2011 Husqvarna TE 449 Preview
Something borrowed, something new, something red!
When BMW and Husqvarna joined forces a couple years ago nobody was really sure what the outcome would be. BMW had just released its G450X enduro bike, which received some poor reviews but was raced to success time and time again at the toughest enduro races in the world by the European BMW aces. Basically the engineering was sound, though the bike itself was overcomplicated and somewhat fussy to maintain.
Husqvarna, on the other hand, has long held a reputation for building world-class enduro bikes that are exceptionally simple to maintain. The new Husqvarna TE449 looks to be the marriage of those two schools of thought; BMWs cutting-edge engineering and Husky’s simple yet effective execution.
The TE449 retains the forward-canted BMW engine (which is actually built by Kymco) albeit with some fuel injection tweaks and a new six-speed transmission. The clutch continues to be driven directly off the crank, an arrangement that worked well on the BMW version, but has been further improved with hydraulic actuation. The countershaft sprocket is inline with the swingarm pivot to reduce the chain’s effect on suspension action and aid in rear wheel traction. The BMW G450X did hook-up great, though the swingarm pivot itself was troublesome with undersized bearings. Husky has addressed this by simplifying and beefing up the swingarm pivot/countershaft sprocket area.
Speaking of suspension, the non-linkage design of the BMW shock was a compromise. When we had our long-term test bike we constantly fought with suspension valving, spring rates and settings and never really found a happy medium. Husky apparently felt the same way we did, and added a linkage to the rear shock which is thoughtfully mounted up high to improve service life. Like the BMW, the Husky has an exceptionally long swingarm. Fully adjustable Kayaba suspension components are used front and rear, with the entire package held together with a completely new full cradle steel frame.
The BMW and Husky share the front-airbox/under the seat fuel tank arrangement, but as expected Husqvarna has simplified air filter access on the TE449. The seating arrangement remains flat, thin and exceptionally roomy. Like the BMW, the Husqvarna comes in minimalist street-legal form. Removing street items for competition is simple, and the Husqvarna even comes with a freer flowing and lightweight Akrapovic muffler to be installed by the owner for closed-course racing. With the addition of the racing exhaust competition fuel injection mapping can easily be set without special tools.
Husqvarna Canada’s Guy Giroux, who in 2009 raced a BMWG450X to a podium finish before 50,000 people at the Montreal Endurocross and finished second overall in the E2 Pro-class at the 2009 Canadian Enduro Championship, had this to say about the new Husqvarna TE449.
“I can't wait to get my hands on a TE to race! The bike looks awesome in real life, and it feels really small cockpit-wise. It has a really thin midsection and the flat seat will be great. Those are things I used to love that about the BMW.
“Italy has worked really hard on getting more power out of the Beemer engine yet retain good manners, with no vibration and smooth power delivery,” Giroux continued. “Fuel Injection was perfect in any conditions on the BMW, so the new Husky should be just as good. But the biggest things I am excited about are the new frame and rear suspension changes. If the frame is as good as the other Huskys the new TE449 will be sweet. We should see a big improvement, because if the Beemer had one big problem it was the frame and the lack of progression in the rear suspension. I should be able to get my hands on a TE449 soon, before the end of January, so until then I can’t tell you more...this is just a preview, right?”
We can’t wait to finally go for a ride on this great looking new machine ourselves! Our experience with the BMW G450X last year, while frustrating at times, had us stoked about the overall performance potential of that motorcycle. It appears Husqvarna has addressed our concerns (and then some!) for 2011.