Husqvarna chose to reveal their 2020 dirtbike range to the media by taking a bunch of journos off to Lesotho recently. The guys gathered at their Kyalami HQ to board a Lesotho bound minibus. Going along for ZA Bikers was our buddy Francois Marais from Wild West to do the riding and resident super shutterbug Bjorn to capture it all on film. [or digital whatever] As always, the long trip seemed much shorter thanks to the bike banter bandied about. A somewhat travel weary bunch alighted at Ramabanta Lodge in the late afternoon.
After breakfast the next morning there was a bit of drooling over the bikes before the riding commenced. Man! There is little to beat the smell of two-stroke in the morning! Back in the days of carbs and Castrol R, it was a really sweet smell, whereas the current crop of fuel injected Husky strokers burn so clean it is the sound and looks that distinguish them from the 4 strokes. They emit a wisp of smoke during warmup after which they run clean as the proverbial whistle. Technology and modern oils have certainly come a long way. The tinny rasp of two strokes was punctuated by the brapp brapp of performance 4 stroke singles as they left on their 60 odd kay loop.
Those that rode the Roof in the past, or spectated, will be familiar with the terrain around Ramabanta. Located on the banks of the Makhaleng river, the view is spectacular throughout 360 degrees. The route was at an intermediate level with a bit of everything thrown in, even including the famous Baboons Pass. Perfect to assess the quality of the latest crop of Husqvarna’s. So let’s try and give you an overview of the bikes that Francois experienced.
Husqvarna TE 150i
What an incredible little bike this is! To those used to riding 250’s or bigger, there is obviously a relative lack of bottom end. Having said that, it has amazing bottom end for a two-stroke with the capacity of a couple of egg cups. Light and extremely agile, it is a weapon in the right hands. If you have the skill to keep the little mill on the boil it is hugely rewarding to ride. We will address suspension on all of the Huskies separately, as the traits are consistent throughout the range.
Husqvarna TE 250i
Francois was blown away by this bike. “Probably the perfect bike for me” he gushed! Responsive, nimble and with the power of older 300’s, it is insanely good. ‘Nuffsaid!
Husqvarna TE 300i
Always a favourite, the 300 two-stroke is simply better in every which way. Oodles of low down chugging torque, coupled to a screaming top end, all delivered in a somehow more forgiving way. Simply unbelievable in technical terrain.
Husqvarna FE 250
The latest generation Husky 4 strokes have addressed the “stall factor” of earlier offerings from most manufacturers to such a degree that it is no longer an issue. It was almost standard procedure to fit your four-stroke with a Rekluse clutch [at a stiff additional cost] to make it more rideable in technical terrain. The Rekluse clutches, whilst making the bike far more rideable by preventing stalling, were not always bulletproof. The 2020 Husky 250 produces strong, linear power with the ability to chug up and over obstacles without stalling. Four-stroke fundis will love this bike!
Husqvarna FE 350
This bike is just so suited to faster, flowing terrain, where the rider can lean on the extra horsepower. Almost as agile as the 250, it tackles technical with minimal muscling required. Long, power-sapping climbs are shrugged off with disdain. There seems to be no hill too long or too steep that the 350 won’t gobble up in its potent stride.
Unfortunately, time constraints and circumstances didn’t allow seat time on the 450 and 500 four-strokes. Feedback from those that did, confirms what one would have surmised after riding the rest of the range. Brilliant. Torquey and hell for strong, yet tractable and amazingly rideable. Power is linear and predictable, yet building to a massive crescendo for those confident [or brave] enough to explore the boundaries.
Common across the whole range are some traits that really endeared the Huskies to Francois. The motors are all smooth, balanced and quiet. The fuel injection? In one word, Brilliant! So what about the suspension? Well here is the thing. The multi-link rear shock, in standard trim and without any fettling, gets the back wheel to hook up like nothing else.
Significantly better than the standard setup that he has ever experienced on the direct mounted shocks on KTM’s. Front suspension simply works, giving great feedback with resultant confidence in almost all situations. Francois would be happy to race any of the Husqvarnas right out of the crate.
Across the range, seats are 20mm lower. A boon, especially for those of you that are vertically challenged. More so, given the need to dab a foot down given the more technical nature of modern enduros. The four-strokes are both slim and light, almost MX bike like. Riding positions are beyond reproach.
So there you have it guys. Obviously these are just riding impressions gleaned from a days riding in proper dirtbike country, but believe us when we say that these 2020 Husqvarnas do not disappoint! The all-round technical and real-world brilliance of these bikes shines through.
Thanks to Fred and his team for the opportunity to sample your finest in dirt heaven. You can be justifiably proud of your 2020 range.
For more information visit: www.husqvarna-motorcycles.com