2017 Husqvarna FX 350 and FX 450 First Impression Review

Check out our First Impression of Husqvarna's new line of X bikes, the 2017 FX 350 and FX 450.

Husqvarna has continued to push the limits of dirt bike design and for 2017 they are offering a whole new line of bikes, the X line. These bike fall between the FC and TC (motocross) models and the FE and TE (Enduro) models. The TX (two-stroke) and FX (four-stroke) could be considered Husky's Cross Country race bikes, designed for closed course off-road competition such as Hare and Hounds, GNCCs, and National Enduro. But Husqvarna also made it very clear that the TX and FXs are at home on a motocross track as well as single track. And, to that point, the white bikes were introduced to Dirt Rider at Cahuilla Creek MX where we had a chance to ride the following bikes on the sandy, flowing motocross track and rocky, dry, desert-y trails.

2017 Husqvarna FX 350
You can see the resemblance between the FX 350 and its motocross-only sibling, the FC 350.Photo by Drew Ruiz

FX 350

As you may have seen in the the model announcement (dirtrider.com/2017-husqvarna-off-road-bikes-announced) this bike is a mash up of the FC 350 and FE 350. That being said, a majority of the the FX 350 is from the FC model. What sets it apart from the motocross bike is the 6-speed transmission, 18-inch rear wheel, more powerful battery, lager capacity 2.2 gal. gas tank, kickstand, Dunlop AT81 tires, and, of course, suspension settings.

2017 Husqvarna FX 350
According to Husky, with the FX line you don’t have to choose between track or trail, you can have both. After one day of testing, we are inclined to agree.Photo by Drew Ruiz

Traction Control

This is our first look at the Husqvarna traction control and we’ll start by explaining it how Husky explained it to us and by saying that it can be turned on and off on the fly with a button on the bar. . Since AMA rules say that there are no wheel sensors are allowed (which is how traction control on other motorcycles typically works) the traction control on the FX 350, and all four-strokes for that matter, is by monitoring the throttle position and engine rpm. The ECU is basically watching for a quick spike in rpm when the throttle position stays the same. For example, if the throttle is half open and the rpm goes from 4000 to 9000 because the bike hit a patch of mud or loose sand, the ignition while be retarded slightly to let the rear wheel get traction.

We only had a day to play with it and we didn’t have any mud to spin through, but one of our testers was saying that he noticed it only when the bike was getting into the mid to upper rmp and it didn’t kick, or at least he didn’t notice it, in the lower rpm. When it did kick in, he said that it was just as if the bike was slightly slower reving and grabbing traction and it didn’t slow the bike down or kick in violently. We will be spending a lot more time with this when we get the bikes out again.

Engine

As with other 350 four-stroke Husqvarnas, we were really impressed with the motor on this machine. It is not detuned or changed in any way from the motocross bike, but it does have one extra gear than the MXer in the transmission, which adds versatility for off-road use. This bike has two engine maps (standard and aggressive) that you can switch between on the fly with the push of of button. Comparing to last year’s FC model, it seems that there is a bigger difference between the two maps. The standard map has plenty of smooth, yet revvy power, but the aggressive map has more bottom end snap.

2017 Husqvarna FX 350
The FX 350 is just a fun bike. A quick, revvy motor combined with a light and slim chassis is a recipe for good times.Photo by Drew Ruiz
2017 Husqvarna FX 350
The WP AER fork only has one chamber to fill, accessible on the top of the left fork leg.Photo by Drew Ruiz

Suspension

This is also the first time we’ve had a chance to ride an off-road focused bike with the WP AER 48mm air fork, and our initial impression is that rider comfort is not an issue. In fact, both testers felt that while the FX’s specific valving specs were great for small chop and had no harshness, they didn’t offer as much hold up as they would like for the motocross track. The fork would blow through on OJ landings and on breaking when coming down fast, steep hills. Neither tester had an issue with the shock.

On the trail, the suspension shined and barring professional level off-road racing speeds, the fork is more than capable of handling what most riders can dish. Also, while we didn’t play with air pressures, since it is an air fork, changing “spring” rate is as easy as pumping up your tire. This is also something we’ll spend a lot more time on.

Handling

Since the FX 350 has the same chassis as the 2016 FC 350, this bike has the same light, slim, sit-on-top feel that the MXer has. This is great for the track, but it is makes for an agile, quick-responding trail machine. The ability to easily move around in the cockpit and it’s low overall weight make off-road obstacles and quick direction changes pretty darn easy. Comparing this bike to the 2016 FE 350, this is the biggest and best difference with those bikes since the ’16 model just feels bigger and more stout.

One day has shown us that while it isn’t a perfect track bike, this big-tanked, 6-speed off-road machine can really be a viable motocross and trail bike, without missing a beat.

2017 Husqvarna FX 350
Need to get your moto fix? The FX 350 is happy to oblige. Just dial in the fork before getting too crazy. Our testers thought it was a little on the soft side for really aggressive riding.Photo by Drew Ruiz
2017 Husqvarna FX 450
The 2017 FX 450 is a brand new model. Out of the box, this bike is ready to race both on the track and off-road.Photo by Drew Ruiz

FX 450

Just as with the FX 350, the 450 version is based on the FC 450 and got the exact same off-road accoutrements added on. Again, those are a bigger, 2.2 gallon tank, kickstand, Dunlop AT81s, stronger battery, 18-inch rear wheel, suspension settings, but retains the same five speed gear box as the motocross machine.

Engine

This generation of 450 motor is much more controllable than that of the previous models. In the standard map, the bike has smooth, torquey power that wicks up when you want it to, but doesn’t wear you down in the tight stuff. In the aggressive map, there is a huge difference in power delivery, especially right off the bottom. There is more snap, more crackle, and more pop that gives you that full 450 motocross feel. Also, the traction control, so far as one day of testing will tell us, is much more useful on a bike that makes a claimed 63 hp. While with the FX 350, we played with the both maps on the track and trail, the FX 450 had us using the aggressive map on the track and the standard map on the trail.

2017 Husqvarna FX 450
Pop this FX 450 into map 2, which is the aggressive map, and get your moto fix!Photo by Drew Ruiz

Suspension

Just as the 350, the 450 has the WP AER 48mm air fork which displayed much the same characteristics that it did on the smaller thumper. While being comfortable on small to mid hits and really working well on the trail, the fork was on the soft side for expert level track riding. One of our testers candidly admitted that he really didn’t like WP’s 4CS fork even though he had it on his personal bike. But he was really impressed with the amount of comfort and smooth action of the AER fork and would take it over the 4CS for any type of riding.

2017 Husqvarna FX 450
Since it has a pretty light feel for a 450, especially for an off-road bike, the FX 450 encourages you to tackle some challenging trail obstacles.Photo by Drew Ruiz

Handling

Being light and slim does wonders for handling feel. On tester was describing how easy it was to turn this bike using only his lower body. He said that with a good pinch at the ankles and knees, he was just using his legs and hips to steer the bike and get it to follow the trail, rather than using his upper body and handlebar input. This is high praise for a 450 off-road bike. On the track, it was just as willing to carve a corner and blast a berm as it was to snake through the single track. Also, a tester commented how seamless the bike felt between his legs – his boots, pants, and knee protection didn’t get hung up on any seams or edges.

Who’s this bike for? To be honest, we need a little more time in the saddle to see if this bike is really 50 percent track, 50 percent trail or if it skews more one way than the other. But so far, we can say that both motocross riders and serious off-road guys and gals would have a hard time finding faults on the FX 450.

Traction control on FX450
The verdict is still out on traction control. We think that in extreme situations (sloppy mud, deep silt, gravely blue groove) it will show more of a benefit. Conditions on our test day were pretty optimal, so we didn’t really get to test it too much.Photo by Drew Ruiz