2012 Husqvarna TE250 | Dirt

Flying Low

By Karel Kramer, Photography by Karel Kramer

The Husqvarna TE250 is a dirtbike with a license plate. Husky claims a 90 percent dirt bias, which means what little pavement this bike sees should only be brief spans between trailheads.

It looks like a direct carryover of the World Enduro Championship-winning 2011 TE250, but the 2012 model has received a variety of upgrades. A Kayaba shock has been installed to match the fork, and the frame has been modified to increase rigidity. Graphics are now molded into the plastic for greater durability, and the triple clamp now provides two alternative handlebar-mounting locations. But the change that's likely to make the biggest difference on the sales _ oor is a 2-inch reduction in seat height. When most 250s feature 37-in.- plus seat heights, a bike of this caliber with an accessible, 35.8-in. perch is a big deal.

There are newer and _ ashier street-legal dual-sports than the TE250, but nothing in this displacement category has the Husky's pedigree. The ultra-compact, liquid-cooled, four-stroke single boasts lightweight titanium valves, electric start, a close-ratio six-speed transmission and a light-action hydraulic clutch. It's based on Husky's lightweight TXC cross-country machine, so even with lights, horn and other street necessities, the TE still claims a curb weight in the realm of the Honda CRF250X or Yamaha WR250F competition models. That is extremely light for a streetlegal dual-sport.

Despite the precise tuning provided by fuel-injection, meeting on-road emission standards has taken a toll on the TE's power and rideability compared to the competition-grade TXC model. It is possible, however, to buy TXC parts for the TE to restore erformance for closed-course work.

Our main test day saw a mixture of trails and twisty mountain pavement. Conditions ranged from easy dirt roads to technical, rocky trails, and since the TE's major selling point is its low seat height, we called in our friend and former motocrosser Judy Stark to try it out. At 5-foot-4, Judy quali_ es as "vertically challenged," and even on the shortened TE250 she could only get one foot on the ground at a time. Still, being able to dab at all was a big bonus on tricky trails.

The lower seat height was achieved by reducing the suspension travel, leaving the cockpit unchanged and quite comfortable for taller riders. The handling, as you would expect of a world-class off-road chassis with a lower center of gravity, is fantastic. Direction changes are quick and traction is solid at both ends.

The TE250 (along wiith its longer-travel, more powerful sibling, the TE310) is the lightest and most nimble street-legal dirtbike available. This is a machine capable of serious technical trail work and maybe the occasional motocross track day. For true dualsport use we didn't see any real drawback to the shorter suspension travel, but for shorter riders its benefits are huge.

TECH SPEC

Price $7599
Engine type l-c single
Displacement 250cc
Transmission 6-speed
Claimed horsepower na
Claimed torque na
Frame Steel-tube perimeter
Front suspension Kayaba 48mm fork with adjustable compression and rebound damping
Rear suspension Kayaba shock with adjustable spring preload, high/low-speed compression and rebound damping
Front brake Brembo two-piston caliper, 260mm disc
Rear brake Brembo one-piston caliper, 240mm disc
Front tire 80/100-21 Dunlop Geomax MX51F
Rear tire 110/100-18 Dunlop Geomax MX51R
Seat height 35.8 in.
Wheelbase 57.0 in.
Fuel capacity 2.25 gal.
Claimed curb weight 260 lbs.
Contact www.husqvarna-motorcyclesna.com
Verdict 4 out of 5 stars

Small dual-sports don’t get better than this!

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