As a rider of both road and dirt bikes, sometimes I struggle when switching from road bikes to dirt bikes. However, switching from dirt bikes to road bikes has always been easier. I always wondered if there could be a bike that can do both road and some dirt? I'm not talking about dual-sport motorcycles like the CRF 250L or the Serow 250. I'm talking about a bike that can be fun to ride both on the road and some dirt.
That class of motorcycle is the supermoto. The supermoto, or supermotard, traces its history back to 1979 when Gavin Trippe originally conceived of the idea for a segment of the TV show Wide World of Sports. The idea was to pit the best riders of flat track, motocross, and road racing against each other to find out who the ultimate motorcycle rider was.
The supermoto bikes are basically dirt bikes converted to road use, by virtue of upgraded disc brakes, suspension and gearing. Luckily for us, these awesome bikes now come straight out of the factory with road-specific, long-ratio transmissions; unlike dirt bikes that have a much shorter ratio gearing.
We at MotoPinas.com are privileged to have first dibs on a review of a motorcycle brand that prides itself as the “Ferarri of dirt bikes” – the TM Racing SMR 450 FI, which was just formally launched during RidePH Café at the Metro Tent in Pasig City.
The SMR 450 FI is powered by a 449 cc, DOHC four-stroke, liquid-cooled engine with titanium valves. Yes, you read it right: titanium valves, matched to copper beryllium valve seats, billet connecting rods, box-bridged pistons with DLC coated gudgeon pics and hand-finished cylinder heads with a dry-sump lubrication system. Like what was mentioned above, the SMR 450 FI has a long-ratio 5-speed transmission geared towards riding on tarmac. Unfortunately, data with regards to power and torque are unavailable, but I can safely say that the power is somewhat comparable to the production 450 dirt bikes usually reserved for motocross racers.
Styling and ergonomics
Since supermotos are basically modified dirt bikes, the styling, as well as the upright riding ergonomics are practically the same. Of course, it has less height than a standard dirt bike because of the supermoto's 17-inch wheels as opposed to a standard dirt bike's 21-inch front and 18 (or sometimes 19) inch rear wheels. Also, supermotos like this usually have shorter suspension travel geared for on-road riding. Clutch pull is light, thanks to its hydraulic Brembo clutch master cylinder and TM's very own clutch slave cylinder. Although the bike is tall for persons with short inseams like me, the SMR 450 FI's narrow-body allowed me to move my knees closer together, letting me put my legs down lower to have secure footing. What's more, is that the bike only weighs 100.6 kilograms! That's lighter than most underbone and scooters available in the market today.
What makes it special?
At PhP685,000 SRP, one might say that this supermoto is overly expensive but consider this: the TM Racing SMR 450 FI has long-ratio gearing, even longer than Yamaha's WR 450, which makes it superior and more suitable for road use than other supermotos available here in the country.
That same attention to detail is applied to the bike's super lightweight all-aluminum chassis. Bringing it to a stop is a 4-piston front brake by Brembo as standard. These are usually fitted on performance street bikes such as Ducatis and Aprilias, as well as Ferrari supercars. It has CNC-machined, competition range triple clamps that also come as standard. On other bikes, you'll have to spend a fortune to order these from specialists to bring down the weight and improve the durability. The suspension is top-shelf hardware from Kayaba (KYB), Japan. It rides on Excel rims with CNC-machined billet aluminum hubs.
The bike needs no upgrading. Like what was mentioned above with engine components like titanium valves, copper-beryllium valve seats, billet connecting rods, box-bridged pistons with DLC coated gudgeon pics, and hand-finished cylinder heads with a dry-sump lubrication system, these components would cost a fortune to order and fit on a “normal” supermoto bike. Here, it comes fitted as stock.
All things considered, the TM Racing SMR 450 FI is basically a “super supermoto.”
During its short stint with me, I now understand why many of the riding coaches, as well as motorcycle racers around the world, have a supermoto bike as part of their stable. It's a different kind of fun riding it. I've ridden superbikes, and of course, it is a given that the “real” power delivery starts at mid to high rev range.
On production 450 cc dirt bikes and supermoto bikes like the SMR 450 FI, the power delivery is very abrupt. It's like being a rodeo trying to tame a beast, especially if you're an inexperienced rider. But, for those who have plenty of riding experience, riding the SMR 450 FI is a different kind of high. If that seems daunting, don't worry. The SMR 450 FI comes with 2 ride modes: 1. which is slightly less aggressive and gives more top-end power, and 2. aggressive from the stop with more low-end power all the way to the top end. Either way, both my eyeballs were sucked into their sockets when twisting the throttle.
Additionally, I now also understand why some have dubbed supermotos as "superbike killers". Owing to the SMR 450 FI's feather-like weight, short wheelbase, tons of low-end torque and exceptional suspension tuning, this bike would smoke any superbike on the twisties of Marilaque, more especially on tighter winding roads such as the Bessang Pass. Like dirt bikes, the SMR 450 FI don't need lines to take on the corner properly. Inside or outside line, these supermotos can get the job done.
On the subject of speed, I haven't really tried to reach the SMR 450 FI's top speed, but during one sprint, I was able to reach a whopping 145 kilometers per hour in what felt like less than 5 seconds. Even after all that, it felt like the bike still had plenty to give.
As for fuel consumption, the TM SMR 450 FI is Mother Nature's best friend like the gas-guzzler SUVs, gulping 1 liter per 16 kilometers of riding (16 km/L). But, if you want real fun on a motorcycle, you should stop counting miles per gallon and instead count the SMILES per gallon, which, the TM Racing SMR 450 FI delivered plenty of.
Considering all the equipment that could easily bankrupt you if you were to upgrade any other bike to this level, the TM Racing SMR 450 FI offers some serious bang for the buck. It comes with all the A-grade (and exotic) hardware straight from the factory.