The 2009 Husqvarna TE450 is either very normal for an exotic bike, or very exotic for a normal bike. The exotic nature of the bike shines through when you look over its Swedish-then-Italian-now-German heritage (the company, previously purchased by Cagiva, was recently purchased by BMW), its fuel injection, its Sachs shock and Marzocchi fork, a Ferrari-like bright red valve cover, and the off-road legacy of the brand. The normal nature of the bike is most easily found once on the trail, as the bike has no peculiar or off-beat handling traits, produces smooth power, puts you into a familiar riding position, and rides on plush suspension. Not enough for you? It's a full-on off road bike, and it's Street-Legal in all 50 states.At one of our initial 450 off-road shootout test days (watch for the full shootout in the May 2009 issue), we threw the TE in with some very good company and went on a few long trail rides, with riders of various sizes and skills jumping from bike to bike. The Husky made no enemies but generally the faster or heavier riders considered it soft in both power delivery and suspension action. The lighter and slower riders gravitated toward it, nearly leading to a Welter Weight fight over it as the final trail miles of the weekend closed in.The Husky's engine isn't given anything close to a fair chance in stock trim. The stock filter cage is a solid plastic unit with a small air channel molded in that forces air to take two sharp turns while navigating through a square conduit about an inch across. Yes, the cage that holds the filter drastically chokes off the intake. A 'standard' air filter cage (you know, one that resembles a cage, not a brick wall) comes in the crate, but we didn't have access to it and had to cut ours into a semblance of a workable filter holder. The engine, even after un-plugged, is still in a state of mellow tune. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what you need, and what you think you need. If you think wheel spin and high revs equals trail speed, this motor likely isn't aggressive enough for you. If you think traction and forward progress are cool, you have a friend in this powerplant. One downside to this lack-of-snap power on a heavy bike is that it wasn't as easy to loft the front wheel up compared to the other off-road 450s. We added 3 teeth to the rear sprocket (from a 47 to a 50) to liven the bike up and orient it more for trails rather than surface streets. The change helped, but the bike still never got past being a docile, controllable, pleasant trail mount. Think a bit about what you need before you write off this motor as not 'enough' for you.The Sachs shock and Marzocchi Shiver forks do a great job of holding the bike up and keeping it calm and balanced - so long as you're on the lighter side and aren't charging at a top racer's pace. Heavy and fast guys found bottom too often. The feel of the movement is great, nice and plush, but as delivered the majority of guys in the market for a 450 (over 170 pounds) will likely be disappointed and need to play with some ways to stiffen the suspension.Husqvarna's take on handling has a Euro approach. The bike's long and low feel and slow steering makes it stable and predictable. The feel is different from a 'normal' (Japanese) bike, but a quarter tank into the ride and other bikes will feel nervous and unpredictable. The ergonomics and handling work together to make for a bike that never surprises and encourages you to keep hitting the trail just a little harder. And with its friendly power, it's easier to push up to your limits on this bike without having a hair raising moment.If this TE450 were to be judged against 450 race bikes, it's going to come up short. Husky makes a TXC450 if you're chasing trophies. The TE's charms are like those of the classic Honda XR400. The bike doesn't do anything with a razor's sharpness, but it is a great platform for doing what off-road riding is all about - getting on a fun bike and going out with your buddies and riding until your cheek pads make your face tired from smiling against them. The TE is a great bike for more riders than will admit it. This street legal machine is a serious trail bike for the rider who's not too serious.MSRP: $8299
Claimed Weight (tank empty): 246.9 lbs.
Actual Weight (tank Full): 283 lbs.
Seat Height: 37.7 in.
Footpeg Height: 16.5 in.
Ground Clearance: 12.5 in.
Street Legal (y/n): Y
Fuel Capacity: 1.9 gallons
Transmission: 6 speed
Manufacturer Website: www.husqvarna-motorcycles.comOPINIONSWhat I don't like about the Husqvarna 450 amounts to three points: It is too loud when set up for dirt, it is 10 pounds too heavy and I rode the 510. The Husky is a solid-feeling and performing mount with one of the best seats going. It comes with good equipment, and of course there is that wonderful license plate. The engine has very good power right off idle, and it runs well on top, but it is a little sluggish through the middle. While making that power it also generates a bit more vibration than I'd like, but not enough to give the bike a black eye. I got a short ride on the 510, though, and it gave its little brother two shiners. The 510 engine does vibrate as well, but it has all goodness in terms of power output and delivery. I like the Husky 450, but my money would go for the 510.?
Karel Kramer / 6'1" / 225 lb. / 6'1"/ B riderFor me the Husky is very stable at speed. It sort of reminded me of the stability of the old Swedish Huskys, but without the long awkward feeling they had. It pulls straight in whoops and feels safe in a fast sand wash. It doesn't turn as quick or feel as light steering as the Husaberg or the KTM, but it feels solid and planted in front. The engine is smooth and has good mid and high-rpm pull. I really like how closely spaced the six-speed is. It pulls from gear to gear well. The controls feel natural and not at all foreign like past European bikes. Considering this bike is actually street legal, it is a comfortable and impressive package.
Raymond Waters / 175 lb. / 5' 10" / Former desert expert I don't like big heavy bikes but I got along really well on this Husky. It feels tall and heavy in the pits, but once going it hid its weight and height well. In fact, it felt long and low, and gave me confidence. I'm one of those off-road riders that doesn't blaze over unfamiliar trails, so when I'm trying to keep up with a group of faster riders I want I bike I feel is controllable and that isn't going to do anything funny. I found that with this bike. And when we formed a trial loop and I could 'moto' the bike, it felt great. My initial twenty minutes on the bike had me feeling the front was 'awkward' and washing out, but then somehow I got used to it and every other bike I jumped on felt awkward. The power on this bike, where I live down low in the rpm, was fine. People were complaining about excess vibration but I didn't find that. On top of all this, the thing is plush and comfortable for long rides. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I made friends with this bike and wouldn't hesitate to grab it for future trail rides, unless it was going to be a slow technical grind where the Husky's 'Husky' weight would become a factor.
Pete Peterson / 5'10" / 160 lb. / C trail rider