Thursday, April 1, 2010

Want to try Supermoto? It's cheaper and easier than you'd think!

Want to Try Supermoto?


- It’s easier and cheaper than you think!

Supermoto is a relatively new motorsport in the respect that it hasn’t been around for as long as motocross, road racing or dirt track. What it lacks in history is made up for in excitement by combining the best aspects of the fore mentioned disciplines: the jumps, berms and dirt of motocross, the speed and cornering of road racing and the dramatic slides of dirt track. When the topic of Supermoto comes up many are quick to comment, “That looks so cool” or, “Man, that’s got to be a blast”. With an appeal like this it is hard to believe that few people actually participate in the local Supermoto races. The confusion likely with potential racers not knowing what it requires to participate. Well it’s easier and cheaper than you would think to race Supermoto. Let’s elaborate…

If you own a MX or off road bike and you want to try Supermoto it’s very easy to convert your bike. All you really need to do is change out the tires, rig up some sliders, attach a couple homemade catch cans, put straight water in the radiator, safety wire up a few bolts, gear up and rip! With these modifications it’s like having 2 bikes in one.

You do not need to go out and buy a set of 17” wheels to try Supermoto. Mounting a set of dual sport type tires to your stock wheels is the biggest modification you need to make. Some organizations allow you to run your knobbies but tires with a round profile will give much better traction on the asphalt and surprise you on how well they work on the hard packed dirt section. Retaining your stock wheels is what’s known as a sportsman setup.

Another aspect of the sportsman setup is retaining your stock front brake caliper and master cylinder. Your stock brakes will work fine until you get more serious about Supermoto. The hard braking on the asphalt sections generates a lot of heat, which can cause your fluid to boil as well as cause brake fade with a stock front brake setup. Oversized rotors (320mm) with caliper relocation brackets make a huge improvement and can be found used pretty cheap.

All tracks require axle, footpeg and handlebar sliders. Why? Sliders prevent damage to the asphalt sections in event of a crash, not to mention they also protect your bike. Axle sliders are easily (cheaply) rigged up using skateboard wheels, threaded rod, washers and nuts. Footpeg sliders can also be home made using a u-bolt, nuts and some thick plastic. Handlebars are best protected with full wrap aluminum handguards with plastic outer shields but bar end sliders are also adequate.

Just like road racing, the safety wiring of critical areas is required for your bike to pass tech and be allowed on the track. What needs to be safety wired? Basically any bolt that if removed would release fluid. So any oil fill/ drain/ sight plugs, water pump bleeder or drain bolts. Some organizations are stricter than others so do some research to make sure you bike will pass tech where you intend to ride. How do I safety wire? Simply put, metal wire (minimum 0.024” diameter) is fed through a hold in the bolt you wish to secure then twisted and tied off to another bolt or fixed point.

Catch cans are required for the coolant overflow and the carburetor vent lines. The catch can is used collect any fluids that may leak from these areas and keep them off the track. A puddle of gasoline or coolant on the asphalt creates a slippery patch that could cause others to crash and is a pain to clean up. The crank case vent line should also be routed to a catch can or into the air box to keep from dripping onto the track or your rear tire. Catch cans are also easily rigged up using any container with a lid, some extra tubing and zip-ties.

Your coolant will need to be flushed and replaced with straight water or a non-glycol road race approved coolant. Glycol based coolants are another slippery liquid that makes a mess if spilled on the asphalt track. Water wetter is a product that improves the performance of straight water when used for coolant.

Now that your bike will pass tech you need to think of your personal safety. If you are coming from a MX or offroad background your motocross gear will be ok as long as you have knee, elbow and a chest/ back protector. Leathers are recommended because you may soon find out that nylon and polyester don’t last too long when sliding across the asphalt. A full-face helmet with goggles or face shield is required as well as motocross or road race boots and gloves.

Where to ride? In Ontario, 408 Productions (http://www.408racing.com/) holds a race series based at Shannonville Motorsports Park. RPM (http://www.rpmsupermoto.com/) promotes a race series in British Columbia utilizing a couple different venues. In Quebec, riders can find more information on places to ride as well as the SupermotoX Fest event through the Supermoto Quebec website http://www.supermotoqc.a3w.net/. Another option for riders in the eastern provinces is Eastern Supermoto Racing Association’s (www.esmra.com) race series that covers the North Eastern American states. This series saw a lot of Canadian participation with many of the championship’s podium positions belonging to Canadians.

Aside from the race series most road race track days will allow Supermoto bikes to participate as long as they pass the required tech inspections. Check with your local organizations.

Online forums are also a great place to find information. http://www.supermotojunkie.com/ is the prominent North American Supermoto forum where you’ll find info on races, riding techniques, bike setup and classifieds.

During your off season maintenance/ preparations for next season why not put together a Supermoto setup and give it a try? Chances are you’ll have a blast just like you thought the first time you saw Supermoto and it will only leave you wanting more…

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