Top 10 current supermotos

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SUPERMOTOS are about as divisive as motorcycles can be – some reckon they’re as thrilling as a motorcycle can be while many dismiss them as impractical, uncomfortable and slow.

The truth is that they’re all those things. At the moment it seems the anti-supermoto crowd is making the more persuasive argument, as a glance at the range of machines on sale today reveals that most of the bikes that made up our last supermoto top 10, back in 2010, have quietly slipped from showrooms and haven’t been replaced. In these austere times, perhaps the idea of a bike that has absolutely no practical purpose is just too hard to justify.

So, of the slim pickings on the table, which machines should make our top 10? 

10. Honda MSX125: £2,799

Is it a supermoto? Is it monkey bike? Is it really worthy of this list? Well, on the basis that it’s vaguely supermoto-shaped and far more fun than anything of its limited size and performance has any right to be, it’s in. With 9.7bhp on tap you’re not going to be powersliding around too many corners, and if you’re a typical middle-aged motorcyclist you’re going to look absolutely ridiculous on it, but if you can put your self-consciousness to one side and unleash your inner teenager the MSX is sure to leave you with a grin on your face. For added amusement, don’t call it an MSX125 – it’s American name, “Grom”, seems much more suitable.

9. Suzuki DR125SM: £2,965

For years if you wanted an off-the-shelf supermoto and didn’t fancy going to the extremes of a full-on KTM or Husqvarna then Suzuki’s DR-Z400SM was the default choice. Cheapish, not as temperamental as real crosser-based SMs and easily bought and serviced at local dealers, it was always one of the most popular of its genre. Incredibly, though, it’s now been five years since it was dropped from the range, leaving only its little brother, the DR125SM, in Suzuki’s supermoto line-up. The look is right, if rather dated, and it will scrape past 70mph on a long enough straight which gives it an edge over the Honda MSX. But it’s just a bit too sensible to rank any higher.

8. Yamaha WR125X: £4,199

Well over a grand more expensive than its Honda or Suzuki rivals, the WR125X is a rather more serious machine than either. The water-cooled engine puts it right at the learner-legal 15bhp limit and the chassis and suspension are all a bit higher-end than the cheaper machines. Bear in mind that, since this is a proper supermoto derived from a real off-road bike, if you’re vertically-challenged you might find touching the ground is a struggle.

7. Rieju MRT125SM Pro: £3,399

Bearing exactly the same engine as the Yamaha WR125X but at £800 less, the MRT125SM Pro makes for a tempting package. The chassis has the look of a modern crosser’s aluminium frame, despite actually being steel, and the addition of brand-name parts like Marzocchi forks and Galfer discs gives it a touch of ‘real’ supermoto style.

6. Husqvarna TR650 Strada: £4,999 (ish) if you can find one

Strictly speaking the Strada isn’t a ‘current’ bike – since BMW sold Husqvarna the firm’s range of road-going bikes has disappeared – but there are still a few new ones out there in dealers so it just about makes the cut. The prices being asked now for this BMW-derived single are around £1000 less than ‘list’ and while our very own Ben Cope was less than enamoured with the Strada at its launch, of the limited number of factory bikes that can carry off the supermoto tag, it’s good enough to appear here. In reality it’s not a full-on, motocross-derived supermoto but a road bike with SM-esque styling – a bit like the original KTM Duke before that machine was taken down the more ‘standard naked bike’ development path. That adds a bit of practicality – this is a bike you could actually ride regularly rather than just hoon about on. With 58bhp from the tuned, BMW-made single it promises excitement, but doesn’t deliver quite as much as you might imagine.

5. Yamaha XT660X: £6,599

To be honest it was a tough call whether to put the XT660X above or below the Husqvarna Strada – it’s one of the few ‘supermotos’ available from a major brand these days, so qualifies by default for this list, but it’s age-old and rather too straight-laced to really cash in on the fun aspect of the genre. The price is a bit old-school Yamaha, too – I mean, £6599? Really? Is this meant to be £1400-worth more bike than the new MT-07? It’s hard to make a case for it, really, but the XT does have one joker to play – it’s almost the perfect A2 licence machine, straight out of the box, in that it comes closer than virtually any other production bike to hitting both the 35kW power limit (47bhp in old English) and the 0.2kW-per-kg power-to-weight limit. As such, if you’re A2 restricted, the XT doesn’t just rank as one of the best supermotos but one of the most high-performance machines you’re legally entitled to ride, regardless of market sector. We’d just recommend finding a good used one, or going to one of the many dealers happy to take well over a grand off the list price of a new one, and using your best haggling techniques to make the price a bit more acceptable.

4. Honda CRF250M: £4,299

While other brands were disappearing from the supermoto market Honda was busy developing its CRF250M – built around the CBR250R’s single-cylinder engine and derived from the off-road-oriented CRF250L. It’s no competition bike, but it looks like a ‘proper’ crosser-derived supermoto – even though such things are now virtually extinct. On the downside, it’s all a bit, well, Honda. The panache is missing. Owners seem more than happy with them, though, and if you want to get the look and feel of a supermoto without the insane service schedules of a real motocross-based bike and with all the reliability and ease-of-use of a Honda, then it’s about the only option available to you.

3. Ducati Hypermotard: from £9,695

Is it really a supermoto? The Hypermotard’s name certainly suggests that’s the field it’s aiming at, and in its second-generation form as offered now it’s a stunning bike regardless of which pigeonhole you try to stuff it into. Now water-cooled, with an 821cc version of the Testastretta 11° engine, it’s got leagues more performance than anything else on this list – we’re talking about 110bhp here – and the additional sensible elements of the latest Ducatis, not least an incredible 30,000km interval between major services. Then there’s the latest Bosch 9 ABS, traction control and various power modes to play with. Suddenly that £9,695 price tag for the base model starts to seem remarkably reasonable. Why isn’t it number one? Well, it’s just a little too far from the traditional supermoto to get that spot. But for a day-to-day bike, it’s the best on this list.

2. KTM 450SMR: £7,299

If the Ducati strays from the supermoto tradition then the KTM 450SMR couldn’t be closer to the original template – and it’s about the only full-on, off-the-shelf competition supermoto now widely on sale. Yep, it’s not even road legal. This is for racers or those who are looking for a track-only plaything, and as such it’s definitely not going to appeal to a wide spectrum of riders. But there’s no doubting its qualities. From the injected, competition-spec engine to the alloy frame and high-end WP suspension it’s all delectable kit, and that’s before you allow KTM’s ever-helpful PowerParts catalogue to further empty your already strained wallet. It’s one of those bikes that most of us would want to have a go on, given the chance, but that very few will ever take the plunge to buy. The best real supermoto on this list, but just too far from the real world to be the winner.

1. KTM 690 SMC R: £7,899

Back when it first appeared, the KTM Duke was almost the definition of a road-going supermoto. Now that’s changed, with the Duke machines – both the 690 and the crazy 1290 – filling the ‘naked bike’ slot rather than the supermoto opening. With KTM’s crazy V-twin 950SM now just a memory, the single-cylinder 690 SMC R is the only road-legal supermoto the firm offers. With 66bhp and weighing just 140kg it’s a tempting recipe, and KTM will even offer A2 riders a different engine map to cut the power down enough to slide under the 0.2kW-per-kg power-to-weight limit (around 38bhp would do the trick – well under the 47bhp overall power limit, but it needs to be lower thanks to the light weight). If you’re into road-going supermotos, this is about as desirable as they come, although the near-£8k price means it won’t be for everyone.

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