With the launch of the TC250 motocrosser, Husky is stepping into one of the most ferocious and competitive rings of motorcycle performance there is. It’s a class that demands a light and flickable feel, but it must be backed up with solid handling. A 250F’s suspension is asked to please a weight range from those just moving up off minis to overweight vets who prefer 250Fs. And the engine, maybe the most critical component, must put out juice while remaining ridable. And if Husky didn’t know or understand this before, it does now.Being all-new, the TC250 was developed around its powerplant. Pictures of this tiny engine popped up almost three years ago as it raced all over Europe in MX and enduro events. During that time Husky was looking after durability and, more specifically, to get the chassis right, and that took some time. During that time BMW purchased Husqvarna, so behind the scenes even more radical things were (and are) happening.The 249.5cc DOHC engine differs quite a bit from its predecessor; the main differences are the axle distances inside the engine, the gear shaft dimensions were reduced, and the overall length, width and height of the engine were reduced by 13 percent and lightened 10 percent, down to around 48 pounds, claimed. It has a cam-chain-to-gear drive, and it could be one of the only modern four-strokes that you could not only get to the spark plug on but possibly even do valve maintenance without removing the gas tank. The transmission has a hydraulic clutch and a five-speed close-ratio gearbox.On to the chassis. The frame is being built by a new company for Husqvarna, and you can see the quality improvement if you’re familiar with the brand. A major departure is the switch to the new Kayaba fork, leaving the finicky Marzocchi behind. Out back the new shorter swingarm pushes a fully adjustable Sachs shock through a linkage. The claimed weight for the TC250 was being tossed around at 213-214 pounds and was nicknamed the “X-Lite” by the Husky team.When you first ride the bike you don’t doubt any of the lofty claims made by anyone surrounding the TC, but there are some finishing touches that can leave a scar if you’re not tough. The bike is hard to start. It has a procedure, like old four-strokes, so brush up on your Husqvarna history. You can’t just slam the kickstarter down like you can on almost every other modern motorcycle. If you do, it might start or it might kick back. If you kick it normally, you will get the kickstarter stuck alongside the footpeg. Eventually the kickstarter will start to bend. There are supposed to be updated start levers, but we haven’t seen any yet. This will need attention in the future, along with relocating the hot-start button to the handlebar with a cable kit.Once you’ve got the engine running, 95 percent of the negative issues with the bike go away. Stock, the carburetion is pretty good, but it was extremely hot during testing so we leaned the needle out one position. The throttle response is quicker and healthier than any small Husky before it. It isn’t the same kind of pickup that the current Japanese bikes have, nor is it the flatness that KTM 250Fs have had in the past. The bike has pretty good torque right from the bottom, but it can be sluggish if you expect it to pull up from there with only the throttle, like any 250F. Give it the clutch and get the rpm into the middle and here is where the Husky shines, not with power, but with tractability. For any spot you’re on the track, it feels like you can have the TC at about 2000-3000 rpm less than a Japanese bike and it pulls just as well. It feels slow but it is pulling just the same. Then you seem to have longer to play with each gear, as the Husky revs out to a solid top-end pull and rarely hits a rev-limiter because there is a subsequent power sign-off. Our pro riders wanted it to pull more on top, and we have so far unsuccessfully tried some jetting to get it to rev harder, but these were minor sticking points. We’re pretty sure the power is off a little compared to the competition, and more so on tight tracks with technical jumps and turns than fast ones. Not helping is the throttle response of the FI bikes in the class, changing the way we can ride 250Fs, but this Husky isn’t all that far off.Riding the motor fast requires little concentration since it is so friendly, and that lets you concentrate on the smaller features of the machine. The shifting took a few motos to break in, then only some of our riders had a hard time with higher gear shifts under a load. The clutch action was great and has both feel and control. The brakes are strong and progressive, a big change in the right direction from our last Husky test bike. Sitting on the bike, forward for the turns, had us thinking this could be the most compliant seat out there even if the rear of it has little to no padding-where you’re not supposed to sit anyway. And the layout for the pegs, bar and the thin rider cockpit all draw little attention, even when jumping on from a competitor’s machine. The Husky now feels just like the others.
Handling is probably the one area where every rider who came off the bike praised the new machine, especially in the turns or turning the bike in the air. The bike is very neutral and the suspension balance is just about perfect. It is very easy to tell if the ride height is off (102mm is proper). The TC makes turns into one seamless motion, not an entrance, a mid-turn and an exit like on some of the competition, which are pushing so hard for the ultra-light and responsive handling that can make a bike quite nervous in comparison. The Husky will, if asked, go anywhere on the track. Shortening the swingarm up must have helped this, and we’d suspect having good suspension helps out as well. The bike is stable, stable as a Husky, if you will. The KYB/Sachs combo is balanced and set up perfectly for MX with the range to make a lot of different riders happy. It drew minimal complaints, and very few of our riders were looking for adjustments aside from slowing down the rebound on the rear shock a little. It resists bottoming, even with heavier riders on board, but it will use the entire stroke when it hits something really hard. The tire hits the fender in front, so it sounds like it bottoms sometimes when it really isn’t. The back has the same performance and traction. It was pretty impressive and a huge improvement from what we remember in the past.So where does this leave the Husky? We were thinking it was one of those “all slow bikes handle well” deals, but the more we discussed it and the more we rode it, we realized the handling was better than that. And we’re not quite sure that the TC is slow, because everyone who rode it, rode it fast and looked good at the same time. For sure it is lacking all-out power and snap if you have pro speed, but for the real world Husky has a bike that is performing well (save for that starting) and getting the job done.In reality, Husqvarna doesn’t have to make excuses, the bike is speaking for itself.OpinionsKarel Kramer
6’1″/205 lb/Novice Motocross
I really didn’t know what to expect from the Husqvarna 250F. I knew the new engine was small and light, but not much else. After riding the bike I was more than impressed. The 250 has very few flaws, and it is a more complete and polished package for me than the 300 two-stroke that I rode. The engine doesn’t have the hit of the strongest Asian bikes, but it pulls cleanly from very low in the rpm, and it pulls nicely out of sweepers. Let her scream and it feels something like the KTM 250 SX-F on top. Gear spacing is good for the engine, but I’d say top speed is a little shy of Japanese bikes. The bike is most effective at a sweeping track, and the juice clutch works well with a decent pull. Shifting in the lower gears is clean and easy, but in the higher gears the cogs get reluctant under a load. One oddity was that the clutch lever would just lose all feel if the engine was free-revving, like in the air over long tabletops. It never happened on the ground, and bleeding the clutch might fix that, but we did notice it. For ’10, the Husky uses a Kayaba fork, and the combination of that fork and the Sachs shock is pretty darn good. Bottoming resistance is good, and the action is smooth for most track trash. The front brake is simply amazingly powerful and predictable. For sure the most impressive aspect of the bike is the handling. It is happy in the air, but I was able to hit lines in sweepers that have always eluded me. Working on the bike is pretty easy, and getting at common items like the filter and shock preload is a snap. I had a ton of fun riding this bike.Jesse Ziegler
5’10″/175 lb/Vet Intermediate
Husky’s 250cc motocross bike was long overdue for an update. The previous version was heavy, bulky and just too old school for modern MX. After a good session on the new bike, I can easily say the 2010 bike is better everywhere (almost). The best part of this bike is comfort and handling. The bike simply feels good to ride. It’s open and spacious and is friendly to your arms, legs and everything else that comes in contact with it. Nothing feels out of place or weird. The bike corners like no other bike I’ve ridden this year. It’s that good. Plus, it stays incredibly stable at high speeds or on really fast sweepers-almost impossible to do. It’s slim, light, stable, flickable-what more do you want? Well, for starters it could start easily. This bike is a pain to kick and, just as it did at the international intro months ago, the kickstarter can either stick down or mule-kick back at you-both are zero fun. This is one bike I don’t want to stall in a race. Once fired up the motor is smooth (if not slow “feeling”) and fun to ride. I’m actually pretty fast on it since it lacks any trouble-making power character. It’s going to lose some horsepower wars and will take more rider-skill to stay up front, but I’m sure you can ride it longer at a higher speed than a straight-up motor-only bike. I can’t wait to figure out a solution to the starting, squeeze just a couple more ponies out of the motor and enjoy riding it all year.Specifications: 2010 HUSQVARNA TC250
Claimed Dry Weight: 214 lb
Actual Weight (ready to ride, no fuel): 221 lb
Seat Height: 37.8 in.
Seat-to-Footpeg Distance: 20.8 in.
Footpeg Height: 17.0 in.
Sound Test: 96.5 dbWhat’s Hot!
Compact engine that is easy to reach for maintenance.
Amazingly planted front end and superb flat sweeper handling.
Great riding position with excellent seat.
No tools for air filter maintenance.
Pull on top without hitting rev-limiter.
Strong, controllable brakes.What’s Not!
Pipe on the left side takes some getting used to so you avoid burns.
Less snap/hit than best Japanese bikes.
|Main:||190||Stk or 200|
|Pilot:||38||Stk or 40|
Other Notes: We were looking for a bit more power on top and tried a 200 main and a leaner pilot. At some tracks that seemed to work, but we ended up close to stock.
Other Notes: Adding oil to the fork will decrease bottoming.Modifications We’d Like To Try: Electric-starter kit, some different exhaust systems.