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Motorcycle Buyer's Guide: supermoto bikes


by Pascal Bastien ,

Supermotos, are becoming more and more popular in these parts, although there is a limited selection of them on the market – all but five European and Asian models are available, with an engine capacity somewhere between 250 and 650 cc.

Careful now – we’re not talking about big-framed supermotos, also known as hypermotos: these are mounted on a heavy standard sport frame. We’re talking about dual-purpose bikes, the type of ride you can slide around on, on-road or track.

Aprilia SXV 5.5
Aprilia SXV 5.5
Photo: Aprilia

Only available at 550 cc in Canada (a 450 cc model is available overseas) the Aprilia V-twin engine is hot off the Italian manufacturer’s racing line. In fact, its mechanics are quite sophisticated: an ultra-light, compact crankshaft that reduces inertia, a plated cylinder wall, silicon aluminium alloy carters, magnesium engine cover as well as titanium engine valves and exhaust pipes.

The SXV 5.5 has a mixed frame, made of a tubular trellis screwed onto another aluminium-cast iron structure. This kind of construction is outstandingly rigid, though it still allows for some flexibility, side-wise.

The SXV is a real technological marvel, designed for sliding. Of course, its comfort level is very limited on the road, with stiff suspension and a super slim seat designed for racing. However, it is irresistible – its technology is unprecedented, and it demands to be ridden differently than anything else on two wheels. The SXV 5.5 is a great toy for those who want something completely different. You have to learn how to handle it, though, before it will show you all its potential.

Husaberg FS 570
Husaberg FS 570
Photo: Matthieu Lambert

Here is the FS 570, a serious supermoto that has all the necessary elements to make it shine in its category. Very high and extremely fine, it’s a regal ride, no matter what course you’re on. Glued to the ground, easy to handle, and precise, it provides the rider with enough confidence to go further and further.

It’s impressively lively and agile when taking on tight corners, and, boy, can it take on turns like a champ. You’ll have to put up with the wheel, though, which will try to fly up into the air thanks to the bike’s single cylinder engine, at a 20° tilt. This novel position brings the engine mass and the crankshaft’s drive closer to the machine’s centre of gravity, while the elevated carter raises the bike’s clearance.

This exceptional frame and powertrain configuration provides a sense of balance between the back and the front end, one that’s never been felt before on a supermoto bike – an almost ideal equilibrium between agility and stability.

The bike uses adjustable WP suspensions – just a couple clicks is enough to change the machine’s behaviour, so you can adapt it to your own riding style or the type of road you’re on.

Fast, ultra-precise and easy to handle the track, the FS 570 is one of the best bikes to ride hard. And thanks to the extensive control action on the suspension, the superior comfort of the seat, and the stability it holds everywhere, the FS is in prime shape to be ridden every day.

Husqvarna SMR 511
Husqvarna SMR 511
Photo: Husqvarna

This true supermoto plays hard on the track: aggressive style, light, 50 mm-wide fork, four-piston, 320 mm front Brembo discs and a DOHC single cylinder engine.

For the rider, the Husqvarna SMR 511 leaves no guesswork thanks to its remarkable precision and power. Gear shifts are ultra-quick with the Magura hydraulic clutch requiring one finger only.

This bike delivers a harsh ride as comfort is a distant priority. However, the seat and wide handlebar put the rider in an upright position and very close to the steering, which provides a better feel of the front wheel. Under acceleration, the adjustable suspension perfectly handles the weight transfers, while the chassis proves extremely responsive and lively upon entering corners.

A true racing machine with a pure sense of sportiness.

The SMR 511 provides a feast for the senses, performing just as well as the very best in its class. Plus, it’s more pleasant to drive than it has ever been. Meanwhile, Husqvarna is offering this bike at a competitive price, and under a 2-year warranty.

Suzuki DR-Z400SM
Suzuki DR-Z400SM

The SM version of the DR-Z is not just stylish, it’s a true supermoto with grippy tires. Also added are 17-inch wheels, a longer stroke, firmer monoshock absorber and an inverted Showa fork derived from Suzuki’s RM range. The shorter swing arm means a reduced wheelbase, plus the re-sized brakes are more durable whereas the shortened fender makes the bike more aerodynamic.

The 398 cc single cylinder liquid-cooled DOHC engine is fed by an electronic injection system. Particularly reliable, this modern engin produces plenty of power with 5-speed transmission and surprisingly little vibration for a single cylinder. The DR-Z400SM offers smooth riding efficiency both around town and on the road thanks to its agility, street-comfort and more than honest performance. You can even go for your first sortie on the track if that’s what your heart tells you.

Yamaha WR250X
Yamaha WR250R
Photo: Matthieu Lambert

If you think this little Yamaha is merely an entry-level dilettante, you would be wrong. Yamaha has developed its frame in parallel with those of its other motocross models, no less. The WR250X wears its own style well, a serious contender with a state-of-the-art engine.

Developed from the renowned YZ-F dirt bike line, this engine benefits from every bit of expertise of the brand’s engineers. Its 53.6 mm piston stroke and impressive 11.8:1 compression ratio say heaps about the performance that this engine delivers.

Even if the engine seems very well designed, the frame is unarguably the best part of this machine. Inspired by the legendary WR250F competition bike, it’s composed of three cast and forged aluminum sections and an asymmetrical composite alloy rear swing arm. It rides as stiff or as flexible as you want in all the right places, which means precision handling with increased stability at higher speeds, both on curves and in a straight line.

Brakes offer the bite and stamina you want during aggressive maneuvers…plus they’re very easy to control. Even if a firmer fork calibration is preferred, the WR250X brakes well and corners easily, all while providing good feedback to the rider. As for comfort, let’s just say you won’t suffer too much thanks to an ergonomic saddle and well-calibrated suspension. And plus the single cylinder doesn’t vibrate that much at all.

The WR250X is simply the most serious Japanese supermoto on the Canadian market and the first Yamaha capable of really winning over all you ride’n’slide enthusiasts.