With production supermotard bikes available from the major European manufacturers (KTM, Husaberg, and Husqvarna come to mind immediately) and supermotard racing, both in Europe and in the United States, growing in popularity as quickly as any other form of motorcycle racing, isn’t it time for the Japanese manufacturers to offer turn-key supermotard bikes? It is, and there’s every indication that they are about to.
Race organizers for the World Supermotard Championship, which apparently has never had a Japanese factory-supported team, indicate that perhaps two Japanese factory teams will participate next season. The recently ended championship was dominated by factory KTM riders.
Yamaha likes to get the jump on the competition by being the first Japanese manufacturer to offer a production motorcycle in a given niche, and Yamaha is clearly interested in a production supermotard bike (complete with 17″ wheels and big front brake disc). Yamaha has been doing market surveys on supermotard-style bikes for over two years, and we had anticipated Yamaha might have a supermotard for sale in model year 2003, but this did not materialize.
Now, with the likelihood of Japanese factory involvement in the 2003 Supermotard World Championship, we can expect that Yamaha, and perhaps additional Japanese manufacturers, will offer supermotard machines for sale in the 2004 model year (debuting in September 2003). “Race on Sunday, Sell on Monday” only works if you have something available for sale that resembles the race machine.