Quick Spin: 2017 Husqvarna FE 450
The Husqvarna FE 450 is all-new for 2017 and firing the 450 up, there’s an instant growl of anger not present on the smaller capacity bikes... Test: Jeff Ware Photos: Husqvarna Australia
The Australian and New Zealand motorcycle press were invited by Husqvarna Motorcycles Australia to sample the updated endure range at the end of last year. The heavily revised two and four-stroke models were on hand, and you can read the reviews here (TE 250 and TE 300, FE 250, FE 350). Unfortunately, I was unable to sample the FE 501 due to injury but we have a full test on the way.
As a social off road rider and not an enduro competitor, I found the FE 250 (we now have a Long Termer) and 350 awesome bikes. Sure, they are absolute race weapons built to win, but they are also fantastic recreational bikes with, for me, a great balance of chassis and power to keep me out of trouble but also smiling and riding within my limits.
The FE 450, on the other hand, is powered by a much more serious motor. Although crazily the 350 has the speed of an early 450, the 450 is the next level. It has loads of torque on tap anywhere and more power than all but very experienced could make the most of.
Sitting on the 450, like the other four-strokes in the range, it feels familiar – and it is, of course sharing its rolling chassis with its siblings. Husqvarna have worked hard on rider ergonomics for 2017 in an effort to give the rider the best level of control possible.
Everything falls to place perfectly right down to the map and TC switches. The footpegs are higher to give more clearance over logs and rocks, which can be changed by changing footpegs if required. The only change I would make, due to my height of 187cm, would be to have the ‘bars set 10mm taller. That’s about it.
The 450 I rode was set-up more firmly than the 250 or the 350. I did not get the chance to check settings against the factory settings but with the likes of Rob Twyerould and Jeff Leisk having the set the bikes up, it’s a pretty good bet that it was close to right aside from me being roughly the weight of them put together! I really must stop up-sizing my drive-through meals!
Firing the 450 up, there’s an instant growl of anger not present on the smaller capacity bikes. I set the map to Map2 and head off on the short six or seven-kilometre loop that is fun, not too hard-core at all but has a good range of situations to test the bikes out and, in this case, the rider.
The first thing I notice about the 450 is, despite a very small weight difference between it and the 250 and 350 on paper, the weight is slightly noticeable. In saying that, stupidly, I did not check the fuel level on it or the 350 so it could simply be that.
There is also noticeable effect of the larger capacity engine and, possibly but I can’t confirm weights, the crank gyro effect, but that all just makes the bike feel more planted and solid. And it would want to be! The power of the amazingly smooth and refined 450 is off the planet.
Right off the bottom, in any of the first three gears, power is instant and just builds and builds until the rpm ceiling. At first, I was quite intimidated by the power and was basically a passenger on the 450, arms and legs flapping around just trying to hang on.
My whisky throttle hand didn’t help and I was pretty stuffed after my first loop. When I calmed down and started to let the bike do its thing and I actually relaxed on the bike rather than hold on for dear life, the ride came together and was fantastic.
That 450 power delivery is incredible. It is linear with no dips and the mapping is good on Map2. I unfortunately forgot to try Map1 but if it was more aggressive on the throttle than Map2, then I’m glad I didn’t! The gearbox is smooth in shift and the ratios are well spaced, with tall ratios after first to take advantage of that broad spread of torque and power.
The clutch action is light with good feel and overall the engine is stunning. The top-end power is truly mind blowing and the 450 accelerates like a monster through the bush.
The way the 450 was set-up on the day suspension-wise made the bike a standout to me in the handling ranks. It had the support I needed for my 94kg in riding gear and less than smooth style, with good support from the forks and control from the shock. It was a great ride and felt like it had more traction than the others on the day despite being the same rolling chassis and having the same Metzeler 6 Days tyres fitted.
I really enjoyed my short spin on the 2017 FE 450 but for now would leave that beast to the experts and stick to my 2017 FE 250.
Husqvarna have some great deals on at the moment and some good finance options, check their website out here: www.husqvarna-motorcycles.com/au/
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 450 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 1.7kg lighter than the 2016 engine, weighing in at 29.7kg including starter motor. Power delivery has been refined throughout the rev range.
The 95mm cylinder has a CP forged piston of box type, and a compression ratio of 11.8:1.
The head has been revised with new polished camshafts reducing frictional and torque losses. The four titanium intake and steel exhaust valves (40mmmm IN, 33mm 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 shorter conrod 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 450 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 450
Price: $14,995 + ORC
Claimed power: N/A
Claimed torque: N/A
Dry weight: 108.8kg
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.