2009 Husaberg FE450 Web Test - Dirt Rider Magazine

The Husaberg stands above the 450 off road population

This bike is out to get you-to get you to buy it. So, don't ride one unless you have about $9500 in your pocket and a desire to throw your preconceived notions about dirt bikes out the window. It is Husaberg tradition to not follow the norm and that's continued with this KTM-built bike.Exactly where the design came from is a bit of a touchy subject, but from what we can tell, the concept was started with Husaberg engineers and refined by KTM ones. Then, KTM took and built the bike to the standards that have been so successful for them.Well whoever and whatever departments put this thing together, they nailed it. Where other bike manufacturers have tripped over being different and made machines that suffered from being too unique, this Husaberg makes all its stuff work.What stuff, you ask? Well, the radical 70-degreee inclined cylinder angle with the crank center raised high up in the frame comes to mind. Closed loop fuel injection with a sensor in the exhaust that keeps the fuel mixture adjusted to perfection rings a bell. Available tuning maps adjustable simply by clicking an optional switch on the handlebar (up to 10 with four pre-programmed in stock.) is there somewhere. And the best feeling chassis action we have felt on a PDS linkageless equipped bike pretty much sums it up.But everything does not start out rosy. In fact most people who push the Husaberg around (without the motor running) or try and put the bike on a stand will swear that the Berg is a heavy pig. Its weight being a little higher in the chassis makes it feel strange when moving the bike by human power. Some people could not actually get over this until they saw what the scale said: one-pound more then the feathery feeling KTM. Then, they were confused! And while we're bitching we'll get on the only other gripe we have with this bike, the seat breaks down too quick and you will be feeling the plastic frame rails. Oh yea, the Husaberg has a plastic sub-frame-innovative.Right away on this bike you get to love the EFI. Cold starts are painless, the bike idles and purrs, ready to rip. Throttle response is as good as it gets no matter what. And I swear the FI brain combined with the ignition mapping knows what I'm thinking when I ride this bike. It seemed that the Berg knew exactly what I was thinking and the motor responded with the exact pull I was looking for. Aggressive as hell when it needed to be and a big pussy cat at other times grabbing traction and making the bike go exactly as fast or as slow as I needed it to go. And it could change just by how I twisted the throttle. This in any ignition map position, though I preferred the standard one most of the time. The softer the ground and the more traction that was available, the more useful the aggressive map became. And the more I rode this bike the more I found myself riding a gear or two high and letting the marvelous chug tractor the bike along till I was ready to pull the trigger with a boost of throttle that starts out where other bikes would bog.The Berg can light up and spin or lug away peacefully. Then every other non FI bike I get on I feel the millisecond of carb delay every time I twist the throttle and there is that imperfection in every twist that produces a little bit of hit. That feeling makes a bike feel strong but it really is a slight lag, then a punch that the Husaberg does not do. It just responds instantly.Power wise it feels a little less powerful than the KTM all the way through, for sure a little off in peak power feel as well. It may actually rev farther, it is running clean high up in the revs. But it is not slow and feels as if the Husaberg is moving itself along faster when it is all said and done.Yes the motor is good. Running it through a six-speed transmission makes it even better. Having a magical hydraulic clutch furthers the point with great feel and control, a light pull too. Our bike resisted boiling over better than the KTM even though they use the same radiators and, really, the same top end.Then you get on with the handling and any bike with a motor that good is starting with a clear advantage since great controllable power has a way of making it a lot easier on a chassis. But the new design of the Berg delivers in a very strange way.I would not call it two-stroke-like handling because the FE carries along with it a planted four-stroke feel. That feel of weight that is connecting the bike to the ground, if not downright planting it on the ground. But then the bike has a very light nature to everything about its handling character.It is light in the steering through the handlebar. It has precision steering, like a KTM, better for any rider that fits on the bike. It is very flickable side-to-side and this combination makes it agile like a much lighter MX bike. But where the new engine configuration makes its points is any time the bike is heavily on one wheel, like in aggressive turning, hard on the brakes or in a pivot turn in a switchback. When you have to flick the bike or pivot it, it just responds like no other four-stroke. The more technical the riding the better the bike responds to it, as long as you are moving a little bit. It loves to wheelie and pop the front tire in the air and it is very easy to hop the bike on and over obstacles. Plush when you do hit stuff, the suspension is really active and it absorbs just enough to take any spine out of the hit, an area where the KTM has had a lot of issues in the past.

The 'Berg has proven most versatile on some of our grueling trail rides.

As the speeds pick up the Husaberg feels like it does not have the stability of a lot of other bikes, but it is a feeling more than a reality. The bike is compact and riders over six feet tall will really be scrunched on the FE making stability even more of an issue. But for those that fit, as you push the bike you start to realize that it goes straight just fine and it is still very active and precise handling at speed, just a whole lot lighter feeling and more flickable, hence that less than confident sensation till you get used to it. It is different that any other bike and most riders felt that the KTM would be a better choice for high speed work. Until a few of them spend a lot of time on the Husaberg and then they changed their opinion about higher speed riding and stability.Like we mentioned before, the suspension is good, but a lot more focused on a trail setting that anything that you'd want to go fast on a motocross track on. It is too soft there. The rear spring is on the light side for riders over 190 pounds and we had our preload cranked to get the proper ride height. Removing the shock to change preload is a bit of an issue, but it only takes three or four minutes. We also tried stiffer fork springs and then the setting turned more towards a KTM XC-style feel, stiffer and more track capable, but we wanted a matching shock spring now too. Overall the suspension performance is the best trail suspension most of us have ridden lately and we didn't even need to mess with the clickers all that much.The other parts of the bike worth noting are the brakes which are KTM strong and really have great feel now too. The skid plate is brilliant and protects the underside just fine. The bike is narrow and thin, but it does bulge right at the lower side panel and you can feel it when getting back on the bike.The seat pops off by pulling a cord, the air filter, located in the center of the gas tank area, under the tongue of the seat is a tool-less affair. The bike can pump some motor oil into the air box if the engine is overfilled or if you flip the bike over. It will make the bike smoke and run a little funny if you get a lot of oil in there. Changing the single compartment motor oil is a double drain bolt deal, one has a screen filter and there is the typical mesh filter on the motor to keep the oil clean. We've got nearly 20-hours on our test bike now and it has been going perfect without as much as a fuss.Yes, we like this bike; yes it is the top performer in our 450 off-road shootout. The Husabergs have been decent bikes in the past with spotty reliability records, bikes known for a higher maintenance schedule for sure. Their handling was only appreciated by a few and sales never got thicker than a core group of riders willing to put up with the quirks to enjoy the magnificent motor the Bergs were carrying all along. But that is all going to change starting with this bike.Don't ride one unless you have the cash or you will be thinking about the Husaberg every time you ride your other bike. And likely not in a good way.MSRP: $9498
Claimed Weight (dry): 250 lb.
Actual Weight (tank Full): 267 lb.
Seat Height: 37.4 in
Footpeg Height: 16.7 in
Ground Clearance: 13.0 in.
Street Legal (y/n): N
Fuel Capacity: 2.2 gal.
Transmission: 6-speed
Manufacturer Website: www.husaberg.comAs a magazine test person I can separate my personal feelings about a machine and appreciate the strong points even when they don't particularly mesh with my style. A case in point is this Husaberg 450. It is an incredible bike, and I have advised any rider who would listen to get a ride on one if possible, and to buy one if they could. I rode it for less than 50 feet before I realized that this was how FI should work, and that FI makes the engine superb. The handling is super nimble and belies the size and weight of the bike. Husaberg has certainly raised the bar. That being said, it doesn't really work for me personally. I've never liked the intake moan under the tank, and this 'Berg feels to small ergonomically for a rider my height. The Husaberg is a clear winner of this comparison, but for me it's more like fourth on the list of bikes I would buy.
Karel Kramer
6'1"/225 lb./B rider

It feels lighter, reacts more efficiently and delivers everything a 450 can in a smoother, more useful package.

My second ride of the afternoon was the Husaberg 450.I felt right at home as soon as I threw my leg over it. It sure is nice to have a magic button! All the controls are in the correct location. I tested this bike on the 3rd loop (very technical). Right away I noticed this bike was nothing like the CRF450R that I just finished riding. The Berg is a precision instrument that requires precise steering input from the rider. (Precise steering input is not one of my strong points). Very agile almost 2-stroke like. Basically if you look the way you want to go it goes there no exceptions. And it goes there right now. So I found myself over shooting and or undershooting the corners when trying to go fast. I'm not sure if it was me or the bike that couldn't make up it's mind in the corners. Either way I found the cornering to be a bit on the twitchy side with the front tire hunting all over the berms. Conversely when I slowed down to 1st gear (walking speed) The Berg was a dream machine. It just hooked up and went exactly where I wanted it to go. I did notice a bit of wallowing? Front tire walking all over the place in soft sandy singletrack. Maybe I just needed to hang off the back end a bit farther? I think the suspension could be a bit stiffer. As far as the funny looking motor... It had me laughing with joy. Incredible that such a radical design should work so well. It felt as good as or better than any other 450 motor I've ridden. Strong on the bottom but not rip your arms out of their sockets strong. Just enough to launch out of the corners with the most possible traction. Great mid range and top end that is to be expected from a Berg... How do they do that? Almost impossible to stall. It must have a 10 LB flywheel! I did have a few areas that 1st gear was too low and I did not have enough talent to ride it properly in 2nd. Brakes and clutch worked in perfect harmony.Bob Surmon, AKA San Felipe Bob/ 44/ 6-2/ 180lbs street clothes 195ish with full gear/ District 37 Expert, SCORE sportsman champion/ claim to fame: Solo'd the Baja 2000 in 59 hours.Comments: After parking the Beemer, I felt it best to embark upon a back to back Euro shootout, so I mounted the Husaberg for a blast through the more open trails of Trail Course #1, being a relatively tight yet flowing berm to berm powdery dust. Departing the collection area, I felt more relaxed immediately, compared to the Beemer, though slightly more cramped up on the tank. Being 6'7" I'm used to discomfort around the controls of stock machines, though this cockpit felt smaller then most. The first thing that impressed me on the Berg was the sheer grunt of the motor. I'm not sure what mapping setting I was in, as there were apparently 3, though it was a breath of fresh air compared to the beemer. It rev'd beautifully through the range, which I often explored on the short straights that married up tighter corners. Again the suspension was too soft for my 240lbs, though I was feeling much more comfortable and confident on this machine. I did find myself pitching it in to corners seated too far back on the seat and not up over the tank, due to the lack of area under the bars for my legs. This lack of weight over the front end made the bike push through corners more then I'm sure it typically would with your average trail boss. A set of ape hangers and heaver springs would address this I'm sure.Net result was a big surprise, as this machine had exceeded my expectations and even had me thinking I would consider it if I were in the market for an Enduro bike. Having owned a KTM 520 and 450's back in the day, I felt at home on the Berg.Brett Nicholas/ 6'7"/240lbs/Intermediate

. After all, it's one of our selected Long Haul test projects!/>

You'll be seeing a lot of our Husaberg 450 in Dirt Rider Magazine and here at www.dirtrider.com. After all, it's one of our selected Long Haul test projects!

The Husaberg 450 had an overall super smooth and easy ride feel for me. The power delivery was easy to control with an almost under-power feel but during cornering and riding ruts the Husaberg would send you straight every time. This bike I feel would make a great Hair-scramble / Enduro bike with the current set up. The Husaberg fuel injection system was spot on with no hick-ups or misses now only if KTM could switch over. Overall I like the Husaberg and would own / race one with some minor changes for my style of WORCS races. One change would be a little more overall Power with an exhaust system perhaps and some gearing changes. Second would be the factory suspension is way to soft I hit the stoppers on both forks and shock numerous times riding the Moto track and feel this would carry over on off-road when a sand whoop section arose. I liked the feeling of the suspension just need a little more overall stiffer feel to soak up moto jumps and fast off-road chop. In comparing this bike to another the Husaberg 450 feels just like the KTM 400EXC just with fuel injection which is a huge plus. The Husaberg would make a great ISDE bike with little preparation just only need that secondary option of a kick starter.Jeff O'Leary/ 6ft 1in/ 172lb/ Regional / National Pro AAMy initial impression of the Husaberg 450 was a bit of mushy suspension. Now I am factoring in that no sag was set, and nothing was clicked. I weigh about 210 lbs so that could attribute to the overall suspension feel. The ergos were fine to me; the bike was comfortable as I began to ride it. It seemed like a good bike for trails but after 3rd gear it didn't have anything left in so far as hit or motor. I am riding a punched out Suzuki 450 at home and it is a ripper. This bike was good on the tight Rynoland 2nd and 3rd gear twisty turns but I don't think that it would be a good desert or grand prix bike. I was told that the Husaberg had a sensor and you had 3 available settings. I just ran it as it was set. This could have (I assume) been a major performance factor. I have heard many great things about this revolutionary bike but I just wasn't feeling it. The brakes and the clutch worked very well but I had nothing to compare it to as it was the only test bike I rode. I could only compare it to my Suzuki. My Suzuki is far from stock in the motor department and I missed that available power. I rode it a bit and then I decided to ride Jerry Bernardo's Honda CRF450X which is also stock but has a F2 jet kit in it. That bike was fun to ride also until I fried the clutch out in the woods.All in all I would say the Husaberg is a good bike, a bike that if you tweaked it here and there would be a great trail bike. In so far as racing the desert in Lucerne, I think I would rather ride a Honda XR650 than the Husaberg. If I had time to change the sensor settings with help I feel the bike possibly had more to offer. I just did not know how to assess it."Burly" Bill Maxim
Apple Valley, CA