Supermoto’s eh? I remember them. Five years ago you couldn’t open a bike magazine without being told that riding dirt bikes on road tyres around a car park was the only way to be cool. They seemed so perfect at the time
2nd January 2012 - Mallory Park
Ah, the No Limits Mallory Park pie 'n mash trackday - the perfect way to start off the new year with a cold trackday offset by a nice warm dinner, all included for a thoroughly reasonable £39.
With my trailer out of action (the wheels fell off), the only way to get a bike to Mallory was in the back of a tiny hatchback car. I didn't fancy trying to heft a 200kg Yamaha R1 into the boot; the Husaberg was clearly the only tool for the job. With the forks and rear wheel removed, it was a two-person job to load the bike into the car and out again in front of stunned onlookers at the trackday. In addition to the fact that it fitted into a Peugeot, the other benefits of using the 'Berg were the freezing wind-deflecting handguards which kept my fingers not so much warm, but certainly less frozen.
On track, the Michelin Pilot supermoto cut slicks weren't the ideal choice for the wet conditions in the morning, but I was surprised at how much heat they retained even in such cold conditions. The beauty of riding a stinky supermoto in these conditions is that the usual paranoia about crashing is greatly reduced - the wide bars and sit-up riding stance give you more leverage to catch things when they go wrong. Even if you do run out of talent, at the reduced speeds that a wet track brings, you'd be really unlucky to do yourself or the bike any major damage.
It had been a while since my last outing on the Husaberg and I'd forgotten how quick it is - out accelerating much bigger bikes on the way out of Mallory Park's hairpin and out-braking everything on the way in. Without doubt, the Husaberg is the most fun I've ever fitted into the boot of a Peugeot 106.
21st May 2011, Southern Supermoto Rounds 3 & 4 Bordon
My first ever supermoto race aboard the mighty ‘Berg was at
Bordon army camp in Hampshire.
I don’t know about you, but there are three things I like from bike
racing, either as a spectator or a rider; sliding, a good battle, and
bikes leant over to ridiculous angles. Both from the sideline and the
start line, supermoto fills all those boxes with a big fat tick.
the race weekend, I crashed into one set of hay bales, ran down a metal
fence and clouted my hand guards on a plethora of trackside furniture.
Yup, it was a pretty steep learning curve and it’s fair to say I spent a
lot of time learning thorough a lot of mistakes. Thankfully, being
built to crash the bike escaped the weekend unharmed, save for a few
tyre marks and scratches. One rider had a particularly big crash,
getting spat off across the dirt section and had to replace his
handlebars, for £30.
I fitted a set of Michelin Pilot supermoto tyres that lasted me all
weekend and look good enough to slide round a test day or two on before
my next outing. Kit wise, I opted for Forcefield back and chest
protectors and a suitably tatty set of Ixon leathers so I blended in
with the seasoned crashers. Keeping my tootsies safe was a set of Sidi
Crossfire motocross boots, which took on a metal fence at 60mph, after I
got a little over enthusiastic at turn one. The result? Not a bruise on
my leg and a big dent in the front of the fence, so they’re thoroughly
recommended! Luckily I didn’t have to put it to the test, but I had a
Shoei VFX-W motocross helmet and some snazzy Ariete goggles keeping the
So what happened in the race?
The first few laps were a melee of bikes, dust and hay bales,
bouncing through on luck and ignorance I found myself running in seventh
place. Fortunately for the purposes of spinning a good yarn, I curbed
this short run of success by trying to overtake some hay bales at the
hairpin and failing. Done on purpose to make it interesting, definitely
not by accident because I got over excited and rode straight past my
braking marker. I'll spare you from a soul-destroying ego-massaging
account of how I battled through to achieve a heroic nth position
despite blah blah bah, as is the norm for race reports. I’ll settle for
saying there were 6 races, I did some skids, killed some hay bales
(quite a few actually) and the nice lady gave me a trophy at the end of
the weekend. My arms and legs hurt from riding, almost as much as my
sides ache from laughing. I will definitely be going back and, something
which surprised me more than anyone, at no point did I long to be back
in the British Supersport paddock. Not even for a Scooby snack.
25th February 2011.
That was the day I finally got my first play on an actual real life supermoto race bike. It took two laps of the Three Sisters circuit at Wigan before I had convinced myself that I wasn’t leaving without a shiny Husaberg in the back of the van. I personally blame Christian Iddon (nine times British Supermoto champion) and Dave Clarke (of Dave Clarke Racing), for encouraging me to have a go and lending me a bike to try respectively. First impressions of supermoto, after eight years of road racing, were of a great feeling of control with the bike. The combination of light weight, wide bars and cut slick tyres give more feedback to the rider than any road race bike I’ve ridden.
The bike in question is a 2007 Husaberg FS550 prepared by Dave Clarke Racing, which set me back a modest £2,500. The list of shiny bits includes a factory braced frame, slipper clutch, Brembo master cylinder, Beringer brake caliper, cast iron floating front disc and a beautiful, hand crafted aluminum fuel tank. It’s certainly competitive enough as a first bike and, with frequent oil and filter changes, has proved perfectly reliable so far. The first modification was to fit swanky SuperBike graphics and race numbers, courtesy of the nice chaps at LR Designs. The vinyl graphic approach makes the bike look professional and saved me hours of bodging numbers out of insulation tape. Again.
Four weeks after purchasing the bike, on a sodden rally stage at Brands Hatch I had my first supermoto crash. Too much throttle, not enough grip and I was laughing before I even hit the floor. The damage was limited to a soggy pair of pants.
2:14 and 11:58 - #786 that's me that is. 6:24 - #24 is race winner Ben Robb, he's quite good actually