Supermotos are motorcycles that integrate a dual sport motorcycle’s on/off-road capabilities with that of a street racer.
Supermotos feature lightweight components, smaller rims, enhanced brake systems, and harder suspensions than a traditional dual-sport motorcycle to be better suited for racing.
Supermotos began as a custom race bike style but are now stock options from many of the major dirt bike manufacturers and are gaining in popularity among the younger generation of riders.
Still, while they may be able to rip on and off the roads, are Supermotos suitable for riding on the highway?
Here’s the Short Answer to Are Supermotos Good on the Highway:
While Supermotos may be an ideal choice for street riding and commuting, their lightweight wheelset, stiff suspension, and nimble chassis make them poorly suited for highway riding unless the owner upgrades the moto to be more wind resistant and stable.
Are SuperMoto Bikes Safe on the Highway?
Supermotos tend to be less safe on the highways due to the lightweight nature of their frame and off-road-tuned suspension.
The agile chassis of a Supermotos tend to catch intense frame and front-end vibrations at high speeds due to its high riding position and narrow body.
That said, there are modifications supermoto owners conduct on their bikes to make them feel less strained, safer, and more suited for highway riding.
Here’s what one Supermoto enthusiast had to say on Reddit:
- Yea you’ll get blown around, and the wind on your chest can get tiring after not too long. That said – you can safely ride at highway speeds no problem so unless it’s long distance don’t worry about avoiding them. Put a highway sprocket on the front – super easy to change it out even with no mechanical ability, and makes a big difference (at least it did on my dr650)
- [Supermotos] definitely can do highway speeds, but they feel very strained, they vibrate a lot, and the wind blast is pretty hard. Do the power mods asap (FCR carb, exhaust, air filter, cams), so you can get more power so you can regear the bike taller to have it sit lower in the rev range. If you ride highway a lot where the engine sits in high revs, its a good idea to change oil at about 1000 mile intervals.
- I top out at around 101mph, only problems is over-heating at around 2 1/2 hours onthe road. Wind is not a problem.
As you can see, the short answer is that supermotos are not ideal for highway riding and become unsafe at speeds over 70 miles an hour, especially in the wind.
Some Supermoto riders claimed their bikes handle the wind just fine, but their front ends are simply too lightweight to sustain high-speed riding for more than short bursts.
- Depending on the make and model, most Supermotos are revving high at speeds between 65 and 85 miles per hour—speeds that are typically reached during extended bouts of highway driving.
- Any motorcycle needs to be able to keep up with the pace of traffic on the highway, especially on as narrow and easily missed as a Supermoto.
- Supermotos are durable and sturdy, meaning that the bike’s integrity isn’t necessarily compromised from highway riding.
- Still, if the bike shakes uncontrollably at highway speeds, or even if the rider is shaken up enough by the intense vibrations, the rider could lose control and crash.
In short, while Supermotos may be suitable for short bursts on the highway, riders who plan on consistently riding their motorcycles on the highway for extended periods should seek out a heavier, more comprehensive bike with a lower center of gravity and more forgiving suspension.
Supermotos are intended for aggressive riding on the track and are indeed capable of street riding.
So, while their high riding position and narrow and nimble build and riding style are a vulnerability on the highway, these Supermoto attributes, along with their wide handlebars and high-quality brake systems, make them great commuter bikes in town and on backroads.
A supermotos rigid suspension tuning performs well on bumpy roads, loose gravel, and when rolling over potholes.
Still, their lack of fuel and luggage capacity can also limit their commuting potential.
Supermotos come with varying engine sizes.
While a 40-0-450cc Supermoto can reach 80-120 MPH depending on make and year model, their smaller 250cc siblings range in a top speed typically between 60-90MPH.
Large displacement Supermotos ranging between 700 and 1000ccs can reach accurate superbike speeds of 130-150MPH.
Of course, there are other factors besides the engine, like the bike’s weight, rider weight, the gear ratio, the rider’s luggage and gear, and the particular Supermoto’s horsepower rating.
Supermoto engines generate between 35 and 75 Horsepower, depending on engine size.
- 125cc: 35-40 HP
- 250cc: 40-45 HP
- 300cc: 40-47 HP
- 400cc: 45-55 HP
- 450cc: 55-60 HP
|SuperMoto Model||Top Speed||Horsepower|
|Suzuki DR400SM||94 MPH||39 HP|
|Husqvarna FS 450||85 MPH||63 HP|
|Husqvarna 701 SuperMoto||120 MPH||74 HP|
|Aprilia Dursoduro 750||135 MPH||96 HP|
|Ducati Hypermotard 939||145 MPH||113 HP|
|KTM 990 SM||143 MPH||114 HP|
How Noisy Are SuperMoto Bikes At Highway Speed?
Some smaller Supermotos may generate high-pitch exhaust sounds at highway speed, but most are engineered to handle speeds of between 75 and 115 MPH without pushing their engine and exhaust systems to the limit.
Still, it’s not the top speed that limits a Supermotos highway performance; it’s the high seat and slim build.
Also read our article about quiet motorcycles your neighbors will love
Are They Generally Good for Long-Distance Driving?
Supermotos lack the fuel capacity and storage space to make good long-distance or light-touring motorcycles.
While SuperMoto riders take their bike on long trips via fuel tank and luggage upgrades, their dimensions, suspension, and gear ratio still limit the bike’s highway performance.
Furthermore, the bike’s engine cooling system is typically designed for the track and around-town riding since the oil system can’t keep up at highway speeds; highway riding on a supermoto risks engine overheating.
If the bike is pushed passed the point of overheating for long periods of riding, typically during long-distance touring, it could cause irreparable damage to your Supermotos engine.
When asked about riding their Supermotos long-distance on Reddit, here’s what three different riders had to say:
- I take my xr650r on the highway very seldom. 70 feels like its still revving high despite top end of 105mph. No way i’d take it on the highway over 30 minutes, but just just me and my desire to keep it in good condition while keeping minimal maintenance intervals.
- I rode a Husky 450SMR as my first bike. I agree with the sprocket change and the power mods if you’re doing a lot of highway riding. Two majorly overlooked things I would consider are:
- Spend some money on a custom seat, or have a go at chucking some high density foam in there yourself…it’s like sitting on a plank of wood for long periods;
- Get some custom high quality ear plugs to wear (I’m talking about the ones that don’t fully reduce noises just dampen them). I developed tinnitus that I can pretty much match up with getting my first bike and wearing MX helmets with goggles. No one ever told me about highway riding and hearing damage with motorbike helmets.
- Everyone has mentioned the vibration, wind, and high revs, but also remember to keep an eye on your oil level when doing a lot of highway or sustained high rpm stuff. My DRZ consumed a considerable amount of oil when I did 80% highway.
Is Driving a SuperMoto Bike Hard?
Supermotos with small to medium-sized engines (250-500cc) are typically easy to ride thanks to the intuitive handling provided by their wide handlebars.
Their lightweight frame and rugged durability make them easy bikes for beginners to move around, park, and pick up.
Speaking of picking up your Supermoto, the dirt racing nature the bike is intended for calls for a durable motorcycle that won’t easily sustain damage when dropped on the ground.
That said, the larger Supermotos have engine displacement between 700 and 1000ccs on an otherwise lightweight bike that still stocks the small wheelset and narrow chassis its smaller siblings do.
This large-displacement, high-horsepowered machines have a much steeper power-to-weight ratio, making them harder to ride than the 250-500cc range of SuperMoto.
Finally, shorter riders may find that their high seating position makes it hard for them to reach the ground, making Supermotos challenging to walk and ride at slow speeds.
You might also be interested in our article about Front-Wheel Drive or Two-Wheel Drive Motorcycles.
How Stable Are SuperMoto Bikes on a Highway?
Supermotos are unstable on the highway due to their high seat heights, lightweight and downsized wheelset, and elegant frame design.
The average cruiser motorcycle has a seat height between 26 and 32 inches, while a SuperMoto is raised to avoid the rocks, bumps, and debris they encounter when ripping through the off-road race tracks they’re designed to perform best in.
“This high seat height also comes in handy when riding around town and avoiding rough roads, potholes, etc.
That said, on the open highway, when riding at high speeds, a Supermoto’s high seat height, coupled with its lightweight wheelset and narrow frame, makes it top-heavy and more susceptible to wind impact than more serious, lower cruisers intended for highway riding.
And finally, a Supermoto ridden on the highway for long periods is susceptible to engine overworking and overheating at the hands of an oil cooling system that’s not designed for long-term, high-speed riding.
An overworked engine experiences significant dips in performance, making a Supermoto a less stable choice for the highway.
Don’t take our word for it; here are some real-life Supermoto-rider’s testimonies regarding the instability of their bikes on the highway.
- Its not [just] the wind; it’s the vibrations, twitchy steering, and the fact that [Supermotos] hate sustained super high revs.
- I have a 2015 DRZ400SM and I daily it about 30kms at 110-130kmh. Runs well and can get up to 150kmh in the right wind. But I will need to maintain it a bit more than usual aka oil, chain lube etc…
How Many Miles Can You Get on a SuperMoto Bike?
A SuperMoto can last between 30,000 and 75,000 miles before an engine rebuild, depending on make, year model, and how the bike is stored, maintained, and ridden. If used for street riding, a Supermoto needs to have its oil changed more often than off-roading to provide a long life.