Very first Test: 2014 Husqvarna Model Lineup – We Ride The New 2014 Husky Two-Strokes and Four-Strokes

By Chris Denison
Photos Courtesy of Husqvarna

Along with Husqvarna announcing their particular 2014 model line came the opportunity for Dirt Driver to swing a leg over each of these new devices at the recent world press release in Sweden. For a more comprehensive breakdown of these motorcycles, click on the lately posted Husqvarna preview at http://www.dirtrider.com/features/2014-husqvarna-preview/. In a nutshell, though, here’s the slim: there are ten bikes, five which are two-strokes and five which are four-strokes. The lineup is also split right down the middle, 50/50 rough-road and motocross. There are obvious ties to KTMs and Husabergs, with the only major difference outside of the colorway and graphics being the polyamide rear subframe made famous by Husaberg. This three-piece, fiberglass-reinforced style offers what Husqvarna feels is the greatest balance of rigidity and bend, and its inclusion on the TC series marks the first time that a composite subframe has ever been offered on a manufacturing motocross bike.

The particular model range starts with an 85cc mini and extends all the way up to the big 501cc thumper. The TC 85 has a few differences from your larger models and many of the capturing similarities of the ’14 Husky series do not apply to it. But as far as big bikes go, the other nine Husqvarnas all sport WP suspension system on both ends, linkage suspension, solitary component cast swingarms, black M. I. D. rims, CNC multiple clamps with four different handlebar mount positions, and hand guards. Here’s a look at how each of these motorcycles performed out in the dirt:


FE 250/ FE three hundred and fifty

With strong torque and great traction, it’s not difficult to get the front wheel off the ground using the FE 350’s throttle.

Along with strong torque and great traction, it’s not difficult to get the front wheel off the ground using the FE 350’s throttle.

Keihin electronic fuel injection, DDS/ Brembo handbags, built in radiator fans, and WP’s 4CS fork mark just some of the familiar features on these Ca green sticker—legal models. On the path, the light overall weight of the FE250 is apparent. Weight transfer is great and the machine feels incredibly flickable on quick direction changes and S-turns, with no top-heavy or large tendencies. When cornering, the front has a tendency to push through tight lines except if extra effort is made to really setup beforehand and arc outward for any less sharp corner entry. As with the other models, the WP4CS fork gave some harsh feedback on chop that was the result of it throwing out through the initial part of the stroke and packing in the mid. Out back, the shock felt firm—though not stiff—and held up well.

Power-wise, this bike loves to be revved. The bottom-to-mid-range is soft in comparison to the top, though response is clean as well as the bike can still be lugged within the right conditions (when weighting the back end, mainly). A gearing exchange or a heavier flywheel would help to reduce stalling under hard braking system on tight trails, as the stock setup forces the rider in order to downshift quickly when entering awful spots in a taller gear. The particular exhaust note is pleasant even when revving, and the electric start functions exceptionally well when the bike is definitely both cold and hot.

Built upon the same platform as the FE 250, the Husqvarna FE 350 also comes equipped with a DOHC engine that boasts titanium valves and DLC-coated finger supporters. In contrast to the smaller four-stroke, the three hundred and fifty has way more torque and does not need to be revved nearly as far. The ability is smoother in tight surfaces, and given the slick conditions of the intro this was probably my personal favorite bike out of everything in the rough-road lineup. You don’t have to clutch the 350 a ton to make it work; moving excessively is also not required, as the bike will pull in a variety of gears. The particular FE 350 is a total traction machine, the transmission is butter, the mid-range is solid, as well as the top-end doesn’t bang into the rev limiter when you stretch it away a little. Weight-wise, the FE three hundred and fifty is tad more top-heavy than the FE 250, and it takes an increased amount of effort to get the bike to visit where you want. More than once I felt as though I had to really muscle the bike to get it into the correct line, though this is a sacrifice made for excellent straight-line stability with no odd deflection from the front tire.


FE 501

The 2014 Husqvarna TE 501 is definitely a powerhouse.

The 2014 Husqvarna TE 501 is definitely a powerhouse.

The big 501 is surely a powerhouse, but it is not as hard to ride as you may think. Down lower, this beast will definitely break traction if you just hammer the throttle, as the initial hit and low-end pull is very strong. I found personally covering the clutch a lot to help modulate the power, and by deliberately weighting the trunk tire more than the other bikes it was not hard to keep the bike pulling up loose rock sections and steep gravel hills. As expected, this is the most top-heavy feeling machine from the bunch, and combined with the massive snap that the engine produces it’s probable to get out of shape if you’re not really careful or paying attention. Still, I had been surprised by how well the 501 worked in tight sections; the relatively weighty feel (which, in reality, is similar to a KTM 500) goes away when you are flowing and transporting speed. Only when you mess up and get out of shape does the bike feel scary. A stiffer fork setting (clicker adjustment) helped the bike overall but wasn’t since plush over repeated hits and head-on impacts such as logs and tree roots. The shock do a fine job of absorbing with no unwanted kicks or hits.


TE 250/ TE three hundred

Both the Husqvarna TE 250 and TE 300 are capable and well-rounded off-road platforms.

Both Husqvarna TE 250 and TE 300 are capable and well-rounded rough-road platforms.

Flickable two-stroke platforms are a hoot to ride off-road. The Husqvarna TE 300 demonstrates.

Flickable two-stroke platforms are a hoot to ride off-road. The particular Husqvarna TE 300 demonstrates.

Also equipped with the WP 4CS closed-cartridge fork, the TE 250 and TE three hundred two-strokes are built around the now-closed Husaberg production line. A DDS (damped diaphragm steel)/ Brembo hydraulic clutch system also graces each machine, along with electric starting with a kickstart backup. Each transmission is a six-speed style, and both machines are tunable via adjustable power valves as well as through two different pre-set combustion curves that can be changed by simply changing a plug connection. Both bicycles are also capable, durable, and completely at home in difficult terrain. The particular TE250 works just as well in awful sections as its bigger brother. However the 300’s extra torque seemed to be the setup on the slick trails, the ability on both bikes is strong all through and does not wear the rider away or spin the tire excessively. The clutch works great, moving is smooth and the electric begin is flawless. A lack of damping support on drop offs and tough hits had us chasing the suspension to a stiffer clicker environment on both bikes. The shock worked well overall. The ergonomics are usually comfortable, and aside from a stiff seat there’s not really anything to grumble about when riding in the attack position.


FC 250/ FC 450

If you’ve ridden a KTM 250 SX-F before, you’ll feel right at home aboard the Husky FC 250

If you’ve ridden a KTM 250 SX-F before, you’ll really feel right at home aboard the Husky FC 250

Husqvarna’s new MX four-strokes are a big step up from recent Husky motocross thumpers.

Husqvarna’s new MX four-strokes are a big step up through recent Husky motocross thumpers.

Based off of the KTM SX-F models, the new Husqvarna four-stroke MXers are certainly proven. None bike has kickstart casting—it’s key start only—with Dunlop, Renthal, and Brembo sitting near the top of the Husqvarna’s accessory list. Not surprisingly, both machines’ on-track performance reflects that of their particular orange counterparts: The FC 250 has a broad powerband that hooked up well on the slippery circuit. I felt at home aboard the machine right away, and I didn’t notice any hiccups in tuning nor when moving. The bike could stand to have a stronger bottom-end, although the rev-to-the-moon character of the top end provides enough enjoyment for the average pilot. The FC 250 seemed to reward aggressive operating, which would mask the slightly severe character of the suspension when ridden slowly or through repeated hits and rough ruts. Tracking had been decent in corners, and I discovered that I could cut inside of ranges if I set up properly and had trust in the front tire’s shoulder pulls to hook up. The FC 450 took more effort and energy to corner, due to a higher resistance to leaning than the smaller machine. Not surprisingly, the larger four-stroke revved out quite hard and could clear bigger jumps from the inside line with amazing ease. Hard hits pushed the fork to the limit, and more tuning compared to we had time for would be necessary to really dial in the setting for that track we were riding. Still, it was the best “Husqvarna” 450cc four-stroke I have ever ridden, and the heavily KTM-influenced Austrian machine is leaps and bounds better than the old Husqvarna 449.


TC 125/ TC 250

Two-strokes are a blast, and both the Husky TC 125 and TC 250 will put a smile on your face.

Two-strokes are a blast, and both Husky TC 125 and TC 250 will put a grin on your face.

Based off of KTM’s 125 and 250 SX models, the new Husky TC 125 and 250 each provide two-stroke lovers with a distinctive MX-oriented solution. The 125 powerplant features a Vertex piston with a Magura clutch and comes stock with Boyesen reed valves, Dunlop MX51 tires, a Renthal Fatbar and WP’s closed-cartridge fork. The 250 shares several of these components but instead emerges with a five-speed transmission and a DDS/ Brembo hydraulic clutch setup. For individuals who want a bit more boost, there is a 300cc kit available through Husky Energy. Both machines feature easy tuning by way of the same power valve and ignition curve options found on the TE 250 and 300.

I felt that these motorcycles were fun, but I’ll admit that this slick track conditions in Sweden were better suited to the traction-grabbing thumpers. The 125cc was a blast to ride and rev away; the small-bore engine produced a healthy snap and sounded crisp and clean. You have to shift this small machine a ton, and you definitely need to be active with the clutch to keep the revs in the right place. Given the additional weight of the accumulated mud added to the underside of the fenders, the TC 125’s suspension felt soft on hard landings, in whoops, as well as when coming into corners. A loose steering feel makes the bike really feel flickable and also unstable. On the larger end, the TC 250 has such a sharp hit down lower that it broke loose just about every time the throttle was cracked open—I actually added some slack towards the throttle cable just to help cool out the initial response feel. The particular 250cc engine has a fat mid-range and revs out quickly whilst still allowing itself to be ridden on the pipe. I felt as if the TC 250 absorbed harder hits better than the 125, but a semi-sharp bite of the suspension system on square-edged bumps kept myself on my toes—both literally and figuratively—when negotiating choppy terrain.


Conclusion

Husqvarna has taken some huge strides in a short amount of time.

Husqvarna has taken some huge strides in a short amount of time.

Some Husqvarna fans were truly expecting an all-new lineup of motorcycles for 2014. Could would have been radical, it’s actually not very realistic—the powers that be at KTM have only possessed Husqvarna for around seven months. It makes sense that the new Husky line would certainly borrow so heavily from its sister brand, and we can definitely hope that in the future additional updates and improvements become available to further separate the two brand names (notice that I didn’t say “three”; that’s because Husaberg has already halted production, and once the current bikes are sold there will be no more ‘Bergs produced). As it stands now, Husqvarna has a total collection of MX and off-road versions that is proven to be reliable, is already a boost in performance over their earlier models, and that hits on both two- and four-stroke owners. The biggest downside at this point is that Husky is considered a “premium” brand, so prices are not likely to drop—the days of the inexpensive, street-legal Husqvarna are officially over. But if the brand keeps charging since hard as it has in the past few months, there’s no telling what they will be able to accomplish in the coming yrs.


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