Husqvarna TE 610e
Husqvarna TE 610e
Liquid cooled, four stroke, single cylinder, SOHC, 4 valve per
Bore x Stroke
98.0 x 76.4 mm
51 hp @ 7300 rpm
5.5 kgf-m @ 5750 rpm
6 Speed / chain
Telescopic forks, 280mm wheel travel.
Monoshock, 285mm wheel travel
Single 260mm disc
Single 220mm disc
Warragul may be just an hour out of Melbourne on
the Princes Highway, but within minutes of leaving it you can be in amongst some
good riding. On this particular morning though, the three of us were in amongst
some seriously thick fog. James Barry was leading on a Husky 610, while Mick
Shearer and I had a matching pair of the new Husky TE610-Es.
The '98 TE-E was Husqvarna's first attempt at a genuine dual purpose big-bore
four-stroke. It had many similarities to the lighter and more aggressive units
the company usually builds, but then it had some significant differences as
well. While the top end of the engine was similar to the race bikes, the bottom
end was completely new. There were twin oil pumps circulating a big two Litres
of slippery stuff, a balance cam, and best off all, a small electric motor
behind the barrel that magically took all the work out of starting the beast.
Since its release in '98, the TE-E has proven highly reliable. Yes there was the
odd niggle like hassles with the starter gear and the fact that the engine
wasn't too keen on deep water, but generally the new motor was as reliable as
anything out of Japan.
It wasn't all good though. Husqvarna had built a dual purpose bike, and
unfortunately in Europe this too often spells `Café racer'. The first TE-E
suffered from an image - overfunction problem, with softish suspension which
offered little in the way of external adjustments. It was well on the pace when
compared with Dominators and the like, but KTM was playing hard-ball with its
electric start 640 tourer's suspension set-ups and Husqvarna needed to update if
it was to compete in this market.
It has. The 2000 model TE-E has been improved in a lot of ways, especially when
it comes to clocking up some serious adventure ks. The 9 litre tank has been
replaced by a much more practical 17 litre one, and the colours are now based
around Husky's racing yellow instead of the older black. Engine- wise the
Kokusan ignition has been remapped, the head and cam modified, and the carb
The frame has been strengthened, there is a new starter motor and starter gears,
and a new cam lifter for easier starting. The suspension has been heavily
up-graded with the Marzocchi forks getting external compression adjusters and
the Sachs shock gaining a rebound adjuster.
With all this on offer it was well worth taking the TE-E somewhere interesting
to test the improvements, and what better than a gentle trail ride through the
High Country with a quiet, laid-back, unhurried pair of blokes like Mick and
Setting it Up
The run through the fog gave me time to adjust to the bike. The tank is very
slim for its size, holding the fuel low and reasonably well forward. You can
still slide up onto the filler cap in the turns, but the stock seat could be a
bit flatter. Mick had an optional taller seat on his and if you're in the least
bit aggressive in your riding, this is the way to go. On the other hand, the
stock seat gives a remarkably short reach to the ground and is nicely
comfortable for the long haul.
Husky Imports had fitted a higher set of bars to the bike making standing very
comfortable, but apart from that it was pretty much stock right down to the
While the front brake is a very nice unit with plenty of stopping power and more
feel than a 18 year old debutante, out of the crate the rear brake is a doozey.
Ours was locking whenever the boot was even waved near it and needed backing off
badly. When we pulled into the petrol station at Rawson I lowered the lever to
give it a bit more feel before lock-up. A good thing I did too, because from
there we took to a muddy single track where maximum control was a big priority.
Just a few millimetres difference in the actuation point made a world of
difference, controlling the strength of the rear in even the foulest of mud.
The engine works beautifully in situations like this. The stock gearing is tall
but there is power enough to pull it, coming on from very low in the rev range.
Grunt is the word, especially in the slippery stuff where going up a gear slows
wheel-spin and delivers impressive drive.
Back out on the tar the engine displayed all the characteristics that first
impressed us two years ago. There is minimal vibration at any rev and the note
from the mufflers is a pleasingly throaty one without being loud. There's a new
cam driving the valves and the engine does benefit from it and the new ignition,
being a bit perkier in the upper mid-range. Most impressive of all, it is almost
impossible to kill it on a hill.
"You're going to like the next 500 metres!" said James, pulled up on an
innocently flat bit of track that morning. There was no chance to ask why; he
was off as soon as he'd spoken. The next turn revealed all - a broken, rutted
climb with a pitch as steep as the Opera House roof. Committed, and with Mick on
my mufflers looking for spare traction, I had no option but to nail it in
second. The engine was awesome. At times the revs dropped to the point where you
could count the bangs but it still kept pulling, seeking traction and finding it
until roaring back into full song to loft the front over the last few steps near
the top. Exhilarating? You betcha!
The TE-E's 17 litre tank and surprising fuel
economy meant we could venture into
interesting country without
worrying about the next refuel
On the Fiddle
The suspension has been improved out of sight, but it's still more dual than
race. The action from both ends is good. The damping is well-specced and on the
afore-mentioned hill the control it delivered was brilliant. I stiffened the
compression dampers but to go hard the Husky needs heavier springs. On the
bigger erosion banks it was easy to bottom both ends, but remember that we're
talking about a touring bike with a 17 litre fuel tank, pillion pegs and a
carry-rack here, not a race bike. Put in the context of equivalent equipment
levels, the TE-E is up against the Dominator, XTZ, BMW F650, Pegaso Cube and the
like, and in the suspension department it now flogs the lot. Still, heavier
springs would make it even better!
The forks have seen the biggest improvement. The too-rapid rebound on the old
model has gone, and as long as the hits aren't too big it's hard to unsettle the
front. This has helped the steering in a big way and means the TE-E can be
punted reasonably quickly over rocky trails. The shock is better as well, and
the inclusion of external adjusters at both ends means the bike can be
fine-tuned with ease.
The run up the tar to Licola from Burgeons Gap was a hoot, but there seemed to
be a slight credibility problem when we pulled up at Ray's store.
"Clearance is a problem on those corners," I said.
"Wadda ya mean?" asked James.
"Well the bloody pegs scraped on that real tight left-hander."
James's problem was that he'd been copping a bit from Mick and I whenever we'd
started the bikes. James would fiddle around kicking, while the TE-Es were
already idling, courtesy of their buttons.
"I thought electric start was for pussys," offered Mick at one stage, "but I
could get used to this."
From Licola we headed straight up to Arbuckle Junction and then past the 1600m
high Mt Wellington. The road up was a fairly typical touring dirt one, with the
corners deeply corrugated and the long, steady climb bringing an added crispness
to the air. Corrugations such as these usually high-light any deficiencies in a
touring bike's suspension, but the TE-E handled them well. The altitude could be
felt though, and once we hit the snow it was clear that all three bikes were
running rich. We'd climbed about 1300m though, and the effect wasn't as great as
I'd expected it to be.
Snow? Well, it was more like compacted ice so I was thankful for the Husky's
stability and its talent of holding a line with ease. Even then there were
There comes a time in every ride when someone, usually the lead rider, pulls up
and says `I'm not sure if this is the right track'. James made just such an
announcement not long after we'd dropped back down clear of the snow. He was
concerned about fuel, Mick and I were not. In fact the TE-Es were using so
little fuel we'd started grumbling about carrying the stuff when we didn't need
it. Mick was getting around 17kpl and I was getting slightly better, so the
beasts weren't thirsty, which means that 20kpl would be achievable in flatter,
smoother terrain. Let's face it, if Mick can get 17kpl your average bloke should
do a lot better ...
We were travelling reasonably well through tightish touring conditions and could
expect to get close to 300ks to a tank. Backed off on good roads, 350 to 370
shouldn't be out of the question which isn't bad from a stock set-up.
As it turned out James was on the right track, but swollen rivers were limiting
the short-cuts and in the end we had to head to Dargo to top-up James' TE.
Just the One
"I reckon," said James thoughtfully, studying the map, "That if we go straight
up here we'll cut out about 20ks of track."
It was getting late and we still had to reach Benambra before dark.
"Aren't the blue lines rivers?"
"There's just the one."
But it was a beauty. Me, I would have turned around and headed back but not Mick
and James. The latter went first, surging into the flow then turning to run with
it, angling across for the far bank. This was no minor creek. It was a good ten
or 12 metres across and flowing faster than the beer at a presentation dinner.
James was wrestling all the way, but Mick had an even harder time, bucking the
current and tossing a huge roost from the back as the rear tyre spun madly on
the rocks. If a national champ enduro rider was having trouble, I was a dead
Still, they were on the opposite side and I wasn't. There were no options. I
eased into the flow and didn't so much turn with it as was pushed. I bounced a
couple of metres over rocks then stalled, the Husky threatening to topple over.
"Hold it!" yelled Mick, somewhat unnecessarily I thought.
The water was rushing over the barrel, so I climbed carefully off and fished for
neutral, preparing to push. Just out of curiosity I hit the start button and the
bloody thing sprang to life! Click back into gear and after a couple more
moments the TE-E and I were safe on the other side.
"I've never seen a bike start in water like that before," admitted a stunned
The track up the valley wall was fun. The Husky does a wonderful powerslide, its
longer wheelbase and broad power combining to produce a feet-up kind of heaven
on a fast and winding road. All too soon though we were back in the snow, this
deeper and even more slippery than it had been near Wellington. Suddenly I was
training for the Olympic rowing squad, paddling like a mad thing just to stay
upright. The TE-E was awesome. Time and again the front would just slide away on
the wheel rut, plough into the softer snow on the edges and then come back in a
shower of white stuff.
Snow, ice, deep rivers,
and even a shallow lake
nothing stopped the new TE-E
I began to build confidence and was actually disappointed when the snow thinned
as we ran down towards Omeo.
On what turned out to be the last snow-covered corner though, I put the
brand-new bike down whammo in a flash. Just standing was a hassle on the ice,
but eventually I picked it up and checked it over. Hardly a scratch. Most bikes
in this class would have sustained major buck damage in a fall like that. Some
of them do it just falling off their stands. The Husky though is pretty robust
and will take a fall or two and come away unscathed.
No good adventure ride is complete without a night in the pub, and while this
has absolutely nothing to do with the Husqvarna TE610-E, the story wouldn't be
complete without mentioning the stripper. The Benambra footy club had just won
the semi-final and the whole town was in the pub to celebrate. Eventually most
of the mob moved down to the local hall, leaving us and few of the old fellas
propped at the bar. Some bright spark had hired a stripper for the hall that
night, and she wandered in to the bar before heading to work at the main party.
By and by she started playing pool and as you do, she ended up leaning over the
table. Every time she did her short black skirt rose over her thighs and the old
blokes at the bar tilted their heads to one side.
"I don't reckon she's got anything on under there," said one to his mate.
"I'm pretty sure you're right, but I might just keep watching to make sure," his
mate replied, dry as you like.
Closed Course of Course
The lake at Benambra had water in it so we roosted around in that for an hour or
so the next morning until the throttles started sticking, then made a line for
lunch at Swifts Creek.
"We'll take the tar down to Buchan. I'll just cruise along at 110, okay?" asked
Sure. Right. As soon as the road went twisty Mick was around me, past James and
disappearing fast. I went after him, James came after me. The TE-E is a joy on
winding tar, knobbies and all. We set up a three bike express and achieved
speeds that would have turned a hanging judge puce with anger, squirming into
the corners under brakes and charging out under full throttle. By Buchan even
the side knobs were buffed jet black.
Husqvarna has produced a one hell of an improved model. It has targeted the
couple of weak - as far as reliability goes spots in the old model so the new
one should be rock reliable. Tony Tervoert rode one to third outright in the
Safari a few weeks back and his engine went untouched for the entire distance.
It sounded as sweet at the end as it did at the start, and that's not a bad
accomplishment for any bike.
Improved too is the suspension, catapulting the bike well ahead of the others in
the big-tanked adventure-touring class. Along with this comes much improved
steering and even better stability at speed. The six speed gearbox is a feature
more manufacturers should offer, allowing the engine to deliver at anything
between zero and 170. Flexible is the word here, especially when you can tackle
some tight snotty long hill then emerge on the tar and be topping 160 within
The weight is reasonably low, it's hard to damage, and it now has everything the
tourer needs straight out of the crate including a healthy fuel range. At
$10,450 it isn't overly expensive either, considering the host of quality
standard inclusions. All this makes the TE610-E a far better adventure tourer
than it was, and real contender for King of the class.
Forget the Café, head for the Cape