Let’s look at the world of extreme enduro. In the Pro class, there is not a single four-stroke machine. The 300cc two-stroke utterly dominates this world of technical riding and impossible obstacles. And, having a machine that makes better and more controllable power at lower rpm than the four-stroke is the most competitive path to winning. Today’s enduro/trail and off-road enthusiast has also elevated the status of the 300cc two-stroke. They’re easier to ride, crave short-shifting and making traction, haul with some serious attitude, are smooth and have little vibration. They have effectively made the average trail guy a better rider.
At the forefront of this evolution sits the Husqvarna TE300i. Yes, it shares the platform with its close relative, the KTM 300XC-W, and now in its fourth year it has firmly ensconced itself as one of the main players in the 300 two-stroke enduro arena. For 2022, it returns with a few alterations. It’s basically the same fuel-injected machine, a six-speeder with button-starting and very similar WP suspension components. There are updates, along with some new hydraulics, on the TE line, so let’s delve into them.
SOMETHING OLD AND SOMETHING NEW
The TE300i is power-valved and uses EFI (two domed house injectors that supply fuel to the transfer ports). This makes for proper atomization of the fuel, fewer emissions via more efficient fuel combustion and improved fuel economy. It has a balancer shaft that reduces vibration at the engine; a six-speed, wide-ratio transmission; and the DDS clutch that uses a diaphragm spring that now mates to a Braktec hydraulic clutch system. Yes, they shelved the Magura unit for Braktec, a name quite big in the trials world.
It remains oil-injected; oil is added to the airflow before it goes down to the crankcase. The descending piston pressurizes the air/oil mixture as with any two-stroke, pushing it up through the transfer ports. That’s where the two injectors add fuel to the mix. The main advantage is less-sloppy fuel mixing and dramatically less oil consumption. The engine-management system has the main unit under the seat. It controls ignition timing and proper fuel input based on readings of air pressure, throttle position, water pressure and ambient air temperature. This means that there is no jetting required because of the altitude and temperature-compensation abilities of the system. The Husky TE300i is fit with a handlebar-mounted switch with two ignition curves the pilot can choose from depending on the traction factor. Map 1 is for standard and full power, and Map 2 is for softer power and delayed ignition timing for terrain with less traction. The entire engine is very compact. The bike is electric start only and comes fit with an exhaust system that features a beefed-up belly to ward off blows.
The enduro version of the Husqvarna 300i comes fit with WP XPLOR suspension. Up front, the fork is a coil-spring unit and has all-new settings that target enhanced damping versatility for the rider. It now has an oil bypass in the outer fork tubes that reduces friction for smoother travel.
Compression damping is in the left leg and rebound damping in the right. It comes equipped with preload adjusters that allow for simple adjustments sans tools.
The WP shock runs through linkage, and it, too, has new settings for 2022. The goal was to mate it to the chromium-molybdenum steel frame and two-piece carbon-composite subframe to deliver consistent damping, more precise handling and rider comfort.
There are updates with the brakes, as they have switched these also to Braktec hydraulics with GSK Wave rotors. These also come on a portion of the GasGas line, and Husky claims they have outstanding sensitivity and modulation. More on that later. The hubs remain machined units. The rims are D.I.D, and the Michelin Enduro tires are new for this year. The TE comes with enduro lighting, a compact odo/clock, ProTaper handlebars, ODI lock-on grips and a longish muffler that is not spark-arrestor-equipped. Last, Husky gave the TE300i a new grey color scheme with yellow accents.
HOBNOBBING IN THE WOODS
Here’s the report card on the TE300i.
POWER: Linear, immediate, clean and vibration-free. Perhaps the best trait of the TE300 is the efficient character of the power. While it still lacks the hit of the carbureted machines, it throttles down and craves a taller gear. Incredibly, it pulls and makes traction. The throttle response is instant and always ready for any obstacle. There is rarely any hesitation, and it runs superbly at elevation.
We ran the ignition switch on Map 1, mainly because we never had slimy-enough conditions to try Map 2. There are ways to modify the powerband, mainly through power-valve adjustments. For actual increases, the two biggest gains come with a high-compression head and an ECU change. These can tax the wallet but really enhance the bottom-to-mid power and give it more meat.
As far as the new Braktec hydraulic clutch goes, it’s quite a seamless transition. It’s very smooth and offers excellent modulation and feel.
HANDLING: The new WP XLPOR settings are still soft, targeting slower and more technical terrain, but they are better, mainly in the adjustability. They feel like they ride a bit higher and don’t dive with the intensity of last year’s damper. Bigger pilots will need stiffer coils at a minimum. They desire roots, rocks and woods litter, but they cringe a bit when the going gets fast, the whoops get big and high-speed impacts are the norm.
The action out back is balanced, and we believe that the linkage really helps here. The rear stays low, especially compared to a PDS system. It tracks well in hacky terrain and gives aid in the balance of the machine. Average-sized riders (150–170 pounds) can get away with the standard spring throttle slammers, but beefier boys will demand some spring and possibly additional valving to keep the bike in line.
BRAKES: We’re not gushing over the Braktec stoppers. The rear is fine and feels very similar to the Magura/Brembo unit. The front, however, seems to lack the progression and modulation of either the Brembo or the Magura system. It’s strange. The unit is strong, but it lacks feel and power when you aggressively compress it. We’ll keep testing here and see if there’s a setup strategy that can make it more Brembo-like.
BITS AND PIECES
We got it to boil when abused in tight terrain where the air flow is minimal. It needs a fan, as they do wonders keeping the temps under control.
Good marks to the Michelin tires. They are quality tires with strong carcasses and allow for lower air pressures to enhance the traction. They’re happier in intermediate-to-thick dirt and grip well on roots and in rock gardens.
The Husky uses a very sano hybrid subframe. Some riders say they like the feel better than the aluminum counterpart. The saddle is comfier than past efforts, but if there’s one drawback to composite carbon fiber subframes, it’s that they will break in a perfect-storm crash. There’s no riding them when they snap at the mounts like you can with a very bent aluminum subframe.
Love the stronger exhaust pipe, though this is still a consumable part on a two-stroke, mainly due to vulnerability. The exhaust note is acceptable, though it lacks a spark arrestor. It comes with a tidy plastic skid plate that protects the bottom of the cases. The X-ring chain is excellent, as are the sprockets. The side stand is excellent.
With 2.4 gallons of fuel, you’ll get to cover some decent terrain. The TPI system makes for improved fuel economy, and the oil-injection system meters itself far better than the old pre-mix ring-dingers. You’ll know when you need oil when the light goes on in your instrument cluster. It’s easy to look under to check the tank, though we just fill it up at the frame every three to four rides.
The TE300i uses machined triple clamps that are fit with very adjustable handlebar perches. They get top marks. It’s interesting that the WP XPLOR fork comes with adjustable preload. This is a great tool for a good rider with a great feel for suspension setup. We have also witnessed riders who have gone backwards and wreaked havoc with their machines’ handling. Small changes go a long way here.
A CLEAN GETAWAY
To be honest, if you’re a trail guy with a penchant for exploring and dabbling in technical off-road, the Husqvarna TE300i is at the top of the food chain. We know riders who bought them last year and have done nothing but hammer them for hundreds of hours. And, they hold up! The power is usable, the handling is balanced, and the suspension is comfortable in tight terrain. They don’t vibrate, are easy on the body and love being piloted by trail geeks or extreme enduro athletes. In its world, it doesn’t get a whole lot better.