Husqvarna is attacking the 250cc 4-stroke market with its new line of fuel-injected quarter-liters.
introduced its new 250cc 4-stroke motor last year and has used it to ignite the Husky model line. The 2010 TXC 250 is the cross-country and desert racing model, but it competes in a class where relatively few offerings are disproportionate to their wide range of use. Husqvarna describes it as a “hybrid motocross/enduro model where light weight, explosive power and supreme maneuverability of an MX bike benefits from the practicality of an electric starter and wide-ratio six-speed gearbox typical of the TE Enduro models.”
And... It’s pretty tough to say it any better than that.
We enlisted Kyle Redmond, who finished sixth in the 2009 EnduroCross series, and hauled out to Ty Davis’ Zip-Ty Racing
headquarters in California’s high desert for a day of mixed riding. Between Zip-Ty’s private EnduroCross course used exclusively for testing by factory teams and top EX rider training, and an afternoon session in the open desert, the TXC 250 proved that it has the motor to run wild and a dissecting chassis.
Husqvarna is taking the small and light approach, claiming the new fuel-injected motor weighs in the neighborhood of only 48 pounds. Overall length, width and height of the motor are reduced by 13% via compressed internals. The primary drive and center cases are 16% closer, and the gap between the center case and transmission is roughly 7% less. A pair of chain-driven overhead cams operates four titanium valves, and a 12.9:1 compression ratio is squeezed inside the 79mm x 50.9mm bore and stroke. It certainly looks the part, easily compact enough to access to the spark plug and cylinder head. Still utilizing a left-side exhaust, the motor is fed through a new electronic fuel injection system which is easy to modify with the use of a laptop computer. The TXC has a bog off the bottom end, but even with our limited testing, we were able to eliminate most of it with the Mikuni tuning software. With the help of Zip-Ty technician, Steve Foster, in a matter of about 10 minutes we were able to clean up the bottom end. Originally the fuel mixture was set at 111%, but we went as low as 105% and as high as 120%, ultimately settling on 113.5%.
The heart of this racy Thumper is Husky's new lightweight 249.5cc engine. The compact motor is said to weigh 48.5 pounds with
a DOHC, four-valve arrangement. It works best in the upper rpm range.
Lighter riders might be able to lug it more, but our testers just stayed out of the bottom where alternate gearing would help dial in more off-idle grunt. Redmond compared it to a 125cc 2-stroke with its unwillingness to roll on and off the throttle. “The bottom end was pretty weak,” he admits after riding it on the tight EnduroCross confines. “It has bitchin’ top end, it would be good on a motocross track with that motor. But,” he continues, “it’s a huge plus that it’s fuel-injected. You can do anything you want with that (powerband) which is really cool, especially for an off-road bike where you change elevation like crazy.”
Husqvarna equipped the bike with electric start while also retaining the kickstart option. Plus, the hot-start lever now sits above the adjustable clutch lever. A six-speed transmission lets the rider keep hold of the powerband, though we spent most time in the bottom four gears, letting the high-rpm engine do its own thing.
Light and flickable, the TXC 250 is right at home in technical riding. Alternate gearing would help match the motor, but the hydraulic clutch can handle the abuse.
Redmond battled Zip-Ty Racing’s Corey Graffunder all season and saw firsthand how devastating the little Husky can be in tight, technical situations. Graffunder nipped our extreme enduro ace by just four points in the championship, leaving Redmond outside the top-five and seething to get a shot at Graffunder’s hardware. As he quickly found out, the TXC is right at home in the nasties.
Despite a motor that prefers room to run, Redmond found the suspension and handling better suited to Zip-Ty’s beastly EnduroCross layout. The TXC barely had a chance to warm up before we set out for some sighting laps and photo sessions, and in the course of just a couple hours the Husqvarna proved a willing companion. Like any 250F, big power and weight is traded for tight handling and svelte dimensions. Though Husqvarna pushes the TXC as a cross-country/desert machine, we found it most effective in the tight terrain where its 229 pounds (claimed dry) allowed it to take any line and dance through obstacles – it just has to be ridden hard for the motor to keep up.
Aggressive riding from our high-caliber tester maxed the suspension, but overall it was very good.
“It handles really well,” says the EnduroX pro. “I think its strong point is more with stuff like EnduroCross.” A 57.8-inch wheelbase weaves through rocks, ruts and logs with equal aplomb. Once we took to the desert there was minor headshake at high speeds, though reining in the TXC takes little effort with the wide aluminum handlebars. At 6’1”, Redmond had no problem with the 37.9-inch seat height, but noted that the open cockpit easily accommodates larger riders with tall bars and a narrow, flat seat profile.
Husky uses a Sachs “Soft Damp” rear shock with new leverage ratio, and is adjustable for preload, high and low-speed compression and rebound. Our 175-pound pro-level tester was able to extract everything the suspension would offer, noting the shock’s tendency to bottom even when aggressively hitting berms. We set sag at the recommended 100mm which resulted in rear-end squat, though Redmond credits this as one reason the TXC is able to conquer obstacles even with its relatively soft bottom-end. The light front wheel and easy hydraulic clutch make up for the lack of torque. In its defense, we didn’t have much opportunity for adjusting clicker settings as the bike passed between multiple riders. Also, our TXC was fresh out of the crate which means the suspension, motor and six-speed transmission will all loosen up with more run time. For slower or lighter riders, the bike offers a great balance for all off-road scenarios we encountered.
- Awesome styling
- E-start and kickstart
- Fuel injection
- Taught handling
- Plastic skidplate is light but effective
- Hydraulic clutch
- Cheap for a Euro bike
- Exhaust pipe thrashes left pant leg
- Grips have hard ridge that wears out thumb
- Number plates are KTM-esque – sexy but small
- Kickstand angle is funky and footprint is small
- Bulbous frame gusset under footpegs
Marzocchi suspension has a love-hate reputation, but Husqvarna swapped the ‘Zoke front end for a new 48mm closed-cartridge Kayaba fork. Again, high-speed, heavy landings will max out the fork, but once our pro stepped off the KYB unit rated much higher. Sharp impacts were no problem and the front held its line through mild sandy whoops. Drop-offs and slap-landings are absorbed nicely and Redmond was more than happy to slam into every rock, log and tire on the EX course. He reports that the fork stays high in the stroke through corners and rock gardens, but responded well to impacts. If anything he would back out the rebound to get more spring from the front end.
Visually, the color scheme is a little less sexy since the motor lost its red accents, but the revised body panels still sport the aggressive red/white/black racing lines. High-quality components like the hydraulic clutch, steel-braided brake lines, wave rotors, plastic skidplate, full gripper seat cover and quick-access airbox give the TXC a racy feel. We even liked the grips, except that they have a hard ridge in the collar that blisters the thumb. Other class entries like the Yamaha WR250F and Honda CRF250X come with headlights, but the TXC is a daytime-only ride and saves considerable weight as a result. A right-side radiator fan adds some of that back, but even during our photo shoots we can’t remember it ever turning on.
With electric start and fuel injection technology, we had no problem with the TXC at higher, colder elevations. More time with the calibration software would have netted even better performance gains. The TXC represents a serious bid for 250F off-road dominance.
At the end of our First Ride, the TXC impressed us across the board. It has neutral and comfortable ergonomics, compliant suspension, sharp handling and a good baseline motor. Sorting out the fuel injection is just a matter of time and will depend on how the bike is modified and used. Compared to the rest of the 250 enduros, Husqvarna’s TXC is closest to the KTM 250 XCF-W, which means it’s in the upper echelon of 250 off-road bikes, yet it retails for less than the Austrian bike at $7299.
The 250 enduro market is a scary place, where boundaries are loose and bikes are expected to serve as lightweight racers, everyday play bikes and stone-reliable trail machines. Husqvarna’s TXC 250 is one of the all-around best we’ve experienced. A quick test like this doesn’t allow for durability evaluation, but all we know is that we’d love to keep one in our garage. If it’s under the guise of dependability testing, then so be it.