SWM Superdual: Italian adventurer on its way
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When the reborn SWM brand made its debut in New Zealand, Driven got the first NZ ride on the road-going-enduro RS650R.
And, apart from a few minor gripes, I loved the big traillie for its ability to open my eyes to a more adventurous style of riding.
The BMW-era Husqvarna-derived 600cc motor was fantastic, producing enough power to put it well outside the realm of LAMS bikes and make wheelies a breeze. But on the comfort scale, it was a typical big traillie.
Its seat was enough to make you cry after an hour's riding, putting many riders off picking up the competitively priced Italian in favour of something more, well, Japanese.
But even then, we knew there was a bike on the horizon that would make those complaints void -- the Superdual.
With a more comfortable scalloped seat, street-friendly 19-inch front wheel (as opposed to the 21-incher on the RS650R), a larger 18-litre fuel tank, touring screen, centre stand and crash bars as standard, it couldn't arrive in New Zealand soon enough.
Fast-forward a little over a year and the first container with the latest in the adventure class is on its way Downunder, and it could potentially shake up the segment.
The Superdual, in its standard form, is competitively priced and offers more than just Italian styling and a stand-out red frame. Starting at $11,990 and featuring switchable ABS, a powerful 39.5kW engine and a relatively low weight of just 169kg dry, it stacks up on the specsheet with the Japanese competition, namely Kawasaki's KLR650 and Suzuki's V-Strom 650, quite well.
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The Superdual fills a niche in the market for riders who want a more performance-derived adventure tourer, but don't want to pay the premium of other European machinery.
In its factory specification, the Superdual will be outside the LAMS bracket of 150kw per tonne, but will conveniently balance that by falling into the cheaper sub-600cc registration bracket.
In Europe, SWM offers the Superdual with an A2 licence kit, which restricts to 26kW and New Zealand would make it LAMS approved. The importer, Europe Imports, is currently bringing in only the full power version but is open to bringing in the restricted models of the 600cc SWM range if there is demand.
On the road it has a similar character to the RS650R, except it is much more comfortable ergonomically and feels more at home than its knobbly tyred sibling, despite the relatively few major differences between them.
The seat, as mentioned earlier, is a scalloped single-piece unit, but the reach to the bars, and final rider position are eerily similar.
Riding around the twisty Italian roads surrounding the Lake Varese SWM factory, I couldn't help but compare the sensation of riding the Superdual to the that of a Supermoto-style machine. You sit quite far forward, to the point where you feel almost on top of the front wheel at times, yet each time you dip into a corner the bike feels stable and eggs you on to take corner with even more aggression.
If you've ridden the previous 600cc SWM models, you'll know that the front brake lines loop in front of the dash right in your line of sight, and the same goes for the Superdual.
Even though the windscreen features a handy support bracket to tuck them behind, the lines soon find their way back in front of the speedo.
That is fine if you're riding off-road -- but out on the road, where you need to keep your speed in check, it is a bit of an annoyance. As the launch bikes were pre-production, that screen is also set for an update before the final product arrives, so hopefully it'll be easier to read despite the brake line placement.
The brakes, however, are real performers, pulling the bike up with little fuss. The 45mm Fast Ace USD fork did tend to dive when I applied a handful, but this is part-and-parcel of the class. If it really bothered you, you could play with the rebound damping adjustment to adjust the front forks.
Power delivery from the fuel-injected single is crisp and punchy, with the bike able to pop its front wheel off the ground in first gear with a little clutch action, which should mean off the highway it will have a little more ability than the heavier competition.
Has it been it worth the wait? On the face of it, yes. With that relatively low price point, a great engine and true adventure capability, the Superdual looks sure to be a winner. The true test will be when we get our hands on it here at home, when we can head for the hills and the road less travelled to see if this mid-sized adventurer is the next big thing in the great Kiwi adventure.
Engine: 600cc Single-Cylinder DOHC
Price: From $11,990
Pro: Stonking engine, great potential off-road, handles beautifully
Con: Limited dealer network, not LAMS approved