2004 Husqvarna SM450R

Young at heart


Can motorcycles really make you young again? I know this is going to sound banal, but some years ago, when talking bikes with a non-riding fifty-something, he shamelessly admitted that his shrink told him to get a Harley and become the macho man he always wanted to be. Gee, I did my best not to break into hysterical laughter, since this guy was being genuine.

However, maybe his shrink was onto something and a new tool can indeed perform psycho-wonders, even on a forty something that never gave up riding. I've got to admit, that my moto-therapy experience brought about some unexpected consequences. After trying the new Husky 450 SMR Supermoto for a few hours, I felt like I was sent back twenty years in time, in the process turning into the brash and bold neighborhood-terrorizing hooligan I never was. Sorry Officer, errr..really had to see how far I could lift my rear wheel while stoppie-ing, its part of a psychological test I'm doing, see? And those long skid marks? Mmmm. not mine, dunno who's done them. Oh, silly me, is my rear tire still smoking?

15 minutes after this photo was taken, 73yr old Guisseppi Fiorano was furiously hacking his way through traffic as he rushed to get his catch to market.
Tired of luggin his 14" feet around, Yossef tries the fun way to remove a few inches

Bringing a motocrosser to the street can indeed generate ear-to-ear grins and bring out the worst in you. Long time MO followers might remember a couple years ago, when Minime and the rest of the MO staff joined the parking lot racing trend aboard a brace of Yamaha TTR 125's. Later on, true YZ based Supermoto racers were tested at Streets of Willow.

Finally, Sean Alexander, MO's own Executive Editor, bought, built and raced a Honda CR-500R two-stroke Supermotard, on which he captured 7 roadracing championships. In the process, he won over 35 individual expert roadraces. Some time has passed since all this went down and in case you haven't been paying attention, Supermotos/Supermotards are slowly picking up in sales, at least on this side of the pond. Ten years after the first factory-ready Supermoto was born (The 94' KTM Duke) all European off-road manufacturers are offering street legal SM's with plates & lights. This year has seen the first oriental supermoto join the fray, in the shape of Yamaha's XT660X.

Back to our hooligan tool, Husky's 450 SMR is really a 450 four-stroke crosser that's been street shod, but not much else. Based on the new generation of Husqvarna four strokes engines, the power unit is bang up-to-date, with a DOHC head, four valves installed at a tight included angle, water cooling and ultra-compact dimensions. In Husqvarna's new generation of MX and SM'ers, a new double cradle frame is used and it's quite a breakthrough from the single backbone, "banana" frame of the old Husky 570's of yore. As you can expect from a bike that's derived from a full on MXer, the SM450 is slim, lean and sharp. There aren't that many creature comforts here. The seat is a minimal piece of foam meant only to keep your but from dragging on the rear wheel and the "instrument panel" is just a small LCD display that tells you the bare basics. That said, the new Husky motor does have a touch of luxury in the shape of push-button starting, rather than a good old kick lever.

The ultra serious approach continues with high-end suspension components, a 45-mm diameter Marzocchi "Shiver" USD fork and a Showa shock. Both are fully-adjustable and have reduced travel compared to their MX and Enduro brothers. Top-notch Brembo binders slow things down and the way the 320-mm front disc fills up the 17" front rim shouts: Stoppieeeeeee! As per current fashion, the SMR wears very racy and 100% pavement oriented MT R01 Pirellis Dragons, a 120/70-17 up front and a 150/60-17 in the back.

I couldn't deny the fun factor involved, but it's a very narrow focused type of fun.

More photographic evidence of how much it sucks to be a motojournalist...
Yossef tried this move on several locals. Unfortunately for him, they were more impressed by his shoe size than his stunting ability.

Still wondering what those tires are doing on an MXer with lights? As soon as you blast through the first traffic roundabout, it all becomes clear. A right-left-right countersteering input on the bars and the SMR flies through unfazed with the throttle pinned. Did I clip the curb in the process? Chalk one up for the long legged suspension that soaks up the jolt as if it wasn't there. Try that on your R1, GSXR, or what have you. In a slow and snaking road that climbs up a hill just outside Husqvarna's factory in Varese, the SMR continues to kick ass. 30-60 mph turns are its forte and the thing can be thrown into low angle carving with ease thanks to the wide bars. Any fears that it'll be all over the place with by its long-travel suspension are soon dispelled. Thanks to the firm suspension settings, the SMR is actually quite stable mid-turn, inspires confidence and as the tires heat up, it's time to dig this SM thing deeper.

The motor requires revs to deliver its best but coupled with the tight gear spacing, obtaining a substantial punch is easy. This is no 600+cc thumper, so the gear lever needs to be tapped often but it all adds to the intensity of the experience. You boot the shifter up in quick succession, the loud muffler (is it really street legal?) emits beautiful brrrrrap!-brrrrraaaap! sounds and life is good today, greens be damned. Downshift one or two gears too many while setting up for a turn and tail steps out excitingly though never threateningly. Without me even thinking about it, I start putting my foot down in turns, it just feels so natural on bike that's as slim and tall as this and it seems to improve front end feel by shifting weight forward. After half an hour of this mayhem, my adrenaline reserves are depleted and it's time for a break.

Funny how when you get so involved into this street TT thing you can forget about the rest of the world or the comfort of the very bike you are riding. So what, if the seat is ultra-narrow and super-hard, the bike vibrates quite a bit and the handlebar position is way too high and close for my 6'4". The racy suspension isn't kind to kidneys or back. My out of shape leg and underarm muscles are starting to ache too. So what? Life's too short to spend time complaining.

In my second hooligan session, I shift my attention to more free-style related stuff. The front binder is a belter. I'm nothing to write home about in stunts, but I never had an easier time lifting a bike's tail, there is ample anchoring force and feel. Being not so good at wheelies, means I like to do them off the throttle. Thing is, that although the engine is very strong on top (publications in Italy have Dyno-ed it at 47-48 RwHp, a bit stronger than a CR450F), there isn't that much torque available to yank the front tire up at low revs. Then, things get a bit hairy when the engine hits the sweet spot, so my wheelie attempts suffered. I don't think serious wheelie guys should have many problems though.

Where I did not encounter any problems, was when engaging in general anti-social riding, whenever, wherever. The SMR just begs you to climb on sidewalks and jump off them or arrive at stoplights with the rear wheel locked and the tail weaving left and right. Herein lays the paradox. After a few hours of causing havoc on the SMR 450 I couldn't deny the fun factor involved, but it's a very narrow focused type of fun. It's great on slow canyon roads, deserted parking lots or for terrorizing quiet citizens inside a shopping mall. However, I wouldn't want to travel more than 40 miles on a highway to get to any of these crime scenes. The 450 Husky will climb to 75 mph with ease, but it definitely won't be fun sustaining that speed/rpm for very long. Maybe that explains why the Supermoto revolution is a bit slow in picking up, even ten years after the mold breaking KTM Duke.

Unless you live real close to a canyon road or a Supermoto track, you'll be towing the thing on a trailer, rather than wearing yourself and the motor out on a long highway drone. Indeed, although Supermotos are becoming a more common sight on Europe's streets, they are mostly seen in mountain villages and passes or city centers, where their superior cut and thrust ability can be fully exploited. That doesn't detract one iota from the SMR 450 prowess as a full-on fun supplier or as a means to feel 20 years younger than you are. Highly recommended, if you can afford the ensuing fines and jail sentences.

 

** SPECS PROVIDED BY HUSQVARNA **

Engine

Single cylinder, 4 stroke, DOHC, 4 valves

Displacement

449 cc

Bore x Stroke

97x60.76 mm

Number of Gears

5

Starting

Electric and kick start

Clutch

Hydraulic

Cooling

Liquid

Ignition

Digital CDI (variable timing)

Carburetion

Mikuni TMR 41 mm

Chain

"D.I.D." 520V6-5/8"x1/4"

Frame

Chromoly single tube cradle with detachable aluminum subframe

Front Brake

Brembo disc 320 mm

Rear Brake

Brembo floating disc 220 mm

Front Fork

45 mm Marzocchi inverted telescopic adjustable fork

Travel

260 mm

Rear Suspension

Sachs triple-adjustable single shock absorber with progressive linkage

Travel

290 mm

Tires-front/rear

120/70-17" 150/60-17"

Front Rim

3.50" x 17"

Rear Rim

4.25" x 17"

Dry weight

240 lbs

Wheelbase

57.5"

Min. Ground Clearance

12.8"

Seat Height

33.58"

Tank Capacity

2.03 gallons

View all Photos PHOTOS & VIDEOS

04 Yossef Husky 22
04 Yossef Husky 22
04 Yossef Husky 47
04 Yossef Husky 47
04 Yossef Husky 10
04 Yossef Husky 10
04 Yossef Husky 01
04 Yossef Husky 01
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