It is surreal to think of the position that Husqvarna occupied within the industry just ten years ago. The manufacturer was not thought of as a legitimate threat at all, hence why the brand was not represented at the amateur level. Now, however, they are pushing boundaries within the industry and constantly raising the bar. The all-new MY19 range serves as proof of that.
The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing squad reached new heights earlier this season, as Jason Anderson climbed atop the 450SX podium in Monster Energy Supercross and Zach Osborne added another number-one plate to the door of the truck. Those triumphs were hot on the heels of an emphatic double-moto sweep by Max Anstie at the Motocross of Nations. Put simply, it is impossible to go anywhere without running into a white bike. Feedback from those heavyweights, who most long to be like, then trickles down to the Husqvarna base and is taken into account when it is time to produce a new fleet.
Running through the various upgrades and enhancements that each model has received would be tedious. A considerable amount of work has gone into the line to ensure that each model delivers that wow factor from the moment that it is rolled out of a truck. There is no denying the fact that was indeed the case when Husqvarna launched their MY19 range at the Baker Factory in Florida recently. The popular facility needs no introduction, especially to those familiar with the manufacturer and what their elite athletes have achieved, and undoubtedly added a lot to that immediate reaction. It was the perfect setting to launch an exciting range.
The fact that Husqvarna opted to send riders and media from across the globe to the exotic location makes their commitment to the sport clear for all to see as well. MX Vice were present with test rider, Jordan Divall, who hopped on five different bikes in a single day. The FC 350 stood out from the crowd for its weight difference in comparison to the bigger FC 450. Perhaps that was more recognisable on the tighter track in Florida that had long ruts? A style of track where the nimble nature of the FC 350 would be a major advantage. The FC 350 has always been considered perfect for the local club racer.
The facts do not necessarily indicate that there is too big a difference between the weight of the two bikes though, which comes as a bit of a surprise. The nimble feeling of the FC 350 was complimented by the lightweight frame that includes improved energy absorption and straight-line stability. All of which was very evident during the test. It felt like it was easy to throw the bike around and place it wherever it needed to go. It is not like any power was compromised in comparison to the FC 450, however, so it is hard to point to a single negative about the FC 350.
How about the championship-winning FC 450? When MX Vice visited the KTM test earlier this year, the SX-F 450 was the most popular machine on the day. Naturally that prompted plenty of excitement about the FC 450. However, oddly enough, Divall felt as though it was a slight disappointment. The power was a little lazy from the bottom and had to be ridden like the FC 250. A trait that would obviously work on the FC 350, but those who select the powerful FC 450 are looking for bursts of speed. Improvements have been made to the engine though, which elite riders will very-much enjoy.
“The camshaft is now closer to the centre of gravity, significantly improving handling while shorter valve timing improves bottom-end performance and responsiveness,” according to Husqvarna. The conditions on the day may have not given that a chance to shine though, so it would be exciting to give it another whirl on a different circuit. Technical spiel can leave some lost. However, the following point is intriguing and worth noting. “The FC 450, like the rest of the four-stroke motocross range, features a KEIHIN throttle body and injector system that ensures optimal throttle response,” a statement confirmed. “Throttle response is also improved thanks to a more direct mounting forgoing a throttle linkage.”
Divall claimed that it was not possible to leave the FC 450 in a high gear whilst cornering, so you had to change down the gears and use the higher rev range to be in the right power. The FC 250, on the other hand, was another machine that stood out from the crowd. It was immediately obvious why there are so many of the bikes on starting lines across the globe each and every weekend. Divall was beaming about how well-balanced across the braking bumps, of which there were plenty in the loamy Floridian soil, which gave a smooth ride entering the turns.
A quality like the one mentioned above enables riders to piece together various different parts of a track in a seamless manner. Even whilst cornering, the responsive throttle on the FC 250 made it easy to keep everything under control. It is difficult to point to a single fault that the FC 250 has. The engine components on the FC 250, along with the shaft arrangements, are positioned closer to the centre of gravity and that reduces the effects of rotational inertia (effectively making everything as stable as possible). It is also worth noting that the engine is light (just 26.1 kg) too. All of that jargon contributes to the impressive handling that was prevalent on the test day.
The Husqvarna MY19 four-stroke range stayed true to what most tend to believe. The FC 250 and FC 350 are bettered suited to the weekend warrior, someone who wants to go out to local tracks and enjoy racing. The FC 450, on the other hand, is for a rider who wants to be competitive and have that little extra punch from their ride. It is very clear that the FC 250 and FC 350 are gaining pace though and can now tick boxes for all riders too, as they really are exquisite machines. Husqvarna have presented three impressive bikes that all need to be considered when selecting your new steed for next year.
Additionally, Husqvarna are one of three manufacturers who still believe in catering to two-stroke riders. There are a lot of them too! The TC 250 was a little disappointing to Jordan Divall though. Why was that? The bike was a little lazy off the bottom of the power and that caused some difficulties with the balance in the corners. When there is not enough power, which was more evident in the rough terrain at the Baker Factory, it is difficult to get back upright after leaning over in a turn. It is worth taking note of the fact that the power was smooth and manageable, but once the higher rev range was hit it was a tad restricted.
Husqvarna were eager to reduce vibration with the TC 250 and that was actually achieved. The vibration was barely noticeable, if it was even there. There is no doubt that is a complaint that most average riders have about their older two-strokes, so perhaps it is time to upgrade? There is something for everyone with the MY19 range thanks to the mini range, which is featured elsewhere on MX Vice, and that may be the greatest point to focus on. A rider can spend an entire lifetime with Husqvarna. The TC 125 is an important stepping stone and part of that process, as it bridges the gap between the youth range and adult bikes. The TC 125 is overwhelmingly popular too and, unsurprisingly, won Jordan Divall over.
Divall immediately recognised that the TC 125 epitomised fun, as it was easy to handle along the rough straights and large jumps. The throttle response was very noticeable and made cornering easy which, again, adds to that enjoyment factor. Not everyone enjoys being forced outside of their comfort zone. The weight of that bike is part of the reason that it was so easy to handle. When the 2015 TC 125 was released, which was at the start of this new era for Husqvarna, the engine weighed 19.3 kg. The same engine now weighs just 17.2 kg. The FC 450 engine weighs 26.1 kg, in comparison, but that is obviously a completely different animal. Those facts may make it easier to select a new bike that suits your needs.
For an easy way to summarise some of the key improvements that have been made to the MY19 range, these are the improvements and enhancements that were included; redesigned bodywork, redesigned SOHC cylinder head on the FC 450, a blue-coated frame featuring increased longitudinal rigidity, a new two-piece subframe design, updated setting on the WP AER 48 forks, WP DCC shock featuring new piston and updated setting, new mufflers on two-strokes, redesigned header pipe on TC 250, chain adjustment length increased by 5mm and a triple clamp protector integrated into front number plate. There are a lot of details there, including some that include performance and some that will just stop the consumer wasting money every couple of months.
The pioneering mindset that Husqvarna heavily rely on is apparent in the entire MY19 range. Whilst new bikes often featured some small different graphics and a slight performance tweak, these bikes are worth the investment. There are so many improvements that are arguably before their time that it is easy to see why the Austrian manufacturer are leading the way across the globe. Who would you not want to be a part of that charge?
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Husqvarna/Marco Campelli
Tested: 5 modifications I like to make to my YZ450F before going racing
MX Vice’s Tester, Brad Wheeler, Shares His Thoughts
Since picking up my YZ450F back in November I have been waiting under bated breath for the chance to race it. Practicing is all well and good, but nothing gets the blood pumping more than lining up at the start with 39 other racers.
Words: Brad Wheeler | Lead Image: Supplied
The lack of racing got me thinking, what are some of the things that I would like to do to the bike before I go to my first race on the BluCru. I have logged around 10-15 hours on the bike now and feel I have established a solid base setting and something I can build on moving forward. With that being said here are 5 modifications I will be making before my first race, which is looking like early March time.
I wasn’t going to do these in any particular order but I think it will be more beneficial for you all if I go from most important to least important, in my opinion.
1) A genuine Yamaha holeshot device:
More often than not if you look down the starting line at any level of racing you will see bikes with a holeshot device. The point of the device is to preload the front fork. This does several things. It makes the bike lower to the ground, meaning you have a lower centre of mass and more control getting off the line. Secondly, it allows you to get more weight over the front of the bike, meaning you can hit the power harder and not have to worry as much about going into a wheelie. Finally, it also increases balance. Being lower to the ground you can touch the floor more comfortably.
I have used several different brands in my time, from cheaper to more expensive and I have found that if the OEM makes their own, that is the way to go. In this instance, the Yamaha one is easy to install and simple to use. The clamp opens right up so no need to remove the fork leg. It also has a big button making it easy to engage if you are trying to set your own device. In my opinion, if you are serious about racing, a holeshot device is an absolute must.
TIP: The buttons can work themselves loose over time on any brand of device so be sure to check them regularly.
2) ProGrip 799 ultra soft grips:
It’s no secret that Japanese standard grips are not built with comfort in mind. They will most likely outlast any aftermarket grip on the market, but I’m looking for a bit more out of my grip.
If you’re doing qualifying and 5 motos over the course of a weekend you’re looking at around 120-150 minutes of riding. That’s a lot of holding on. So I want a grip that is kind to my hands and also makes it easier to hold on.
Step forward Pro Grip 799 ultra soft. I have used this grip for as long as I can remember, all the way back to 50cc days. The grip is incredibly comfy and almost moulds to the shape of your hand. Don’t get me wrong, one little slide off and you can kiss the end of the grip goodbye, but that is the price you sometimes have to pay to have a comfier ride. Rather than spending thousands on suspension, try a softer grip first. You’d be amazed at the difference it can make.
3) GYTR factory racing seat cover:
For me, this really only applies to 450s. My Yamaha 450 is a rocket ship and pulls like an express train. This is great when my arms are fresh and I can hold myself forward, but as fatigue sets in, the sheer torque of the motorcycle pushes me back towards the rear of the seat.
The standard seat is relatively grippy and as stock seat covers go, is one of the better ones. However, the GYTR factor seat cover has 5 ribs up the seat which aid in keeping you up the front of the bike. The material of the cover itself is stickier than the stock seat cover.
Other seat covers are available, GUTS does several different varieties of gripper seats but the GYTR is similar to the factory cover that Jago Geerts and Maxime Renaux use, and who doesn’t want to look factory?
4) Raptor RME013 edge titanium footpegs:
Footpegs can often be something that people overlook. They’re one of the points of contact between yourself and your machine yet get neglected. Standard footpegs have come a long way from the breadsticks they used to stand on back in the 80s. Even so, the increased grip and strength you get with the Raptor titanium peg is second to none.
The peg bites into your boot making it virtually impossible to slip off of it. Titanium is not only lighter than steel but is also stronger. Over time the areas under stress on a steel peg become weak and are likely to fracture. However, with titanium, it would take a long time and an incredible amount of force to crack a titanium peg.
I’m not sure if I am supposed to say this but Star Racing Monster Energy Yamaha actually BUY these pegs for their race bikes. That’s right, Eli Tomac, Cooper Webb, Justin Cooper and the other 36 250 riders they have all use Raptor titanium footpegs.
Another plus is that the RME013 model doesn’t have the middle section you see on most pegs. This stops mud from getting jammed in there. Raptor also offers a variety of different offset pegs which is something we will be playing around with throughout the year.
5) GYTR Akrapovic Full Exhaust System:
The final modification that I will be making before I go racing is the addition of a GYTR Akrapovic. For me, this is the lowest priority of the 5. Riding a YZ450F, I am not looking for more power, and the ability to move the power around with an exhaust system has been bypassed by the tuner apps available these days.
That being said, it still has its perks. The GYTR Akrapovic (which I’m almost 100% the same as the Akrapovic Evolution system) weighs 0.85 kgs less than the standard system. Titanium is also a stronger and more durable material, so will be less prone to cracks in weak spots like welded joints.
This is Yamaha’s recommended after-market pipe of choice, so you know it is going to work well with the engine. Even if it isn’t more hit you are looking for, it is always nice to have your machine running smoother and sounding a little more factory than your buddies.
Last but not least, and this cannot be understated, just how awesome the system looks. I truly believe there is something in the whole “look good, feel good” saying. I know if I pull up to the track and I have fresh gear and my bikes looking good, I am already in a positive mindset heading to the line. And as we know motocross is just as mental as it is physical.
These 5 modifications are not gospel. What works for me, may not work for you. But, I have been racing for 22 years and my experience has taught me that these are the 5 things that make the biggest difference to myself. If you have any questions about the
above products drop me an email at [email protected] and I will assist in any way I can.
Tested and written by Brad Wheeler
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Fox Racing Announces New Adventure Collection
Everything You Need in Adventure-ready Gear. Nothing You Don’t.
Fox Racing, the global leader in motocross and mountain biking gear and apparel, announced the expansion into the adventure market with a purpose-built ADV Collection that inspires performance on dirt. The all-new ADV Collection includes three jacket and pant offerings—Recon, Defend, and Ranger—built with a minimalist chassis, GORE-TEX waterproofing, and CE protection across the board. The collection launches this Spring on www.foxracing.com, and at participating Fox Racing dealers and channels globally.
Words: Press Release | Lead Image: FOX
Expanding the brand’s commitment to Equip and Inspire riders, the ADV Collection draws from Fox Racing’s deep racing heritage and appetite for performance innovation. “We recognize that off-road riding is no longer contained to tracks and the trailheads of mountains and deserts. It can now be an extension to a rider’s commute or countryside tour where every technical feature matters to maximize the experience on the bike. The ADV Collection was built with this in mind—connecting riders to dirt with highly versatile gear that has everything you need and nothing you don’t. It’s a differentiated point of view in an evolving category that’s authentic and credible to our brand,” said Michael Crocco, Sr. Global Marketing Manager at Fox Racing.
Developed and tested over the course of three years, the all-new ADV Collection blends the brand’s expertise in performance racewear with the utility adventure riders demand. Performance starts with the minimalist chassis design approach and a closer-to-body fit to inspire movement in variable terrain. The main body is GUARANTEED
TO KEEP YOU DRY with fully seam-sealed GORE-TEX materials, the gold standard in waterproof-breathable technology. CE protection comes in the form of removable D30® back, shoulder, elbow, and knee protectors, and reinforced fabrics to increase abrasion resistance and durability. Other features such as stretch fabrics, ventilation, and storage vary across the three product tiers to meet the demands of a multi-day or an out-and-back ride.
The Recon GORE-TEX ADV Jacket and Pant are 949.95€ and 899.95€, respectively, and deliver maximum mobility and breathability with a minimalist fit for peak performance on dirt. The Defend GORE-TEX ADV Jacket and Pant are 699.95€ and 649.95€, respectively, and offer maximum storage and ventilation for adaptability on the move.
The Ranger GORE-TEX ADV Jacket and Pant are 549.95€ and 499.95€, respectively, and are the most accessible offering for essential performance on the bike.
Follow @foxracing on Instagram for the official release date of the ADV Collection plus exclusive information celebrating the brand’s 50th anniversary for 2024.
About Fox Racing
For over five decades, Fox Racing has been the global leader in motocross and mountain bike gear and apparel. Fox outfits the world’s best competitive action sport athletes and enthusiasts with products that combine innovation and style, rooted in the brand’s original competitive motocross spirit. The company is based in Irvine, California, with offices, retail stores, and an international roster of sponsored athletes, located around the world. www.foxracing.com
Unboxing RENEN | Performance Motocross Apparel
MX Vice Tester Brad Wheeler has just got his hands on some seriously fresh Renen gear. Check it out in this latest unboxing video.
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