SWM Superdual X | Bike Tests | Latest Tests
The smooth counterbalanced engine provides a steady push of power and revs cleanly all the way to 11,000rpm
As we gathered at Gassit Towers to start this ride, it didn’t take long for one member of the pack to suffer the indignity of having sand kicked in its proverbial face. As the new kid on the block, and the only single-cylinder machine in the line-up, SWM’s shiny red Superdual X wore the brunt of many a pre-ride jibe.
“What’s with the ag bike?” someone asked.
“Who’s on the chook chaser?” came from someone else.
To the AMCN posse of seasoned road racers and riders, the relatively lithe, lean and clearly dirtbike-bred Superdual X was the odd one out among the assembled pack of gleaming multi-cylinder and large-capacity adventure hardware.
While the development of modern-day adventure bikes has moved toward a bigger-is-better and he-with-the-most-technology-wins mantra, the fact remains that adventure riding in Australia was born on the back of single-cylinder four-strokes.
Not surprisingly, then, two of the best-selling adventure machines in Australia continue to be the long-serving Kawasaki KLR650 and Suzuki DR650 thumpers, so the Superdual X promises to breathe new life into a much loved category.
SWM is a reborn Italian brand, which kicked off again in 2014 under the direction of former Husqvarna employees (from the era when BMW owned the Italian marque), and with a hefty injection of capital from Chinese brand Shineray.
It’s therefore not surprising to learn SWM has based the Superdual around Husqvarna’s old TE630 motor. It has wrapped the liquid-cooled, Mikuni EFI-fed 600cc powerplant into a full-cradle chromoly steel chassis that’s been mated to a Fastace 45mm USD fork and Sachs rear shock. And the whole thing has been finished off as a comprehensive package aimed fairly and squarely at real-world adventure riding duty.
A screen, switchable (rear wheel only) ABS, 18-litre fuel tank, alloy bashplate, tank and engine crash bars, digital LCD dash, hand guards, rear carry rack, centrestand, shock preload adjuster and 21/18-inch wheel sizes are all standard, which make its $10,490 (plus on-road costs) price tag look very attractive. Especially when you consider this makes it many thousands of dollars less expensive than rival road-biased thumpers. Only the DR650 and KLR650 are cheaper, but neither boasts the detail or performance of the Superdual.
On our ride, the Superdual X wasn’t as refined as the bigger bikes on the tarmac, as you would expect. But the little thumper didn’t drag its heels either. The tall standard gearing allowed for open road touring speeds that could still torch your licence in rapid fashion. Impressively, the engine likes to rev and doesn’t run out of puff up high, which other big singles do all too often.
While the SWM’s on-road handling is good overall, we noted that the Sachs rear shock was making what was best described as a valiant effort when pushed hard, given it was being ridden fully loaded with packed panniers and being asked to keep company with larger-capacity and faster machinery. Winding on the spring preload went some way to helping.
The Superdual X showed its true colours once we were off the tar and onto the dirt. Of the six bikes on the ride, the SWM was far and away the most dirtbike-like to ride and it was in its element on forest roads and fire trails. The 21-inch front wheel helped make short work of the kind of obstacles and soft and sandy ground that would give the other big bikes fits, while the SWM’s lighter weight and more manageable dimensions made it far easier to throw around in the dirt. Fitting more dirt-ready rubber than the standard Metzeler Enduro 3 Sahara tyres would further improve the Superdual X’s off-road manners.
As for braking performance, we found the SWM’s ABS way more intrusive than the more advanced systems of some of the other bikes, although at least it could be switched off at the rear. We also noted the steering’s lock-to-lock was more limited than we’d expected on an uncluttered machine like this.
Our test bike came fitted with an optional comfort seat, which is taller and flatter for both rider and pillion than the stock scalloped item. The handlebar mounts are offset and had been adjusted to put the ’bars in the forward position, which opens up the cockpit and relaxes the ergonomics, especially when trying to stand going up hills. The screen sweeps rearward markedly, so getting out of the worst of the wind blast demands some tucking in.
Overall, the SWM provided proof that there’s plenty of life left in the big thumper adventure bike class. If you really want to push the off-road end of the ADV spectrum, the Superdual X is a bike that can go a long way with you, without smashing your wallet, and take a stack of abuse along the way.
The new-generation SWM range of road, trail and adventure bikes are produced at the BMW-era Husqvarna factory near Varese in Northern Italy.
It’s kitted out to a very high level for its rather modest price. Add the extras to the price of one of its rivals and you’ll see what we mean.
The front-wheel ABS is intrusive on loose surfaces, and the tall gearing is fine for the highway but pesky in the bush. Underslung header pipes reduce ground clearance, but it’s all protected by an alloy bashplate.