Here is a great place to start when it comes to setting up your bike for supermoto racing and track days.
Supermoto bikes usually start out as bike based on a motocross platform. Some manufacturers like KTM and Husqvarna make supermoto models. Others like Yamaha and the other mainstream Japanese brands only offer motocross bikes, so they must be converted.
If you’re building a race bike, it’s best to start with a motocross race platform. They’re built for racing and have more power than the enduro bikes with a headlight. Bikes like the CRF250R, YZ450F and other similar bikes are great starting point. A 250 is a great bike to start with because it will teach you to keep your momentum up. A 450 is also a great bike as there are a lot of classes you can race competitively around the Midwest- Utah series, Colorado, California, and some regional races.
You’ll want to make sure you prepare your bike for the track. Here’s a great article that breaks down the different aspects:
Here’s a quick checklist for someone preparing a bike for their first time on the supermoto track
- Drain antifreeze from radiators and replace with water. (Water Wetter and Engine Ice are allowed.)
- If you’re preparing a street supermoto bike, tape up any glass lights- Blue painters masking tape works great. If you’re not sure whether they’re plastic or glass, tape them just to be safe.
- Secure any bolt with liquid behind it using Safety wire or RTV. This includes any drain bolt, level check bolt, fill plug, etc.
- Crash sliders are not required but highly recommended. This will protect your bike and the track surface if you crash.
- PROPER RIDING GEAR! It’s not part of the bike, However it’s more important than any upgrade you can do to your bike!
This is a great entry level supermoto setup that you can start with to get a great feel for supermoto. All you need on your shopping list of parts is tires! A proper sportsman tire is an asphalt-oriented sized to fit on your stock wheels. Remember these aren’t DOT knobbies, you want a good street oriented tire with more rubber contacting the asphalt. Also, we don’t allow knobbie tires in any of the big bike classes. There are multiple brands out there that will work well, including Avon, Metzeler, Pirelli, and more. For sizing, you’ll want to get something to fit your existing wheels, so be sure to check the bike before ordering!
If you’re starting to really like this supermoto thing with your new sportsman bike, you should look at upgrading brakes a bit! A good set of sintered metal pads and a stainless steel braided line is a step in the right direction. You can take it a step further with a larger rotor like the 320mm Apex floating rotor from Warp 9, along with their caliper adapter that moves your stock caliper outward to work with the new larger rotor.
Building A Supermoto Race Bike
A proper supermoto race bike is more than just funny little tires. There are a plethora of things you can do to improve the performance of your supermoto bike. Below are a few key points.
This is an important thing to keep in mind here. Supermoto wheels aren’t just any old 17 inch wheels. If you’re building a bike for track days or racing, it’s best to go with a 16.5×3.5″ front wheel and a 17×5.0″ rear wheel. A 17″ front wheel is still usable for racing, however, the 16.5″ front wheel and tire is better suited for racing and track days. It offers a better turn-in as well as more traction in the turns thanks to the tire profile. It is also less prone to chattering through turns than a 17″ front. If you plan to ride your bike on the street as well as the track, you’ll want to stick with a 17″ front so you can use DOT tires on the street (DOT tires aren’t available in a 16.5″). For the rear, a 17×5″ also offers better handling and more traction. Another reason for a 17×5 is that SM-specific race tires for the rear of your bike are made for that rim width. You can squeeze the SM tires onto a narrower 4.25 rear wheel if necessary, but it’s not ideal as the contact patch shrinks.
Where to buy: You can get wheels from Alpina, Excel, Marchesini, and Warp 9. Excel and Warp 9 offer great spoked wheels for supermoto racing. Alpina STS spoked wheels, as well as Marchesini and Warp 9 Forged aluminum wheels, are tubeless supermoto wheels that offer a bit more performance due to the reduced weight. However, they also come in at a higher price point.
If you’re a street rider taking your supermoto to the track on weekends, DOT tires like the Metzeler Sportec M7RR are a great option to
Your best performance will come from race tires that are specific to supermoto.. They’re built with the lighter bike in mind and will work exceptionally well. You can get SM-specific race tires from Bridgestone, Dunlop, Golden Tyre, Metzeler, and Michelin. Of course, we recommend Metzeler, as they’ve shown to be the top performing tire in supermoto! They’ve joined our series as The Official Race Tire of UTSM, for the 2015-16 seasons. They’re available in multiple compounds to suit your track and riding conditions. Medium compound is generally recommended for most club racers to balance traction and longevity, though sometimes you may wish to go with a soft compound front tire.
Big brakes might be something else you might have noticed on a supermoto bike. They’re necessary to stop you quickly when riding on the asphalt portions of the track. A poor brake setup can can heat up and quickly become ineffective because it is being over-worked. This is known as brake fade. A proper brake setup for supermoto racing generally consists of a larger 310-320mm rotor, a 4 or 6 piston brake caliper, braided stainless steel brake line, and a larger master cylinder (12-17.5mm depending on the caliper used). With that said, you can also start with minimal upgrades to get you started if you’re working on a smaller budget.
Quick Start: Start with an oversized rotor, and a relocation bracket for your stock caliper. This will increase the leverage of your stock caliper on a small budget. EBC, Motomaster, and Warp 9 have great packages for this.
Throw in a braided stainless steel brake line to eliminate OEM lines that often fatigue and expand internally, contributing to brake fade.
***This brake setup is legal for the Utah Supermoto sportsman class because it retains the stock caliper. Add it to a sportsman setup!
Modest setup: If you want a little more than the larger rotor. Add a modest 4 piston caliper from Beringer, Brembo, MotoMaster, or other brands. Remember, some calipers will need a bigger master cylinder, but you can sometimes get by with your original MC, it’ll just have a little softer lever feel.
Race Ready: If you can afford it, this is the best solution. Get a complete kit so you don’t have to throw money at piecing together a kit over time. You’ll save yourself time and money in the long run. A full race setup will include a rotor, caliper, stainless line, and master cylinder. Beringer and MotoMaster have complete kits ready to rock.
Suspension performance is a very important factor on a race bike of any discipline. Supermoto suspension is often set up with a biased towards the asphalt. Have an experienced suspension tuner revalve your forks and shock to perform better for supermoto.
Some also opt to change the triple clamps for an aftermarket set with a lower offset in the 12-17mm range. This is to correct the geometry on your bike after changing the wheel size so drastically from stock.
- Axle sliders are highly recommended to keep your bike (and the track) in good shape. Check out SLIDE for model specific kits. Ask your favorite supermoto parts supplier about them.
- Other crash protection like hand guards are recommended as well. They’ll protect your levers and master cylinders in the event of a crash.
- Sport bike master cylinders are too big, they’re intended for two large calipers, so stay away from those.
- Rotors with cast iron braking rings perform exceptionally well. Check into Beringer for these.
- If you’re starting on a Minimal budget, Warp 9 wheels include an oversized front brake rotor and a relocation bracket for your stock caliper. This can be a great if you want the wheels now, and a brake kit down the road.
- Some supermoto calipers require a relocation bracket to suit your specific bike. This includes MotoMaster and Brembo Calipers.
- Supermoto calipers are also made to fit the tight clearance of spoked wheels. You’ll notice the back side of the caliper machined for the clearance. Keep this in mind if you decide to piece together brake parts – sport bike calipers aren’t shaved on the back.
- While low offset triple clamps will make the bike handle better, you can also start by raising the forks up in your stock triple clamps to bias the bike towards the front and help with turn-in. Adjust by measuring how much the fork body sticks above the top of the triple clamp. You might benefit from moving the forks 5-15mm until you can get new triple clamps.
- Some bikes have a really narrow swingarm, like the KX450F and RMZ450. On bikes like those, the tire fitment is a little more critical. The 17×5″ wheel still fits but the tire will be really close to the chain and swingarm. Some tires do not fit, like the Michelin SM slick, and most DOT 160 street tires.
- Install a Chain Block to prevent chain slap on your nice rear wheel. A chain block is a sort of guard that is mounted to the top of the swingarm, near the end of the OEM chain slider. It prevents the chain from slapping sideways into the tire and wheel.
- Race prep. Study it, learn it, do it. – http://smrmagazine.com/supermoto-race-prep/
There are a lot of tips, tricks, and upgrades you can use on a supermoto bike. What you’ve read above isn’t close to the complete story, but it should be a great start to help you start your supermoto build the right way! When you get more seat time and want even more performance from your bike, you can look into slipper clutches, shortened swingarms, and even more.
Stop by or call into one of our recommended supermoto parts suppliers for more information. Tell them you’re getting ready to race the Utah Supermoto Championship and chances are they may give you a local racer discount!