Supermoto is a cross-over or evolution of motocross and road racing. Races are commonly held on road racing or medium sized go-kart tracks with an off-road section in the infield. Most supermoto race tracks are typically configured with approximately 70% tarmac and 30% dirt with small jumps but a dirt section is not required. The motorcycles used are frequently custom-created combinations of off-road motorcycles and road-racing rims/tires, known as ’supermotard’ bikes. Riders also wear a combination of road race and off-road equipment, normally leathers and a motocross helmet and boots. Unlike normal motorcycle racing, the emphasis lies on slower <100>
Supermoto bikes, including the precursor motorcycles used in Superbikers, were converted open-class two-stroke motocross or enduro bikes desired for their lightweight and jumping abilities. The motorcycles currently used for Supermoto racing are predominantly single-cylinder 4 stroke powered dirtbikes with 17″ or 16.5″ wheels. The 17″ rims allow the use of up to 5.5″ wide superbike road racing slicks. Slick tires are often hand grooved on the rear tire to facilitate slightly better acceleration on the dirt stretches of a supermoto course.
Suspension is lowered and slightly stiffened in comparison with a stock dirt bike, and braking power is improved with oversize front brake rotors and calipers. Despite the lack of trees on supermoto courses, ‘bark busters’ (hand guards) are frequently added to supermoto bikes due the extreme cornering angles achieved by riders. Hand guards also greatly improve survivability of the brake & clutch levers during a fall making supermoto bikes highly crash resistant and often able to quickly re-enter the fray during a race following a crash.
In 1991 Italian manufacturer Gilera released the ‘Nordwest’ model, the first factory produced supermoto. Other European manufactures quickly followed suit, among them KTM, Husqvarna, Husaberg AB and CCM Motorcycles; all manufacturers whose emphasis were off-road models at the time. Models were developed for both track and road use. It took another 10 years, until the mid 2000s for Japanese manufacturers, such as Yamaha (2004), Honda (2005) and Suzuki (2005) to start introducing supermoto models in the European market.
Most of the supermoto bikes sold to the public are more domesticated models for road use rather than outright racing, for example the Suzuki DRZ400SM. Slower and heavier but rock solid dual-purpose motorcycles such as the Kawasaki KLR650DucatiAprilia also has two new (450 and 550) SXV v-twin track oriented supermotos for sale. are good examples of this. In the spring of 2006, Italian bike manufacturer announced their entry in the class with the “Hypermotard” machine which has more in common with streetfighter-type motorcycles than realistically being considered a true supermoto bike capable of surviving jumps and crashes. KTM currently has available a 950 “V” twin that could be described as the ultimate road going Hypermoto, and a brand new (and well appreciated) the single cylinder KTM690SM.
Due to the popularity, versatility, excitement and durability of these motorcycles, some owners modify them for street use. In order to do this, headlights, taillights, horn, mirrors and street-legal tires among other occasional modifications are needed. Some state motor vehicle departments take a dim view of turning off-road bikes into street legal bikes. In Europe most Supermotos are sold street legal from the factory and later tuned for race use. Supermoto type bikes make excellent city-goers as their upright seating position provides great visibility in traffic. Their narrow frames and light weight also make them incredibly maneuverable, as well as easier to ride in twisty or less than ideal road conditions that make most sportbikes have to slow down.
In the Philippines, Supermoto is more considered to be a hobby than an actual sport but moments from now, it will be unstoppable. Many have tried to brake in, but very few have continuously accepted the Motard style of moving from one place to another. One example of the few is Paul Gutierrez III, a Phil-Am rider who races Supermoto’s down in California, on a quick interview, you will see how he started from riding mountain bikes to backing it out on Motos.
Hi Paul, how are you?:
Doing great just burning through the work week, looking forward for the weekend ride.
Congratulations on your last win
Thanks, it was my 1rst time to have races the SMRRC series, they are a bunch of nice folks giving us Super Moto guys the opportunity to race another venue.
Lemme ask you, how did you get involved in all the Super Moto deal?
I took a break from riding for fun but had bikes just for school and transportation, got really into Muay Thai and Mountain Biking. A real certified health nut. I guess one day hanging out with my brother in the garage I was looking at my Mountain Bike and told myself “ It would be nice to have a mountain bike with motor” just imagine the fun you could have with a machine like this. That was back in 2001 when I built my first super Moto street bike.
Do you have like a racing background prior to super Moto?
I just rode the streets with some dirt experience with no formal training just reading books. The whole racing thing was just to try it out. Little did I know this was a start of an infectious addiction
After trying to race the first time, did you ever feel that super Moto is the one for you?
It didn’t happen overnight but by the end of 2004 I was hooked. It was one of the deciding factor for me to stop riding the streets the others were my wife and I were expecting a baby.
How would you describe your riding style, do you have like a secret English that keeps other racers back?
Riding style ehhy. I would say that look for the shortest most efficient way around the obstacle and go around it in a safe manner. The most important part for me is to know the edge of my riding ability and if I could ride that razors edge with minimal mistakes and I’m content with my end result. Don’t get me wrong I would love to finish top 5 each and every race but at a Novice class club racer. I’m not getting pro $ backup or pay to make me ride like the Ghosts rider.
So before races, do you practice full time, or you have a full-time job? How do balance stuff including family?
Oh yeah, my life. It’s tight rope were I have to incorporate my hobby and passion with a 40 hour work week, family life, and chores in between usually varies from family to Moto related stuff. It’s important to keep your family happy at all time so that when you’re away in a race you have a clear mind to deal with the situation at hand. I say when everyone is happy, I’m happy. But I make it a point that I get to ride one day out of the week which usually ends up as a Sunday and if I’m lucky I would substitute my work out on a weekday by riding before going to work.
Let’s hear more about the kids, will they race one day like dad?
I have a 3 year old girl and maybe a boy in the future. Funny you asked I just came back from Cyclegear and bought her a pink fox jersey matching pant and glove. Starting her out on a balance bike then move on to a pw50 or ttr50 by Dec. as for racing. I’ll leave that up to her. I want her to be a doctor one day. As for my future boy, that’s a different story.
In all the races, what/who fuels you up to keep going even you fall?
Not sure, but if you can still go, then keep on going. Quitting should not be anyone’s option.
Ever had injuries? How bad?
2 different occasions I broke some ribs. It’s not so bad just hurts to laugh and gets in the way of jogging or working out. But it’s a good reminder that with practicing more you reduce the possibilities of wrecking and getting hurt.
I noticed that you are also associated with Dice Racing, how’s it?
Dice Racing was my brain child, 3 years ago on a snowboarding trip I thought of the idea of having my own business. And being the type of person that I am I did the research and went for it. I learned so much about business from day one of opening the Dice gig. I might be moving on to a non Moto related business in where I can target a more mainstream audience. Owning your own business helps you grow a different kind of skill set that can only benefit you in your future ventures.
Super Moto is almost in full bloom here in the Philippines, any word of advice from our Kababayan on how to get involved in the sport? I personally want to try it out, but don’t have enough resources to do so.
Super Moto can be fun in all levels. I know that not all can acquire the latest ride off the showroom floor. Perhaps the races can be classified by classes according to bikes most popular in the area. Normally the classes are divided by motor sizes or rider age and ability. Well I hope I shed some light over this whacky but fun sport. I truly hope super Moto catches on in the Philippines. I mean you really don’t even have to race but just use it for a mode of transportation. Why not right? It’s agile, it’s zippy, and it’s economic. It’s definitely my choice of tool to get the job done.