solid seat, vibey engine and zero mod cons. But you also get a very aggressive bike.
"It's a really strong motor," Jim went on, "and pulls hard from low down with a typical, precise enduro gearbox, but riding it for more than an hour? No thanks." And with that he rested his lid on the DRZ's softer seat in an 'I'm riding that one next' way.
Continue the Supermoto Road Test - 2/2
Posted: 01/05/2008 at 11:13
"But, and here is the big 'but', you can't travel any distance on them. "
no shit sherlock
what a f--king stupid thing to say in a supermoto road test!!!
Posted: 01/05/2008 at 11:29
Yes you can.... I rode from Lancs to South Wales easily in less than 4 hours...
Posted: 01/05/2008 at 13:07
God, what a load of old toot. What on earth's 'super' about an FMX? What needs to be said is that this is a poor excuse for a bike; a disgusting excuse to polish off the stock of old Dommie motors, with a styling that the big H think taps into the SM zeitgeist, but merely leaves anyone remotely interested in bikes, rather than just commuting, shaking their head with the shamelessness of it all.
To leave that unmentioned is to give the gloss of truth to the lie that this is a motorcycle. It isn't. It's cynical marketing bilge made metal, it's the kind of horrid anal grievance only a royal fucking can leave, it's a con, a swizz, a rip-off, a huge waste of precious metal, plastic, time and money.
Posted: 01/05/2008 at 13:27
PS Incidentally, TWO (or TWO's VD acolytes), in your long sub head you say 'raise' to the ground. Actually it's 'raze'.
Subbing cheques to the usual address, please.
Posted: 01/05/2008 at 13:28
voodoo77 wrote (see)
oh silly me i'll buy one for my two-up run, up to the isle of man then its only 4 hours on the motorway
you know what i ment!
Posted: 01/05/2008 at 13:29
I knew what you meant alright,but it's a sweeping statement to say you can't ride em any distance,course you can.
Any bike can be ridden as far as you want to,it just aint as comfy as a Goldwing,
but probably more fun....
Oh yeah I overtook every bike I saw on the run down the A49 that day as well
Posted: 01/05/2008 at 13:34
I knew what you meant alright,but it's a sweeping statement to say you can't ride em any distance,course you can.Any bike can be ridden as far as you want to,it just aint as comfy as a Goldwing,but probably more fun....Oh yeah I overtook every bike I saw on the run down the A49 that day as wellsad bastards....
i rode my DRZ400 120 miles round trip down to poole quay one night, yeah it was fine doing it but not very comfy
hence my comment..what a stupid thing for the road test writer to comment on
no-one cares that supermotos arnt perticularly comfy..thats not why people buy them
that's like doing a road test on a ferrari then comenting that you cant fit your shopping in it!!!!
Posted: 01/05/2008 at 13:57
Posted: 01/05/2008 at 14:00
I think some people are taking this a bit seriously, good report of supermoto "styled" bikes for non-SM readers. I've tried three of these bikes myself, DRZ, XT and FMX, all good fun in their own way. Okay they may not set you pants on fire, but okay none the less. In defense of the FMX, Honda have gone out of their way to point out this is not a supermoto, so no point getting upset if it turns out ... surprise surprise, not to be a supermoto!
Posted: 02/05/2008 at 12:59
supermotos...more fun than sportsbikes in a way...
but i think a sportsbike wins over comfort just....
i love hoisting a wheely and sitting in 3rd at 60 rather than 3rd at 100 on an r1.....if i could afford both than i would have both.
Posted: 02/05/2008 at 13:04
What an embarrassing pile of drivel. So TWO are going to "lift" the Pyrenees to the ground. I suppose that makes as much sense as a Super Moto (sic) road test without a supermoto machine in sight.
The KTM is an overweight, underpowered lumbering slug compared to even the earliest incarnation of that same machine. It must also rank highly amongst the ugliest machines of any kind ever made.
None of the other bikes even merit a mention in a discussion about supermoto. Even the manufacturers (except KTM) go to great lengths to avoid referring to their respective devices as supermotos. Why would anyone want to misrepresent a self proclaimed "FunMoto" as anything other than the styling excercise it is?
What makes me angry is that ill informed badly written nonsense like this affects peoples' perception of what supermoto machines are really like. Bikes like the Husaberg FS650 or Husqvarnas' latest offererings like the SM510R or outrageous 450RR would wipe the floor with any of these tarted up commuter bikes.
A race bred supermoto machine literally breathes fire, has little or no creature comforts and is a hairs bredth and a set of knobblies away from being a competitive motocrosser. They are incredibly demanding to ride and if you haven't tried a 'real' one then you're missing out on a hugely entertaining motorcycle phenomena. Anyone who rode say a Pegaso 650 (for fucks sake) might understandably be somewhat unimpressed if that really was any sort of supermoto...
Posted: 04/05/2008 at 21:16
Well said ^^^
Posted: 06/05/2008 at 13:10
LondonDRZ wrote (see)
I'm feeling a bit calmer today...
As it happens I do quite like the little DRZs. Excellent fun and quick in the right hands. Typically not the sort of kick in the balls performance you'd expect from a thoroughbred SM though. I have met a few people who have poo poohed supermotos after a go on an old Husky 610. They change their tune after a quick blat on a 570R.
Supermotos are a rare breed of machinery, you can't really use them on the road. That would be silly. They are stupidly noisy, vibrate so badly you can hardly see, have bugger all range in fuel and you really ought to change the oil after you pop down the shops. Never mind bits of the bike vibrating off (like the clutch), aftre a year or so on a 570R, I started to lose minor body parts.
I love 'em. Got a couple on the go at the moment; an early KTM LC4 and a CR500 :yikes: Proper mental machinery. One lives in a box and the other is currently smeared over the workshop. Can't wait to get them running and go hunting for Pegaso 650s
Posted: 06/05/2008 at 20:43
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