There are pretty slim pickings in the 125cc two-stroke enduro bike market right now. In fact, as much as Husqvarna is considered a smaller brand today, it is the biggest to offer a machine like this WR125, and that is a pretty sad thing . You can shop around for a Gas Gas or maybe a TM. Rare and obscure, they make a Husky seem like a big brand. And for a lot of reasons, Husqvarna is. Now owned by BMW and making a strong comeback, the German-owned, former Swedish, now produced in Italy Husqvarnas are popping back up on the trails and at events all over the US, especially where there is a strong dealer nearby.Husky’s introductory bike, in displacement only, is the WR125. This Italian Stallion of a small-bore bike has roots back to the Cagiva days in heritage and a motor that has always been regarded as one of the best, provided you knew how to tune them. For the past few years, even though Husky has been deep in development of the newer small-displacement four-stroke engines, they never stopped making small improvements to the 125, and they didn’t stop racing it. In fact, a few of their riders stayed on the two-stroke for the E1 class when the new four-stroke 250cc was available to them. What does all that mean? We rode the bike and we’ll tell you.First off, as far as kick starting goes, a 125-and this one specifically-takes little more than the weight of your foot to make it run. Sold without a spark arrestor and as a closed-course competition machine, yet still very quiet thanks to its longish muffler, you could ride this bike without disturbing a soul if you lug it. And for a 125, you can really lug this bike. It has the bottom end torque of a KTM 150 and resists stalling better than any 125cc bike I remember. And it does not feel or act like it has an overly heavy flywheel either. The standard jetting lets the bike run clean and crisp though we liked it with a slightly leaner clip position, especially above sea level. Also, we ran a conservative 32:1 gas/oil ratio since we knew we’d be running this bike hard most of the time and that showed up with residue at the muffler junction and end cap in constant slow going.Screaming the bike wide open on top, this bike rips like any top-running 125cc MX machine would. With the throttle pegged the bike is alive and pulling as strong as could be expected for an engine of this size, just a tick off of a 250F. The WR actually climbed one of our biggest baddest sand hills and can lay claim to being the first 125 to ever do that.But in all that engine goodness there is the middle part of the powerband, and it can be bog city. An early shift or a sudden load on the bike when the throttle isn’t open enough for it will result in a bog the likes we have almost forgotten about. In fact staffers Kramer (has ridden more 125s than almost anyone), Ziegler (never ridden an off-road 125) and Denison (had a TM80 which was a two-stroke 80cc in a full-sized 125cc chassis) all rode the Husky and came back saying there was something wrong with it. The bog or hesitation going into or through the mid-range was that bad. With further testing we confirmed that the bike definitely has two distinct places where it likes to be ridden, the bottom and the top. Riding 125s on the track you’ll never experience this bog, not even on this Husky. But on the trails, this common trait of a small-bore two-stroke shows up, maybe too much.So, the power is either a deal breaker and you go look for a four-stroke or you ride a 125 and become a much better rider. For sure with any time on this bike you’ll learn how to use a clutch to coax more power out of the engine or to keep it on the pipe. You’ll learn how to tap-dance your way through a gear box and learn that there is a proper gear for everything. Luckily the Husky’s clutch and shifting action are up to the task.The other endearing aspect of any 125 is the light weight. Now, our scale didn’t classify the WR as a featherweight by any means since this is the same chassis that is used on its four-stroke brothers, so it is a bit beefier than it most likely needs to be. But when you are on the bike and putting it through its paces, there are few bikes out there that feel this light. Even orange ones with less of an effect on the scale. The bike has a slightly tall feel to it and is roomy enough for any sized rider. The springs seem to err on the stiff side of the scale for a 125, but faster riders will appreciate this. And the whole bike has a tough feeling built into it, with just enough Italian craftsmanship to make it sexy.Overall the ride is stiffer than you’d expect from a trail bike but it is not nearly MX stiff. It holds itself up in the stroke and because the bike has a light weight feel compared to the four-strokes we have become used too, it can also feel like it dances around a bit. But it doesn’t deflect and the suspension is set up well enough to take on faster off-road racing as well as some MX if needed. Once you start getting the bike broken in the suspension softens up a little. The whole time you get great damping out of the stroke and it only bottoms when you really slam it. Don’t be too worried that the name brands of the suspension are not what you may be used to. The Sachs shock and Marzocchi fork get the job done and have all of the same adjustments as any of the other brands out there. In fact this may be the best working off-road Husky in the suspension department that we have ridden. It would be tough competition for anything in the class, if there were competition.
The handling of the Husky is, as has been on all of our latest Huskys, a real high point of the bike. The turning is right there with the best of them, and this from a steel frame. The bike always keeps a light feel but it is really stable, too. The front end tracks well and the rider feels like they can turn instantly and confidently. And since the bike is thin and narrow where it needs to be you can get all over this machine to amplify anything you really want it to do.As a fully equipped off-road bike except for a spark arrestor (we slipped an FMF Turbine Core 2 (www.fmfracing.com) on ours to make it legal for the trails) the Husky has decent lights and some pretty usable switchgear and wires on the chassis if you have bigger plans for your bike. The transmission feels like a semi-wide ratio box. The gaps are noticeable to make the changes and spread effective off-road but you can still get around an MX track quickly. The brakes are plenty strong and have good feel squeezing floating rotors. The kickstand has an automatic returning spring when the bike is stood straight up, but with a hacksaw you can modify the kickstand to keep it down when the load comes off of it. And one of the biggest pluses to the WR is how easy it is to work on. The air filter is simple and takes no tools, and taking the tank off requires minimal effort, though you can change jetting without removing it. Enduro goodies like a speedo-odo and axel-pull handles are standard.Our complaints list is pretty short, aside from wishing there wasn’t such a dramatic bog in the engine. The gas tank is small and we did run it onto reserve in 21-miles one time, so fuel consumption should be looked after. There are aftermarket tanks available, but you will not find the typical aftermarket support you’d get from a more popular brand. Nevertheless, there are some dedicated companies that can help you tune. Handguards are always nice too!Personally I feel that riders growing up while skipping out on the 125 experience is a loss. The learning they do on a bike like this comes right about the time they are maturing to understand the physics and mechanics of both their body and their bikes. A bigger bike can mask a lot of rider error and tends to amplify catastrophe at the same time. Though there may not be much of a 125cc class, it doesn’t hurt that there are still 125s out there. They are great, fun learning tools and they make a proficient rider feel like a hero. Plus Husky has had some insane deals going on. And if you are just out trail riding and looking for a lighter and different ride, the WR125 can be all you. With this Husky you are not sacrificing anything in the suspension and handling performance and the motor will just encourage you to work harder for it.Specifications: 2010 Husqvarna WR125
Actual Weight (ready to ride, tank full): 233 lb
Seat Height: 37.5 in.
Seat-to-Footpeg Distance: 21.0 in.
Footpeg Height: 16.5 in.
Sound Test: 90 dbOpinionsKarel Kramer
6’1″/205 lb./Senior B riderEven though I have ridden a converted 125cc two-stroke motocrosser off-road lately, it has been a long time since I rode a dedicated 125 off-road bike. Probably because there aren’t many left. The last one was a KTM in Ohio, but I have ridden a lot of the former Husky/Cagiva 125s. For sure the latest Husky WR125 is far more civilized than the older ones ever were. The handling and ergonomics are hugely improved, and so is the detailing of the bike. This may be my favorite production off-road bike seat. The suspension action is very fine as well. Starting, carburetion, clutch action, off-idle tug and high rpm pull are all great, but what happened in the middle? I know that this engine is behind a KTM 125, and I remember the older Husky and Cagiva engines being better. I’m sure there is a simple fix, but where will we find a Husky 125 expert in the U.S.? As a bike aimed as a stepping stone to more powerful machines, the seat height is tall. Still, this is a solid package if we can find the mid.Jesse Ziegler
175 lbs./ Vet IntermediateRiding the WR125 is an enlightening experience: around every corner there’s something to take in. First is the peppy snap of the two-smoke motor. There’s nothing like a crisp crack-o-throttle to make you feel like a kid again. Combine that with a solid, quality feel and your initial impression is going to be extremely positive. The bike starts easily and even idles on its own. Click it into first and start off and you’ll be met with a low-rpm murmur that refuses to stall. It lugs extremely well in the low end in any gear, creeping along at a slow, reluctant-to-accelerate pace. Here you wish it stole something from your four-stroke trail bike and kept its traction-hungry torque while picking up speed. But, it doesn’t. It only goes one speed when lugging. If you want to go faster, kick the clutch lever back with your left digits and give the throttle a wiggle. From here the WR shows its small attitude problem. It can either muscle through the transition from hum to rev or it can tighten up and bog. A solution? Ride it like a 125. Grab throttle. Cover clutch. Use momentum. And when this Husky comes on the pipe hold on because the top end is what motorcycles are all about-Weeeeeeeeee!Chris Denison
5’10″/ 155 lbs./ IntermediateI love two-strokes, and this little pinger is no exception. Granted, you have to approach a Husky a bit differently than any of the other Austranese models, but if you can throw a leg over a bike like the WR125 and ride it with an open mind, you’re bound to have fun. As for this machine’s motor, the power isn’t amazing but you can actually lug the bike through the tight stuff with little effort. The hit was a little inconsistent-it felt like to me like the power valve was wired open-but after a while I at least knew it was going to happen. Up top, the bike will scream like any 125, though so much seat time on a four-stroke lately has made my speed-shifting a lot rustier than it used to be. The fork and shock both feel soft on the WR125, though I appreciated the plushness on slower trails. To me, the whole bike feels short length-wise, so it was easy to dice through narrow trees and tight corners, where the low center of gravity helps the Husky stay hooked up. Sure, it’s not orange, blue, red, yellow or green and the powerband isn’t as strong all the way through as some other 125cc machines, but for what it is the WR125 is a kick to play on.