2013 Husqvarna TR650 | First Ride

Where Terra Meets Strada

By Aaron Frank, Photography by Daniel Kraus

They say: "A light, energetic single for motorcycling fun."
We Say: "Fun is where you find it, on-road or off."

Precaución: Carretera En Mal Estado reads the sign marking the entrance to Andalusia’s Parque Natural de la Sierra de Grazalema, about 80 clicks east of Jerez. A bad-road warning typically means time to turn around, unless you’re riding Husqvarna’s go-anywhere TR650 Terra dual sport. Then it’s a sign that the fun has just begun. With 7.5 inches of suspension travel, a torquey, 652cc single-cylinder engine and tall, off road-ready wheels capable of rolling over just about anything in its path, the Terra is a terrific bad-roads bike that opens up an entire universe of new, dirt-colored riding opportunities.

Exiting the pothole-strewn Highway A-373 and turning down a neglected, crushed-stone two-track, the Terra shows its strengths. The high-quality Sachs suspension lets you ignore deep water ruts cutting across the trail, while the quick-revving single, with just enough flywheel weight to smooth out aggressive throttle inputs, gracefully steps the back end out while accelerating through a gravel-strewn sweeper. Light, neutral-handling, and endlessly forgiving, the Terra TR650 can make even an average street rider’s first foray off-road feel just like Steve McQueen on the beach in “On Any Sunday.”

More than one-third of all roads in America—1.3 million miles worth—are unpaved. Most of these are as good as empty, with no traffic, no cops, and no rules—just you and your imagination. Many lead to amazing, deserted places rarely seen by other motorists, much less other bikes. Why aren’t you riding there? Probably because you don’t have the right bike. Husky’s Terra is the right bike, and at just $6999, it’s cheap enough for just about anyone to add one to the garage.

Long known for hardcore motocross and enduro racers, Husqvarna, which is owned by BMW, is now entering the street marketplace. Last year’s Nuda 900, a naked streetfighter powered by a hot-rodded version of BMW’s F800 parallel twin, was the firm’s first toe-dip into the streetbike segment. The all-new TR650 Terra—along with its more street-biased Strada sibling—is the second wave of on-road bikes.

The Terra and Strada are also based on an existing BMW product, in this case the G650GS enduro. Little of the donor bike’s DNA remains, however. A highly modified version of the liquid-cooled single is fit into an all-new steel frame and covered by sharp, off road-inspired bodywork drafted in Husky’s Varese, Italy, design shop. A Swedish name, German technology, Italian design and Chinese engine manufacture make these new Huskies truly global machines.

Compared to the G650GS, the Terra is 13 pounds lighter, 3 inches taller and 8 horsepower stronger—all traits that make it more off-road capable than the street-centered Beemer. Beyond the shared bottom end, the DOHC single is almost completely changed for the Terra application. A lighter piston, more aggressive cams and a higher, 12.3:1 compression ratio all add power, while still delivering an impressive claimed 55 mpg.

The red headed Husky single bares little resemblance to the Beemer at speed, with a livelier, more rev-happy character. Unlike the BMW that focuses motive force in the lower half of the rev range, the Terra is soft off the bottom, forcing you to slip the clutch a bit away from a dead stop. Once you’ve built some speed, however, the healthy midrange and top-end power make the Terra more satisfying at a sporting pace, and the smooth-shifting five-speed gearbox and cable-operated clutch make it easy to exploit the claimed 58-horsepower output.

Off road-spec wheels (18-in. rear, 21-in. front) maximize choices for off-road-appropriate rubber, but the stock Metzeler Sahara Enduro 3 tires are happiest on pavement or hard-packed gravel. Large-diameter wheels, coupled with the wide, high-leverage handlebar, give the Terra quick, responsive steering at low speeds and off-road, at the expense of some high-speed stability—especially as you approach the claimed 113-mph top speed. The tall, light Terra will wander a bit at highway speeds and in heavy winds, where the bolt-upright riding position turns gusty winds into unwanted steering inputs.

Riders more interested in pavement performance should consider the Strada, which is identical to the Terra except for cast-aluminum 19-in. front/17-in. rear wheels. This more balanced combination slows the steering and increases stability slightly, without completely sacrificing all-road ability. The Strada will still shred una carretera en mal estado or even the occasional dirt trail, provided you respect the limits of the small-block tread of the street-intent Metzeler Tourance tires.

Another advantage to ticking the Strada box is standard Bosch ABS, which isn’t available on the Terra. The two-piston front/single-piston rear Brembo calipers provide plenty of stopping power for bikes of this size and speed, and can easily lock either wheel to engage the smooth-acting ABS. It’s unfortunate ABS isn’t offered for the Terra. The safety benefits are undeniable—especially for new riders—and because the ABS can be deactivated at the push of a button, there’s no downside even for off-road enthusiasts.

The split-backbone steel frame is designed to be rigid and durable, and a bolt-on subframe should reduce costly damage in the event of crash—important for off-roaders and beginners alike. The steel swingarm is supported by a rebound-adjustable Sachs shock on a progressive linkage that rides right across a wide range of riding conditions. The 46mm inverted fork is also from Sachs and, though non-adjustable, sprung and damped for responsive handling with none of the dive-and-wallow you fear from bikes in this price range.

At just $6999 for the Terra and $7499 for the ABS-equipped Strada these bikes are remarkable values, delivering proven German engineering and technology, premium suspension and brake components, and up-to-the-minute styling and design. The single-cylinder dual-sport segment is hot—30,000 units worldwide and growing, Husky says—and this dynamic duo is positioned to capitalize on that growth. There are plenty of bikes in this space already, but many of them—especially the Japanese offerings—are years or even decades old and can’t compare to Husqvarna's all-new design.

Husky is targeting four buyers with the TR650s: beginners looking for an affordable, easy-to-ride first bike; trendsetters looking for stylish urban transportation; commuters; and so-called “sleepers,” or lapsed riders looking for the right combination of affordable fun to lure them back onto two wheels. From what we experienced during our daylong ride in Spain, the TR platform has all the right traits: easy operation, light handling, and enough power and personality to entertain even jaded motojournalists. Coupled with an extensive selection of optional accessories including soft and hard luggage, engine protection, and other ADV-ready accouterments to build the ultimate KLR-rivaling cheap adventurer, we’re betting the TR650 Terra and Strada will be the best-selling Husqvarnas yet.

EVOLUTION

A hot-rodded version of BMW’s G650 single set into a new steel frame, with your choice of either street or dual-sport rolling stock.

RIVALS

BMW G650GS, Honda XR650L, Kawasaki KLR650, KTM 690 Enduro R, Suzuki DR650SE

TECH

Price

$6999 (Terra), $7499 (Strada)

Engine type

l-c single

Valve train

DOHC, 4v

Displacement

652cc

Bore x stroke

100.0 x 83.0mm

Compression

12.3:1

Fuel system

EFI

Clutch

Wet, multi-plate

Transmission

5-speed

Claimed horsepower

58.0 bhp @ 7250 rpm

Claimed torque

44.0 lbs.-ft. @ 5750 rpm

Frame

Tubular steel split-backbone

Front suspension

Sachs 46mm fork

Rear suspension

Sachs shock with adjustable spring preload and rebound damping

Front brake

Brembo two-piston caliper, 300mm disc, with ABS (Strada only)

Rear brake

Brembo one-piston caliper, 240mm disc, with ABS (Strada only)

Front tire

100/80-19 Metzeler Tourance SP (Strada); 90/90-21 Metzeler Sahara Enduro 3 (Terra)

Rear tire

140/80-17 Metzeler Tourance SP (Strada); 140/80-18 Metzeler Sahara Enduro 3 (Terra)

Rake/trail

26.0 º/4.0 in. (Strada); 27.0 º/4.4 in. (Terra)

Seat height

33.8 in. (Strada); 34.4 in. (Terra)

Wheelbase

59.1 in.

Fuel capacity

3.6 gal.

Claimed curb weight

410 lbs. (Strada); 408 lbs. (Terra)

Color

Black/white (Strada); red/white (Terra)

Available

Now

Warranty

12 mo., unlimited mi.

Contact

Husqvarna Motorcycles North America
371 Corporate Terrace Circle
Corona, CA 92879
951.268.3600
www.husqvarna-motorcyclesna.com

VERDICT

: 4 out of 5 stars

Single-cylinder dual-sports celebrate motorcycling’s simple pleasures. These deliver a lot of bang for the buck.

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