SWM Superdual T: First Ride Review
- by Abhay Verma
- May 22, 2017
- Views : 30825
Looks like the wait for a middleweight adventure tourer is about to get over!
I’m almost certain SWM is a motorcycle brand most of you wouldn’t have heard of. I hadn’t either, until recently. But their flagship motorcycle, the Superdual, has potential to become a hot seller in our country. Why, you ask? Motorcycling trends in our country are changing, in the premium segments particularly. Expensive motorcycles aren’t mere living room adornments anymore, and today a lot of motorcyclists are keener on exploring unchartered territories on two wheels a lot more than they were a few years ago.
This has seen the demand for adventure tourers skyrocket. Despite the rising demand most manufacturers aren’t quite willing to create a middleweight adventure tourer, though. Unfortunately for us, a lot of Indian riders aren’t as big or tall as the Europeans, which is a problem because almost all adventure tourers on sale in the country are meant to suit Europeans better. That said, the middleweight adventure tourer segment holds a lot of potential. And that’s the potential that Pune-based Motoroyale (owned by the Kinetic Group and the same guys who brought MV Agusta to India) are keen on tapping, with the SWM Superdual.
Motoroyale has tied up with SWM to launch its motorcycles in India, and the road-biased version of the Superdual, the Superdual T, will get launched here by end of 2017. Is it THE adventure tourer Indians should be looking forward to? We’ll get to that, but before that, a little brief about SWM.
SWM Motorcycles was born way back in 1971, with a focus on motocross and dirt bikes, and we’re told SWM pretty much was the brand when it came to enduro bikes back then. They enjoyed serious success in motocross and the bikes were so good, people are still riding some of the old SWMs across Europe and the UK, thanks to the easy availability of parts. The company ceased production in 1984, before being revived three years ago. The SWM brand already has presence in as many as 25 countries since, which is certainly impressive.
The brand is currently owned by the Shineray Group from China, which is also into motorcycles and ATVs apart from other businesses. An Italian engineer who has worked previously with brands like Aprilia, Cagiva and MV Agusta has been responsible for the revival, and a lot of ex-MV Agusta guys are working at SWM Motorcycles today in various capacities. The new SWM factory in Northern Italy is what used to be the erstwhile Husqvarna factory when BMW Motorrad owned Husqvarna. When KTM bought Husqvarna, the Austrians vacated the factory, leaving a lot of equipment behind, and all that was bought over by SWM.
The new SWM range is dominated by dirt bikes and supermotos powered by engines displacing 125cc, 300cc and 500cc, and all these engines are manufactured at the very plant in Italy. There’s a range of retro-classic bikes as well, powered by 445cc single cylinder engines that are sourced from China. Only the range-topping Superdual will come to India for now though, powered by a 600cc single cylinder engine that’s based on an old Husqvarna engine, and is also manufactured at the Italian plant.
There are two versions of the Superdual, the X and the T. T denotes touring, while the X is the more off-road-biased version. The Euro IV-compliant Superdual T has just hit production lines and hence that will come to India first. Motoroyale will be sending it for homologation soon, which means the bike will be launched by end of the year. The Euro IV-compliant Superdual X will enter production in a few months, and will probably come in some time next year.
The Superdual looks like a large motocross bike, because that’s what it is under the skin. The headlamp design even reminded me of some of the Husqvarnas, while the tall windscreen upfront is typical of adventure tourers. The digital display is a small unit but includes a tachometer along with a slightly larger speedometer readout above it, along with telltale lights. There’s lots of protection on the bike – knuckle guards, engine and radiator guards, and a large luggage rack above the tail lights.
The footpegs and rear brake lever are similar to the ones you will find on motocross bikes, and are meant to offer grip even in slippery conditions. There’re additional lights mounted onto the engine protectors, another nod to the bike’s touring virtues. One interesting trait SWM has picked up from Husqvarna (since they’re using Husqvarna engines) is having two exhausts even though all their motorcycles are powered by single cylinder engines. This looks cool, though we would prefer a single exhaust to help bring the bike’s weight down. That said, the Superdual T is fairly light, tipping the scales at just 169kg dry.
This being the road-oriented version, the Superdual T uses a 19-inch front wheel and a 17-inch rear, while the X gets a bigger 21-inch front wheel and an 18-inch wheel at the back. Tyres are different too, and while the T gets road-biased dual sport tyres, the X gets more off-road biased rubber. The X also gets a larger rear sprocket, meaning shorter gear ratios, while the T gets taller ratios for better highway cruising. The Superdual T we rode had a set of panniers, which we are told will be offered as accessories.
What’s it got?
The Superdual T is powered by a 600cc, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected single cylinder engine that produces 54PS of power at 7500rpm and 53.5Nm of torque at 6500rpm. The numbers sound good given the dry weight of 169kg, though our ride on it was way too short to put the Superdual T through its paces. The engine sounds typical of a large single cylinder engine, and vibrations are inherent. You can feel your feet tingling at idle, though the vibration goes down as you start riding. Power delivery is slightly peaky and there’s a strong thrust that begins at 4000-4500rpm. Once the torque kicks in, all you need to do is ride the wave to the redline to make rapid progress.
The narrow winding roads we were on thus called for judicious throttle openings, especially since there were a lot of slow speed hairpin bends. The gearbox felt slightly notchy but considering that the bike we rode was fresh off the production line, I believe shifts will feel smoother once the bike racks up a few miles. Throttle response wasn’t the quickest at low revs, though once I hit the power band it improved a lot. Fuelling could have been smoother, as there was a hint of jitteriness at low speeds.
How is it to ride?
All the above pointers told me the Superdual T would be happier doing higher speeds on open roads, but our short ride in the city and hills didn’t allow me to do. What the ride did help me learn was that the Superdual T is adept at cutting through traffic and turning into corners quickly despite its height. Talking about height, the Superdual’s saddle height is a lofty 890mm. With panniers on, it wasn’t easy to get onto the bike, and in fact I had to pretty much clamber onto. And every time I did, my heels brushed against the panniers, given their width. That said, if other adventure tourers on sale in the country intimidate you with their dimensions, the good news is that the Superdual T feels a lot smaller, lighter and compact, thus making it easier to get onto.
Once in the saddle, the bike was easy to ride and maneuver, allowing quick directional changes. A couple of fast bends en route were tackled with ease as well, as the Metzeler Tourance tyres offered good grip. The roads were dry the day we were out riding, though, and hence I cannot comment how good grip levels will be in the wet. That said, I expect the tyres to offer decent grip considering they’re meant to traverse off tarmac too. Expectedly, the suspension did a good job of cushioning out undulations and bumps on the roads, though the long travel of the front forks and the 19-inch front tyre robbed me of some of the feedback I would have liked around corners.
The chassis feel, in fact, almost made me feel as if I were riding a large motocross machine, which isn’t surprising when you consider that that’s what the Superdual is based on. All said and done, the Superdual T seemed up the for job when it came to making rapid progress through city streets and hills with its lightness and agility, which tells me the bike will be good for commuting duties as well, apart from being an adventure tourer.
So what’s the deal?
As I mentioned, the Superdual T is expected to be launched by the end of 2017, and when it does, we’re hoping it will be priced around Rs 5 lakh. Motoroyale’s biggest advantage with the Superdual T will be that the middleweight adventure tourer segment is virtually non-existent in the country currently, which should give it a first mover advantage, even if SWM is a brand unknown to the Indian biker. Quality levels, including fit-finish, were decent, which should add to its advantage.
Motoroyale plans to sell the bike through the very dealerships selling MV Agustas, as their plan was to always have multiple brands under the Motoroyale umbrella. Given that our ride in Italy was an extremely short one, it is difficult to pass a definitive judgment, but on the face of it, the Superdual T does feel like a motorcycle that will find favour in India considering the changing market trends and the want for affordable, easy to ride adventure tourers.