The 2017 Husqvarna range was launched to the Australian motorcycle press in the picturesque hills behind Lithgow, NSW. During a full day of riding we were able to sample the two-stroke TE 250 and 300 (here) and the four-stroke FE 250 (here), 350, 450 and 501.
Unfortunately an injury put me out of testing the 501 but I did spend plenty of time on the 250, 350 and 450. Here is my Husqvarna FE 350 review.
The FE 350 has been refined for 2017 and you can read about the detailed changes that Husqvarna engineers made by reading the technical breakouts below. The differences between the 250 and the 350 are none in terms of the chassis aside from suspension settings.
Weight is up 1kg only and the rest of the changes are in the engine. More than just a bigger bore or longer stroke, the FE 350 engine also has larger intake and exhaust valves, different camshafts, revised gearbox ratios aside from sixth gear, which it shares with the 250 (the rest are taller), and exhaust tuning and ignition and fuel mapping to suit.
Compression is a few points below the 250 and peak rpm is 800 less at 12,000. The result is a bike with 450 power-to-weight and a 250 user-friendly nature. The engine also has the same revised shaft layouts for optimised mass centralisation and a shorter stroke for a more responsive engine, along with engine management refinements including gear specific mapping, rider switcheable maps and even a basic traction control system..
The chassis has been tweaked with some frame flex changes for feel and grip, the suspension has been upgraded at both ends, the bodywork and ergonomics are revised to give a better ride experience.
2017 Husqvarna FE 350: The Ride
After warming up to the four-strokes on the brilliant FE 250, straight after having sampled the two-stroke TE 250 and TE 350, it was my time to grab a 350 and have a few rides on the enduro loop we were using, which was by no means hard enduro material but it was a good loop for trying the bikes in various situations and suited me being an off road weekend warrior rather than a gun rider.
After the 250, I knew I would like the 350. I had made my mind up before I even started the bike via the easy electric start that if it had the longer gears and torque I assumed it would, plus handled like the 250, which it should on paper, then it would be the perfect bike for me. I loved the 250 but it was a busier ride, with a peaky engine and 12,800rpm rev ceiling.
Well, I can say that for once I was right. The FE 350 was everything I thought it would be and more. The more bit being that it was bloody fast up top – 450 fast…
To sit on the bike and ride from an ergonomic point of view it feels exactly like the 250, as it is, however the engine is a beauty. It is that bit more flexible and forgiving and despite the bike only being 1kg more in dry weight than the 250, the 350 feels a bit more planted and more tractable, doubtless due to the increase in torque and the reciprocating mass and secondary torque all having an effect on the feel of the bike. I really liked it, it suited my level of experience off road, the trail rider, yet the bike is clearly a top tool for the experienced enduro ace. It has it all.
Second and third gears are the happy place and it pulls cleanly and smoothly off the bottom, the traction control no doubt helping the Metzeler hook up and drive. Like on the 250, I can’t say I really felt the TC working, not like I do on tarmac, but I’m sure it was helping.
The faster guys were feeling it more. Having the power and throttle response to be able to easily loft the wheel over logs or other obstacles was great, and being able to be lazy with the gears and take advantage of the broad power curve and clean fuelling meant that the bike was not tiring to ride and with fewer gear changes and torque on tap, that left me more room in the old brain to concentrate on where I was going and that made the ride enjoyable as well as more flowing for me.
The 350 has a mega top-end and instant throttle response but that snappy edge that the 450s have is softer and that makes the bike much more controllable. I reckon the average rider could go faster on the 350 than on the 450, for longer periods of time. Don’t get me wrong, this engine is still insanely, but it is less likely to get you in trouble than the 450.
Like on the 250, gear changes were smooth and positive. Downshifting back through the gears is also smooth and there is no issue with the rear stability. The engine braking that is on hand is useful yet the clutch does a good job of modulating slip and is also responsive at the lever so a bit of manual slip while backshifting into corners or down hills is instant and easy.
I tried both the maps and preferred the softer map for me, as the other map was a little snappy off closed throttle and generally off the bottom and I found myself running off line a fair bit when I was a bit tired. It is nice to have both options there, that is for sure.
Handling-wise my comments mirror those of my 250 review really, aside from that extra tractability and planted feel mentioned above, which may be crank inertia or similar. Straight from my 250 review, as they are the same chassis, In all situations from standing single trail to the faster grass track section, standing downhill, sitting climbing uphill, mud etc I felt comfortable and natural on the bike. All of the controls in the standard position worked for me but I would like the ‘bars higher particularly with the high footpegs fitted.
The steering of the FE 350 is quick but accurate and once in a turn it remains on line even over bumps and undulations, which are dealt with by the new suspension.
The forks on the 250 were a bit soft for my fat ass and braking hard, even if I grabbed the lever gently, they would dive through the stroke quite quickly but that is an easy adjustment I did not do as I ride the bikes standard generally at launches. However, the 350 had more support and I am guessing the bike had been adjusted by another journalist before I rode it. It was planted and solid and confidence-inspiring.
The shock performed well with good control both ways. Both ends are top quality and that can be felt immediately, as can the quality of the brake set-up.
I could not fault the FE 350 brakes, they had great initial bite – just right not too aggressive but not too wooden, as well as loads of power for modulating into turn.
The rear brake was also easy to use the way I wanted to and even though I was struggling with my brand new boots.
What I liked about the FE 350 was that it worked well over the entire loop, whether on the sharp bumps of the rocky single trail section, the muddy open switchbacks with undulations, the grasstack section with almost no bumps or the climb up the hill with a mix, the overall damping control meant the Metzeler Six Days tyres remained on terra firma at all times.
Before you decide on a 450 or bigger have a spin on a 350. It has the same punch and speed as a 450 did a few years ago according to the gun off road journo’s that were present. It is smooth, easy enough to ride and lightweight. Worth a try for sure…
2017 Husqvarna FE Enduro Range Chassis
Following a similar geometry to the 2016 Husqvarna enduro models, the 2017 frames feature a new design and flex characteristics. The 6mm wider and 2mm lower steel tubes offer 20 per cent higher torsional rigidity for improved stability and agility, while longitudinal stiffness is reduced by 30 per cent for better bump absorption and suspension functionality.
New laterally mounted head-stays increase handling agility while reducing vibration. As standard the frames are fitted with protectors and a new engine guard. Weight is reduced by 0.6kg.
The hollow, cast aluminium swingarm is designed to offer optimum stiffness and reliability at the minimum possible weight. Husqvarna engineers have machined the rear axle in order to allow for the chain adjuster markings to be seen from above for easy maintenance.
The black-anodised CNC machined triple-clamps offer an offset of 22mm. They are expertly crafted using superior techniques and materials to provide high levels of quality and reliability. A two-way handlebar adjustment also comes as standard and allows for customised ergonomics.
Developed by WP Performance Systems specifically for enduro riding, the WP Xplor 48 forks are a completely new feature in the MY17 Husqvarna enduros. They feature an open cartridge layout with a spring in each leg and split damping functions. Compression is adjusted from the left side and rebound on the right via easily reachable clickers situated on the top of the tubes. A standard pre-load adjuster allows for easy pre-load adjustment without the use of tools.
The composite sub-frame showcases pioneering technology and innovation. Featuring a three-piece construction, the composite material is made up of 30 per cent carbon-fibre. Featuring carefully calculated rigidity, the sub-frame enhances overall ergonomics. Weighing only 1.4kg, it is 1kg lighter that the previous design.
All models feature a new, lightweight fuel tank made of translucent plastic so the fuel level can be checked quickly and easily. The capacity varies between the 2-strokes (10L) and the four-strokes (8.5L). All fuel tanks feature a quick release fuel cap for quick refueling, while four-stroke models are fitted with an integrated fuel pump and fuel level sensor.
The new WP DCC linkage shock weighs only 3.7kg and is 0.36kg lighter than the previous version. A pressure balancer inside the shock improves damping resulting in greater rider comfort and handling. The corrugated outer contour of the reservoir increases cooling. The component is also fully adjustable and matched to a linkage system with a specific geometry to deliver the best possible traction and bump absorption.
The ODI lock-on grip on the left side does not require gluing, while on the right, the vulcanised grip features an integrated throttle mechanism. The assembly has easy free-play adjustment and, by changing a cam, throttle progression can be altered on all four-strokes.
New bodywork and graphics are featured on the 2017 enduro models. Offering completely new ergonomics, the bodywork enhances control and comfort allowing the rider to perform at their best for longer periods of time. The seat has a low profile design and a new high grip seat cover, which keeps riders planted under hard acceleration or in slippery conditions.
The radiators are by WP Performance Systems using high strength aluminium. CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) is utilized to channel air through the radiators more efficiently and provide optimal cooling in all conditions. The cooling system is integrated into the frame increasing heat dissipation by channeling coolant through the frame while eliminating the need for additional hoses.
Additionally, the radiator protectors do not only protect against flying debris but also act as a brace divert any energy from an impact around the radiator and into the frame. Cooling fans are fitted on all four-stroke models standard.
The new airbox is designed with precisely positioned inlet ducts aimed at preventing air deformation and ensuring maximum airflow and protection. The airfilter is accessible without tools. Easy maintenance is guaranteed by the Twin Air airfilter and filter cage design that features a simple fail proof mounting system for safe and accurate filter installation.
Featuring an enduro-specific design the new self-cleaning footpeg mounts prevent the build-up of dirt collected in deep ruts or muddy terrain. The footpegs are also positioned 6mm higher than in Husqvarna’s motocross models to further increase ground clearance over rocks and deep ruts.
High quality Brembo calipers and controls combined with GSK rotors deliver superior stopping power. The rear brake caliper feature a 24mm piston (26mm on previous models). A 10mm longer rear brake lever provides better modulation and feeling while braking.
The 2017 enduro range features new Metzeler MCE 6 Days Extreme tyres.
2017 Husqvarna FE 250 Engine
The 2017 Husqvarna FE 350 engine is designed to be more powerful, lighter and more compact than the previous model – as are the 250, 450 and 501 variants of the same engine.
The new engine is 20mm shorter and 700 grams lighter than the 2016 engine, weighing in at 28.5kg including starter motor. Power delivery has been refined throughout the 12,000rpm range.
The 88mm cylinder has a CP forged piston of box type, and a compression ratio of 12.3:1.
The head has been revised with new polished camshafts reducing frictional and torque losses. The four titanium valves (36.3mm IN, 29.1mm EX) are actuated by 30 per cent harder DLC coated finger followers and the camchain, guides and sprockets are revised to reduce frictional losses. New valve springs and retainers increase torque at lower rpm.
The new crankshaft is stiffer and features a 6mm shorter stroke giving a freer revving engine response and the crank and main bearings have a service interval of 135 hours. A multifunctional balance shaft reduces vibes and also drives the water pump and timing chain.
The cases are new and reposition shafts to optimize mass centralization. The clutch shaft has moved 11.1mm back and 26.9mm up, making the engine 20mm shorter in total.
The gearbox is a new six-speed unit with wide-range enduro gearing. The shift fork is coated in a low friction coating and a new gear position sensor allows the engine management system to run a specific map for each gear.
The FE 350 engine features a DDS (Damped Diaphragm Steel) clutch. This clutch has a single diagram spring rather than multiple coil springs, making the clutch feel lighter, while the basket is CNC machined steel unit rather than alloy, and actuation is via a hydraulic Magura master and slave cylinder.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2017 Husqvarna FE 250
Price: $14,695 + ORC
Claimed power: N/A
Claimed torque: N/A
Dry weight: 106.8kg
Fuel capacity: 8.5L
Engine: Single-cylinder DOHC, four-valve four-stroke, Keihin EMS and EFI.
Clutch: DDS wet multi-plate.
Frame: Central Double Cradle ChroMo steel with carbon-fibre reinforced sub-frame.
Rake: 63.5°, Offset: 22mm.
Suspension: WP Xplor 48mm forks, 300mm travel, WP monoshock, 330mm travel, both fully adjustable.
Brakes: 260mm/220mm rotors, Brembo calipers and master-cylinder.
Wheels & Tyres: D.I.D 1.60 x 21in, 2.15 x 18in, Metzeler 6 Days Extreme 90/90-21, 140/80-18.
Seat height: 970mm.
Ground clearance: 370mm.