Husqvarna’s TC250 powerplant is stunningly compact. Some of the engine’s “I could be a 125” look comes from the amount of daylight visible around it within the new chromoly chassis. A hydro-formed aluminum perimeter frame tends to hug the engine tighter, but the TC’s steel-tube skeleton conveys a svelte, supermodel appeal.
The issue with the 2011 TC250 was that its tiny engine didn’t seem to have room for many horses—or at least not big ones. An engine can make good peak numbers on the dyno, but if it’s only in conjunction with high rpm, those ponies can feel like Shetlands instead of Clydesdales. Now, for 2012—in one of the first concrete examples that new owner BMW will have a positive effect on Husqvarna dirtbikes—there is an all-new top end with a healthy helping of Formula 1 technology.
That new, red-painted cylinder head (can you say, “Testa Rossa”?) features F1-style finger followers and an ultra-lightweight piston. Going full-on high-end, the TC comes equipped with an Akrapovic exhaust complete with a resonance chamber incorporated into the head pipe. A new ignition features updated curves as well as three preset power maps, working in concert with a Keihin throttle body and a new airbox with a revised velocity stack molded into the intake boot. Keihin fuel injection is used on all of the injected Japanese motocrossers, and it is seamless when compared to the Mikuni system the TC inhaled through last year.
Complementing the new frame is updated Kayaba suspension front and rear, with silver Excel rims laced to polished Grimeca hubs. Stopping is via Brembo pumps/calipers and Braking rotors, and as we have come to expect, stopping power is prodigious. Brembo hydraulics are responsible for actuating the clutch, as well.
To introduce the 2012 TC250 to the press, Husqvarna invited us to the The Ranch in Anza, California. Like the original, the new Carlsbad replica track (see Track Time, page 110) has long, power-robbing uphills, and we had the opportunity to wring out the 2011 and 2012 TC250s back-to-back. Riding the ’11 first on the fast, open track didn’t reveal many shortcomings, but the ’12’s output is up enough to be easily noticed—especially away from peak rpm. The new model comes on harder and earlier, with more torque, grunt, meat or whatever you care to call it.
The new bike also requires less clutch work coming out of turns, and penalizes you less for mistakes. Since the TC is a competition model, the EFI maps aren’t compromised like the dual-sport TE, so engine response is crisp. The Ranch sits at close to 4000 feet of elevation, and there were no hints of EFI glitches despite some fairly extreme temperature shifts during the day. Our only trouble was kick-starting it with the short lever!
Like any good 250cc four-stroke motocrosser, the TC feels light and nimble, whether in the air or railing a berm. We had ample opportunity to see how the chassis and suspension worked on the rough Carlsbad replica course. The TC is exceptionally stable, but it’s also quick steering—a critical combination. On a more jumpy and technical track, the response of the new engine likely would have been even more impressive.
The steel chassis has a different feel than an aluminum one, and offers a tad more compliance. At 35.8 inches, the TC has a tall seat height for a 250. The seat-to-peg distance isn’t abnormally large, so it seems odd that the seat is so high. The bodywork is mostly smooth, but there are a few sharp edges that can catch on your boots. The seat doesn’t skimp on padding and the riding position is adjustable via reversible bar clamps, so the bike proved comfortable even for taller riders.
The TC250 will appeal more to riders who enjoy old-school outdoor motocross than stadium-style supercross. Its new cylinder head, fuel-injection, suspension and frame elevate it the closest yet to its competition, making it the biggest track star in Husky’s 2012 lineup.
HUSQVARNA TC449 | More Motor, More Fun
Husqvarna didn’t forget about the 450cc motocross class. Based on the discontinued BMW G450X, the TC449 was all-new for 2011, and while it receives only minor refinements this year, overall performance is signi¬ficantly improved. e electric-start engine is more responsive, the suspension is better balanced front to rear and the suspension settings are more appropriate for jumpy, American-style MX tracks. On top of that, the tail section has been reshaped to make the bike easier to move around on. It’s a better outdoor motocross bike than supercross weapon, so if you like old-school, natural-terrain tracks, this could be the bike for you.