FRIDAY WRAP UP: HUSQVARNA FC450 FIRST RIDE

HUSQVARNA FC450

The 2018 Husqvarna FC450 motocross bike occupied most of this week. Husqvarna test bikes have been in short supply, and we had to get as much testing done as possible between photo shoots and video production. The bike isn’t heavily changed. In fact, there are even fewer changes than we expected. The brakes, for example, were supposed to be the new Magura units, but apparently that was either misinformation or there’s a supply problem. Either way, we’re happy with the Brembo brakes.  The bike also has some suspension changes and a new, more powerful battery. It’s essentially the same machine that we loved last year.

The Husqvarna is very similar, of course, to the KTM 450SX-F aside from several components. It uses a Magura clutch master cylinder (KTM uses Brembo), DID Dirt Star rims, a Pro Taper handlebar, a different muffler and an airbox that is unified with the subframe. In the past, those differences made the Husky a little heavier than the KTM, but now the two bikes are the same. On the fabulous Dirt Bike scale, the FC450 is 224 without fuel. That’s pretty impressive.  The new electric-start Yamaha YZ450 is 239 on the same scale. The 2018 Honda CRF450R is 240. The Kawasaki is 231. Part of the weight difference can be attributed to the WP air fork (both the Honda and Yamaha have coil-springs), but that’s only worth about 2 pounds.

What we like best about the FC450 is the power delivery. It’s about as easy to manage as it could be, considering it makes a massive amount of power. The Husky, KTM, Yamaha and Honda all have very close to the same peak output for 2018. We haven’t yet ridden them all on the same day and same track, but the overall consensus so far is that Husqvarna has done the best job of making the power usable for the average rider. The map switch doesn’t help much with this. The aggressive and standard maps don’t present much real difference and traction control is inconsistent. We still love the air fork, and it’s not quite as stiff feeling with the standard air pressure this year. That’s 10.8 bar (156 pounds), which was too much for most riders on the 2017 model. Now that’s about right. This is the only air fork that we really like when it comes time for set-up. There’s only one air chamber and it’s not overly touchy. For the video of the 2018 Husqvarna FC450, click here.

HUSKY FX350

We’re just getting started with the test of the 2018 Husqvarna FX350. This is the off-road racing version of the FC350 MX bike. So far, we’ve only had time for one ride and a photo shoot. Why does it have the same number as the FC450 above? Sometimes these things happen. We still believe that this is the best off-road race bike, notwithstanding the KTM 350XC-F, which is very similar. But you need to understand up front that it is a race bike. The FX line is pretty much the same as the motocross line. You get a six-speed gearbox, a kickstand, an 18-inch rear wheel, handguards, different suspension settings and a larger (2.25 gallon) tank. It still has a very aggressive power delivery.

For real trail riding in tight, slow terrain, the 350 is much easier to handle than a full-size 450, but it’s still a lot of motoryccle. The FE350 dual-sport really is a better starting point for true off-road guys. Look for the full test of the FX350 in the November issue of dirt bike.

GAS GAS & HUSKY PRICES

Most of the 2018 models have been announced, but not all of the prices have been set. Gas Gas and Husqvarna just gave up their official pricing, which wasn’t available initially. There’s also a Gas Gas 200 in the line, which wasn’t mentioned until now.

GAS GAS EC300: $9299
GAS GAS EC250: $9199
GAS GAS EC200: $8899
GAS GAS XC300: $8999
GAS GAS XC250: $8899
GAS GAS XC200: $8599

HUSQVARNA TC50: $4199
HUSQVARNA TC65: $5099
HUSQVARNA TC85: (17/14) $5899
HUSQVARNA TC85: (19/16) $6099
HUSQVARNA TC125: $7,099
HUSQVARNA TC250: $7999
HUSQVARNA FC250: $8799
HUSQVARNA FC350: $9499
HUSQVARNA FC450: $9699
HUSQVARNA TX300: $9399
HUSQVARNA FX350: $10,299
HUSQVARNA FX450: $10,399
HUSQVARNA TE150: $8299
HUSQVARNA TE250: $9199
HUSQVARNA TE250i: TBA
HUSQVARNA TE300: $9399
HUSQVARNA FE250: $9699
HUSQVARNA FE350: $10,699
HUSQVARNA FE450: $10,899
HUSQVARNA FE501: $11,099
HUSQVARNA FS450: $10,499

FREERIDE R FAREWELL

In case you didn’t know, the two-stroke KTM Freeride R is gone from the line up, replaced with the electric bike. It was a very cool motorcycle, but America didn’t quite get it. This photo is a throwback to November 23, 2014 with Cody Webb. It was the day after he won the EnduroCross championship at Ontario. Rather than party all night and sleep in, he was up bright and early riding with us. He’s that kind of guy.

RALLY NEWS

The Atacama Rally in Chile wraps up today, and so far Monster Energy Honda’s Kevin Benevides is the overall leader. Anything can happen, though, because there have been four leaders in four stages. This is round three of the FIM World Rally Series, and there are no American entries. Ricky Brabec was injured earlier in the year and is out of the series, but he’s riding the Best in the Desert Vegas To Reno, which is happening right now. He will be riding with his Honda teammate Joan Barreda, who won last year’s V2R. We’re also pulling for Dirt Bike test rider Troy Vanscourt, who is the current BITD Pro  number one plate holder and a recent graduate from the University of Redlands. Desert riders can be smart!

HOW ‘BOUT THAT BROC HEPLER?

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TAYLOR ROBERT AT THE CALIENTE H&H

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The most recent round of the Kenda/SRT Hare & Hound Series was a solid win for Taylor Robert. He missed a few rounds and there are no throw-aways for the pros, though, so Gary Sutherlin looks like the man in the points race. He was fourth last weekend behind Robert and Axel Pearson. Ricky Brabec made a comeback after injury as well, finishing fifth.

BUDDS CREEK

 

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