New for 2009, Husqvarna's TE 310 enduro fills the gap between the firm's popular 250cc and 450cc models. The Swedish-turned-Italian manufacturer (now owned by Germany's BMW) is no stranger to odd-sized four-strokes, as the meaty 510 has been growing in popularity every year. Those who crave less power than a 450 but more oomph than a 250 have been looking for (or building with aftermarket kits) something like this for years.
The TE 310 is essentially a TE 250-it shares the same chassis, transmission, etc.-with a larger 83mm (up from 76mm) bore. Starting from a base of decent grunt and torque, the motor pulls into a solid upper-midrange hit before maxing out at the rev limiter. Just like a 250, the 310 must be in the proper gear to get the most out of its power; lugging it like a big-bore will leave you abusing the clutch, while winding it will get you nowhere once the revs hit the ceiling.
The difference in power is subtle but noticeable. When placed in the right gear, the 310 will crest a nasty hill that the 250 won't quite make on the first try. In a corner where the 250 would grab traction and toss a little roost, the 310 will do exactly the same but its front wheel will be ever so slightly off the ground.
The Mikuni fuel injection provides consistent throttle response, while the six-speed gearbox and hydraulic clutch are dialed for normal trail applications. The sound emitted from the exhaust is on par with the 250's, satisfactory in terms of noise and with a pleasant tone.
Innovative styling graces the new machine. Handling-wise, it feels heavy. Claimed dry weight is 236 pounds, and you can feel every ounce if the bike gets out of balance. Luckily, stability is fairly good thanks to the high-end 50mm Marzocchi fork and new Sachs shock, and as such you can rail through hard hits and soft loam without bother.
If you can pilot this machine like the top Italians do-by maintaining momentum and carrying speed rather than brake-sliding and dropping the clutch like an American-you'll see why the bike handles the way it does.
Contrary to what you may have first thought, the TE 310 does not simply split the difference between a 250 and a 450. If you've ridden the 250 and didn't like it, chances are this bike isn't for you. Yet if you're one of the many off-road enthusiasts who a) appreciate uniqueness; b) feel intimidated by large amounts of grunt but don't want to be underpowered; c) want to ride the cresting wave of innovation while not going too far out on a limb; or d) have eight grand burning a hole in your European designer jeans, this may be the dirtbike you've been waiting for.