Husqvarna, who is now owned by the German brand BMW is still producing fierce looking and excellent performing dual sport and off-road racing machines. At the Husky Intro in Randsburg, CA, we got a quick ride on the 2011 TE and TXC449. Both of these bikes have that aggressive look that makes you want to hop aboard and twist the throttle. You can do this on the TXC thanks to the strong motor and tough suspension. I was able to charge through single track and stay comfortably planted on the bike. The balance was great and could easily be maneuvered in switchbacks. The TE had great balance as well but had that heavier feeling causing you to be more cautious especially in the desert whoops. If you weren’t careful in these deep bumps there was a possible bottom out-to-getting bucked hard awaiting you. My initial feel for the TE was just plain comfortable. I could sit down on the mild trails and the suspension felt plush but as soon as I ventured away from the easy stuff I found myself pushing a bit too hard for what the bike was capable of. The ergos on the TE feel aggressive like you can push hard and tackle the toughest trails, but at higher speeds you quickly realize the suspension won’t hold up when you need it to. This is where the TXC comes in swinging. The bike has that aggressive ergonomic feel and the suspension to support it. In the whoops it held up and gave me confidence that I could go faster if needed. On the rocky trails, the front end felt a bit stiff so I tried riding it a little faster and that solved my problem. Getting the forks to work down in the stroke was magical and it tracked well at these speeds.
Both the TE and TXC449 had the same feeling when it came to high speeds and sliding the rear end around. They feel super stable when cruising and whenever I got up to higher speeds, the front end felt light and nervous. It’s almost completely opposite of how the bike handles in technical stuff but this could be due to the low feeling rear end. Trying to slide this bike was a chore. Husky must be serious about there Coaxial Traction System (CTS), in which the countershaft sprocket and swing arm share the same pivot. This allows the chain to obtain a consistent tension during the movement of the rear wheel throughout its travel. I tried to slide this beast several times on flat hard packed dirt and every time I hit the gas, the rear tire would break loose but I couldn’t get it to lean or slide. Without having a rut to hold me up and lean over, the bike just stood straight up. I can see the advantages of this if you are moving at high speeds and don’t want to slide out of control but you still need the ability to slide at slower speeds to be able to change direction.
There is no shortage of power on either Husky, which makes flying up the hills a blast. You have to make a small effort to stay in the midrange power to keep in the power band. This is where the bike runs the best and has the hardest hit. The bike does run in lower rpm’s but it won’t chug like some others and occasionally will stall out, and if you do allow it to get this low in the rpm’s it takes to long to build up and get into the midrange meat. You are better off down shifting and letting the thing work to get up to speed. On the other hand, this bike does not like to be revved. You can tell when you need to shift and it doesn’t make power revving and quickly falls off up top. This motor may require you to pay more attention to what gear you are in but when you get to know it better, you will realize it has all you can handle if you know how to ride it.
The TE and TXC449s are definitely going to turn your head and draw attention because they look like a cheetah for one, and two, they are absolutely unique. These off-road bikes are all around comfortable and fun to ride with trail friendly power that fights for traction. We are excited to get a hold of our long-term bike here in a few weeks and will throw the machine into a hungry group of testers and see what they think of this sleek machine.