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2011 Husqvarna SM630 Supermoto First Ride

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Dicing through traffic is one thing, but the SM630 brings a whole new meaning to the term. The amount of road users is dense, but not necessarily congested as it keeps a constant flow at all times. Single-lane roads might seem antiquated, but compared to the 15-way intersections of America’s highways, they seem to work rather well. The confusion is low, and therefore the pace is quick. Lane-splitting, or filtering, is commonplace in Europe, and after spending a day trying to get my head around it, there’s one thing for certain, motard bikes are absolutely perfect for this application. Supermoto is something of a novelty in the US, but in Italy, at least around the Husqvarna factory in Varese, it’s a way of life.

2011 Husqvarna SM630
We kept one finger on the clutch at all times to help smooth out corners and prepare for any hooligan urges that come with motard riding.
Like we mentioned, the SM630 is the same bike as the TE630 model but with modified suspension, brakes and wheels. Also, the gearing is slightly taller. Rear binders are the same with a 220mm fixed rotor and a floating, single-piston Brembo caliper, but the Brembo radial caliper front system provides massive stopping power with a 320mm floating disc. Despite the added grip, the brake remains easy to use and safe, even when the road surface gets hazardous. I preferred this braking system over the standard 260mm fixed disc/floating caliper on the TE. Having an oversized rotor like this might be overkill in the dirt, but it’s compliant enough to get away with, and on the pavement it’s magic. One particular downhill had me riding both brakes from top to bottom. It smelled like the truck lane at the bottom of the Grapevine by the time we reached level ground. Despite use hard enough to smell burnt, there was no fade from the hydraulic units, which do not come with steel-braided lines.

Where the brakes impressed, so did the Magura clutch. I used the clutch more on the supermoto ride than the off-road segment due to some seriously tight roads. One uphill in particular (the one right before that nasty downhill) was first and second-gear switchbacks that seemed to last forever – or at least I wanted them to. The clutch never gave me any problems and it was a big help in more normal corners as well where I used it to smooth out the rough fueling mentioned earlier.

Ground clearance drops to 9.5 inches with the swap to 17-inch wheels, and nearly an inch shorter suspension travel. Touching the ground with both feet was no problem for our 5’11” tester while maneuvering the bike at slow speeds and in parking lots. The inch-shorter saddle was an excellent boost in confidence, and it will be for less
2011 Husqvarna SM630
The lower ground clearance allowed our toes to scrape occasionally, but we never got the pegs down.
experienced and vertically challenged riders as well. Neither bike comes with a skidplate to protect the engine cases or steel frame.

Husky also bolted on 15/38 final gearing which gives the six-speed transmission some extra legroom. Husqvarna says the bike weighs 329 pounds with the added weight of the beefy wheels and tires. The front end certainly doesn’t want to come up as willingly as the TE. Admittedly, I’m no Doug Domokos, but a stab at the hydraulic clutch gets the off-road wheel up easier with the TE’s 15/42 sprocket combo. Once the speeds pick up, transitioning the bike from side to side becomes very quick, almost too quick for the highway. A tad less wheelbase (0.3 inches) and decreased trail (1.3 inches) add to the quick handling. Taller wheels on the TE definitely slow things down for a more stable and predictable feel, but the grip available from the SM’s 120/70-I7 front and 150/60-17 rear is amazing. Honestly the bike works a little better as a dual sport. Riding the TE on the same narrow streets back-to-back proves that it doesn’t give up quickness so much as some of the nervousness. The larger wheels deal with potholes and curbs better, but the motard tires obviously give better traction on the street. Shorter riders who want more contact with the ground will love the SM, as will pure pavement junkies.

One area where the SM has some serious advantage is in the aesthetics department. Husqvarna offers two different styles, one of which is red/white with the number plates sporting “630” for a racing feel. The red/white is different from the TE’s similar color scheme, but we didn’t appreciate the overall look as much, especially with the numbers. And therein lies the problem with IPD technology – it can’t be removed. The other is an all-white palette that screams high-fashion. Personally we liked the white version better, especially when it features all the carbon fiber and other aftermarket goodies that Husqvarna offers.

2011 Husqvarna TE6302011 Husqvarna TE6302011 Husqvarna TE630
Accessories from the factory make the new 630 machines look even better. We like the SM model in white the best.

Will Supermoto ever be as popular in the States as it is in Europe? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean the SM630 isn’t welcome on US pavement. Especially in California, where lane-splitting is legal, all the benefits still hold true for commuters over here. Light weight, quick handling, abundant passing (wheelie) power and a huge grin factor doesn’t change from one continent to another.

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Bin -If serious rider  December 29, 2010 07:10 AM
I am still all about the older technology thus riding my 2009 TT DRZ 462. aka drz 400. Any rider let it be pro, commuter, or just your weekend rider should be willing to spend for performance. I know I would be more then willing to drop some cash on a new FI Map, things are so cheep these days, tops you are paying is $1000. If you love riding and just bikes for that matter its just one of those mods you must do! Like any older 4 stroke bikes, carbonators most of the time need re-jetting, exhaust needs 2 be changed, cams changed, ect. right there you are talking $500+. This looks like a great bike with awesome basic power, with no mods. (WITH NO MODS) people forget that super motos are not, 600cc in-line 4 cylinders, crotch rockets that do 300km with 100 hp.
Bill -It will get sorted  April 9, 2010 07:47 AM
I have only ever bought 1 FI bike that was spot on from the factory, my Buell XB9R. My Ducati, both Aprilia's and my BMW's all needed mapping to get them right. That wouldn't bother me, blame the gov for all of the restriction and emissions specs, that's what makes it hard to make it perfect form the factory. I have a 2006 SM610 and it has been an absolute awesome bike. I commute on it, do dual sport rides on it (running distanza's) and it has been a great bike. Oil and tires is all it has ever needed. That TE 610 looks pretty attractive!
Rob -FI  April 8, 2010 04:26 PM
Got a deposit put down on a TE. If I had read this test before I probably would have passed on it! No desire to have a bike with a bad FI map!
patrick -FI  April 8, 2010 03:41 PM
well husky does a pretty good job of having new maps and such available.. i think just about everyone who buys a TE series bike uncorks it...
kevin -Bad FI  April 7, 2010 07:51 PM
It's a deal killer for me. Unless I heard from other owners there is a certain affordable fix for it (e.g. a new map) then I'm out. This is becoming all to common with FI bikes these days.