By Joe McKimmy
The day Lance Armstrong was being stripped of his Seven Tour De France victories, I was being stripped from my desk at the Dirt Rider office and pointed toward the Husqvarna offices in Corona, California for an introduction to Husqvarna’s all-new TR650 Terra dual-purpose machine. The intro was going to be a quick ride up to Big Bear and back to see how the new machine would do. I was anxious to see what the folk’s Husqvarna had in store for us and what this machine was all about.
Taking off from the Corona office our group of journalists and Husqvarna VIPs immediately headed towards Big Bear down the freeway. If you have ever driven on the freeway in California in the morning you know that it can be quite sketchy with all the crazy drivers. I was a bit nervous and wondered if the Terra—with its 650cc single-cylinder, four-stroke motor—had enough get-up-and-go to hang with the hustle of the morning commuters racing to get to their offices. I was surprised by the little power plant’s delivery and that it easily had enough power and gearing to get me up to the speed of the commuters. The single pumper felt right at home cruising at speeds of 70-80 MPH with minimal vibration as we headed to our first destination stop at Fiesta Village Family Fun Park in Loma Linda for some quick photos.
We shot a few pictures, and as we took off from the Fun Park stop we separated ourselves from the freeway and the morning commuters onto the longest, straightest, most stop light-filled street I have ever been on before. During the long progression down the street I felt pretty comfortable on the bike; the seating position was good, footpeg height was normal but space felt a little tight between the peg and the shifter. The Terra comes stock with removable rubber pads that hook on top of the pegs. After removing these it gave me a little more shifting room but still felt too close with off-road riding boots on. Clicking through the gears on the Terra was pretty smooth but I felt first gear was a little short and I didn’t feel overly confident about the Terra having enough torque to start in second gear.
Another stop later we found ourselves on some twisty, turning roads near Big Bear. This is where I felt the bike really excelled. I was quite surprised at how well the bike handled through the twisty mountain roads. I was having a blast pushing the Husky to its limits more and more, at one point even locking up the rear in a corner and leaving a nice black trail on the road. Being mostly an off-road rider I tend to use the rear brake more than the front but after I got a little more confident and trusting the front tire more, I found that I could brake the Husky harder in corners without locking up the rear. The front end felt really stable and stiffer than other dual sport bikes I have ridden. I felt like the bike could have had a little more grunt coming out of the hole but it was sufficient for an average street rider like myself.
As we made our way up and through the twisty roads, we finally turned off into the small dirt part of the trip. The dirt consisted mostly of dirt roads with some rocky areas and some sandy sections. Unlike the street both front and rear tires felt pretty sketchy to me on this terrain. The front felt like it was pushing the whole time in the soft stuff and the rear would just spin. Rocky sections weren’t too bad, but overall the tires didn’t give me much confidence riding in dirt. The motor really felt sluggish here, and could certainly use more low-end climbing power for the hills. Standing on the pegs is my normal off-road riding position, but the Terra liked things much better with me planted on the seat. I tried to push as hard as I could off-road and the bike didn’t do anything overly unpredictable, although the shock would bottom every now and then and the pegs were pretty slippery. Yet the weight felt pretty balanced and I became really comfortable on the machine.
On our way back to the Husky office the plan was to jump back on the freeway and zip home. Not satisfied with the amount of dirt we got to ride a couple of us from the group split off to find our way back. This is the convenient part about this bike—the license plate on the back gives you more options to explore off-road areas that you couldn’t normally go on a street bike.
I got to ride the Husky a few more times after the intro—I used it as commuter back and forth to the office—and each time I noticed a few things that stood out. For example, the mirrors are really narrow on the street and are kind of annoying because you mostly see only your arms in them, yet the benefit is when you’re splitting lanes you are much narrower than on something bigger. I do wish that the bike had at least one compartment to carry small items, like a wallet or phone. Also, a gas gauge and a lock for your helmet would be nice. But for a dual-purpose 650 that can commute on the freeway and tackle rocks on the trail, this Husqvarna is not half bad.