The 2024 test bikes are starting to roll in. Last week we got ahold of the Husqvarna TE150, which is all-new this year. It has a new chassis, new motor, new electronic powervalve and a new throttle body fuel injection system. If you look back at the history of this bike, it’s clear that Husqvarna has been adjusting its purpose somewhat. The first Husky 150 in 2017 was a carbureted two-stroke with a kickstarter and an electric starter that arrived right at the end of the 200cc two-stroke era in the U.S. The Kawasaki KDX200 had been gone for a long time and the KTM 200XC-W had only recently been discontinued. The 150 wasn’t necessarily a good replacement for a 200; it was faster, but didn’t have the low end or the smooth power delivery. It had a pretty good motor for racing. With a little suspension work it was even at home on a motocross course. The next version had transfer port injection in 2020. That was tamed down a little on top, but it still didn’t have the low-end power that those old 200 fans were looking for. Now, with the new TBI motor it’s a more legitimate offering for those guys.
This motor is based loosely on the Husky TC125 motocross bike that arrived last year. It might be the most computerized dirt bike on the market. By that, we mean that the powervalve, the spark advance and the fuel delivery are all tied to rpm and throttle opening in a complex matrix of programming. When you add in input from sensors for temperature, gear positions and air density, it probably has more megabytes of programming than anything on Apollo 11. The cylinder, head and displacement are different from the TC125 to give it an off-road powerband, and the six-speed gearbox has different gear ratios.
The chassis is new too and the big news is the new WP Xact coil-spring fork, replacing the open-cartridge Xplor fork on last year’s TE150. Obviously, the new fork is structurally different from the Xact air fork not only because it has a spring but because oof its off-road valving, but it is still a closed-cartridge design. In the rear, the bike has linkage connected to an Xplor shock, which is slightly less sophisticated than the one on the TC125. The spring rates are the same on both bikes. For brakes and hydraulics, the TX uses Braktec components. Of course, the TE also has a larger fuel tank, a headlight, a kickstand and an 18-inch rear wheel. All that makes it a bit heavier than the typical 125 two-stroke. It’s 220 pounds without fuel. It’s also considerably more expensive than a 125 two-stroke. The price is $10,199.
On the trail, though, this bike isn’t really a 125. It has amazing pulling power down low. You can drag it down to idle and open the throttle without any hesitation whatsoever. Even on rocky uphill trails you learn to trust it. You don’t have to cover the clutch and It won’t stall. In that respect it truly is a miniature 300 two-stroke. It doesn’t have the sheer pulling power of a bigger bike, but the mannerisms are pretty much the same. The meat of the power hits fairly hard, more or less like a 125, but when it’s done it’s done. The new TBI 150 might rev a little higher than the transfer port injection version, but it’s still no screamer. That’s a bummer if you think you’re going to take the bike on a motocross course like the old carbureted version. It doesn’t have the peak power or the revs to make that a good fit. The Husky does have a map switch like the other new generation Husky two-strokes, but it serves a different purpose. On the TX300 and the TC250, the green map has a much harder hit and more power. The green map on this bike just makes the motor slightly richer, which is useful in sand and any conditions where the motor is under a big load.
As far as suspension goes, we love it. The fork is a big upgrade over the previous version and we might even like it better than the Xact air fork. The new TE150 isn’t nearly as soft as the old version and it’s also well balanced for aggressive off-road riding with an intermediate or expert rider who weighs over 150 pounds. If you’re a younger rider just transitioning to a bigger bike, it might be a little stiff. That brings up the question: who is this bike for? The bottom line is that it’s a great general purpose off-road bike for everyone. Older riders tend to go for big bikes, whereas this would be a much better choice for 90 percent of the trails they ride. It’s agile and easy to ride and you always feel like it’s helping you become a better rider. The places it doesn’t like are wide open spaces and steep hills. 300s and 450s are hard to beat in those situations. Look for a full test in the November 2023 print edition of Dirt Bike, which you can still find on your newsstands.
NEXT UP: KTM 300SX
We also have a KTM 300SX in the garage, which is next up for testing. it’s interesting that people say that modern 450s are too powerful for the average rider, but we never said that about 250cc two-strokes back in the day. Now, it seems that 250cc two-strokes are far more difficult to ride than 450s. The 300SX is probably easier to ride than a well-built 250cc two-stroke–but only in its mildest configuration. There’s a map switch on the left side of the handlebar that completely changes the bike’s personality. We will get more into that next week, and look for an upcoming video on Dirt Bike‘s Youtube channel.
MOTOCROSS IS LIVE AGAIN!
Barcia’s Back! Jett might clinch! Deegan might be Deegan! There’s a lot going on this weekend when the 2023 Pro Motocross Championship visits Central New York for Round 9 as Unadilla MX hosts the Honda Unadilla National this Saturday, August 12. Live, uninterrupted moto coverage of the entire event will stream on Peacock beginning at 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET, while international coverage can be seen exclusively through SuperMotocross Video Pass. Additionally, a special live network television showcase of the second motos will air on NBC, featuring uninterrupted coverage of the on-track action for final 450 Class and 250 Class races beginning at 12 p.m. PT / 3 p.m. ET. An adjustment to the race order at Unadilla will see the 450 class take to the track first, followed by the 250 class. This is one of the longest running National motocross venues. Here’s what the history book says:
RANDOM HARD-DRIVE SEARCH
Remember when Travis Pastrana was a motocross/supercross star? He won the 125 National Championship in 2000 and the 125 east Supercross title in 2001, but then a series of injuries took him out of contention. Then, of course, he really took off, moving from freestyle to NASCAR and Rally car and pretty much having success at everything. I still can’t help but wonder what might have happened if he stuck with motocross. One thing’s sure: he wouldn’t have made as much.
KAWASAKI TURNS 70
In September of 2023, Kawasaki Motors celebrates its 70th anniversary of making motorcycles, first making its forays into the motorcycle business in 1953. After the end of World War II, Kawasaki produced motorcycle engines under the name of “Kawasaki Machine Works.” Today, Kawasaki motorcycles are sold in more than 90 countries and regions.
To commemorate Kawasaki Motorcycles’ 70-year anniversary, a special exhibition will be held at Kawasaki USA Heritage Hall in Foothill Ranch, California as well as Kawasaki Good Times World in Kobe, Japan starting in September 2023. The display will focus on the history of the motorcycle business in the U.S. market, which marked a major turning point in Kawasaki’s overseas strategy. It will be the first in a series of events to commemorate this special anniversary.
See you next week!