Husqvarna had its 2017 off-road presentation in Jonkoping, Sweden this week, near the birthplace of the Husqvarna brand. Just a few miles away from the event was the original factory, which has a history going back to the mid-1600s. Back then, the Swedish army converted a church into a mill for the production of muskets. The name Huskvarna translates to “House by the mill” which is the name of the present day town where Husqvarna chainsaws and other products are headquartered. Motorcycles were manufactured there from 1903 to 1987, after which the motorcycle division was sold to Cagiva in Italy.
Despite location and ownership changes, there has never been a break in production from 1903 to present, making Husqvarna the oldest continuously manufactured motorcycle brand in the world, beating Harley Davidson by a scant six months.
All that history was a backdrop for the presentation of the off-road line for 2017, which holds some big changes. The Husqvarnas for Europe and those offered in America will be quite different in some cases. The four-stroke off-road bikes for America will be street-legal, and therefore have lights, emission certification and DOT equipment. The ones for Europe would be considered competition bikes in the U.S.. The four-strokes we rode in this presentation were in Euro trim, so presumably the U.S. models will be quieter and have leaner fuel mapping. The two-strokes will be the same in Europe and in the U.S. We’ve repeatedly heard rumors that a fuel-injected version of the two-stroke motor is coming soon, but it will be for certain markets in Europe where two-strokes can be used on the street. That’s not the U.S. Here’s a brief summary of the bikes we tried.
HUSQVARNA TX125 TWO-STROKE: This is the advance scout for the TE150, which is still in the works. The TE150 will, of course, have more displacement, but the real news will be the availability of electric start. So far, purists scoff at the concept of E-start on a little two-stroke, but they once had the same attitude about push-button start on all dirt bikes. If the 150 is nearly as much fun as the 125, it will probably be the favorite bike of the year for more than one of our test riders and staff.
HUSQVARNA TE250 TWO-STROKE: This is the off-road version of the new TC250 motocross two-stroke that we’ve already tested in America. In this version, it’s much softer in every way; power, suspension and intent. It’s still very fast and light feeling. This will be comparable to the KTM 250XC-W, but will have linkage rear suspension. Like all the models in this group, the TE250 will come with a WP XPLOR 48 fork. This is an open-cartridge fork with coil springs and adjustable preload. It’s a very good fork, from what we learned, and will probably be a big improvement over the 4CS of last year.
HUSQVARNA TE300 TWO-STROKE: In the U.S., we’ve already tried the brother to this model; the TX300. That’s a very competition oriented bike. The TE version has softer suspension, the XPLOR 48 fork and lights. This is an amazingly good motorcycle. It’s interesting to note that the TE300 has some of the same minor jetting issues that we reported with the TC300, but those issues all but disappeared when we tired a TE set up with an Akrapovic silencer from Husky’s aftermarket division.
HUSQVARNA FE250: In the US, this will be a street-legal model. The difference between the U.S. version and the Euro one we rode here will be limited to fuel mapping, noise reduction, an evap canister, DOT lights, reflectors and a keyed ignition. Of all those things, the mapping and muffler will be the only things that affect performance. If you want to make your FE into a competition bike, you probably could, but the U.S. market will have another model called the FX250, which is a closed-course off-road bike. It will be stiffer and louder than the FE we rode in Europe and will have the AER48 air fork. For the record, we enjoyed the Euro FE and we’re already thinking about making one of our own. We’re not sure if we’ll start with an FE or an FX.
HUSQVARNA FE350: This is a truly wonderful motorcycle. It’s light, fast and the suspension was perfectly suited to the deep sand in Sweden. All the same factors are in play here; the U.S. version will have an identical chassis to the one we rode, but will have emission and DOT equipment. There will be an FX version without all that, but with more bark, stiffer shock and the air fork.
HUSQVARNA FE450: This is a much milder motorcycle than we expected. The motocross version of this bike, which is presumably similar to the FX version that we will have in the ‘States, is a brute. The FE, on the other hand, has a very smooth power delivery and is not at all intimidating. It comes with a map switch that allows you to alter the power delivery somewhat. The same switch also allows you to engage traction control. This is a computer program that monitors the RPM level and looks for sudden spikes that would indicate wheelspin. When that happens, the output level is muted somewhat. It’s fairly effective, although we didn’t like it in deep sand, where it took away some of the fun factor.
HUSQVARNA FE501: This is a big version of the 450, with only 8.6mm more stroke and different mapping to set it apart. But what a difference that makes! Where the 450 is much milder than we expected, the 501 is a mauler. It’s very unlikely that the U.S. version with all its emission stuff will be this hard-core, but it’s certain that the same monster is lurking inside.
For more info on the 2017 Husqvarna line, check out the print version of Dirt Bike.