2009 Husaberg FE450e Road Test Review- Husaberg Enduro Bike Reviews

10 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2009 Husaberg FE450e Road Test Review- Husaberg Enduro Bike Reviews

Test: 2009 Husaberg FE450e Out of Bounds: Husaberg turns the engine upside down with its all-new FE450e.

Husaberg’s engineers obviously have never read the Japanese handbook on How to Build an Off-Road Motorcycle. While the Swedish company’s bikes have always been a little different and sometimes pretty quirky, the all-new FE450e breaks the mold of conventionalism altogether.

But what is truly stunning about the new FE is that despite Husaberg’s rep for building unique bikes and the fact that the machine is almost completely different than a conventional enduro, the FE450e doesn’t feel at all quirky or even the least bit weird. It is a revolutionary design—from the completely rethought engine layout to the unusual plastic rear subframe—and it really works, a radically changed bike that the Japanese should be taking notes on.

Which makes it all the more amazing that the bike was conceived and developed in just two years. That is a very short time-frame, especially when you consider the rather protracted logistics! It goes like this: The design concept came from Husaberg’s home office in Sweden; the execution of said concept in the metal then took place in Austria at parent-company KTM; after that, the finishing details like suspension settings and engine tuning were done by the Swedes; finally, the bikes are actually produced in Mattighofen alongside KTMs.

After taking delivery of the FE, I sat and gawked over the entire machine. The engineering is very clever, and it is plain to see that the FE450 was designed by people who have a passion for riding dirtbikes and also have enough experience—and more importantly, guts—to try something different to make the riding experience better.

How interesting is the FE to look at? I pulled the seat off four times (using the convenient cable release) just to stare at the intricate fit of the airbox, fuel tank and subframe. It all comes together like a 3D puzzle and even gives a home to most of the bike’s electrical components.

Most intriguing is the fact that the subframe is all plastic, made up of cross-linked polyethylene, obviously considered light and strong enough for such duty. The design also incorporates molded-in grab handles; a good idea, yes, but they are placed a little too far forward if you really need to lift the rear end up high.

The fuel tank is a peculiar shape, although it does look pretty standard as it wraps around the perimeter frame. What you can’t see with the seat in place is that the airbox and filter are located smack dab in the middle of the tank. The 2.3 gallons of fuel is actually spread thin along the sides of the FE and channeled down closer to the bike’s center of gravity under the seat.

This also helps to keep the ergos slim.

Removal of the air filter (a simple job requiring no tools) allows a glimpse straight down to the fuel-injection system’s 42mm Keihin throttle body. Interestingly, this configuration allows the rider to hear a lot of intake noise when riding and is most noticeable when sitting toward the back of the seat; the clatter and howl can actually seem louder than the exhaust!

But the note coming out of the silencer is not at all obtrusive thanks to its very quiet nature. A major issue, though, is that there is no spark arrestor; the ‘Berg is sold as a closed-course competition motorcycle. For California, that means it is a non-emissions-certified red-sticker bike, limiting riding opportunities only to certain times of the year.

Adding the expense of a sparky to the already high $9498 price tag puts the ready-to-trail-ride price closer to $10 Gs, and that’s before taxes and registration. Ouch!

That high price does get you a radical motorcycle. The new 70-degree engine configuration (denoting the slope of the nearly horizontal cylinder) is no gimmick. Practically flipping an ordinary layout, the design positions the crankshaft very close to the bike’s overall center of gravity.

This puts the engine’s largest rotating component at a neutral location in the chassis, result being that the big four-stroke motor’s mass is less noticeable to the rider.

The sohc 449cc Single’s internals are very similar to those of the KTM 450 EXC. Being made in KTM’s factory, the Husaberg has a bloodline that runs deep with orange! Slight differences require distinct part numbers but, ultimately, the two use essentially the same cylinder, piston, crank, gearbox and primary gear.

The camshaft, however, has different timing and profiles to suit the EFI.

Despite the different cam, power output is much like that of the KTM 450 XC-W cross-country racer, but improved because of the FE’s use of fuel-injection—a system based on the one used for the KTM 690 Enduro.

Like that bike, the FE450e has a three-position switch to select among mild, standard and aggressive EFI maps. Unfortunately, Husaberg didn’t tell us about the switch (located behind the number plate) until after we finished testing! In the standard setting, the engine delivers power very smoothly and with zero hesitation. Revs build slowly and the bike just tractors out of corners.

Husaberg FE 450 E
Husaberg FE 450 E

The upside is it doesn’t have that racy snap that can cause unwanted wheelspin or get you tired too quickly, but the downside is that the midrange is a little flat.

The light-effort Magura hydraulic clutch works sweetly and has precise engagement. With the clutch action and chuggable engine, the ‘Berg will get through just about any technical section of trail. If the FE ever stalls, the engine re-starts easily.

The electric starter (no kick lever) always fired the bike right away.

Housing the new engine is a chrome-moly perimeter frame with slim engine-cradle rails that are swept back (thanks to the engine position) and closer to the bottom of the crankcase to get the most possible ground clearance. Suspension up front is a KTM-familiar 48mm WP open-cartridge fork held in place by 19mm-offset machined-aluminum triple-clamps. A cast aluminum swingarm and WP PDS no-linkage shock use the same geometry as that of KTM’s Enduro line.

Riding position is natural with only the slightest Euro feel to it; the rear end is set up higher than those of the Japanese competition. Suspension action front and rear is superb, offering plush, consistent damping. The bike is Cadillac-smooth over choppy and rocky terrain, but damping still holds up enough to maintain control when blitzing desert whoops.

That’s all great, but where this new ‘Berg really excels is agility, thanks to its unique weight distribution. The FE is simply more flickable side-to-side than a KTM of similar size. This is the best comparison because the two bikes share a lot of the same components but have completely different designs. Steering is also brought to a new level.

The front tire feels stuck to the ground in the best possible way. I could come into corners with a lot of speed and the front would never want to push or tuck. It just kept the bike turning.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say the FE handles like a two-stoke, because the power is all four-stroke, and you can still feel the 255-pound dry weight when lifting the bike over a downed tree or while jumping.

But it does feel lighter on the trail than any other 450 in its class, which is why I wouldn’t be surprised to see other manufacturers using the Husaberg’s overall design concept on dirtbikes in the future, especially one in the color orange. The bottom line is that the FE450 works like an enduro bike should, but better. It’s quick, quiet, handles awesomely and turns on a dime.

For the money, though, it should come off the showroom floor in a more useable form: Give it a green sticker, spark arrestor or—even better—make it street-legal, and Husaberg has a dirtbike to rule the world. The Swedes have rewritten the rulebook.

Husaberg FE 450 E
Husaberg FE 450 E
Husaberg FE 450 E
Husaberg FE 450 E
Husaberg FE 450 E
Husaberg FE 450 E
Husaberg FE 450 E
Husaberg FE 450 E

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