For a variety of reasons, the opportunities to spend extended time on two strokes seems to be few and far between. The 250 Husky came to us late in the season, but that also meant that it got to stay around longer too. I guess it is true what they say, patience has its virtues.
For testing I hauled the TE around to every place that I normally ride. It saw all my favorite local spots – mountains, vet moto tracks and thanks to the hook up from our friends at Just Gas Tanks, the 4.1 gallon Acerbis tank let us even wander around Baja. In total we covered about 600 miles on the Husky without as much as a hiccup.
Much of what we see here on the 2105 model are carry over components, some going back to Husaberg and obviously there is the KTM connection. Nevertheless, this exact collection of parts is unique. If you want a 4CS fork, linkage and machined triple clamps on a true enduro bike, this is the only place to find it.
As much of this is already familiar territory, I want to cover some of the high points and things I learned from our time on the 250.
The 250 motor has come a long ways since I last spent a season racing one in 2007. It has a much broader spread of power and more top end. The gap between 250 and 300 motors seems to have narrowed, with the 250 coming much closer in all around power and in some ways easier to use. Husky claims that new ignition and powervalve settings have optimized power delivery. Overall, it just seems easier to ride and more fun.
As it has always been, the 250 lacks a bit of grunt right off the bottom compared to a 300, but makes up for it by revving quicker and being easier to to manage for aggressive riding. On the track this was most noticeable. Wide open throttle and a little clutch work keep the 250 singing right along. The general power character is mild, but wakes up quick with an aggressive throttle hand.
I guess it would be easy to say that this is simply what we expect from a two stroke motor. But I spent a little time riding the motocross version TC250 earlier this year. Frankly, I just could not find a rhythm to it. So I have a bit of extra appreciation for the TE.
On the trail, the same feel carries on. It is happy to just chug along at a mild pace. If you want to add some spice, just shift down and give it more juice. Throttle control never seems to be an issue. It is always easy to manage, regardless of the pace you choose. Only on the very bottom do you perhaps miss the torque of the bigger 300.
The six speed transmission was great for everything we did, including Baja. The stock gearing was a 13/50 combination. I changed it to 14/48 for dual sport style riding. If anything it really did not need to be quite that tall. At 55 mph, it was barely on to the main jet. Sixth gear did not see that much use.
The DDS clutch remains a strong point for me. I love the light pull and the feel is good for me. I am not super hard on clutches, but I don’t imagine the average rider is either. I have never had an issue with this system.
My first impression on the TE enduro suspension is that was way too soft. But riding time dispelled that notion. This a pure enduro set up, soft and very compliant. It may be the most plush bike I have ever ridden. But there is also enough suspension muscle to allow the Husky to be pushed harder than expected. It will bottom, but not as easily as expected.
This is the best version of the WP 4CS fork that I have tested. I added a few clicks of compression and one of rebound. There are never any harsh spikes. On the track I had to be a bit careful not to over jump or hit anything wrong. I was getting every inch of travel out of the light springs.
On one test day I had a new 2015 KTM 450xc-w along too. It was interesting to note that I could identify about 3 spots on the track where the 4CS fork was working better than the open chamber fork on the 450. It is not a perfect comparison as the models are quite different in weight and set up. But, as I am a die hard open chamber fork lover, it was interesting to see specific situations where the 4CS handled better.
My track time has been limited lately so I was kind of rusty at first. It was easier for me go figure out the track and get up to speed on the 450. This is due to the broader power and the four strokes are sprung heavier in general, so the bike is more forgiving all around. But once up to speed I was able to ride a bit faster on the 250. The precise handing and light weight make it much more fun on the track.
On the trail, the nastier the conditions the more the TE shines. It will glide through a rock field as if it were a groomed track. The linkage shock is super smooth and the bike just has a really nice overall balance. Both ends work in unison and feel like a well sorted package.
Most of the chassis remains the same as last year. The seat, air box and composite subframe are similar. One screw has been added to the airbox to improve the fit to the subframe. I am still not a fan of the set up. The two bolt seat is cumbersome and not very comfortable. The airbox cover is a trick to remove and can break if handled with too much force. But I guess none of this is a deal breaker, I could learn to live with it.
Overall ergonomics are good. For my six foot height I typically put the bars in the forward mounts. For extended time I like a bit taller seat and lower pegs too.
I love the Domino dual compound grips, they are one of my favorites and last a long time. The stock Dunlop AT81 tires work pretty well. They are great on the track. For western open terrain they are okay, not the very best, but they wear well and are neutral handling.
The rest of the chassis is pretty much the standard from Austria that we all know so well. We have been subtly encouraged not to make references to the orange bikes. Husky wants us to know that they really are different. Well, I am sure that somewhere not too far down the road that will really be true. Suffice it to say that things like brakes, bars, levers, wheels, handguards and such are all those that we already know and appreciate.
I really like the Trail Tech instrument set up. It is easy to read and practical. I only wish that it had the grey on white version of the display that Beta uses, even easier to read at speed.
Baja Trail Set Up
As I knew I was only going to get one Baja trip in on the 250, I just did the minimum mods to make it ready for long mileage days. The 4.1 gallon Acerbis tank was an easy install. It just required a small modification to the front of the seat to fit. This is the KTM tank. I would have preferred a slightly smaller 13 litre tank. But there are none available for the Husky’s yet. Again the KTM tank would fit, but it only comes in orange.
The new mx style Seat Concepts seat added some comfort. This is smaller than their traditional seats. I think for Baja or dual sport riding I would choose their larger seat for a bit more height and comfort.
Other than the gearing change, nothing else was needed for a 4 day trek. The smooth ride and tall gearing made the the 250 better than expected for long days. Mixing gas was a bit of a challenge, mostly because the style of tank makes it difficult to get everything mixed properly at the pump. The oil wants to fall to one side of the tank or the other. The trick was to calculate about how much oil would be required before pumping, then let the gas do the mixing as it is pumped in.
We used the Husky as a platform to test the Technomousse foam inserts. But they didn’t quite live up to expectations. More on that subject to follow.
As if I really needed to add my voice on the subject: two strokes are alive and well. No matter how good the latest lighter and faster four strokes are, they just are not the same. There is an element of fun that cannot be equaled anywhere else. As for the Husky, it is a very good package. The suspension is a bit soft, but quite versatile and incredibly plush.
On the track the chassis was super confidence inspiring. As hard as I could push it, it refused to do anything bad. The shock is very consistent. Getting out of shape with the throttle or body position has little negative affect. On a PDS bike, those are always concerns. The chassis loves to carve corners on the front wheel.
That is part of the value of track testing, finding one little rut or bump and trying various approaches over and over to see the result. Or simply trying to do the same thing faster and faster to find a limit. Our other testers commented about how quick they felt at home on the TE, how confidence inspiring it was.
There you go, I am a believer. It is not that I ever lost my faith, I just don’t get the chance to show it all that often. No word yet on what 2016 Husqvarna models will bring us. I think we could see new body work and cosmetics, but major changes to the two strokes may be another year or so away.
2015 Husqvarna TE250 Specifications