The prize for the most bike fun for your buck unquestionably goes to the Supermoto. Historically single-cylinder motocross bikes converted into track racers for a 1970s televised US race series, the concept was picked up in France, renamed ‘supermotard’ and the home-brewed street bikes which followed became so popular they spawned production versions.
The result, although by their very definition of being dirt bikes with street tyres, wheels and brakes, may have limited practicality – no one wants to go touring on a Supermoto – makes up for it with lively, lightweight performance, nimble handling and lots of excitement and hooligan pose value.
There are also lots of different types: 125cc versions for learners; mid-range fun bikes and out-and-out, full-bore 600cc+ track refugees for hardcore riders. But which is the best? Here’s our pick of 10 of the best, both new and used.
10. Husqvarna 701 Supermoto
Engine 690cc single-cylinder Power 73bhp Torque 49ft/lb Weight 135kg (without fuel) Price: £9,349 new
Husqvarna’s 701 Supermoto is based on sister company KTM’s 690 SMC R, but the Husky has taller gearing, and different wheels, suspension and brakes. There’s no rev counter or fuel gauge, but what hooligan cares about that stuff?
Effectively a Supermoto version of Husky’s 701 Enduro, it’s powered by a surprisingly rev-happy 693cc single, which now pumps out 73bhp and has impressive mid-range and top-end power. The motor is complimented by decent handling, too, and as you’d expect from a company known for producing bonkers race-spec supermotos, the 701 Supermoto is quick and eager to turn so it’s as capable of carving up congested streets as it is laying waste to a go-kart track.
9. KTM 690 SMC R
Engine 693cc single cylinder Power 73bhp Torque 49ft/lb Weight 147kg Price £9,349 new
The KTM 690 SMC R is the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto’s brother from another mother. The 690 SMC R might have been updated and refined a couple of years ago but it’s still raw so even though its 690cc single-cylinder engine is smooth and refined enough for motorway work (although we wouldn’t recommend it), it’s also free revving and hungry to play. Thanks to quality fully adjustable WP suspension, a strong four-piston Brembo front caliper and a slipper clutch, the 690 SMC R is no slouch when it comes hammering into tight, technical bends. In fact, for carving up tight and technical roads or tracks, the 690 SMC R is uncompromised.
8. Suzuki DR-Z400SM
Engine 398cc single cylinder Power 39bhp Torque 29ft/lb Weight 137kg Price £3250-4000 used
True to the original supermoto formula of taking a dirt bike (Suzuki’s effective DR-Z400S enduro) and fitting wider, smaller wheels, grippier tyres, stronger brakes and firmer suspension, the SM was introduced in 2005 as the most impressive of the Japanese supermotos until both were dropped in 2009. Power’s modest but so is the weight. It handles superbly everywhere but runs out of puff on big roads. Reliability’s excellent but young hoons can still cause grief through massive neglect. Converted regular DZ-R400s are worth less. Big bore kits can cause reliability issues.
7. Ducati Hypermotard 950
Engine 937cc V-twin Power 113bhp Torque 72.2ft/lb Weight 204kg (wet) Price £11,951 new
The Hypermotard 950 was introduced in 2019 as the renamed, latest incarnation of Ducati‘s V-twin street scratcher, which began in 2007 with the air-cooled Hypermotard 1100, with 796, 821 and 937 versions along the way. Being a V-twin means it’s more substantial and flexible than many but it’s still a bike that thrives on carving up mountain hairpins and being hustled through tight, technical corners.
It packs loads of punch for blasting out of tight turns, or floating the front wheel off the ground, and has light steering and a riding position that makes it easy to boss about. If all that’s not mean enough, Ducati also produces an SP version (pictured) with Marchesini wheels, longer-travel Ohlins suspension, carbon bodywork and Termignoni exhaust for £15,551.
6. CCM Scrambler Street Moto
Engine 600cc single Power 62bhp Torque 49ft/lb Weight 142kg (wet) Price £11,951 new
One of the latest versions of British, Bolton-based CCM‘s popular Spitfire ‘retro-mod’ street single, which are all based around the same, ex-Husqvarna enduro bike engine producing a punchy 62bhp and hand-crafted tubular steel trellis frame. The Street Moto is a supermoto-inspired urban roadster with 17-inch wheels, Supermoto carbon fibre bodywork including side number boards and high MX bars and comes in four different colours with options for Brembo twin discs (in place of the standard, single J-Juan item) plus various CNC goodies.
5. Zero FXE
Engine Z-Force electric Power 46bhp Torque 78ft/lb Weight 135kg Price £12,185 new
Proof that electric bikes are on their way and even making inroads into the Supermoto sector. The FXE is one of the latest offerings from leading US electric motorcycle manufacturer Zero, was introduced in 2021 and replaces the old FXS model with new styling and lightweight, Supermoto style chassis. At a claimed 135kg it’s one of the lightest electric bikes available and although its top speed is limited to 85mph to maximise battery life, with 78ft/lbs of torque it’s also incredibly lively. The range isn’t great, admittedly – but then, who wants to go far on a Supermoto? – and it’s not that cheap, but it’s also one of the most fun, accessible ways into electric bikes and makes a great urban hooligan runabout.
4. Yamaha WR125X
Engine 125cc single Power 15bhp Torque 8.9ft/lb Weight 137kg (wet) Price £2,300-4,100 used
Introduced in 2009 and sadly deleted by Yamaha in 2017, the WR125X was the best learner-legal Supermoto of its time with excellent handling, lively manners and quality build – and remains in high demand as a used bike today. It’s powered by a slick, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected four-stroke single, has quality suspension, wheels and brakes and has a general air of quality and durability few learner 125s can match – but make sure when buying used you get one that’s been looked after!
3. Aprilia SX125
Engine 124cc single Power 15bhp Torque 7.7ft/lb Weight 120kg Price £3,900 new
First launched in 2008 and then receiving a comprehensive makeover in 2018, the Italian SX is probably the best of the four-stroke learner-compliant supermotos currently available. It’s based on the Aprilia RS125 sportster and uses that bike’s 15bhp liquid-cooled four-stroke single-cylinder motor, but in a bespoke chassis it shares with its RX 125 trail bike brother. There are 17-inch wire wheels, an LCD dash, lots of Italian style and quality touches and, perhaps most impressively of all, it’s also even pretty decent value.
2. Rieju MRT125 LC SM
Engine 125cc single Power 15bhp Torque 8ft/lb Weight 114kg Price £,3699 new
From Spanish lightweight specialists Rieju, the MRT 125 LC SM is its cheaper 125cc Supermoto offering (they also do 50cc and top spec ‘Marathon’ versions) and its stylish, fun, lightweight and an enviable first bike. Previously two-stroke powered, they’re now using liquid-cooled four-stroke single cylinder motors but, considering the 15bhp learner restriction, the appeal is little changed. There’s cast 17-inch wheels, snazzy styling, disc brakes and more – although, on the slight downside, Rieju’s dealer network isn’t as good as some.
1. Aprilia SVX550
Engine 549cc V-twin Power 70bhp Torque N/A Weight 128kg Top speed 115mph
Real supermotos were always single-cylinder bikes until the SVX appeared with two and cleaned up in racing.
The engine’s what makes the Aprilia special. The extra cylinder means less vibration and more oomph but it’s an impressively compact and lightweight unit which makes its 70bhp (with race exhaust) amazing compared to bulkier V-twins like Suzuki’s SV650. This helps the bike weigh in at a featherweight 128kg. Mix in rapid geometry and it’s an evil tool that’s madder than litre sports.
It’s more civilised than the lairy singles, comes in full road trim and ‘only’ needs a service every 1800 miles, although the 5500-mile check involves new pistons and more. If you’ve got the dosh, it’s the best combination of useable and loopy in today’s supermoto market. There’s a 450cc version available too.
Click to read: Aprilia SVX550 owner reviews
Buying a supermoto
We’re going into potentially dangerous territory here. OK, the softer bikes, typically from the Japanese manufacturers, are pretty reliable and tend to just get used as commuters and for everyday fun. But some of the more hard-edged bikes, generally made by the smaller European marques, may have been ridden extremely hard by A-grade loonies. Stunts, racing and off-road are all possibilities. And they can be maintenance-heavy bikes with plenty of reliability issues.
The safest option is to buy from a dealer but make sure you understand what the warranty covers and get it written down because they may class them as competition machines, not road bikes and that gives you much less comeback if you do have problems.
Dedicated internet forums or supermoto Facebook groups often have bikes for sale and forums give you the chance to check out owners’ post history to see if they’ve had any problems with that machine. Don’t be afraid to ask simple, honest questions about any bike for sale, such as: ‘Is there anything wrong with it?’ or ‘What have you used it for?’.
Think before you buy too. The softer Japanese bikes work well on the road, but the edgier Euro offerings can be pretty impractical and older bikes may not have electric starts, oil changes scheduled for as often as every 200 miles, rock-hard seats, loads of engine vibration and other rough edges. Don’t be too put off though as machines for dicking about on there’s little that can touch them for raw fun.