2017 Husqvarna TC 85 Project Bike
Pro Circuit brought more power and a lot more crispness to the already potent TC 85 engine.Chris Tedesco

A young racer could find themselves on the gate against one or more of the nation's most promising factory recruits on their finely tuned factory machines. Luckily for these mini privateers, they have access to the same equipment that we put on this project 2017 TC 85 for young racer Jack Carrigg.

2017 Husqvarna TC 85 Project Bike
The project bike feared no takeoff kicker and no big landing.Chris Tedesco

Jack rode the 2017 TC 85 in stock form first to get a good feel of what we had and where we wanted to go with it. The feel of the cockpit was well liked immediately. The bike felt narrow between the legs, its seat seemed long and fairly flat, and the controls were well positioned and with that great hydraulic clutch that’s easy to pull. The TC 85 is a bit longer and taller feeling than most of the Japanese brands, and it did take a few laps to begin trusting the lean in through inside ruts at speed.

2017 Husqvarna TC 85 Project Bike
The suspension mods added comfort and confidence to the bike’s handling.Chris Tedesco

We played with some suspension clickers pretty quickly because the fork was diving a bit and seemed to ride a bit low; we opted for three to four clicks stiffer on compression and added one click slower on rebound. With the fork riding a bit higher the rear began working better and the front to rear balance was improved. Improved, but not perfect; we were looking for a more progressive setup.

Jack had saucer eyes on a few occasions—in a good way—while getting used to the new bike’s power. He mentioned that the stock engine felt like a modified engine. This bike has loads of power that impressed Jack, and even my eye dyno was picking up on the boost compared to other bikes Jack’s recently ridden.

2017 Husqvarna TC 85 Project Bike
“Kickers don’t affect how I jump the bike.”Chris Tedesco

With suspension still a bit soft and not exactly as we wanted it for 93-pound Jack, our first big move was to send the fork and shock to Pro Circuit, where suspension guru Jim "Bones" Bacon performed a revalve service on both. He also added a bladder kit to the shock reservoir to increase consistency and improve initial movement. For the fork, Pro Circuit adds its own piston band and compression adjusters as well as its own valving specs.

2017 Husqvarna TC 85 Project Bike
Jack Carrigg airs the little Husky out over some Milestone MX jumps early in the day.Chris Tedesco

The suspension work really changed the way the bike handled. The balance was much improved, the chatter was soaked up nicely, and on top of that both ends could also hold up well on big, hard landings and over corner-entry bumps while under hard braking. Most notable from the mods was the ability to get over the rear end and power through rough straights and up jump faces, something the bike didn’t want to do with the soft stock fork.

2017 Husqvarna TC 85 Project Bike
“The bike flows through corners with ease.”Chris Tedesco

The Husky’s engine is a great starting point, with very smooth and linear power—a lot of it. But we went looking for improvements, and we got Pro Circuit to see if it could squeeze more out of the cylinder. Mitch Payton modified the cylinder porting and milled the head (we knew we would be using VP C12 race fuel). Pro Circuit’s port and polish on the cylinder adds the next level of crispness. Jack noticed a large difference between the stock and modded cylinder with just the stock exhaust.

2017 Husqvarna TC 85 Project Bike
The stock engine is fast, the mods to the output, delivery, and drive give it that extra edge when charging out of corners.Chris Tedesco

But completing the engine package was a Pro Circuit Works pipe and R-304 silencer. The expansion chamber added some midrange and over-rev, and as a nice complement to that the R-304 produced more bottom-end while not sacrificing any of that new mid or top-end. We ran VP C12 with Bel-Ray H1-R synthetic at 28:1. A few tweaks to the jetting [a step leaner on the pilot, needle used, and main jet] made this a really impressive powerplant. The finished engine still maintained the smooth delivery of the stock bike but pulled much harder through the mid, allowing Jack to get to the next gear quicker.

2017 Husqvarna TC 85 Project Bike
The project bike performs as well as it looks.Chris Tedesco

DT-1 air filters were chosen for the bike; their Super Seal base was something I was interested in due to the Husky's tricky airbox/filter cage style. The Super Seal provides that extra confidence that you have a great seal. Another cool fact about DT-1 is it has a filter service in Murrieta (California) where you can drop off dirty filters and pick up freshly cleaned and oiled ones, ready for use. Now that is something really factory feeling for the guy (me) turning the wrenches.

2017 Husqvarna TC 85 Project Bike
It’s hard to find something that’s slicker than this customized ignition cover from Nihilo… Unless you crack open the engine and look at the Pro Circuit port and polish job inside.Chris Tedesco

Getting all this newfound power to the ground effectively was handled by a Rekluse Core manual clutch. I’m really pleased with the longevity we got out of our clutch packs using the Core clutch. The outer pressure plate has a very open design, allowing the oil to really penetrate, cool, and flush all of the plates, extending the life of the wear pieces. We experienced no clutch fade during long motos even on fibers and plates with extended hours. Once engaged the plates really hook up, and this setup really helped with starts.

2017 Husqvarna TC 85 Project Bike
Pro Circuit installed its bladder kit into the shock’s reservoir. The Pro Circuit shock and fork mods improved not only the way the bike soaked up chop and landings, but also the bike’s suspension balance. Nihilo provided the custom-cut frame grip tape.Chris Tedesco

For our gearing we used a Mika Metals 47-tooth T6 aluminum rear sprocket. Adding a tooth to the rear livens up the bottom and gets the bike out of the corners quickly. We completed the set with a Mika steel front sprocket and Mika 428 Factory Series chain.

Mika also helped with the controls with its Pro Series handlebar. We picked the stock bend but wanted a crossbar because Jack prefers the visual of the crossbar and can deal with a little extra rigidity in exchange. ARC unbreakable Memlon levers were chosen due to their durability. This bike hit the ground a few times and the levers, along with their rotating clamps, stood up to plenty of punishment. Over the years I’ve bought enough stock levers to build a broken lever house at this point, so the lifetime warranty of the ARC levers really pleases me.

2017 Husqvarna TC 85 Project Bike
Mika Metals handled the bar and grips up top and the chain and sprockets down low.Chris Tedesco

More often you are seeing top-level riders using grip products on the sides of their frame. Nihilo offers pre-cut versions that fit exactly to this bike; they last a few weeks of riding and are a low-cost performance upgrade. We also chose Nihilo for our stator cover; as much abuse as our bike took we knew the billet unit would protect it as well as add a really nice visual statement.

2017 Husqvarna TC 85 Project Bike
The Moto Tassinari VForce reed cage looks like a mod part, but it comes stock on the little Husqvarna.Chris Tedesco

Jack is normally a front brake kind of guy, but the Husky’s stock front brake is so strong that he stayed away from it. The power, and not enough lever feel to make him comfortable with it, on the new bike’s front brake meant he was using the rear brake more. To help him feel more comfortable with the front brake I beveled the pads to take away some of the strong initial bite. For the rear, which was being used heavily, I bled the fluid for every ride. Nihilo makes a rear brake carrier to use a big bike brake on this machine, and if this was to be our year-long racer that’s an upgrade I would make for sure. In my opinion it’s worth the investment.

2017 Husqvarna TC 85 Project Bike
The Rekluse Core manual clutch had no fade through long motos and helped the fibers last longer. Especially important with the Pro Circuit exhaust as well as its engine mods.Chris Tedesco

Wrapping up our finished build was a DeCal Works graphic kit. The durability of the materials DeCal uses is top-notch. One of my favorite decal pieces were the radiator louver graphics. Plastic louvers typically get sandblasted and become distressed looking quickly, so guarding them with replaceable decals is a great option. DeCal Works also had a great gripper seat cover to finish off the look and also hold Jack firmly in place while exiting corners.

2017 Husqvarna TC 85 Project Bike
ARC levers are great to keep those tip-overs from being costly to dad’s wallet.Chris Tedesco

And a word of advice in bike prep: Before we took the TC 85 out I put red Loctite on the kickstarter and shifter bolt threads. You don’t want to know how much those cost. I found out once the hard way, so now I reapply some Loctite as regular maintenance on those two bolts.

2017 Husqvarna TC 85 Project Bike
DeCal Works gave the graphics a clean and cool look, and its seat cover helped Jack stay in place on the project bike.Chris Tedesco

The end result with our project TC 85 was really satisfying. The bike has all of the ingredients to run up front no matter which bikes line up next to it. And I enjoy that this level of racebike can be put together using only services and components that are available to anyone.

Pro Circuit: (951) 738-8050
Works pipe: $241.95
R-304 silencer: $134.95
Fork work: $284.90
Shock work: $354.90
Cylinder porting: call for pricing
Head mod: call for pricing
Rekluse: (208) 426-0659
Core manual clutch: $399.00
Mika Metals: mikametals.com
Pro Series handlebar: $79.99
Waffle grip: $12.95
428 Factory Series chain: $74.99
Rear sprocket: $69.99
Front sprocket: $24.95
Nihilo Concepts: (855) 464-4456
Frame grip tape: $15.95
Ignition cover: $159.95
Gas cap: $49.99
ARC: (714) 543-0362
Clutch lever: $69.99
Brake lever: $69.99
Slipper clamps: $19.99 ea.
Bel-Ray: (732) 938-2421
H1-R 2t oil: $18.08
Chain lube: $13.95
Filter oil: $10.99
Filter cleaner: $14.94
Waterproof grease: $10.99
Gear saver: $12.99
DeCal Works:
Semi-custom kit: $269.90
Radiator louvre kit: $59.95
Seat cover: $69.95
Air filter: $28.95