Husqvarna TE 450e
Liquid cooled, four stroke, single cylinder,
DOHC, 4 valves per
Bore x Stroke
97 x 60.7 mm
41mm Keihin MX
6 Speed / chain
Steel single tube cradle (round tubes);
rear frame in light alloy
Marzocchi "Upside-Down" telescopic hydraulic fork with
advanced axle. compression
and rebound stroke adjustment
Sachs progressive "Soft Damp" type with single hydraulic
shock absorber, spring
preload adjustment, compression and rebound adjustment
Single 260mm disc
Single 220mm disc
Bazza has just ridden the new Husqvarna TE450 and is
mightily impressed. Take a good look now, he warns. If it goes past, you won't
see it again.
Like everyone else, AMT has been waiting for
Husqvarna to shake the cobwebs out and give us a new engine for the TE range of
four-stroke enduro/trail bikes. A lot of flash bikes have turned up over the
past five years, some with impressive engines, and in the face of all these
fabulous reciprocating masses Husqvarna looked like it might be left behind in
the race for more sophisticated four-stroke technology.
All right, the engine in the pre-2002
four-strokes might have been venerable, and even very successful - as a 400 it
won a swag of cross-country championships all over the world - but that lump had
been in those bikes a long time, and by 2000 even Husky lovers were starting to
grumble "give us electric start" and "we want something that revs like a YZ426".
You can't please all the people all the time,
sometimes you can't please any of the bastards any of the time, but the
development engineers at Husky obviously knew it was time to park the old 400
and do something about giving dirt riders what they wanted. So, what we have
here is a new generation 250 and 450, while the 570 motor will remain unchanged.
"Probably until the end of 2003," says Husqvarna importer, Hans Appelgren.
As we all know, developing a new engine takes
years, and with the sort of high class competition around these days, what ever
Husky came up with had to be good or it'd be laughed out of the paddock. Well,
there won't be any laughing. This thing is more than good. It's a ball tearer!
The bike we got to play with was a
pre-production five-speed TE450, brought out here to stifle the grumbles and let
everyone know that when the proddie does turn up in April this year, it'll be
everything we expected. (It will also be a six-speed). We're not in the habit of
testing pre-production machines because the factories often change or fine-tune
pre-prod bikes before they let them go. Okay, they might be small changes, but
we never know exactly what they'll do so we're careful in case we give our
readers the wrong impression. The worst thing that can happen - though it hasn't
happened yet - is that what eventually turns up in the showroom is a pig
compared with the greyhound we rode six months earlier.
Sodding & grey
We dutifully turned up at Husky Imports in Sydney, well, Penrith actually, at
the base of the Blue Mountains, which were more grey than blue because of the
endless sodding rain.
The new TE450 is deadset, bloody fast and a
lot of fun to ride. It feels nothing like the old TE400 and there's no reason it
should. The chassis - very much like that on Husky two-stroke models - is new
from the swingarm forward, a single-beam split-end design constructed of
chromium molybdenum-treated steel, wrapped around the engine block and with a
solid box section near the steering column for additional rigidity.
All the gear on the 450 is top shelf, but
what makes this bike better than any Husky that went before it is the engine.
Not often, but occasionally when you climb on a new bike and screw the throttle
for the first time, you get That Feeling...oooh, this is nice! The unmistakable
sense that you've encountered something out of the ordinary. We felt that with
the amazing Yamaha YZ250F, a mighty little bike that came out of the blue and
surprised the hell out of us, and felt it again with this Husqvarna.
You wouldn't want to smash this thing. It's
very pretty. After stumbling around with the graphics, colour scheme and
plastics for some time, Husky has finally hit the right buttons. This TE looks
sharp and racey.
European trail bikes always have superior
controls to their Japanese counterparts and the TE is another example of it.
Where the Japanese would fit low-rent speedway bars that make you feel like
you're riding with your hands in your back pockets, Husky ( or KTM or Husaberg)
give you nice bars, Thomaselli in this case, mounted in off-set clamps that
enable you to adjust the bars 5mm forward or backWards, a bonus if you're taller
than average or picky about your bar setup.
The speedo is a very neat (and inexpensive)
digital gadget that takes up very little space behind the bars and definitely
won't be damaged in the average crash, unless of course you crash in front of a
truck. The fork triple-clamps are new. The levers are new too, and this bike
gets a Magura hydraulic clutch, ho-hum on road bikes, maybe, but not an everyday
deal on most dirt bikes.
Hydraulic clutches are brilliant. More
fragile components on the handlebars means more likelihood of crash damage,
certainly, but characteristically, hydraulic brakes automate clutch adjustment
and have a light, one-finger touch that feels very nice on the trail, specially
when youíre flogging your arse off on the hill from hell.
The Husky has a Brembo brake setup, as usual,
but this time the rear disc is a full floater, a design that makes sure the disc
stays centred between the pads. (We'd like to know why dirt bike manufacturers
don't use floating discs on the front wheel. If anyone out there knows and would
like to explain it, that'd be nice.) The front brake is first class, with plenty
of power and nice modulation but a light touch.
The previous model wasn't exactly a heavyweight on the scales but this bikes
feels as light as a two-stroke race bike, because it is, and changes direction
just as easily. Nor is it as difficult to start as some Husabergs - we once
tested a Husaberg that not even the distributor could start - and it produces
less mechanical engine noise than the brilliant but clattery KTM520. The only
thing I dislike about this bike is that I can't afford one (though I'm open to
The TE450 should be compared not with the KTM
EXC400 but the EXC520. This bike has more grunt and way better throttle response
than a KTM400, and it revs harder. It's a missile. A little bit of throttle
gives you a gutful of acceleration. Throttle response is brilliant - there's no
other word for it. The buzz factor was amplified by the five-speed MX box and
very short top-end gearing, but if the six-speed production bike has anything
like the acceleration and throttle response, there'll be a lot of happy blokes
blasting around the scrub on these things.
ABOUT THE ENGINE:
High-tech and ready to rip
The 2002 engine is new from the ground up, a
lightweight, high-tech, high-revving brute that incorporates several innovative
Husqvarna has focused on reducing the mass,
and therefore the weight, of the valve-train components, to the extent that this
valve-train is said to weight 30 percent less than the equivalent components in
the old 400 engine. As an example of where all the weight has gone, the four
valves are constructed in titanium and have a stem diameter of only 4.5mm. The
valve spring, collar and cup are also extremely light.
Valve clearance is achieved with a shim, also
with a diameter of 4.5mm, and to locate such a small shim Husqvarna employs what
it calls a "finger rocker", which itself forms part of the valve-train.
Husqvarna says that as well lightening the whole valve-train structure, a rocker
arm in place of the usual tappet enables "extreme" cam timing and engine speeds
as high as 13,000rpm.
The donk needs plenty of oil then, and gets
it. It is a dry sump design with two trochoidal oil pumps, one supplying the
head and the crankshaft and one extracting oil from the crank and then
delivering it to the gearbox.
The powerplant is equipped with an Kokusan
electronic ignition capable of three dimensional mapping. This unit uses the
motion of the flywheel to calculate engine speed and the position of the gear
selector to determine which gear you're in. Its Mikuni flat-slide carb-adapted
from Superbikes and used here for the first time on a dirt bike - has a throttle
position sensor. Meanwhile the ignition is able to calculate which one of 12
different timing curves is appropriate to the situation you've got yourself
into. The outward manifestation of all this techno whizz-bangery is an engine
that revs like buggery and gives fantastic throttle response.
And of course, there's electric start. The
compact electric-starter unit is mounted at the rear of the cylinder, the
electronic ignition module at the front of the engine, while the water-pump is
mounted high to keep it away from locks and rogs and any crash-related damage.
The clutch is a hydraulic unit and the clutch
basket a one-piece stainless steel item. The forged piston runs in a
Nikasil-coated bore, and the bore/stroke dimension of 90 x 60.7 yields a
displacement of 449cc, every one of them determined to make your eyes water.