PROJECT: HUSQVARNA 701 ENDURO

Products that add to the journey

For those of you who remember reading about the Husqvarna 701 Enduro in the May 2020 issue of Dirt Bike magazine, there were big plans to turn that bike into a legitimate adventure/exploration bike . Over the last few months, parts were added to John “Bum” Bumgarner’s 701 Enduro to make that plan come to fruition. Here’s a list of the various parts picked and how they polished the adventure capabilities of the Husky 701 Enduro machine.

COMFORT FIRST
There is no doubt that rider comfort is at the top on the list of important upgrades. To that end, we first looked for a quality saddle, aka “monkey-butt prevention.” The stock seat on the 701 sure looks great sitting in the dealer’s showroom, but feels like you’re planted on an Olympic balance beam within an hour of riding. We contacted Seat Concepts and ordered its “comfort” seat with the white/yellow/blue cover. Yes, the color choice isn’t the easiest to keep clean, but it sure looks great on the bike. The proprietary seat foam and wide portion at the midpoint maintain the stock contour of the front while offering greater comfort and support as you move back on the seat. We would rate this as one of the best single upgrades anyone can make to improve comfort on the 701. We highly recommend checking out Seat Concepts’ website, as the company offers several different options for this bike.

Next on the must-have list was Fasst Co. Flexx handlebars and Simple Solution handguards with threaded anti-vibration inserts. Bum has been a huge fan of these bars for at least 15 years. The different elastomers allow you to control the amount of compression and rebound flex in the movement of the bars, which means less shock being transmitted to your hands and arms. The anti-vibration inserts work well for those long highway stints by canceling out the high-frequency buzz in the grips. Bum chose the 14-degree Adventure bend, so there was enough real estate to mount the various switches that Husky uses.

MANNERS, GRIP & PROTECTION
The stock suspension is pretty good on the Husqvarna 701 once you dial it in. The only real problem is the inability to easily add preload to the shock to compensate for the added load of luggage. When fully laden, the rear squats, rakes out the forks and causes the front end to twitch at high speed. The simple solution was to bolt on our trusty GPR4 steering stabilizer. The large damper adjustment dial makes it easy to dial in the exact amount of control needed based on luggage load, trail conditions and speed. To say we’re fans would be an understatement. This is the third bike this stabilizer has been used on, as the owner refuses to sell the damper when the machine goes on the market. The sub-mount design only raises the bars an inch with its simple bolt-on clamp. Bum stretches out to 6 feet and found the OEM bar clamps a little on the low side while standing, so that extra inch of height made a huge difference in comfort on long rides.

Making the 701 more comfortable was high on the priority list. Next came storage that didn’t offend the machine’s stellar
handling traits.

We also added Fasst Company Impact Adventure pegs. The 112mm-long by 60mm-wide platform with hard-anodized cleats dramatically improved grip and reduced fatigue in our feet and ankles. The cleat is isolated from touching metal to metal, with base elastomers on the bottom and cup elastomers on top, reducing vibration and impact pressure to the feet.

Any multi-day adventure ride is going to require the ability to carry some type of luggage. After spending some time searching the internet, Bum chose Australian Outback Motortek pannier racks with the standard frame. The hoops’ external dimensions are 350mm (wide) x 250mm (height) (13.7 x 9.8 inches), and they are made from 18mm-diameter tubing, making them sturdy while being compatible with the majority of panniers on the market. While ordering from the U.S. importer, the owner added a set of crash bars to protect the large radiator from the inevitable tip-over.

Racks, soft luggage and an additional fuel can are necessary for the long haul ADV pilot.

Protection for the underbelly was handled with a Vanasche Motorsports Ultimate UHMW skid plate. The skid plate is thermo-formed from 3/8-inch-thick UHMW plastic that contours to the shape of the engine. It wraps high around the clutch and ignition covers of the engine and runs all the way back to protect the shock linkage. Being quieter and slipperier than steel or aluminum is another plus. This skid plate is more than up to the task of keeping the engine safe.

Additional storage was added by mounting a Nomadic Racks tail rack. The sweet thing about this rack is that it bolts directly to the pannier racks without any modifications. Simply choose the correct bolt sleeves to match the rack height and secure the bolts. The Nomadic rack is pre-drilled for a Rotopax mount, although new holes were drilled to locate the mount a little farther back, leaving more room for his luggage bag. This is the third rack Bum has ordered from this company, and he’s never had an issue with fit.

When it comes to adventure riding, fuel range is crucial. The Husky 701 Enduro isn’t exactly known as the long-range king with its mid-sized 3.4-gallon fuel tank. Bum says he averages 50-plus-miles per gallon, depending on riding conditions and speed, which equates to less than 175 miles on a tank of fuel. Mounting a 1-gallon Rotopax fuel can on the rear rack provides long-range peace of mind.

The Wolfman Rocky Mountain Expedition saddle bags and Expedition duffel bag have been called back into service on yet another one of Bum’s adventure bikes. With a couple thousand miles of use, they’re showing little signs of wear other than one strap beginning to fray. Bum tossed on a Wolfman Enduro tank bag for a convenient place to carry small items, such as a cell phone, wallet and snacks. The small bag is a boon, because it doesn’t interfere with the turning radius of the bars.

The OEM mirrors may work great for street riding, but are a poor design for any dirt work. A Doubletake Enduro mirror was clamped onto the left side, with one of its Trail mirrors resting on the throttle side. The Enduro mirror is as large as the OEM unit with the advantage of folding down out of the way for off-road use. Having the tiny Trail Mirror zip-tied to the throttle side means you can see what’s going on behind you when the main mirror is folded down.

The Husky 701 comes with lots of electronic rider aids, switchable ABS being one. It offers a highway setting that’s the most aggressive, plus an off-road setting that’s less intense. There’s also an off setting that requires turning the ignition off to rest one of the other two options. Husqvarna offers a dongle that allows two totally different settings. Mode 1, ABS active on the front wheel only; mode 2, ABS off on both wheels. The advantage with this option is the ability to switch ABS off and on without having to turn the ignition off. ABS 1 is especially nice with a bike hauling 25 pounds of gear on the tail, because locking up the front brake can make for an ugly situation.

A Vanasche Motorsports Ultimate UHMW Skid Plate is thermo formed from 3/8” thick UHMW plastic that contours to the shape of the engine and runs all the way back to protect the shock linkage.

Going cheap on one item, he found a set of LED mini driving lights on Amazon. They work exceptionally well, as the OEM headlight isn’t the brightest one out there. Discovering two fused, blank power plugs behind the headlight made life easy when it came time to add power to the LED lights and a GoPro camera. Power was pulled directly from the battery for a TomTom GPS. A Battery Tender was added to the battery, just in case the machine sat for a while. A trick that Bum learned from Tom Webb years ago is to wrap cloth tape around the clutch and brake levers to keep the cold away from your fingers and improve grip in wet conditions.

Bum knew that adding a rally-style tower is extremely popular, but he didn’t want to deal with the bad helmet wind buffeting that so many riders experience. Bum also rides his bike many times without luggage and prefers not having bodywork in front of him. Also, they are very expensive with not enough of a benefit. Finally, he added a pair of heated grips and a double Rotopax bracket so he could easily carry a water container.

With the mods, Bum says that his quarrel with the comfort has been dealt with. The amount of luggage space was increased, and the additional protection gives him solace when he goes exploring in hostile terrain. 

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