2009 Husaberg 450 FE - First Look - Up To Speed

Singular Swedish Single

By Tim Carrithers, Photography by Husaberg

What's wrong with this picture? Not a thing. After two decades producing high-end four-stroke off-road machinery, the arcane Swedish maker-currently owned by KTM-is standing four-stroke single design on its head. Billed as a prototype and slated for production late this year, the 450 FE angles its cylinder at 70 degrees-nearly parallel to the ground-to build a better dirtbike.

First off, such shallow cylinder orientation lets the crankshaft migrate 3.9 in.higher and 6.3 in. rearward in the chassis, increasing ground clearance to 15.3 in. and canceling the effects of that spinning crank on handling. The nearly horizontal cylinder also keeps combustibles moving through the 42mm Keihin throttle body on a straight trajectory to the cylinder head. The singular architecture also let Husaberg's chassis boffins pen a chromoly steel skeleton that's considerably narrower than more conventional designs, with relatively reedy tubes beneath the engine itself. Tucking exhaust plumbing out of the way is easier as well. And the design deviations don't stop there.

Molded from transparent polyethylene, the bottom of the 2.3-gal. fuel tank drops well below the seat to lower the center of mass. The airbox lives behind the fuel filler, increasing its chances of inhaling more air than dirt. A cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) subframe is lighter and stiffer than an equivalent metal bit. Husaberg says the whole package weighs in at 247 lbs. Even if you're not into getting dirty, this one makes us wonder why streetbike engineers don't bend the rules this far. Expect to see one in your local 'Berg dealer late this year.

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