MotoOnline.com.au reviews the new 2024 Husqvarna FE models.
Change has come… That’s the slogan Husqvarna Motorcycles used as the brand recently revealed the all-new 2024 Husqvarna FE enduro range of bikes, which includes features such as a brand new frame and sub-frame, suspension, brakes and more. MotoOnline travelled to Dolemo, Norway, and Tested the four new machines.
Some key changes in 2024 include the reintroduction of the closed-cartridge forks, which is something I was super-excited about, a new chromium molybdenum steel frame paired with a durable hybrid sub-frame, a new Braktec brake system and high-performance GSK discs, plus the fuseless off-road control unit (OCU) and quickshifter function, with Detailed providing a more extensive technical rundown.
As we arrived at the private property in Dolemo, we were treated to a mega line-up of white bikes, that I must say, looked unreal with the new Swedish-inspired graphics kits. We had the option to ride both a small test loop that was roughly two and a half minutes long and extremely rocky, and a longer test loop that was about 30 minutes long, and even rockier and much more technical.
My plan for the day was to start at the bottom (smallest capacity) and work my way up the range. So, I grabbed the FE 250 and off I went. If I’m 100 percent honest, this was the bike I was the least excited about riding across the range after spending years and years riding 250 four-strokes.
But, to my surprise, I was instantly shocked at how impressive this bike was, the bottom-end torque was insane. I found it relatively easy to hop up over tricky sections at a really low end of the RPM. I can’t say I really got to open the throttle up as much as I would’ve liked due to the tricky, hard enduro-like sections.
However, I did have the chance to gain some speed as I descended down the long test loop. I really found that I caught a nice flow, I was putting the bike where I wanted, hopping over rocks and tree roots and riding in a slightly more methodical way than I’m used to being a motocrosser.
As I scaled my way down the mountain, as I said, I was gaining some speed without really opening the throttle. But, this was the perfect place to really get an idea of how the new closed-cartridge forks would work.
These forks blew me away. Despite the rocky and unpredictable conditions, the fork really held its own. There was a nice predictable feeling through the stroke that left me confident to really start to test myself in what was unfamiliar territory for a rider like me.
Like I usually would with 250 four-strokes, I switched to the green map, which is essentially the aggressive map. But, I found that the snappier power was not something that I was really looking for in this slower style of riding.
Time to switch to the FE 350. I spent the most time on this bike throughout the day as I just fell in love with it. It was just the perfect mix of power to weight, as it has been for many years.
Its 349.7cc engine produces around nine more horsepower than its little bother, the FE 250, according to Husqvarna technicians. While you’d think ‘bigger engine, heavier bike’, it actually maintains a similar weight to the FE 250. The extra power made it noticeably easier to get up and over some of the low-speed technical sections as you fed the clutch and loaded up the rear wheel in a trials-like manner.
Like the FE 250, I found myself in a pretty happy place riding in the mellow option on the map switch. I also put the new quickshifter function to the test on the 350. I can see how this would be handy in certain conditions. But, with the conditions we faced, I didn’t really feel it was of much use while I was riding in second and third gear predominantly, and this was the case across all the four strokes I rode on the day.
One thing that I really liked, which is across all models as they share the same frame, was the footpeg and its position. With 27 percent more surface area, you’d think they would hit the ground or be susceptible to colliding with stumps and rocks as you leant the bike over. But, they didn’t. I had a really positive feeling on the footpegs, riding on my toes with them tucked in to prevent ripping a foot off.
While the added surface area on the footpeg was a positive change for me, I really found that the location of the pegs we’re helping me control the bike with my legs more efficiently. For 2024, they’ve lowered the peg by roughly three millimetres, which doesn’t sound like much. But, in addition to a narrower frame design, I really felt I had great control of the bike with my knees. I was able to switch directions with ease and take the load off of my arms.
Next was the FE 450. The first time I rode this was during a photo session at the top of the mountain. Playing around on some sections, doing wheelies over rocks and logs and climbing my way to the peak, I was really surprised at how playful this bike was, I was expecting it to be more of a beast.
As we started our ride to the next photoshoot spot, I hung back from the group a little. I just wanted to try and replicate the riding I got on the 250 and 350. It became apparent quite quickly that this bike was definitely a touch heavier and a little harder to ride in the slow-speed sections.
In the straight-line sections, which sounds silly but it was just so damn rocky, the 450 seemed to be easier to keep straight. It tracked so well over that stuff. I would love to ride this bike on some more traditional Australian-style enduro, just some less rocky, flowier single track
It was much of the same for the FE 501, I didn’t really get the chance to open it up and see what it could do, but the bottom-end on this bike was literally insane… At first, I was rushing my way through the turns and trying to go a little too fast. But, I had to refer back to what I learnt earlier in the day and really scale back the intensity.
Once I’d remembered to stop rushing and let the bike work, I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it was noticeably heavier, but there’s definitely something to be said for adjusting riding styles for different bikes. You can’t get off the FE 350 and expect to ride the FE 450 or 501 the same way. Even though I said earlier I had to scale back the intensity a lot, I had to take this approach even further with the bigger bore bikes.
This 2024 Husqvarna FE model global media launch was a first for me. I’ve tested bikes before, but never this many in a single day. I must say, the thought at first of trying to digest all of this information was nerve-racking. But overall, I had a great time. The technicians and staff were great, and any questions were answered straight away, they just made the experience so much easier.
One thing that has always separated the Husqvarna FE range from the KTM EXC range is the rear suspension linkage set-up, as opposed to the PDS seen on the KTM. Now, I haven’t spent much time on enduro bikes, as I said, but every single bike I’ve mentioned above tracked so well over everything we had thrown at us over the course of the day, whether it was loose rocks, stumps, gravel or all mixed together (yes, there were sections like that!), it handled everything – some better than others, for sure.
The heavier bikes definitely had the advantage in the more straight-line sections, I think due to the weight making it harder for the bike to step sideways, but the lighter bikes had the advantage in the switchbacks and low-speed sections.
Another big difference between the Husqvarna and the KTM is the clutch and brake setup. The Husqvarna runs Braktec as opposed to KTMs Brembo. Now, I’m pretty fussy with my levers and set-up, but these Braktec levers, as far as feel and performance, are the real deal.
I was quite sceptical about this heading into the day, but they really impressed me. The Braktec clutch felt similar to a Brembo set-up that I’m used to, so I liked that. But, the front brake, I think, might actually be better.
I had a really positive feeling, there was no fade and one of the biggest things for me, was the adjustability. I was forever changing the feel of the brake from bike to bike because we were sharing between about 15 of us, but it was super easy to find my desired setup. A little wind of the adjuster (usually to bring the lever closer to the bars), and I was good to go.
I said it earlier, but my favourite bike of this bunch of four-strokes was easily the FE 350. I’d never ridden any previous model FE 350s, but I’ve spent a bunch of time on the motocross version FC 350. While they’re obviously different bikes, they share a lot of similarities. They’re light and fast, but not too fast. They’re extremely rideable, even for a newcomer, I think. I can’t say enough good things about this bike. Quite simply, they’re just unreal.
Engine type (FE 250): 249.92cc liquid-cooled, single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore/stroke (FE 250): 81 mm x 48.5mm
Engine type (FE 350): 349.7cc liquid-cooled, single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore/stroke (FE 350): 88mm x 57.5mm
Engine type (FE 450): 449.9cc liquid-cooled, single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore/stroke (FE 450): 95mm x 63.4mm
Engine type (FE 501): 510.9cc liquid-cooled, single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore/stroke (FE 501): 95mm x 72mm
Clutch: Wet multi-disc DDS clutch, Braktec hydraulics
Tank capacity: 8 litres
Front suspension: WP XACT-USD fork, 48 mm, 300mm travel
Rear suspension: WP XACT Monoshock with linkage, 300mm travel
Front brake: Braktec two-piston calliper 260mm
Rear brake: Braktec one-piston calliper 220mm
Weight (FE 250): 108.6kg (without fuel)
Weight (FE 350): 109.4kg (without fuel)
Weight (FE 450): 109.8 kg (without fuel)
Weight (FE 501): 110.8 kg (without fuel)
Availability: September 2023 onwards
Further information: www.husqvarna-motorcycles.com