Review: 2017 SWM 650 Superdual
SWM's 650 Superdual proves a fun dual sport, with a strong single-cylinder powerplant and great specs for the price... Here's our test. Review & Images by Kris Hodgson, Jeff Ware
The SWM Superdual is an interesting beast and is actually the evolution of the Husqvarna TE 630, after BMW brought the Husqvarna name and the workers at the production facility in Lombardia, Italy kept the factory alive by seeking out new investment and continuing production under a new name. Keeping in mind SWM does have history…
Now that investment was from China, but the factory retains production in Italy, so this isn’t a Chinese produced machine. Granted the finish on the bike isn’t quite up to the same standard as what I’d expect from some of the bigger (more expensive) modern European or Japanese names, but part of that comes down to the asking price, and my expectations are always high.
In fact, making that comparison, it really reminds me in some ways of older machines from the ‘90s and early 2000s, which used different finishes, something particularly noticeable on the engine itself.
The overall look of the bike is pretty cool, and with the standard crash bars in red it really stands out. It needs a bit of visual punch and this is it. At the end of the day looks and style are important, and the first thing any buyer will look at is the actual bike and how they think they’ll look on it.
It is otherwise a simple package, there’s good overall attention to detail, and a solid finish quality. I’d certainly be happy with the Superdual, especially for the price. In fact I reckoned it was awesome overall.
So for $9,990 + ORC, you’re getting a Husqvarna based (but now updated for Euro4) EFI powerplant, Brembo brakes, Metzeler rubber, rims produced by the Giant, standard crash bars, sump guard, hand guards, and rear rack, plus two cool undertail exhausts.
The Superdual is also tall with an 860mm seat height, with long travel suspension featuring 45mm adjustable forks on the front and a Sachs adjustable rear shock, with an easy external preload adjuster. Front travel is 210mm with 270mm on the rear.
The spartan seat is well integrated and reasonably comfortable for short stints, like an hour, or if you’re keeping your weight through the ‘pegs for the fun stuff, but after a 10 hour day, mainly in the saddle I was in serious pain. This was with 10kg of camera gear strapped to my back, which doesn’t help, but if I was buying this bike with an eye to lots of touring I’d need to find a solution, like a gel seat cushion or WildAss.
The engine is a typical single-cylinder thumper, with a nice strong torquey pull, tall gearing and fun acceleration. Start-up did require priming the fuel pump (via the kill switch) three times and using the manual ‘fast isdle’ with the clutch in, but if you follow this procedure it normally starts first time. Even warm though, you’ll normally need to follow these steps as it could be difficult to star.
Gearing is tall, and to be honest I thought the tachometer display on the dash was broken as it didn’t seem to be moving for my normal riding. You can switch to a numbered rev readout on the display though, which proved it was moving through the rev range, but if you’re not hooning you’ll generally be below 5000rpm. In fact 130km/h cruising was around the 5000rpm mark in top gear. That is with lots to spare too…
Pull is strong from down low, as long as you aren’t lugging the engine, and vibrations aren’t too bad overall, keeping in mind this is a single. Power delivery is also nice and linear, and can be quite deceiving. At one point when I swapped with Jeff (riding the Tracer), who took a turn riding the Superdual, he commented it didn’t seem very powerful, which left me scratching my head.
When we did roll-ons with our Long Term MT-07 Tracer it was right there, except on the top gear roll on, where the Tracer had a bit more punch down low, while the Superdual was lugging a little and lost that initial jump, then kept up. The Tracer boasts 38kW claimed to the LAMS Superduals’ 35kW, although our Tracer has had noticeable gains thanks to performance mods.
On the dirt that linear single was also great fun, offering predictable, easily controlled and confidence inspiring riding. The pace was probably sedate compared to what hardcore off-road riders will do, but the SWM was just all out fun, especially for my level of experience, which is unabashedly basic when it comes to off-road.
Overall handling is great, but obviously incredibly different from your modern sports or nakedbike. Too much input on the ‘bars and you may initially find turn-in too fast and aggressive around town but I put that down to the thinner tyres, and being used to supersport type tyres. There’s also not a huge arc on the steering itself with quite tight steering stops, which stops the bike folding and doesn’t hinder really low speed maneuvering purely with the ‘bars.
Once you’re used to the Superdual it’s great, with the tall upright seating position giving good vision, with easy maneuverability between ‘bar input and your usual body language. It’s no supermotard, but handling is sharp, precise and nimble around town.
Out on the open road there’s not that much lean involved, with the SWM favouring flowing lines and plenty of throttle coming out of the corners, with exceptional stability. Barreling through the tight stuff is also great fun too, while on unsealed surfaces you’ve got good predictable handling. A little clutch and light rear brake for control, along with that willing single and it’s clear riding.
A big factor in the handling is the suspension which is very well supported, for my 70kg weight (plus 10kg of camera gear) it was well damped, with controlled compression and a smooth predictable suspension action front and rear. The single front brake offers good (adequate) but limited braking performance, and there’s no extreme dive into the forks as a result.
The rear brake has more bite and power, which helps keep the bike stable and ensures around town riding and trailing brakes through the corners is natural and doesn’t unsettle the bike. Add in that nice linear single deceleration and you’ve got an extremely well balanced package, from the engine and chassis, through to the suspension and brakes.
The suspension was probably the standout to me to be honest, as it ensured a smooth ride both on the road and on the unsealed sections and the dirt, but this wasn’t done by trading off performance in any other area to a noticeable effect. We upped tyre pressures as well after a flat, which did add a little more harshness to the ride, and didn’t lower the pressures for our off-road section, which would be sure to improve the handling further in that situation.
But with plenty of room for adjustment, nice long travel and that easy rear external preload adjuster, it really is a great package.
So how does the SWM 650 Superdual stack up? It’s a ripper if you ask me.
The overall package is exceptional, there’s great fun to be had whether you’re commuting or out having a bit of a fang, and the dual sport package means the bike will handle the rough stuff with ease and comfort.
We had the flat tyre (at BikeReview.com.au HQ luckily) and a bolt came out of the ‘bar end, which held one end of the hand guard on, but the guard was still there after all the unsealed road sections, and that was the sum of the problems faced after well over 500km of testing
To really look for something to criticise the styling is a little basic, as is the finish on the engine, although I’m from a road bike background and that specific area has improved greatly in the last 10-15 years. Apart from that everything just works, and it’s easy to see the development that has gone into the Superdual.
The bike is on the tall side, so shorter riders could struggle and I probably wouldn’t recommend this as your very first road bike option, unless you’re a larger rider and can get both feet flat to the ground, or come from a motorcycling background.
But purely from the perspective of a fully licenced rider I found the Superdual a great offering, fuel economy was great at over 20km/L, and I could commute on it every day, whether that was on the highway or stuck in city traffic. The off-road ability ticked all the boxes for me – and this is the road orientated version – the Metzeler Tourance are designed for 90 per cent road and 10 per cent off-road, so with something a little more off-road orientated it would only improve.
If I was looking for a dual-sport/adventure-commuter with strong off-road abilities this would be right at the top of my list, especially at the buy-in. In fact it’s much like the Royal Enfield Himalayan or Kawasaki Versys-X 300, except taking that same theme to the next level, with a higher but still great value price, and the better appointed specifications to match.
SWM 650 Superdual Tech Talk
The SWM Superdual features a liquid-cooled DOHC single-cylinder four-stroke, running Mikuni EFI and producing 35kW in the LAMS restricted version in Australia. Start is electric, while the engine capacity is actually 600cc with a bore and stroke of 100 x 76.4mm.
A six-speed gearbox features relatively tall gearing, with a wet multi-plate clutch with hydraulic control offering easy gear changes through the slick gearbox. Engine braking is typical of a single being linear and controlled.
The chassis consists of a steel round-pipe single beam double crade main frame, with a light alloy sub-frame, with a trail of 120mm, while suspension is long travel USD Fast Ace 45mm forks with full adjustability, and a Sachs rear shock with external pre-load adjuster. Travel is 210 and 270mm respectively, offering a plush but well supported rider (test rider weight 70kg).
Brakes are a single 300mm front rotor, with Brembo two-piston caliper offering gentle bite and easy modulation. The rear 220mm rotor and Brembo caliper offers more bite and is ideal for the majority of braking duties. ABS is not fitted and the Metzeler Tourance tyres offered good dry grip and unsealed road feel during testing.
Wheels are a 2.50 x 19in front and 3.50 x 17in rear, with the rims made by the same company as Giant motorcycles. Tyres are tubed, 110/80 – 19 and 140/80 – 17, with a wheelbase of 1510mm. Dry weight is 159kg, with a 19L fuel tank and fuel economy remained over 20km/L during testing.
2017 SWM 650 Superdual Specifications
Engine: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, single cylinder, four-valve, four-stoke, 600cc, 100 x 76.4mm bore x stroke, Mikuni D45 EFI, 12.4:1 compression ratio
Power: 42kW (35kW LAMS)
Clutch: Wet multi-plate with hydraulic control
Chassis: High strength steel round pipe single beam double cradle main frame, rear frame in light alloy
Suspension: 45mm USD Fast Ace fork, 210mm of travel, fully adjustable, Sachs shock with external shock spring pre-load adjuster, 270mm of travel
Brakes: 300mm front rotor, Brembo two-piston caliper, 220mm rear rotor, Brembo single-piston caliper
Wheels & tyres: 2.50 x 19in, 3.50 x 17in, Metzeler Tourance 110/80 – 19, 140/80 – 17
Seat Height: 860mm
Wheel base: 1510mm
Overall length: 2240mm
Fuel capacity: 19-litres
Dry weight: 159kg
2017 SWM 650 Superdual Gallery
The Verdict | Review: 2017 SWM 650 Superdual
The SWM Superdual is a dual-sport single-cylinder offering with great suspension, strong performance and brakes and an overall great value package, capable of handling a broad range of riding conditions. It’s the perfect value dual-sport, with long travel suspension and easy handling, plus great standard features like crash bars, sump guard, hand guards, and rear rack…