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LONG TERM UPDATE: SWM RS500R Part 9 | Back End | Bike Reviews | Features

No matter how you slice it, the SWM RS500R packs a whole lot of dirtbike riding goodness for the admission price – just $8990 plus ORC.


Now you might find it even cheaper, as 2018 model stock gets set to roll in and dealers want to clear the ’17s.

After eight months living with this Italian stallion, it’s time to bid the beast farewell and I’ve gotta say the thundering red thumper has impressed me. It’s been way more fun to ride than I anticipated, as big-bore thumpers wouldn’t normally be first choice as my mode of transport, given I’ve long been a 250 thumper kind of guy.

But for a big-banger, the RS500R has been eminently rideable, with a mellow but strong, roll-on kind of power delivery that just eats up flowing tracks and fire-trails. Going to taller 14/45 gearing from the standard 13/47 cogs certainly helped emphasize this trait and brought the revs down on transport sections. Yet even with the taller ratios, the torquey motor never let me down when it came to conquering hillclimbs, save for the motor flaming out a little too readily in tight and snotty situations when you needed to bark up and over an obstacle, although revised mapping specs did improve this.

With Kayaba suspension front and rear and a feast of adjustment available, all I did was back off the compression settings on the fork a couple of clicks from standard to get a ride I was happy with, as I like plenty of compliance in the fork for soaking up trail trash. Impressively, the fork and shock were still able to cope fine with big hits.
With slim ergos and a great stand-up riding position, racking up long hours aboard the SWM was never an issue (just stand up as much as possible, because the seat’s a plank!), while every time I reached for the front brake or hydraulic clutch, the action of both Brembo units felt brilliant.

In 70 hours and more than 2500km of riding, the SWM never let me down. It always started readily, with three cycles of the kill switch from cold to prime the FI, and the Yuasa battery always delivered plenty of cranking speed.

Air filter servicing is a breeze via the quick-release seat with its single Dzus fastener, while the only other times I laid tools on the bike was to change the oil, adjust the chain and pull the wheels to fit fresh rubber.

I dinged the rear rim, but it will press out easily, while nothing else busted or broke, not even the blinkers or numberplate hanger – despite my best efforts while binning the bike multiple times on all those greasy bastard logs on that greasy bastard DSMRA Canberra-Tumut ride (featured in last issue).

VPS Barkbusters, a Force Accessories bashplate and Dunlop rubber were the only bolt-ons the SWM required, although I could have chased a Safari Tank for boosted fuel range – Safari’s Husqvarna TE510 tank can be used to double your fuel range. Still, the stock seven-litre tank is good for 120 to 140km depending on riding conditions.

Thanks for the memories SWM: as a bloke who fondly recalls the enduro glory days of SWM back in the early 1980s, it’s great to see the brand back with a great product. Clubby

• Strong and torquey, easy-to-ride power delivery.
• Compliant suspension and confident handling.
• Slim ergos and great stand-up riding position.
• Deliciously light Brembo hydraulic clutch.
• Cracking two-finger Brembo front brake.
• Easy air box access: One Dzus fastener pops the seat.
• Awesome value for money package that stands out from the crowd.

• Engine can flame out when barking over logs or up ledges.
• Seat is bone hard.
• Sidestand is a tad too long.