April 23 Update: As the discussion continues about the future of Husaberg, there are a few credible tidbits that are emerging. In the big picture, it looks like Husaberg will change its market position just a little. When the new 2009 models came out, KTM was looking to position Husaberg as premium brand, with extra gadgets to make it the luxury KTM. Now it looks like they may be headed the opposite direction, to position the Bergs as a value/ price point brand.
The two stroke line is already that way, using the previous generation frame and suspension. It looks like that has worked well for sales. This will give KTM the opportunity to have more entry level pricing to compete with some of their heavily discounted competition. So I look for all the models to have only the basic trim package similar to the 2012 XCW line: PDS shock, open chamber forks, cast clamps etc.
Sadly, it looks like other differences will be very minimal. No new displacements. Expect 250,350 twin cam four strokes and a 500cc single cam model. No radical changes for the 250/300 two strokes, but maybe an update to 2012 xcw spec. One possible reasoning for this would be for street legal 350 and 500 models. They would not require new homologation as it already exists for the EXC line.
While most of the info will surface here in the next couple of months. The actual press introduction for the US will be in mid summer. I will be on hand to ride the new models for that event.
We are starting to hear some of the rumors surrounding the introductions of the new Bergs. For the coming model year there are looking to be some big changes. Information is scarce at the moment, but here is what the speculation looks like:
The 70 degree motor will be discontinued. It has had some great success, but the introduction of the newer single cam KTM motor has eclipsed it. The KTM motor is far lighter and gives many of the same lightweight feel characteristics that the Husaberg pioneered.
The Husaberg four stroke line up will now feature KTM motors. Expect new models that will use both the 350 twin cam motor and the 450 single cam motor.
Like the current two stroke line, the new bikes will be very similar to the KTM models, with a few tweaks to help distinguish the two brands.
Here are some of my personal speculations:
I would expect larger motor displacements for both motor lines. For example, perhaps the 350 motor will grow to a milder tuned 390. With the single cam look for the 500 (510cc) to become something like a 550. Husaberg has become known for these unique displacements and has had success with larger motors.
Link or PDS? I am stumped on this one. The PDS would seem to fit the Husaberg image the best. But the link may be viewed by KTM as a premium selling point. Early photos of prototype bikes show linkage.
Expect other goodies like closed chamber forks and bolt-ons from the Power Parts catalog to continue the image of a premium brand.
Two years ago when Husaberg introduced the two stroke line in Europe, we all kind of scratched our heads in wonder. Would a re-badged 2010 model KTM really sell? Apparently it did. Every Husaberg racer in the world dropped the four stroke in favor of the new two strokes. Race results showed immediate improvement. It probably extended Mike Lafferty’s career. He started posting his best results in years. That was the writing on the wall for the 70 degree motor concept.
The current generation Husaberg will make its goodbyes, leaving a mixed legacy of performance. It brought a new level of handling to the four stroke market. It’s light weight manners were first in class in some ways. Yet, like many non conventional engine designs it seemed to have one draw back for every advantage. It would flick side to side with ease, but it was still a heavy bike and at times felt like a real handful. The work towards mass centralization came at the expense of having the weight sit higher in the frame.
As has been the fate of Husaberg, the biggest technological contribution was probably to the next generation KTM motor, the new single cam 450/500. The design of the Husaberg was a proving ground for the future. It improved upon the then existing design and laid the course for the future.
It is interesting to realize that is just one more example where a non-conventional motor design will go down as a footnote to history instead of being the focal point where all technology started on a new path. Not to imply that it is bad, rather that it simply brings its own shortcomings also. Park it in the museum next to the Cannondale and a few other examples of innovation that ultimately got left behind. Never the less, we would not be where we are today without the ideas that challenged conventional thought and just for that they all deserve our respect.
These are the photos that are floating around the intertube. I am not sure where they originated, so I do not have a photo credit for them:
Spy photo for possible 2013 Husaberg 350
Will Husabergs become blue KTM’s for next year?
Nothing like a good photographer to make a rider look talented.