Track test of Supermoto machines: Husaberg FS 650 e, Husqvarna SM 570 R, KTM 660 SMC, Vertemati S 570 E
Take a walk on the wild slide
Brave rides on the road are not really their thing, wild drifts on the racetrack are more like them: four basic machines for entry into the supermoto sport.
Sometimes you wonder a little. These supermoto street speedsters come quite seriously in a civilian outfit with lamps, indicators, mirrors and side stands, promising unlimited pleasure in a hearty exchange of blows with much stronger street athletes on winding mountain passes. But then the first cursory glance at the vehicle registration at least for three of the four test machines reveals that they are not legally allowed to be used in traffic. At least not in the uncorked state with open service. And who wants to jerk around on the street with a neutered 650cc Husaberg with 14 hp and mess with hot-blooded kids on tuned 125ccs?
For fun without regrets, law-abiding sumo fans have no choice but to go to the racetrack. This is exactly where these approved racers are in good hands, as ideal basic machines for ambitious sporty lateral entrants or just for occasional slides on closed slopes. The four machines from Husaberg, Husqvarna, KTM and Vertemati had to prove their abilities on the kart track in Oschersleben. Also in the party: three absolute masters of the slippery profession, namely DM top driver and professional acrobat Meik Appel, ex-master and Supermoto veteran Beat Gautschi as well as stunt and show pilot Jo Bauer, also DM driver. For reasons of equal opportunities, all machines were fitted with Pirelli MT 60 R tires. Certainly not an ideal competition tire, but a good all-round tire for amateur and leisure riders.
The Pirelli are already fitted as standard on the new KTM 660 SMC, the most powerful road variant in the Austrians’ Supermoto range. It replaces the old 625 and, like this one, does without the electric starter of the more moderate 640s. At 654 cm3, the same lush dimensions as the sinfully expensive Factory Replica beckon. Lots of modifications such as the 41 mm Keihin carburetor with ignition pick-up, hydraulic clutch or high-flow cylinder head with large valves are intended to improve performance in sports use. The cast swing arm even offers space for a five-inch wide rim.
In addition to the orange color, the yellow runners from Husqvarna are widespread in the amateur starting fields. The SM 570 R, largely unchanged in this model year, is the only one in the test field that is allowed to romp around uninhibited in traffic with a registered 56 hp. Nevertheless, it is prepared for sports use with the finest ingredients, in addition to the obligatory 17-inch tires – at the rear, by the way, as with Husaberg and Vertemati on 4.25-inch wide rims – and suspension specially designed for Supermoto, there is a high-quality front brake with milled Brembo -Four piston pliers. The 650 Husaberg is not really new either, but it has been improved and optimized in many details. Problems with the stability, especially of the largest version, should be eliminated thanks to intensive optimization. The Swedish technicians trimmed the formerly rather rough engine towards drivability.
With Vertemati, another competitor wants to heat up the supermoto establishment. The S 570 E is a real treat for technology freaks, but also a rather expensive pleasure. Whether it is the tank placed at the back in the frame triangle, the elaborate gear drive for the camshaft, the cassette gear or the tubular steel frame with the massive oval tubes that have been consistently trimmed for stability? the filigree machine is bursting with finesse. The Italians completely do without a kick starter. Pretty brave. The Vertemati started up in an exemplary manner at all times during the test, but some fuses burned up.
Displacement, handling, suspension, brakes, what decides the last tenths on the slopes? Performance can certainly never hurt, it is not for nothing that the factory teams put enormous effort into tuning their machines. But all four machines with top performance of around 60 hp can already offer a lot by default. Husaberg delivers the most power with a maximum of 62 hp, plus there is a beefy torque. The latter provides a powerful boost when accelerating and also helps enormously when you want to get the rear tire from rolling and sliding. If you are fighting for every inch, you should change gear in good time, turning it out does not help at all. The KTM even offers a little more thrust from the cellar, but it shies away from the top speed range even more than the Husaberg. Nevertheless, with 60 HP in the upper room, she is also good at feeding.
Compared to the two torque giants, the approximately 80 cm3 smaller Husky unit appears rather unspectacular, at first it is more noticeable because of its rough vibrations than powerful thrust. But the impression is misleading, the Husky offers the widest range and goes on endlessly. You don’t have to be too careful when shifting gears, which is an advantage especially for beginners. But the professionals also appreciate the wide range, drifts can be pulled through without interrupting traction. The direct connection between the throttle grip and engine power also provides a fine feel for the slip limit. Vertemati also relies on the smaller displacement in favor of agility and therefore dispenses with the relentless punch in the lower speed range. However, with a different result than with the Husky: Only in the middle of the rev range is there reasonable thrust, below and above the transverse driver, who is actively pulling the cable, misses power, the Vertemati is simply too good.
In the meandering curves, the outstanding handling of the Vertemati ironed out the handicap again. Perhaps it is due to the compact design or the tank placed far back, in any case no machine whizzes around the tight turns of the Oschersleben slope as playfully and precisely. This not only makes it easier for beginners to find the ideal line, it is also a lot of fun for professionals. It is astonishing that the chassis, which is designed for lively handling, in no way gets into trouble in long corners or on the brakes, on the contrary it even builds a lot of confidence with its extraordinary stability. What the strong frame backbone is certainly not uninvolved.
The Husky appears similarly balanced, but less light-footed. It is precisely the inconspicuousness that defines its quality. It pulls its course like a string, convinces with very good feedback and direct steering. The weight distribution is correct, the balance works optimally when braking and accelerating. The low, strangely cranked handlebars alone are annoying. The Husaberg is much more aggressive. Its top-heavy set-up gives a lot of security thanks to the pressure on the front wheel. Especially for amateurs who can easily throw the front rider off course. However, the braking stability suffers a little. The professional also wants more pressure on the rear wheel for better traction, which would probably also benefit the feeling for the limit area and the neutral cornering behavior.
The KTM also leaves room for improvement on these points. The fork responds well, but somehow the chassis lacks clear feedback and, accordingly, the driver has no confidence. Again and again the KTM unsettles by suddenly smearing away the rear wheel, which is difficult to control. Even the professionals find a neat acceleration drift with the KTM the hardest. In addition to the indifferent feeling, there is also the clumsy handling. The KTM is the heaviest machine in the test, and you can feel that clearly in every situation. On a positive note, it offers the highest level of comfort.
In addition to acceleration and handling, the third driving condition that makes Supermoto life particularly amusing is missing: braking. So that the typical sliding into the curves runs smoothly and controllably, particularly good stoppers with first-class feedback in connection with the appropriate chassis are necessary. Large discs with 310 or 320 mm discs at the front all have four, plus stable four-piston calipers. The machine for late braking is the Husaberg thanks to its low manual force, good feedback and a powerful bite. KTM doesn’t do it any less well with the solid Brembo cast pliers. The vertemati requires a lot of pull on the lever on the last groove, and also gives you little feeling for the delay. Since the system is essentially identical to the Husaberg brake, the choice of pad does not seem particularly successful. Husqvarna has not solved this optimally either. The noble Brembo pliers bite hard, but after a few quick laps the brake slackens a bit. More aggressive rubbers would probably generate less heat and provide an even better feeling for the dosage.
A.Obviously, this small weakness hardly affects the lap times. The Husky was clearly ahead of all the pilots in the time hunt. But that doesn’t mean that the others have no chance in sport. A little fine work here, a little tuning there, and the cards are reshuffled.
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Track test of Supermoto machines: Husaberg FS 650 e, Husqvarna SM 570 R, KTM 660 SMC, Vertemati S 570 E
Take a walk on the wild slide
The comparison test took place on the 1018 meter long kart track in Motopark Oschersleben (information at www.motopark.de) without any off-road component. The times of the two professionals on “their” brands have to be put into perspective, even if the racing offshoots hardly have anything to do with the series machines. Unfortunately Maik Appel had to say goodbye after the photo session and could not take part in the time hunt. Please note: The suspension settings apply to professional drifters, normal mortals should definitely drive with significantly less damping on the shock absorber and fork. The DM pilots choose an extremely strongly damped rebound stage in order to prevent the rear wheel suspension from pumping and to keep the motorcycle stable in the limit area.Chassis settings * HusabergFS 650 eHusqvarna SM 570 RKTM SMC 660Vertemati S 570 EGabelZug512205Druck411103Spring strut pull2558Druck high1.5 Rev. Pressure low47Pos.712Drag (mm) 30202030 * all clicks or revolutions from the closed state to lap times Oschersleben * DriverHusabergFS 650 eHusqvarna SM 570 RKTM SMC 660Vertemati S 570 EJo Bauer46.6 ** 184.108.40.206Beat Gautschi46.345.7 ** 46.746.5Gert Thöle49,248,950,349,6 * Best time out of five laps each, all machines with Pirelli MT 60 R; ** own brand
2nd place: Husaberg FS 650 e
How characters can change: If the 650 Husaberg used to be a mean beast, today, despite all its strength, it has become almost hand-tame and can be controlled well by the amateur in every situation. Beginners feel comfortable on the Swedish machine anyway, as the front-wheel-oriented chassis conveys confidence and the engine is easy to drive thanks to the strong torque. The drifted professionals complain about the lack of traction on the rear wheel and the somewhat indifferent steering precision at the limit.
1st place: Husqvarna SM 570 R
Nobody would have expected that at first: The husky looks unspectacular, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Every tester, whether professional or hobby driver, achieved the best lap times with her without effort and with consistency. On closer analysis, the reasons are plausible: the neutral handling, the well-balanced balance and a chassis that creates a lot of trust right from the start thanks to excellent feedback and razor-sharp precision. The not particularly powerful, but evenly acting motor supports the time hunt with the best controllability and a wide range.
4th place: KTM 660 SMC
Power has it, the big KTM: The drilled out LC4 engine is the strength of the 660, it pushes powerfully out of the corners and offers an excellent basis for further tuning. Nevertheless, the SMC does not appear particularly dynamic, too much mass has to be moved. Especially in the tight bends typical of Supermoto, a certain slowness dominates. The sometimes sudden loss of grip at the back also unsettles you. In terms of workmanship and features, the SMC is a step ahead of the competition.
3rd place: Vertemati S 570 E
The ultimate fun bike among the Supermoto machines: a phenomenal mixture of playful handling, razor-sharp precision and unshakable stability. Properties that can be traced back to the stable chassis, a sophisticated balance and successful geometry. The catch: The engine is simply too slack for sports use, as there is no pressure from below or liveliness from above. Ambitious pilots have to invest heavily in tuning again, which is particularly painful in view of the high cost price.
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