2017 Husqvarna TC 250 First Impression Review

Knight in White Plastic?

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2017 TC 250
Dirt Rider test pilot Dylan Anderson agreed that the 2017 Husqvarna TC 250 felt light in the air. The new TC 250 is 4.2 pounds lighter than the 2016 model.Photo By Max Mandell

Yes, we have heard the question all too many times. “Aren’t the Husqvarna two-strokes the same as the KTM’s?” On paper you could say this is true, but on the track we say “false.” Even though the spec sheet and updates to the 2017 Husqvarna TC 250 matches accordingly with the ‘17 KTM 250 SX, both have a different feeling when riding. Husqvarna invited us to come ride several of their 2017’s yesterday, but my job was to spend some time on the TC 250. After all I just got off of a similar orange looking bike last week, so I am very familiar with any differences the two might have. The 2017 TC 250 is basically a new machine from the ground up and has a long list of changes:

The TC 250 frame is lighter by 380 grams with 20% higher torsional rigidity and 30% less longitude stiffness, a steeper (0.4mm) steering head angle (10mm shorter overall wheelbase), the TC still however incorporates a carbon composite subframe design, a WP AER 48 air fork (3.6 pounds lighter than the 4CS), an all new engine with a new die-cast crank design, engine covers, an additional counter balancer shaft, cylinder and cylinder head, a new weight optimized crankshaft, Mikuni TX 38 carb (previously a Keihin on the 2016 model), an updated pipe and silencer to match the new engine design and character, newly designed airbox and air filter, overall seat height is lower (20mm in the rear and 10mm in the middle), handlebar bend (height) is also 10mm lower, newly designed “No Dirt” foot peg design to keep mud/debris from getting your footpegs hung in the upward position, the swingarm’s internal structure is revised to match the flex character of the frame, 10mm longer rear brake pedal, less aggressive rear brake pads, a revised 22mm offset triple clamp that is slightly more rigid, a throttle assembly that is made easier to adjust by the throttle housing itself, and finally lock on ODI grips find their way on the TC 250.

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2017 TC250
The two-stroke is not dead. The Husqvarna R&D team is still hard at work to develop more powerful pre-mixed engines for all you two-stroke crazed fans!Photo By Max Mandell

Engine:

Since Cahuilla Creek MX is around 3500 feet above sea level this wasn’t the best place to test the capability of the TC’s engine and give it a fair comparison to the KTM. We will be taking it around to lower elevation tracks (along with another trip to Cahuilla Creek MX soon) in the next couple weeks to really feel the differences that the two may have. We did immediately notice that almost zero vibration was felt through the Pro Taper handlebar on the TC. Compared to last year’s model that would put your hands to sleep from the vibration, this is a very welcomed change. Acceleration out of corners is smooth and calculated and there is no violent two-stroke like hit to the Husqvarna TC 250. We did experiment with a leaner needle clip position, which helped to get more bark (mid-range rpm response) out of sandy berms. The new Husky two-stroke engine likes to be ridden aggressively and hard by the rider. If you do not rev out this engine it can be a challenge to clear some bigger type jumps out of deep sand corners. Unlike the KTM, the TC engine doesn’t liked to be short shifted and loves to be revved more than the orange machine. The Husky engine loves aggressive riders who like to rev out each of their gears. Top end is very similar on the TC compared to the KTM, but it revs out slightly longer. Going up hills the TC doesn’t fall off as soon as the KTM. If you can get around a corner in second gear and shift at the right moment the TC will reward you, however you will have to be precise around the track.

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AER Fork
The WP 48mm AER fork is one of the best air forks in today’s off-road market. Getting comfort out of a production air fork is no easy task, but WP seems to have found it.Photo By Max Mandell

Suspension:

The 48mm WP AER fork is leaps and bounds better than the WP 4CS fork. Let’s face it the 4CS fork wasn’t setting the bar that high for spring forks, but one thing is for certain, the new AER fork has more comfort than the 4CS. The WP AER fork will move in the stroke and will soak up small acceleration bumps, rather than deflect off of them like some Showa and KYB forks we have tested on some other machines. Just like the KTM, we started out with a base air setting of 149 psi, but increased the pressure to 151 psi, which helped the fork from diving too much. With 151 psi in the fork the AER fork has better hold up (damping feeling) on de-cel and hitting steep jump faces the bike’s ride attitude in the air was better (less pitchy). The good news about the AER fork is that when you do increase the air pressure it doesn’t feel like it gets harsher on braking bumps. Increasing compression instead will affect the fork’s full stroke more so than adding air to it, which to us felt strange. When coming into corners with more sizeable braking bumps the fork felt comfortable and didn’t give a harsh feel through the bars. Deflection was a non-issue and overall balance of the TC was soft, but balanced. However we will be working towards a firmer setting in the coming days. On big slap down landings the shock needed more damping at the end of the stroke, but on small acceleration chop the rear end felt squatted and gave the rear wheel tons of traction.

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2017 TC250
Carving berms with Husqvarna’s new chassis was a welcomed feeling out on the track.Photo By Max Mandell

Chassis:

The TC feels light! Flicking the bike around on jumps feels effortless and leaning the bike through corners is almost bicycle-like. There is a little push in the front end on flat corners, but the front end doesn’t feel as tall as the KTM when sitting on the Husky. With Husky going to a different bar (Pro Taper) than KTM (Neken) it makes the whole rider triangle more corner friendly than the KTM. Stability was impressive and for having an overall soft suspension package the TC250 stayed straight and felt planted underneath you on fast, choppy, straights.

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2017 TC250
Aggressive type of riders like Dylan Anderson loved the TC 250 two-stroke engine character.Photo By Max Mandell

Husqvarna did a great job of producing a better 250 two-stroke motocross bike that is wrapped up in a hard to beat cosmetic package. We will be doing a more in depth comparison with the 2017 Husqvarna TC 250 against its fraternal twin, the KTM 250 SX, in an upcoming issue of Dirt Rider Magazine.

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Side view
The 2017 Husqvarna TC 250Photo By Max Mandell