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Supermoto test

Published: 21 October 2001

Updated: 19 November 2014

There comes a time when every sportsbike rider finds him (or her)self in a hedge, or a court, or even a pawn shop, wondering where it all went wrong. Sound familiar? Of course it does. It’s called reality.

Ever thought about a supermoto? Before you fall off your Fireblade - laughing this time – consider this The basic idea of supermotos is mph thrills at km/h speeds. OK, that can mean suspect speedos, weedy headlights, excruciating seats and annoying mirrors. But it’s also 50mpg running costs, foot-down cornering, and wheelies even for people who can’t do wheelies.

Cynics may wonder how it’s possible to enjoy tweaking a throttle that gives a third of a FireBlade’s horsepower. The fact is, people are getting on with it. KTM has already sold twice as many Dukes as it did last year, a figure that rises to three times that if you include supermoto dirt racers as well. Supermotos are singles and singles are different. In bicycle terms, they supply just one pedal every other revolution, so it needs to be a good ’un. On a decent single, that blam blam blam is an irresistible incitement to wheelie at 10mph, a tyre-squirming kick out of a 50mph bend and a soothing 80mph beat when you’re cold and lonely on the M1. So of course there’s not much power – but what there is can sometimes be enough. (And, if it isn’t, you can always tune the bike to the same power-to-weight ratio as a stock CBR6.) As country road blasters supermotos need the right company. Sportsbikes are faster. But if two or three riders go ‘over the wall’ together, the world gets very giggly indeed. Ideal city bikes? The 0-40mph acceleration of a good supermoto is fantastic, and the immunity to potholes almost beyond belief – but the wide bars don’t agree with Transit van mirrors. You might get from Heathrow to King’s Cross just as fast on a CBR600. But you wouldn’t have half as much fun.

More and more people are finding this combination enough of an attraction to chop in their superbikes for something completely different. So we gathered four of the most popular available KTM’s Duke 2 and LC4, CCM’s R30 and MZ’s Baghira to see what all the fuss is about.

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