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KTM LC4 Supermoto

Published: 21 October 2001

Updated: 19 November 2014

If you’re looking for the mad dog in this test, you’ve found it. The KTM LC4 Supermoto is a full-on dirt racer with 17 inch wheels and a bigger front disc. End of story.

And you aren’t going to believe what it’s like.

Imagine you and your mates are riding to work on a greasy, bumpy, gravel-strewn road. They’re all on bicycles, juddering and sweating furiously to make progress. You, on the other hand, are astride… a flying giraffe. Tall, graceful, lazy, responsive – I’m not making much sense but stay with me – if you can picture it you’ll have some idea of what this motorcycle does to your previous biking experience.

To start with, your eyes are five and a half feet above the road. So you see farther than anyone else. And don’t think it’s unnerving to be that high up. It’s wonderful!

Next, you’re on a bike designed to produce explosive, point-to-point performance. Crack the throttle anywhere in the top half of the rev range and the engine snaps to full torque damn near instantaneously.

Finally, there’s the very, very high quality suspension. To a road rider, it simply defies the laws of physics. How can you be so insulated from road shocks, and yet know what’s happening? Welcome to LC4 world.

Round town the bike attracts disbelieving stares. It doesn’t so much accelerate as lunge from one place to the next and, as long as you’ve got a 30 inch inside leg, the 137kg weight is easy to balance at the lights. Switchgear is excellent, brake and clutch feel outstanding and grip from the soft compound Pirellis outstanding, wet or dry.

But if anything the hunting on a steady, low speed throttle is worse than on the Duke, and with no cush drive the bike feels lumpy, hard-edged and vibey. The seat is hard and narrow, too. Could you really stand it every day?

On open roads the LC4 astonishes again. Despite a soft tune that gives maybe 42bhp there’s real stomp out of 60mph corners and the " I can see your house from here’ seat height proves its value. Often you can tell the road’s clear through a small complex of bends, which makes a giggly ride even sillier. Braking over gravel and mud feels like getting away with murder, and those yards of suppler-than-your-dreams suspension completely fail to bring on the swaying, squashy sensation you get from a big Japanese trailie.

At first I thought the speedo read fast but the importers insist that it’s accurate for 17 inch wheels – and with top whack around 100 on the clock that makes sense. The other thing that makes sense is the gravity-defying sensation of cornering something so tall and surefooted. More exciting than a sports 600? You bet.

But keep at it for more than 30 miles and you begin to wonder if it’s all too much. The LC4 has no reserves of soft-edged comfort at all. The seat stays hard as a stuffed leather piglet, and the exposed riding position continues to demand aggression even when you feel like Private Godfrey. Our bike also had a flat-out fuelling glitch which felt like running onto reserve. Craig Taylor at Dynotorque suggests that KTM’s dirtbikes often benefit from a careful rejet.

If the Duke is a lunatic luxury, the LC4 is several notches more self-indulgent still. In Cornwall or remote Wales it could easily be the perfect bike. In Basingstoke or Birmingham you’d need to take it racing – and have some soft-edged alternative transport for the days when you felt merely ordinary.

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