The might supermoto: disliked by some but adored by many more. Find out how the supermoto genre came to be and why you should be riding one.
Back in 1979, an epic race occurred that few people remember and most never heard of. The race was called “Superbikers” and the goal was to find the most badass, “all-around” motorcycle racer in the country. By combining every major racing discipline of the time, including road racing, motocross and flat track, they hoped to crown the best rider who could master it all (Think Top Gun on bikes). Little did they know this would spawn an entirely new class of riders and bikes that we now call Supermoto!
Regardless of the history, there isn’t a better class of riding out there for honing your craft and humbling your so-called talent. So here are the top 5 reasons why you need to empty the savings account and piss off your significant other to add a Supermoto to your stable.
The Bike of All Bikes
Supermotos hold true to their history by having the most versatility of any motorcycle available. You can off-road, jump, rip through canyon twisties, cruise the city, stunt, crash, race, and look good at Starbucks. It's one of, if not the only bike that does everything well, but yet nothing great. A motocross bike is better at jumping in the dirt, a supersport is better at cornering, and a dual sport is better for adventuring, but a Supermoto can do it all.
READ MORE: Real Rides: DRZ400SM
As for availability, Suzuki still makes the bulletproof and inexpensive DRZ400SM and there are a number of offerings from the likes of KTM, Husqvarna, and Aprilia. You will also encounter the occasional motocross bike conversion with headlights and wheels, but stay away as reliability becomes an issue with street abuse.
Learn About Forgiveness
Supermotos are, above all things, forgiving. Not many people have the talent of Earl Hayden’s kids or the cajones of Chuck Norris to ride their motorcycles at the limit of traction. Supermotos help make up for an obvious lack of talent with superior handling and poise under pressure. Whether you are backing the rear wheel into a street corner or drifting out of a dirt road, the sumo will give you unmatched feedback and confidence to ride better than you ever have.
READ MORE: The SoCal Supermoto Experience
Like a bipolar ex-girlfriend, it will break traction right beneath you, then give it right back to you in spectacular fashion.
2009 Kawasaki KLX250SF
Navigate the Urban Jungle
Being based on a dirt bike platform offers incredible benefits in the form of maneuverability and suspension travel. The infamous DRZ400SM makes an inspiring canyon machine, but it truly shines during every day street riding. Low weight and large brake discs allow for superfluous braking and ridiculous stopping distances. The short gearing and tractor-like torque allow quick acceleration and frequent wheelies.
Don’t fool yourself either - on overzealous throttle days the front wheel defies gravity all too easily and you can quickly find yourself with pretty blue and red lights flashing behind you. Between the agility, short gearing, narrow stature, and the ability to go over most terrain, it can conquer even the most crowded traffic jams and get around any obstacle in your way. A Supermoto is a no-brainer for city riders.
You can crash any bike. Only a Supermoto will actually make it "fun". After laying my DRZ down at least 25 times on both dirt and asphalt (watch one of them here), I never replaced anything more than a shift lever, brake lever, and subframe.
Crashing is one of those situations most riders avoid at all cost and for good reason. Losing the front on a Panigale can easily produce a five digit repair bill.
However, there are times learning the hard way is the only way to propel you into the next level of skill. Supermotos can be instrumental in rider development simply because you can ride them near their limit with minimal consequence should your talent run out mid corner. There are certain aspects of riding that simply can’t be taught and must be experienced. The feeling of complete traction loss at full lean is one of those experiences.
The absolute best reason you should get a Supermoto right now is the ability to explore and be spontaneous. No area off limits and no need to stay between the lines, Supermotos give you access to a world of riding you never noticed. A quick turn off onto an enticing dirt road can make you feel like Lewis and Clark.
READ MORE: Honda CRF250M: an affordable supermoto
I was burnt out on bikes and nearly done with them, but Supermoto re-lit that flame that every rider has burning inside them. If you feel your riding has become a stagnant procedure rather than a new adventure, I suggest you look into adding a Supermoto to your portfolio of two-wheel therapy. You won’t regret it.