This week we finally got a chance to ride the Husqvarna FE350 dual-sport. The introduction of the Honda CRF450L earlier in the year meant we spent a lot of time on larger dual-sport bikes and we forgot how much we love the 350. For us, it’s the perfect size. Big 450s are great if you do a lot of time on the street, but we see a license plate merely as a means to connect trails and occasionally hit gas stations.
This year might be a passing window for the current version of the FE350. The 2019 motocross bikes in the KTM and Husqvarna lines got more rigid frames, while the dual-sport bikes were left with a version of the previous chassis. That’s good, because the older chassis is generally considered more compliant and comfortable. The 350 has a smooth, sweet motor, but it isn’t especially powerful for a variety of reasons. The biggest, of course, is noise. The ride-by sound test enforced by the EPA is tough. The engineers resorted to installing a reed valve in the air boot between the filter and the throttle body–if you look at the part, it appears to be the same as the reed in a Husky TC65 two-stroke. The airbox and muffler are restrictive to deaden noise and even the Continental TKC80 tires were chosen because they’re less noisy than knobbies–even DOT approved ones.
For the sake of emissions, the EFI system is designed to be tamper proof, there is a small SAS air-injection system on the left side of the engine and a charcoal canister in the frame. The motor uses a lower compression ratio (12.3:1 vs 14:1) than the motor in the competition version. The throttle body is 2mm smaller and the cams are different. In the gearbox, first gear is lower, second gear is the same and all the other gears are taller in the dual-sport version, plus there’s a sixth gear. And the FE has engine cases that allow the addition of a kickstart lever if you don’t trust the electric starter. In the suspension department, the FE uses the Xplor 48 coil-spring fork and a WP shock that uses linkage.
If you’re comparing the Husqvarna FE350 to its KTM counterpart, the 350EXC, there are a few big differences worth knowing.
- The KTM uses a no-linkage PDS rear shock.
- The Husky has a composite airbox/subframe that the KTM doesn’t.
- The Husky uses Magura brakes and hydraulics, KTM uses Brembo.
- The bodywork is completely different. Additionally, there are differences in the seat cover, the handlebar and the wheels, but the two bikes have motors that are, essentially, identical.
As we said, the bike isn’t a power house, but it does work well on the trail. Once you install more aggressive tires (and the rim locks that come with the bike) it is an excellent off road bike. We would be far more interested in improving the suspension than doing any more work. The Xplor fork is crazy soft. If you must have more power, it’s a big job. Aside from making the bike non-compliant, it means you have to address everything at once: intake, exhaust and mapping. For a roadmap on how to do that, you can check out this FE350 project bike from last year.
We love the bike as it is, but understand the universal need to take everything to the next level. It’s out nature. Look for a full test of the 2019 FE350 in the May print edition of Dirt Bike.
For some reason, we seem to be in the Husqvarna zone this month. Earlier in the week, we got our first ride on the 2019 1/2 Rockstar Edition. This the Husqvarna’s answer to the KTM Factory Edition that is released every year at the start of the race season. It is, essentially, a preview of the bike that will be released next year as the 2020 Husqvarna FC450 production bike. By the way, you can check out a video of the KTM Factory Edition by clicking here.
The Husky gets some internal updates to the rod, rocker arms , piston and suspension that will very likely be seen on the 2020 model. It also gets a machined triple clamp with a reversible stem that allows changes in offset. The clamps and hubs are anodized in blue. The one item that is exclusive to the Husqvarna Rockstar Edition is the FMF Factory 4.1 titanium slip-on exhaust, as opposed to the Akrapovic on the KTM. The Rockstar team has a number of its own sponsors beyond the energy drink company. Rekluse is noted on the graphics as well as Paradise Chevrolet, Schoshe, RK and Talon. It doesn’t actually have Talon wheels, a Rekluse clutch or an RK chain, but that’s what Jason Anderson uses. Husqvarna does have a number suppliers that are different from KTM’s; most notably the Magura hydraulic clutch and the ProTaper handlebar. Just like the standard model, the Husqvarna Rockstar Edition uses a composite subframe and airbox. The bike has a holeshot device, upgraded DID Dirt Star rims, a ribbed Guts seat cover, a composite skid plate, a floating front rotor and a disc guard. Under it all is the single overhead cam motor that got a more compact head in 2019. Just like the standard model, it has a handlebar switch that lets you choose between two maps, activate launch mode or use traction control. The Rockstar Edition will sell for $11,199.
We have ridden the bike and we love it. No surprise; we loved the 2019 FC450 Production bike. It does have a little more snap in the middle in response to those who insist that the latest generation of the FC is sleepy on the bottom. It’s also much louder than the production bike. The Rockstar Edition should be in dealers right now. For a video of our first ride on the Rockstar Edition, click here. The full story will be in the May, 2019 print edition of Dirt Bike.
HUSKYS, HUSKYS, MORE HUSKYS
Like I said, the garage is full of Husqvarnas right now. As part of a larger story on 300 two-strokes, we have both the TE300i, which Transfer Port Injection and the TX300, which still uses a Mikuni carb. The bikes have differences far beyond fuel delivery. The TE300 has the last generation frame and body work, whereas the TX is more closely related to the current motocross bikes. In fact, the TX has the same chassis as the TC250 motocrosser. The engine is completely different of course. It’s an electric start, six speed with a 5.6mm larger bore.
The TX and the TE have wild differences, but the fuel delivery is the least significant of those. The TE has a milder, smoother power delivery. The TX has a harder hit and a little more peak power, but not that much more. A far bigger difference is weight. The TE is about 15 pounds heavier. Part of that, of course, is the fuel injection system, but when we compared the injected KTM 250XC-W with the non-injected version of the same bike last year, the difference was half that. Apparently, the coil-spring fork, the headlight and the odometer on the TE add up to quite a bit. Look for a full story comparing the difference on about 12 different 300 two-strokes in the May print edition of Dirt Bike.
AMA WESTERN HARE SCRAMBLE VIDEO
KTM 1090 WINNER
The winner of the Ultimate Adventure Package was chosen on Facebook Live yesterday. RideBDR.com is happy to announce that Michael Tune of Fayetteville, AR is the winner of this Ultimate Adventure Package. Michael has ridden both COBDR and UTBDR twice, and last year rode the MABDR. He was a BDR fan and supporter prior to entering into the drawing two weeks ago. Michael takes home a well deserved prize! Congratulations to Michael, and huge thanks to the BDR community for making this the most successful fundraising campaign in the BDR history! At the upcoming BDR SoCal Adventure Fundraiser Ride in Borrego Springs, CA on March 28-31, BDR will discuss its plans for funding Access, Preservation, and Safety programs and initiatives to be delivered by BDR and our partner organizations, as well as preview new BDR routes currently in development. We will provide more information and a report to the community following the Fundraiser Ride.
SIX HOUR JR CHALLENGE
Zipty Racing is hosting the Jr. 6 Hour Challenge for the kids March 10th, at Glen Helen Raceway. They appreciate industry support during the 24 Hour race and this year are looking forward to the 6/10 & 24 hour Challenge again. They are looking for sponsors to provide support and Swag for the Kids.
Contact Ty Davis at