MotoOnline.com.au goes two-stroke in the bush on Husqvarna’s 2011 model WR250 and WR300.
In a world where four-strokes are largely becoming the norm, every opportunity you get to ride a two-stroke offers a joy ride to give you a step back in time.
In reality it’s only a step back in time because the majority of current riders grew up in a strong two-stroke era, but when it comes to European manufacturers like Husqvarna, the two-stroke is still very much alive and well.
The 2011 model launch for the Husqvarna range came at Braidwood in New South Wales last month, where MotoOnline.com.au had the opportunity to put the latest Italian weaponry through their paces across some neat trails in Braidwood.
With the low capacity four-strokes on hand along with both the WR250 and WR300 two-strokes, the stage was set for an epic day of riding to give us a great chance to test the bikes back-to-back.
In motocross it’s rare these days to see current model two-strokes pounding out laps at your local club, however in off-road enduro terms, two-strokes are still super popular since they’re lightweight and easy to ride in a range of obstacles.
The brand new WR250 and WR300 demonstrate Husqvarna’s ongoing commitment to two strokes.
Learned from World Enduro racing, a series of upgrades to the WR 250 and WR300 have been incorporated in 2011.
Visible changes for both models include news graphics, new rear racing style mudguard with an integrated LED tail light and a new reinforced mounts for the headlight/front number plate.
Less visible, but even more important from a technical point of view is the new Ducati Energia ignition. The new ignition is responsible for a smoother power delivery and much improved performance.
Riders in Australia will appreciate the new thermostat which optimizes the working temperature of the engine.
Both models come with new rear suspension settings, based on the World Enduro Championship bikes ridden by Sebastien Guillaume and Bartosz Oblucki and a new improved airbox.
That’s the technical info direct from Husqvarna to notify the latest updates, but rest assured that these 2011 models also retain some of the trick components that we’re become accustomed to.
You’ll find the bikes equipped with fully adjustable 48mm Kayaba upside-down forks, featuring 300mm of travel, plus Sachs’ highly developed progressive shock absorber that’s fully adjustable.
Also featured are Brembo brakes front and rear, both with wave-type discs – 260mm in diameter at the front and 220mm at the rear.
On the trail the 250 was first up after a morning of riding four-strokes, and you do have to acclimatise back into two-stroke mode before you can make the most of its strong points.
As mentioned earlier, its strong points are agility, handling through tight sections and its ability to produce short bursts of speed through the snappy two-stroke powerplant.
The engine on the 250 is crisp and relatively tame, although still noticeably more responsive off the very bottom compared with even the latest fuel injected four-strokes.
In saying that, you have to be particularly smooth on the throttle since it tends to want to spin the rear tyre more as you fight for traction up the hills, and that can become tricky and even more fatiguing over the long haul.
In fact, hands down the two-stroke is more tiresome to ride than the four-strokes. While it’s handy through the tight stuff, since you need to really focus to make the most of its power output, you do tend to wear out quicker.
There’s no hydraulic clutches on the two-strokes, although they still tend to work reasonably well.
Handling-wise you’ll notice that it’s generally a lighter feel that you get while riding the two-stroke – especially the 250 – although they’re much taller off the ground in comparison to the TEs.
While the WR models feature a massive 320mm of rear wheel travel, the TE models have just 296mm and you can certainly feel the difference when out riding.
The rear shock is springy on the two-stroke, something that you have to be aware of when descending down some of the steeper hills that you come across.
But if you commit to the corners and get a feel for the handling character of the 250, you’ll really be able to have some fun. The Kayaba forks work a treat in both turning and deflection – assisted by the Michel Enduro Competition 3 tyres fitted as standard equipment.
The funny thing is, despite being a larger capacity, the 300 shares many of the same traits to that of the 250. It’s tall, has a springy rear shock, but also retains the good fork setting.
It’s in the engine department that you’ll feel most of the difference as the 300 magnifies the difficulty of finding traction, although get it on a wide open fire trail and you’ll love the sound of the big-bore two-stroke at full noise.
First gear is very short in the 300 and you’ll mostly use second or third even in the tight single tracks, which somewhat helps you get the power to the ground that bit easier.
On both the WR250 and also the WR300 you’ll have to kick-start them, which is somewhat tricky since they’re very short kick-start levers. Just remember in contrast to the four-strokes, you need to apply some gas when starting a two-stroke.
In summary Husqvarna has produced two all-round performers for the off-road two-stroke enthusiast, and it’s refreshing to see development continue on the WR range.
If you’re into two-strokes, chances are you’ll appreciate the WRs, although if I personally had one the first thing I’d be doing would be getting the suspension dialed to suit my particular needs.
Not sure if you’d prefer a two-stroke over a four-stroke, check out this link and organise a test ride with Husqvarna today… you might surprise yourself!
All images: Paul Feeney Group
Want to see our Launch Test on the TE250 and TE310? Check it out here.