7 Best Supermotos for Every Type of Rider (and a Bit of History)

KTM 690 SMC R 12 photos
Photo: unsplash / Stephen Andrews
2024 Suzuki DR-Z400SM2023 Zero FXEDucati Hypermotard 950 SP2023 KTM 690 SMC RDual Sport Bike - Suzuki DR650Superbikers TV Show - 1983 RaceHusqvarna 701 SupermotoYamaha WR 125 XKTM 990 SMRKTM 690 SMC R2023 Husqvarna 701 Supermoto
If you're familiar with motorcycles, there's a high chance you've heard about supermotos. Today, I want to talk about their history, what makes a bike a supermoto, and some of the best supermoto models you can currently get your hands on.
What better way to start things off rather than going back in time to tell you where the term "Supermoto" originated? Unlike other terms, we know exactly where it all began.


Let's rewind to the 1960s when the only things you could watch on your TV were what the networks put on. There were only three channels available: ABC, CBS, and NBC. If you wanted to watch sports, you could check out football, baseball, and basketball, but that was mostly it.

ABC broke the norm and introduced a 90-minute weekly program named Wide World of Sports, running various sports. This is where the Indy 500, the Monaco Grand Prix, Wimbledon, and the X Games debuted in the next decades.

Fast forward to 1979, when British racing promoter Gavin Trippe pitched a great idea to ABC: organize a race where road bike and dirt bike riders could compete against one another. And this is how "Superbikers" came to life, making its debut on Wide World of Sports – its goal was to find the ultimate all-around motorcycle racer.

Superbikers TV Show \- 1983 Race
Photo: Mitch Friedman
Superbikers' races combine flat track, road racing, and motocross, all on one track, and featured bikes that can handle both jumps on dirt and tight turns on asphalt. Of course, the audience loved it, and a new breed of bike was born: Supermotos.

Throughout the 80s and 90s, supermoto's popularity dropped in the United States, yet it rose in Europe. For instance, the concept was picked up in France, and that's where the term "Supermotard" originated. What's more, in 2003, the AMA hosted their first Supermoto Championship, and supermotos were back in the world's spotlight.

If we were to compare supermoto motorcycle racing to four-wheeled motorsport, it's definitely the equivalent of rallycross, a form of circuit racing that incorporates both dirt and tarmac.

What makes a motorcycle a supermoto?

The very definition of a Supermoto is a dirt bike with street tires, wheels, and brakes. However, since the Supermoto culture has evolved, it covers a broader range of bikes.

Normally, a supermoto boasts a cradle-frame chassis, long-travel suspension, and a single-cylinder, four-stroke engine. Other notable details are 17-inch wheels (or smaller front ones for racing) and huge rotors allowing hard braking.

Regarding the engine size, some people might say that anything larger than a 450cc single-cylinder doesn't count as a genuine supermoto.

Early supermotors were modified Honda CRs, Suzuki RMs, and Yamaha YZs, mostly single-cylinder two-stroke bikes ranging from 125cc to 450cc. However, as I mentioned, the culture and industry have shifted, and some models, such as the Ducati Hypermotard, have forged ahead and slightly changed what it takes for a bike to be a supermoto.

Husqvarna 701 Supermoto
Photo: unsplash / Vander Films

Supermoto Today

Supermoto racing has come a long way since Superbikers. Supermoto competition is now open to anyone. In the United States, the AMA Supermoto National League is still the #1 competition, while the Supermoto UK is one of the largest in Europe.

Major OEMs have helped to keep the supermoto spirit alive, with models including the KTM Super Enduro and the Ducati Hypermotard.

Nowadays, the term "supermoto" doesn't just refer to bikes but to the entire culture of riding without limits. The concept remained the same as when it all started – it involves getting a beastly bike that can go both on and off the road and ride the hell out of it.

With the help of many modern innovations, supermotos are now safer than ever. The models come equipped as standard with traction control, ABS, and various electronic riding models that help riders tackle every kind of terrain.

If you're a purist who wants the original supermoto experience, you might not be satisfied by factory supermotos. Instead, what you probably want is modeling a dirt bike to be ridden on the street.

Supermoto vs Dual-sport

You might have also heard the term "dual-sport." The difference between a supermoto and a dual sport boils down to their purpose, tire/wheel size, brakes, and clearance.

Just as its name suggests, a dual-sport is a fun bike that has a dual purpose, allowing you to ride it both on and off the road. On the other hand, a supermoto is more meant for street riding, although it can also be used on gravel or hard-packed dirt.

Dual Sport Bike \- Suzuki DR650
Photo: unsplash / Stephen Andrews
As I mentioned above, supermotos have 17-inch front and rear tires, making them ideal for aggressive street performance and tracking tight corners and speed. A dual-sport bike comes with a 21" front tire and a 19" or smaller rear tire, making it capable of traveling on both asphalt and dirt.

Ground clearance is also important – naturally, a dual sport is higher sitting to allow it to clear obstacles when off the beaten path. Supermotos have a lower clearance for a faster ride. And lastly, a supermoto typically has more powerful brakes.

The Best Supermotos

So, let's take a look at some of the best supermotos you can get your hands on. Some still have 2024 model years, while others have been discontinued.

1. Suzuki DR-Z400SM

Price: starts at $7,899

2024 Suzuki DR\-Z400SM
Photo: Suzuki
The Suzuki DR-Z400SM couldn't be missed on this list – it's one of the models that still stays true to the original supermoto formula by being based on the DR-Z400S enduro version. Compared to it, it boasts smaller wheels, grippier tires, better brakes, and firmer suspension – basically, all the modifications you need for street riding.

Don't expect any crazy power from this two-wheeler – its single-cylinder, 398cc engine outputs 33.4 hp and 26 lb-ft. (35 Nm) of torque. It doesn't really need that much since it also tips the scales at a lightweight 317 lb. (144 kg) for the 2024 models. Moreover, it's meant to be more of a daily ride and is certainly an excellent option for a beginner looking to enter the supermoto world.

2. KTM 690 SMC R

Price: starts at $12,999

2023 KTM 690 SMC R
Photo: KTM
If you ask someone to think of a supermoto, there's a high chance the first brand that will come to mind will be a KTM. One of the most renowned models is the 690 SMC R – even though it doesn't fully respect the original supermoto formula, this supermoto-inspired model does an amazing job of providing the raw excitement of a supermoto while also being a proper road bike.

At the core of the KTM 690 SMC R is the brand's 690cc water-cooled engine. The 2024 model year outputs 74 hp and 55 lb-ft. (74 Nm) while weighing 324 lb. (147 kg) dry. Basically, it weighs almost the same as the DRZ-400SM, only it has a lot more power.

That allows for some aggressive riding both in regard to acceleration and tackling corners, which is easier thanks to the fully adjustable WP suspension.

Due to its aggressive nature and power, this bike would be more suitable for skilled riders. However, if you think you can handle it and want to learn to ride on it, you'd probably be able to ride any supermoto afterwards.

3. KTM 990 SMR

Used Price Range: $6,800-$9,000

Photo: Reddit / batmantis_
The next spot on this list is also occupied by a KTM model: the 990 SMR. This beast is powered by a KTM's LC8 999cc V-twin engine that outputs a significant 114 hp and 71.7 lb-ft. (97 Nm) of torque.

KTM made the 990 SMR a true supermoto hooligan fit to be ridden only by experienced riders. Just like the 690 SMC R, this two-wheeler features Brembo braked and an adjustable WP suspension. However, it's a bit heavier, tipping the scales at 423 lb. (192 kg).

The engine has buckers of grint, making twisty roads very fun to ride on. Moreover, due to the high, wide bars, you can easily control it on corners and at low speeds.

When it comes to electronics, the offering is pretty basic. You get a Bosch ABS, allowing you to be more confident on the brakes.

This is the first bike on this list for which you won't find a 2024 model year - it was produced between 2009 and 2013. You'll find plenty of bikes available, except if you're in the United States, where it seems they weren't sold that much – sorry, Americans. Even years later, these models still represent good value for money.

4. Husqvarna 701 Supermoto

Price: starts at $12,999

2023 Husqvarna 701 Supermoto
Photo: Husqvarna
If you're not into the KTM 690 SMC R's design, you could take a look at this Husky. The 701 SUpermoto is based on the same single-cylinder engine as the KTM 690 mentioned earlier. If we remove the white paint job, there's not much that sets them apart. One notable difference is a slightly bigger fuel tank on the KTM.

Of course, this isn't a case of plagiarism, as KTM owns Husqvarna, and both bikes are based on the same platform. Most people would argue that the Husky is better looking than the KTM due to the blue aesthetic.

There's no point in talking more about this model, as everything I mentioned earlier also applies here. The only things that might differ are the features when you compare different model years, for instance, the 2020 690 SMC R vs the 2019 701.

5. Ducati Hypermotard 950 / 950 SP

Price: starts at $15,295 ($18,995 for the 950 SP)

Ducati Hypermotard 950 SP
Photo: Ducati
As I mentioned earlier, Ducati took the supermoto spirit and slightly modified it when creating the Hypermotard – it still has a tall riding position, wide bars, and a grunty engine.

The Hypermotard 950 sports a 937cc engine outputting 114 hp and 71 lb-ft. (96 Nm) of torque, tipping the scales at 392 lb. (178 kg). Moreover, it comes with seemingly endless electronics, which definitely isn't true to the genuine supermoto. You get a TFT dash, lean-sensitive ABS that cannot be disabled, traction and wheelie control, slide control, and three riding modes.

For an extra almost $4,000, the SP version has a racing-inspired SP livery, an up/down quick-shifter, longer-travel Ohlins suspension, forged Marchesini wheels, and other cosmetic upgrades. Even though it steers a bit away from the supermoto identity, it will still stun you with its looks – or at least it did me.

However, Ducati made its entrance to the supermoto world with the the Hypermotard 698. The 2024 Hypermotard 698 Mono is a very capable two-wheeler. It's substantially heavier than competitors, weighing 352 lb. (160 kg), meaning it's not ideal for changing direction quickly. However, it packs plenty of power: 77.5 hp and 46.5 lb-ft. (63 Nm).

6. Yamaha WR 125 X

Used Price Range: €1,800-€4,000

Yamaha WR 125 X
Photo: Motorcycle New
Keeping less experienced riders in mind, I wanted to list a less powerful bike with supermoto DNA. The Yamaha WR 125 X is based on the fantastic WR 125 dirtbike. This two-wheeler is quite tall (920mm seat height) yet very narrow and can be a fun commuter that can also help you learn one thing or two about supermoto riding before you head to the big boys.

It sports a four-stroke single-cylinder engine that does the job, but don't expect any crazy performance – it delivers a mere 15 hp and nine ft-lb. (12 Nm) of torque to the rear wheel and can get the bike to about 65 mph (105 kph). However, you'll feel the difference compared to the bigger supermotos when it comes to gas mileage.

As expected, the equipment is pretty basic, but you do get an LCD dash. Oh, and it tips the scales at 302 lb. (137 kg). 2017 was the last year this beginner-friendly supermoto was manufactured. Again, you're going to have a hard time finding this one in the United States.

7. Zero FXE

Price: starts at $12,495

2023 Zero FXE
Photo: Zero Motorcycles
I wanted to end this list with a bit of a wild card – and that comes in the form of an electric motorcycle. Zero, one of the most renowned electric two-wheeler manufacturers, introduced the FXE in 2021 to replace the old FXS model.

Some might say an all-electric bike cannot be called a supermoto, but times are changing, so I say we give it a shot. Weighing just 298 lb. (135 kg), this bike is powered by a 7.2 kWh lithium-ion battery pack connected to the brand's ZForce ZF 75-5 air-cooled brushless electric motor.

This combo results in a power output of 45.6 hp and a 78 lb-ft. (106 Nm) of torque. You can ride as fast as 85 mph (137 kph), where the top speed is limited, but you do have to sacrifice range with this machine – it can go for about 100 miles (161 km).

As with many all-electric two-wheelers, you'll have tons of fun speeding off from a standstill, especially since it's equipped with a clutchless drive direct transmission unit.
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram
About the author: Mircea Mazuru
Mircea Mazuru profile photo

Starting out with a motorcycle permit just because he could get one two years earlier than a driver's license, Mircea keeps his passion for bikes (motor or no motor) alive to this day. His lifelong dream is to build his own custom camper van.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories