HUSQVARNA 570: MARCH 2001
But by the time 2001 came around, you?d really lose it. Both George and the 2001 Husky 570 look, well, different. It?s a mind-bending thought, but yes, Husqvarna can change. The 2001 Husky four-stroke MXer has made more progress between 2000 and 2001 than it did in the previous 10 years. It?s about time. With four-strokes advancing every day, it was a case of move or die.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME
Then the Italians took over and the Husky 510 became a 610 which was bigger, heavier and more four-stroke-like. It was lumped into the XR600 category and there it stayed for years. Husqvarna struggled as a company and wasn?t even imported a couple of years.
The reasons are obvious. If you were to design a new four-stroke from the ground up, what would you do differently? The original Husky motor was so far ahead of its time that it virtually was a 2000-era four-stroke. That motor had potential to be lighter and more powerful than a YZ motor. For 2001, Husqvarna built a new crank that shaved off considerable mass, and changed the cam and ignition mapping to give the bike more snap. Even though the model is now called a 570, the bore and stroke are unchanged. The 610 always measured 577cc. The bosses probably thought about making it into a 550 so that it would qualify for U.S. Nationals, but then the word came down that the rules were changing?the limit for a four-stroke in the 250 class would be lowered to 450 for 2001. KTM will have to scramble to come up with some new displacement for its race effort.
The engine cases are still rather long, which forces Husky to stick with the same frame design?an old single-backbone configuration which is about as diametrically opposed to a perimeter frame as possible. But again, there?s nothing inherently wrong with that design. The engineers just changed the steering geometry to bring it up to date and gave it a new shorter, lighter swingarm. A huge chunk of the investment went into plastic. The 570 has a new tank, seat, airbox and number plates. That?s incredibly expensive, which is why we are guessing that this bike will be around for some time to come. It was necessary, though, to bring the bike into the 21st century. There?s no way that ?80s ergonomics work in today?s market.
Our test bike came to us stock, with one exception. It already had a Pro Circuit T-4 stainless exhaust in place. We aren?t sure what that says about the stock exhaust (well, we have a good idea). Other than that, we used stock jetting, stock gearing and stock fork and shock springs throughout the test.
Well, if it?s a really fast track, you might use three gears. And if you go trail riding, you could use five or even six, like the cross-country version has. But for motocross on a tight track, it doesn?t take very much skill to use second or third for the entire moto. It does, however, take some skill to hold on. This is an Open-class motocross bike. And there?s a reason why the Open class is so small these days. This much power is hard to handle.
If you?ve ridden a 500cc two-stroke around a track lately, you know what we are talking about. There?s an adjustment period where your knuckles turn white, your eyes water up and you think there?s no possible way that you can take charge of this beast. But eventually, you get the hang of it. The Husky has much more throttle response and low-end snap than a 500cc two-stroke, although it might not have as much in the upper middle. Most of that snap is probably the result of the lighter crank, but still, the Husky is no more likely to stall than a YZ426 or a KTM.
EAT YOUR WHEATIES
A big factor making the 570 more manageable is the new body work. What a relief! You can actually move around on the bike. In the old days, the dip in the Husky?s seat kept you locked in the middle of this enormous boat of a motorcycle. The new Husky doesn?t feel like a big steamship any more?maybe just a medium size tug boat. Throwing the Husky into a turn takes a little bit of strength. Okay, a lot of strength. But not to sound like a broken record, it?s a virtual scalpel in the turns compared to the old Husky.
The rear is busy too, but in a different way. The standard settings (14 low-speed, 1-1/2 high-speed, 17 rebound) seem a little underdamped on the track. Don?t give it the in-the-pits test by just pushing down on the seat and watching it return. That?s misleading. The bike seems overdamped, if anything. By the time you have the low-speed on nine and the rebound on 12, the shock feels like it?s filled with syrup in the pits, but works fine on the track. Working with the Sachs shock is odd, but eventually we were able to get it right on the money. Don?t be afraid to try strange settings that wouldn?t work on other bikes.
On the other hand, Husky is the only company that really gives you the best of both worlds. Euro bikes have expensive rims, levers, handlebars and sprockets, but are usually roughly made with crusty forgings and leaky gaskets. Japanese bikes are cleanly made and well designed but have throw-away graphics and cheap components. Huskys have all the expensive parts, plus you would swear that the engine castings came from Japan. The only non-Euro item is the cable-pull clutch. But the clutch pull is actually lighter than that of KTM?s hydraulic clutch.
Right now, the four-stroke motocross world is divided. Yamaha and KTM are in a category by themselves as four-strokes that two-stroke guys can love. Then there are others like VOR and Husaberg, which are a little rougher and more old world. The Husky falls evenly between the two camps. We don?t think that hordes of Yamaha riders will run feverishly toward Husky dealers. But there might be handful out there who want more power and are willing to build bigger muscles in exchange. The Husqvarna is for them.