Forget sportsbikes, forget cruisers, because for many two-wheeled enthusiasts the best motorcycles in existence are supermoto bikes – and they could be right. Some riders enjoy the thrill of riding fast on the highways, while others prefer getting down and dirty on the backroads, but there are some who like a little bit of everything. So rather than have one motorcycle for one purpose, the wonderful supermoto machine was born. If you’re new to the world of supermoto bikes, then maybe you’re asking yourself: “What exactly is a supermoto bike?”
The answer is pretty simple. In essence, a supermoto is a dual purpose motorcycle – usually a dirt-bike that has been modified for street use by adding sport tires on smaller street rims, with more road appropriate suspension too. These bikes were first built to compete in special supermotard races. Since the idea was first conceived back in the late 1970s, supermotard racing has delighted motorcycle fans from across three different racing genres. The idea of the race is simple: it’s a three stage race that takes place across hard packed dirt flat track surface followed by motocross style jumps and rough terrain, and finishes on a short course of paved asphalt similar to regular road racing. To become a skilled supermotard racer, you’ve really got to know how to race in a variety of conditions.
While they’re great fun to race, supermoto bikes are actually very useful on the roads and they’re a very popular choice of motorcycle for those who require a mode of transport that offers extreme versatility. Now, if you’re looking for thoroughbred race machines, then this list isn’t going to satisfy you. Below we’re listing our favorite supermoto bikes that you can ride on the road and take for a good old leg stretch at the weekend. Most of these can easily be converted into true supermoto racers with a bit of modification, but we’re keeping things simple and going for stock machines only. So, without further ado, here’s a top list of our favorite supermoto bikes.
Dual-Sport Diamonds: Top 10 Supermoto Bikes!
#10. KTM 640 LC4 Supermoto
Kicking things off, we have the now discontinued (but easily sourced) KTM 640 LC4 Supermoto. For those are already well-acquainted with the supermoto segment, you’ll know that this is quite a tame choice. It might not have the “wow” factor that many other supermoto bikes have, but the 640 LC4 provided plenty of thrills and is the ideal choice for someone new to the supermoto segment. Powered by a carbureted 625cc single cylinder engine, the 640 LC4 shoots out a respectable 53 hp, 41 lb-ft of torque, and has a top speed of 110 mph. It’s a comfortable ride through the city streets but it also excels on the track if you get the opportunity.
Like all KTMs, they’re not particularly cheap to pick up and they hold onto their value for quite some time. And there’s a good reason for that: they’re well made, reliable, and a joy to ride. They come with some top notch equipment as standard, such as the fully adjustable WP suspension and Brembo brakes – the Pirelli MT60 street tires are less impressive though. Anyway, it’s a solid ride – just keep on top of the maintenance, otherwise things could go downhill pretty fast. And not in the good way.
#09. Husqvarna SM450R
Next up, we’ve got the Husqvarna SM450R. Now, you’re going to notice a few recurring themes in this list: KTM and Husqvarna supermoto bikes. Both companies are stalwarts in the supermoto segment and though they’re pretty much the same company these days, there’s still enough variation to separate the two brands. Here’s a great example: the SM450R. KTM’s offerings are more road friendly. Husqvarna’s are more…rough and ready, lets just say. To put things bluntly, the most luxurious item on the SM450R is the electric start but even that comes with a trade off since the bikes has no ignition key. It’s got a fairly unimpressive 9 liter (2.3 gallon) tank. It’s not the most comfortable thing either. But for all of those negatives, it has some very nice positives. For example, the engine is fantastic – it’s a high revving 449cc singe cylinder beast with smooth power delivery that offers miles of smiles. With around 48 hp and 34 lb-ft of torque, and a top speed of 110 mph on offer, you can really have some fun on it. Couple that with the SM450R’s surgical handling and incredible braking capabilities and you’ve got a near race ready supermoto machine on your hands.
Reliability has been known to be a problem, so try and strike deal with a reputable dealer that will have your back if you want to seal the deal on one of these.
#08. KTM 690 SMC R
How about another KTM for ya? While this one appears to be remarkably similar to the last one, there are some crucial differences. For a start, it has a bigger engine. Powered by a throaty 690cc single cylinder engine with a peak power figure around the 67 hp marker, the KTM 690 SMC R is one of our favorite supermoto bikes. It walks the line nicely between measured road-going sensibility and behaving like a mad dog that’s just been let off the leash. It can be tame when it has to, but when you want to play, it’s more than ready to be the bad influence. The KTM 690 SMC R manages this with its 690cc single cylinder engine – it’s remarkably and deceptively smooth for highway riding, but feisty when you want to give it some in the corners.
Armed with bark buster hand guards, fully adjustable WP suspension, Brembo brakes up front, and a slipper clutch, it’s a great option for those who want to have a usable and practical motorcycle for Monday to Friday but want something fun to hammer round the track or the twisties at the weekend. It also comes available in a 990 flavor for those who prefer something a little heavier and a little faster for more comfortable road riding – but because we like our supermoto bikes light and nimble, we like the 690 more.
#07. Husqvarna 701 Supermoto
And then we have the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto. After this one, we’re going to leave KTM and Husqvarna behind, promise! Well, to the untrained eye it could be said that the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto and the KTM 690 SMC R were the same bike – but they’d be wrong. There are a lot of similarities, but the differences really set the two models apart. First of all, we’re dealing with Husqvarna, and true to Husqvarna form, the 701 Supermoto comes with only the bare essentials. In fact, it doesn’t even come with something often considered the “bare essentials” such as a rev counter or even a fuel gauge.
The engine is a little different from the KTM too. It’s still powered by the same 690cc single but thanks to some behind the scenes wizardry, the new iteration of the 701 Supermoto boasts 72 hp rather than 67 hp, and a peak torque figure of 54 lb-ft rather than 49.4. The wheels and suspension are also slightly different, and the Husqvarna comes with Bosch 9.1 MP ABS too, which works nicely with the new Brembo brakes. All in all, the changes have given birth to a more powerful, more maneuverable, and incredibly fun supermoto monster.
#06. Suzuki DR-Z400SM
Since you’re probably bored of the KTM/Husqvarna show, how about something that’s more faithful to the original supermoto recipe? Here we have the faithful Suzuki DR-Z400 SM. Like traditionalist supermoto bikes, the Suzuki DR-Z400SM is essentially a good old school dirt bike that has been turned into a more road oriented motorcycle by adding smaller rims, better brakes, firmer suspension, and adding more appropriate tires. While Suzuki’s DR-Z supermoto line has a wide range of engine sizes available, we like the 400 best. It’s still light and nimble enough to throw around corners but it has enough grunt to keep its head above water on the bigger roads. To be honest, it’s not an ideal road rider if you need to go gunning along the freeway regularly, because that won’t feel like a lot of fun – it only has a top speed of 90mph…apparently. However, what it lacks in peak power it makes up for in handling.
To compensate for the fairly wimpy 39 hp, Suzuki have given the DR-Z400SM exceptional handling and you’ll be able to weave your way through anything without applying any noticeable effort. Couple that handling with the very low weight of around 300 lbs, and you’ve got a very maneuverable motorcycle on your hands. And don’t forget that it’s a Suzuki – so it’s more or less bullet proof.
#05. Ducati Hypermotard 939
The Ducati Hypermotard 939 is often dubbed as one of the greatest motorcycle ever, let alone within the supermoto category alone. Powered by a tried and tested 8 valve, 937cc, fuel-injected l-twin engine that offers 113 hp and 72.2 lb-ft of torque, the Ducati Hypermotard is one of the most famous and most recognizable supermoto bikes in the segment. The Hypermotard 939 is known for its incredibly light steering, superb handling, and fiercely tight cornering, and it packs a powerful punch in the speed department too. That being said, it’s not a supermoto choice for the faint hearted.
Armed with Pirelli Diablo Rosso II rubber, Brembo brakes and Sachs suspension (or Ohlins for the SP version), it’s pretty much a sportsbike dolled up to look a dirt bike. And that’s awesome. But it’s also the Hypermotard’s biggest downfall. It’s not as great as you’d think it would be on the dirt. I suppose in the hands of a real supermoto racer it’s probably fine, but for the road rider who’s a casual off-roader, it’s not as much fun off of the asphalt than pretty much everything else on the list. On the road, however, it’s an absolute champion.
#04. Yamaha WR250X
We’re going back to Japan for the next one on the list – the Yamaha WR250X. Like the Suzuki listed further back up the page, it’s one of the more purist supermoto bikes. In other words, it’s a dirt bike with come road focused accoutrements. What makes this one different though, is that it’s the smallest engine on our list. It’s small, but that’s fine. We decided to include this one as a fine example of what a good “first” motorcycle should be. The Yamaha WR250X isn’t a speed demon and can barely hit 80 mph, but it’s incredibly good for building confidence on unfamiliar surfaces. For any rider looking for an ideal beginner supermoto bike, then you can get on one of these, ride it with ease, and push yourself to limits that you might be too timid to reach on a bigger motorcycle.
We particularly like the Yamaha because of its basic and smooth engine. It does have some negative points though: the brakes could be better, the handling isn’t as sharp as you’d think it would be, and it’s not great on the highways. But if you’re going to treat it like a second bike that you can learn on, rather than your day to day ride, then it’s a great choice. Keep your expectations at a reasonable level and you’ll have a great time on one of these.
#03. Honda CRF450
Unlike the Suzuki and the Yamaha, the Honda CRF450 requires a little bit of home modification to turn into a proper supermoto bike. In reality, it’s a dirt bike – but with a few key upgrades, such as new wheels, tires, brakes, suspension and other bits and pieces, you can have a very, very impressive supermoto bike. Or you can buy one that someone has already converted, but be warned, because most of these homemade fellas aren’t exactly street legal. Some are. But just know that most aren’t. It’s also worth noting that a cool CRF450 conversion is best left for experienced dirt-bikers or those who are already die-hard supermoto converts.
The Honda CRF450 comes in two flavors: an enduro styled “X” version and a more aggressive “R” version. The X comes with a few home comforts like an electric start and a bit of lighting, while the R is just a pure bred dirt bike. If you’re not into bike maintenance then this is not the model for you. You’ll be going through pistons fairly quickly, and if you’re actually racing the thing, then you’ll be lucky to last a weekend on one alone. But if you’re taking your supermoto seriously, then you will get a massive thrill out of this 449cc 4-valve single. 49 hp. 35 lb-ft torque. 264 lbs. In other words: an absolute beast.
#02. Aprilia SXV550
Coming in at number 2, we’ve got the Aprilia SXV550. 10 years ago, this was one of our favorite supermoto bikes. 10 years later, it’s still one of our favorite supermoto bikes. When it first appeared, it caused quite the sensation because at the time, most supermoto bikes were single cylinder machines. Then the SXV550 turned up and turned everyone’s heads with its 549cc 8 valve, injected V-twin engine. With 70 hp on tap, a top speed of 115 mph, and silky smooth power delivery, it caused a sensation on the race tracks. Not only did the Aprilia SXV550 feature an orthodox engine, it was also incredibly compact and lightweight too weighing it at a svelte 282 lbs, making it an absolute weapon to ride.
Despite being Italian, it actually has a history of decent reliability – providing that you take care of it of course, or be prepared to throw a lot of money at your problems. So if you’re looking for a real supermoto machine that bucks the usual KTM or Husqvarna trend – and if you’ve got the money, of course – then try and get yourself one of these bad boys. If you can find one, that is.
#01. Husaberg FS650e
Putting a manufacturer that no longer exists in the top spot might not sit well with a lot of people, but there’s no denying that Husaberg really knew what they were doing when it came to building motocross and supermoto bikes. After getting bought out by KTM and eventually absorbed into the KTM brand and reunited with Husqvarna, Husaberg’s fine motorcycle became a thing of the past. However, if you look around you can still find some of their greatest hits for sale. The FS650e is probably the best of the bunch though. If you can find one from ’06 or onwards, then make the sale as soon as you can. Though very few numbers were imported to the US, they do exist and are worth seeking out.
Powered by a 644cc, SOHC, 4-valve, carbureted, single cylinder engine that produces 64 hp at 6,300 rpm, 49 lb-ft torque at 6,100 rpm, has a top speed of 110 mph, and a curb weight of 270 lbs, the Husaberg FS650e is one of the greatest supermoto bikes that money can buy. Fiercely reliable and an absolute joy to ride, the ‘Berg is great for riding around the roads and for tackling serious competition races too. Our one complaint is that it has a bit of a vibration issue, but that’s a very small complaint. It’s comfortable for day to day commuting, great for throwing around the corners in the canyons at the weekend, and if you’re happy to give it a full engine rebuild every 12 months, it’s a great competition bike. The only downside is that you’re not going to get any dealership support since the brand no longer exists. That being said, there are plenty of Husaberg fans online who are more than happy to offer servicing advice and help with parts. If you want to take your supermoto riding seriously, give the Husaberg a try.
So there you have it – all you need to know about supermoto motorcycles to give yourself a headstart. While there are plenty of other supermoto models out there, these ones just happen to be our favorites. If you’re looking for a dual sport machine with the handling and upright seating position of the best dirt bikes but combined with the performance and thrill factor of modern sport bikes, then get yourself a supermoto.