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Old 04-25-2006, 09:43 PM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Prunetucky, Ca.
Motorcycles: BMX, 1987 Honda Super Magna VF700C
Name: Dion
Post The Newbie Guide To SuperMoto

The Newbie Guide To SuperMoto
Originally written by Michaeln, edited by XRsick50

Note: With the rising popularity of the SuperMoto niche, there have been a lot of threads asking basic questions about what it's all about. This article was originally written by a SuperMoto Enthusiast, Michaeln, and slightly updated by me. Although Michael has hung up the leathers, this is probably the best guide I've found for new SuperMoto riders. I'm hoping this will answer most of the newbie questions for those of you just getting started. I would encourage you to read through this article entirely before starting a new thread. You may just find the answer right here. Enjoy! -Dion

What is SuperMoto? A Brief History Lesson...

Back in the 1980s, there was a motorcycle racing series for TV called The SuperBikers. The idea was to come up with a type of racing that roadracers, dirt riders and motocross riders could all compete in, with the goal being to find out who were the best all-round riders. The bikes were mostly motocross bikes (converted to use 19" dirt track wheels) and flat track racers. The race courses were half asphalt, half dirt. The SuperBikers series was pretty much a commercial flop (it was made for TV and didn't have much viewership), and it died here in the United States.

Although U.S. audiences didn't seem impressed, the French thought it was great and they revived it as SuperMotard racing (SuperMotard is French for SuperBiker). The Europeans continued to evolve the sport and technology into what is today known as SuperMoto.

In 1997, (about 12 years after the last "The SuperBikers" race), Don Canet of Cycle World magazine put together a race called "Return of The SuperBikers" here in the U.S.. Everyone had such a great time that it led to Don organizing "STTARS SuperTT" in an effort to attract dirt, TT, and roadracing riders to the sport.

Now, SuperMoto racing is gaining interest rapidly in the United States, with many local racing associations doing local series, and the AMA and The X-Games have even gotten involved, creating the national AMA Pro Racing SuperMoto Series and The X-Games SuperMoto Racing Series.


There's not much difference of "shop-talk" between SuperMoto and the rest of the motorcycle world. However, we do say a few things that's pretty specific. Here are a few:

SuperMoto - A type of motorcycle derived from a dirt bike chassis. These bikes are to be ridden on a partial asphalt and hard dirt surface and are distinctly known for their motors, wheels, tires, brakes, suspensions and riding style. SuperMotos should not be confused with adventure bikes, enduros or dual sports (although dual sports are often converted to SuperMotos).

Sportsman Class - A fully converted dirt bike to SuperMoto with the exception of the wheels, which are left stock. Knobby tires are replaced with dual sport or asphalt tires for ultimate traction. "Sportsman Class" refers to this particular style of SuperMoto in racing.

Backin'-it-in - One of the most distinct riding styles of SuperMoto. Developed to conquer the tight turns SuperMotos are exposed to, the fastest way around a turn is by sliding "through" it. It is accomplished by the combination of speed, lightening the rear with a lot of front brake, balancing the chassis with the rear brake, engaging the clutch and keeping it engaged, banging down 1-3 gears and feathering the clutch out. This will cause the rear wheel to spin slower than the bike is traveling and will "slide" the back end. With some lean, the bike will pitch out sideways. "Backin'-it-in" does NOT mean to slam on the rear brake and skid, as many people think.

Thumper - A single-cylinder, 4 stroke motorcycle. Most SuperMotos are thumpers with the exception of the Aprilia V-Twin.

Motard - Short for "SuperMotard" which is the French term for "SuperBiker". The label has been shortened and the worldwide term is now "SuperMoto".

Cut Slicks - As the term implies, this is when racers cut grooves into their race slicks with a special heat tool to aid them in manuevering in dirt sections of the race track.

Big Brakes - Usually refers to the front brake on a SuperMoto, whereas a "Big Brake" conversion consists of replacing the stock dirt bike rotor with a much larger and stronger rotor. A "Big Brake" conversion will also entail repositioning or replacing the brake caliper to make up for the larger rotor. More positive stopping on a SuperMoto is essential to the riding style.

17's - A very distinctive feature of a SuperMoto, this term refer's to the 17" wheels that replace the stock wheels on a dirtbike during a conversion. A much more detailed explanation is found in further reading.

Foot-out/Foot Forward - Another riding style in SuperMoto, adopted from flattrack and dirt riding. Most riders adopt this style (as opposed to "dragging knee") to keep the front end of the motorcycle weighted. SuperMoto riding is a very "loose" riding style, and as long as there is traction on the front tire, the rear end can move about i.e. "backin'-it-in". Keeping your "foot-out/foot forward" toward the inside of the turn can also help keep the sliding rear end from getting away from you. The inside of the opposite leg is usually firmly planted on the side of the gas tank.

Elbows Up - Yet another riding style in SuperMoto. When leaning a sportbike to turn during fast riding, riders will lower the center of gravity by dropping their elbow and body ("hanging off") toward the inside of the turn and "pulling" their bike through the turn. This will often follow up with a lowered and outward knee, and sometimes dragging on a knee puck.

To turn a SuperMoto at speed, it is the complete opposite. Keeping the weight on the front (allowing the rear to ride loose) and keeping the "foot out/foot forward", SuperMoto riders "push" the bike underneath them. In order to accomplish this, the rider will raise his/her outside elbow and extend their inside arm.

Last edited by SVsick50; 12-01-2007 at 07:33 AM..
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