2010 Husaberg FE570 Review
The future is now
Husaberg motorcycles may not be mainstream, but they are cool. In an era of fat, slow four-stroke play bikes Husaberg became famous for effective, yet agriculturally simple, racing thumpers. Long before Yamaha ushered in the four-stroke revolution Husaberg was capturing world titles. In fact, the company has something like 20 FIM World Titles, in various disciplines, to their credit.
Husaberg quality control and manufacturing ability began to improve when the company was purchased by KTM. KTM-spec parts began to appear on the ’Bergs with greater regularity. Last year Husaberg engineers went all out to teach the world a lesson in mass centralization. By flipping around a whole bunch of KTM-sourced engine parts, then wrapping their creation in a new-age frame, Husaberg managed to create a big-bore thumper that behaved like a little one.
In some ways the FE570 is very familiar to KTM owners, but the airbox location under the ‘fuel tank’ and the fuel tank in the space normally reserved for an airbox are pure Husaberg.
Here’s a quick recap on how this thing works. An amazingly effective EFI system feeds the laid-down engine via a straight shot into the cylinder head. The engine measures 565.5cc and has 12.2:1 compression. A hydraulic clutch feeds power to a smooth shifting six-speed transmission. The bike has electric start only, and weighs a claimed 252.4 pounds dry. The forks and non-linkage rear shock are made by WP.
As you study the bike you’ll see lots of quality KTM parts, but not always where you’d expect them to be. It’s an odd sensation that turns your whole concept of what a dirt bike should be upside down.
It may be weird, but the new Husaberg’s has been proven at high profile races around the world. We rode our test bike on a motocross track, on a wide-open cross-country course and in tight singletrack. We rode it alongside Japanese 450Fs, the BMW G450X (which shares similar ideas but with unnecessarily complicated engineering) and our notes from the 2010 YZ450F test we tested last fall, which like the BMW shares a similar mass centralization formula. We even compared the 2010 FE570 to the last of the ‘old school’ Husabergs, the 2008 FE550, just to witness evolution in action.
From an enduro rider’s viewpoint the 2010 Husaberg is well designed. Fragile items are up and out of harms way and the airbox and electrics are placed high and dry. Just about every normal service item on the bike is easy to access. The no-link suspension is simple and has been proven on KTMs for decades. The saddle is both wider and softer than most other modern race bikes.
When you start the Husaberg you’ll notice the exhaust is quiet and there is less intake moan than an older Husaberg, the BMW G450X or the YZ450F. The big motor makes big torque, but in a smooth and very gentle manner. How much torque? Our lighter testers were able to do fourth gear starts on the MX track by winding it up and slipping the clutch off the line, and then just wouldn’t shift for an entire moto.
Heavier guys started in third gear, which was easier than second because it had less tendency to wheelie. The gear ratios feel correct, with a low first and a tall sixth gear that is more at home in the wide open spaces out West than it is here on the East coast. The only weak part of the FE570s powerband is top end, where power flattens quickly. We feel bad for saying it, but we’d love to try this bike with a less restrictive motocross-style muffler, at least when nobody is within earshot.
Make no mistake, the Husaberg is heavy. We didn’t weigh it but it is noticeably heavier to pick up than a KTM530EXC, heavier than a race-prepped BMW 450 or the 2008 ‘old school’ Husaberg. It’s about the same weight as a CRF450X or WR450F. The thing is, it feels lighter to ride than any of those bikes after some suspension tuning. We noticed how fussy the new generation of mass centralized thumpers are about proper set-up when we tested the 2010 YZ450F last fall, then again with the BMW G450X. On a ‘normal’ Japanese 250F you can make fairly drastic changes to fork height or suspension sag before it really becomes all that noticeable. That isn’t the case with the ‘airbox up front, gas under the seat and weird engine layout’ new-school thumpers. A few mm of fork height or sag, or a few clicks of compression or rebound, make a bigger difference than you’d expect with this breed of motorcycle.
The FE570 was squishy soft at both ends, making it difficult to hold a line when railing through turns. It also under-steered, which was surprising since we’ve read all about how great the new Husaberg’s were supposed to turn. We spent an afternoon making small adjustments to the front end, eventually settling on sliding the forks up in the triple clamps 10mm and moving the bar mounts to the forward position. The forks were too soft, even for our 150-pound test riders in the woods.
We turned the compression damping in 10 clicks and the rebound in six. We also spun the shock clickers in to six clicks stiffer on compression and four on rebound. In the forest it was still soft, and on the motocross track it was much too soft, but at least now the bike turned. Turned isn’t a strong enough word; the Husaberg carved, with a light steering feel that was more like a 250 two-stroke than a big thumper. Like we said, with the new generation of bikes the difference between sled and scalpel is just a few clicks away. Weird. The 2008 Husaberg, with it’s conventional layout, was more stable at speed but required a much more aggressive ‘steer it with the back wheel’ riding style to make it turn.
We called the Husaberg guys at the Corner Grass Racing Team for help setting up our 2010 FE570. They immediately recommended stiffer fork springs to help cure the stinkbug feel of the bike. You might say say, “Ya, but it’s not a motocross bike,” but with today’s emphasis on special tests at Enduros and wide-open GNCC-style racing sometimes you need to be able to hammer into stuff, hard! With the compression cranked up the suspension still stroked smoothly enough to make our Vet tester happy in the tight woods, but it kept our young guys from whining too much on the faster courses. But like the Husaberg team told us, with stiffer springs the suspension would be better.
KTM 530EXCs are known for running very hot in tight woods. The Husaberg gets hot enough to steam as well, which should be no surprise since the engines are mechanically very similar. The Husaberg’s fuel injection system is great, contributing to the engine’s powerful yet gentle manner. We love it, except for one thing; it doesn’t want to start in gear. We’ve also noticed this trait with other fuel injected four-strokes this season. It makes getting a quick dead-engine start at a hare scramble a real challenge, unless you start in neutral. The good thing is, once it’s running the 570 Husaberg almost never stalls. It will chug way down before it gives a little shudder to tell the rider it’s time to downshift. By comparison, the carbureted 2008 550 Husaberg felt raspy, was easy to stall and was prone to flaming out at low RPM. We’ll trade hit or miss dead-engine starting for smooth, powerful, unstoppable torque any day!
Other tester notes? The seat and tank are wide, but you get used to it. Unlike other European bikes we’ve tested the kickstand on the Husaberg works perfectly. The exhaust pipe header cooks your pants and your boot. The FE570 has incredible ground clearance, light steering and is next to impossible to stall, giving you the confidence to try extreme-enduro obstacles. The brakes are just ‘ok’, probably because of physics. Like we said, it’s easy to forget how heavy the Husaberg actually is. We could never tell how much fuel was in the tank, but thankfully the bike does have a low fuel idiot light.
Here’s what we think about the 2010 Husaberg FE570. Our Vet off-road guy loved it but thinks it’s too soft. Our second Vet tester also loved the bike, thinking it would make a great hardcore dual sport bike. Our motocross guy wants an FE570 to use for ice racing. The slow guy likes it better than the KTM530 for trail riding, but even he wants the suspension a little stiffer.
The new-school Husaberg FE570 represents a huge technological leap and ushers in a new wave of dirt bikes. Husaberg’s take on the mass centralization theory makes the similarly designed YZ450F look a little archaic and the BMW G450X look homemade. The FE570 is a really, really cool bike; a conversation piece that just happens to be able to win races.
Thanks to Ross Rocher Sales and KTM Canada for providing our test bike.
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