SWM Superdual first ride
SWM’s new Superdual might not be big on bhp, cylinders or electronics, but it’s a proper little do-anything, go-anywhere machine.
Big adventure bikes are now caught up in the same power and technology race as sportsbikes, but who really needs a superbike on stilts and knobblies, or can afford their five figure price tags?
It’s refreshing to find the Italian-built 600cc, 54bhp single cylinder SWM costs just £7599 and for that you get a lot of bike for the money. It’s well equipped, beautifully built and after riding it in the Italian hills near their factory (the old Husqvarna HQ) near Varese, just over the lake from MV Agusta, it impresses with its comfort, refinement and character.
Like its tubular steel chassis and chunky aluminium swingarm the Superdual’s thumping motor is based on the old Husqvarna TE610 enduro bike. SWM has developed it further, replacing the carb with fuel injection, adding an electric start, a new Euro 4-friendly exhaust, valves, clutch, oil pump and updated electronics.
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These refinements all add up to a single-cylinder engine with a snatch-free throttle pick-up and lots of easy to manage, playful power through the revs. 54bhp might not sound a lot, but it’s enough for smart acceleration, fun on B-roads, the ability to keep with unhinged Milanese motorway traffic and to tease out the odd cheeky wheelie.
A light hydraulic clutch, six-speed gearbox and twistgrip make life on the SWM strees-fee, the neat rasp from the exhaust is music to the ears and it’s a testament to the single’s smoothness that the mirrors remain un-blurred at all speeds. With so few vibes spilling out from the engine and such a flat spread of power on the non-ride-by-wire tap, you’d swear you’re on a twin.
But it’s hard to change out of second or third gear in traffic when the bike is hot. SWM can’t explain why, other than a possible dragging clutch on this pre-production test machine. On the move the gears snick nicely home again.
Although ABS is always a no-brainer on a road bike, electronic riders aids are both a luxury and more than ever, are there to control spiralling power outputs. But here on the Superdual it’s none the worse for not having traction control, fussy rider modes, a quickshifter, anti-wheelie or semi-active suspension.
On long, cold journeys you might pine for heated grips, or even cruise control, but you’ll stay warm and smug in the knowledge of how little you paid for this perky little mile-muncher.
With its enduro bike genes running deep it’s no surprise the Superdual has plenty of space to move about in. Legroon is generous, the seat won’t pain your derrier after you’ve drained the generous 18-litre fuel tank, the non-adjustable screen offers decent wind protection and the wide bars are set to perfection.
It’s a short and small bike, though, which is fine for solo riding, but going two-up will be a squeeze, especially if you’re taking the kitchen sink to Europe with you.
Soft, but well-damped and controlled suspension offers a plush ride and helps you find grip on and off-road. It sinks down nicely when you hop on, so shorter riders won’t have a big problem getting their feet down, despite its 890mm seat height.
With its conservative chassis set-up, the Superdual won’t dart from corner to corner using telepathy, or drag its pegs like a maniac. It’s not what you’d call sporty in the handling department, but it’s surefooted, dependable, stable and steers with little fuss. Spoked wheels are shod with Metzler Tourance dual purpose tyres (140/80 x 17” rear, 110/80 x 19” front) and give plenty of grip in the wet, dry and mud.
Built in this former state-of-the-art factory BMW-built Husqvarna factory, the SWM is screwed together with a mix Germanic quality and Italian flair. You get a lot of top-notch equipment for your seven-and-a-bit grand: Brembo calipers, wavy discs, steel braided brake lines, Sachs shock, Fast Ace forks, handguards, engine bars, LED fog lights and useful-size Givi panniers.
The Superdual is remarkable value for money and now Yamaha has dropped its XT660Z Tenere it’s also the only real option if you want to go the simple, lightweight, single-cylinder adventure route.
With its big-money Chinese backing, impressive manufacturing facilities, the knowhow of some of the cleverest brains in the Italian motorcycle industry, a flair for racing and the ambition to produce a wide range of exciting new models in the future, SWM are making their mark. Their new Superdual is a great way to let the world know its coming.
SWM’s new single-cylinder Superdual is proof that adventure bikes don’t need to be big, expensive, techno-packed monsters to make sense. It doesn’t come with the latest raft of rider aids and it might be physically small for some, especially with luggage and a pillion, but the Husqvarna-based machine is punchy, refined, easy to manage, full of lovely designed touches and above all, affordable.
Engine 600cc 4v single
Frame Tubular steel double cradle
Seat height 890mm
Suspension 43mm Fast Ace forks adjustable for rebound damping. Single rear Sachs shock, fully adjustable.
Front brake 300mm disc. Four-piston caliper.
Kerb weight (no fuel) 169kg
Tank capacity 18 litres