Guides

Bluffer's Guide to Supermoto

A 5 minute guide to the crazy world of Supermoto

History

Supermoto first saw light of day in the late 1970s in the USA, mainly as a ‘bit of fun’ for road-racers in the US who wanted to hone both their Tarmac and off-road riding skills. UK racing journalist and promoter Gavin Trippe put together an event that would prove who was the best all-round motorcycle racers, and from 1980-85 he organised a yearly event called ‘The Superbikers’ which pitted road-racers against motorcrossers on modified machines.

The sport eventually died in the UK and the US, but in France they took the idea, re-named it Supermotard and it became a national sensation, with big annual races such as the Guidon d’Or attracting the cream of both road-race and off-road riders. Since the mid-1990s, the sport began to grow once more in Europe where it is now one of the most popular two-wheeled motorsports.

Finally, in 2003, almost two decades since it died in the USA, supermoto finally made a comeback as both the AMA and Supermoto Canada began holding races on the North American continent.

Where do I go to try it?

Former National Supermoto Champion, Ady Smith runs a school in Wales where you can learn for £300 including bike hire, & fuel. www.adysmith.co.uk. Or Andy Mitchell – another former national champion – will give you a half-day session in Lancashire for £150, or £75 if you have a bike. www.supermoto-school.co.uk.

Heroes

Christian Iddon – British

Annoyingly talented and annoyingly young Aprilia factory rider from Derbyshire, currently 4th in the world championship. Nicky Hayden deserves an honourable mention. He may not be competing in SM but have you seen him backing it into a corner, with his knee on the ground, while flicking the victory V sign? Total bastard!

Stephane Chambon – French

He competed in supercross in the ‘80s, World Supersport in the nineties, and Supermoto in the ‘00s. He’s now trying his hand at a career in rallying.

Legendary race

The Mettet Superbiker event in Belgium, 2006. Greg Kinsella, Ady Smith and Andy Mitchell battled it out, even before the main race. A puncture in qualifying saw Kinsella relegated to the back of the grid, while Mitchell and Smith aggressively banged bars through the streets. Mitchell nearly lost it on a patch of oil, giving Smith the chance to romp to second, after Kevin Berthome, while Mitchell fought hard to regain position, settling for third. And this was just qualifying for the semi-final.

Later in the main ‘Best Biker’ event, Local hero, Fred Fiorentino, was on pole as the 4-strong field of riders left the line and bombed through the streets. Kinsella tangled with another rider on the first corner and fell. Six laps of hard charging later and he fell again, retiring with a broken gear lever, leaving Smith and Mitchell fighting to get close to Fiorentino. It was close, the tension from the crowd was palpable, but in the end Fiorentino took the win, much to the delight of the local crowd. Mitchell took eighth and Smith a close tenth place behind. The event is heralded as a true supermoto festival.

Where do I go to see it?

Check out www.britishsupermoto.net for details.

What's it all about?

What you’ll expect to see are machines similar to motocross bikes but with more road-biased rubber. Most supermoto courses consist of 70% track and 30% dirt. The action is awesome, with bikes leant over almost horizontally while the riders gracefully slide the back end of their bikes out on the Tarmac turns at speeds of up to 100mph. Action on every bend is guaranteed.

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