Back in the day Husqvarna was a force to be reckoned with, not only in the deserts and woods but also on the MX track. The then Swedish-owned company slid a bit though, falling off of just about every American’s radar that was into slinging dirt. But it’s time to for those stateside to take notice again. Husky never really disappeared but rather changed hands several times and is now under the very technical umbrella of BMW. The German parent company has thrown a sizeable amount of resources to make Husqvarna once again relevant on motocross tracks worldwide, and with the 2013 TC250R they have done just that.
During our 2013 Husqvarna TC250R First Ride, we were impressed with the gains in the quarter-liter machine, even from last year’s model. For 2013 the TC250R got a new Keihin EFI system and a hotter ignition coupled with a new piston and larger intake valves to squeeze more power out of the compact, Red Head powerplant. The airbox was reshaped for better airflow to the reworked intake track as well. Once the fuel is spent, it passes through a very trick Akrapovic exhaust.
The power from the Husqvarna TC250R’s Red Head engine has been improved for 2013 and is now more competitive.
Right off the bat it was easy to tell the 2013 TC250R has more steam than before. While it still can’t quite compete with the horsepower beasts that are the Kawasaki and Suzuki, it’s no slouch. The power lacks some bottom end, but once you get it spinning it will put a smile on your face. You just have to remember to let the revs stay high and then it will put some very usable power to the ground.
“There was just no bottom end torque on the Husqvarna,” comments X Games champ Vicki Golden. “That’s what everyone wants on a 250F. It took a long time for the bike to get into the meat of the power. The bike has power it just takes a long time to get to it.”
On the MotoUSA dyno the TC250R pumped out 33.05 horsepower at 12,000 rpm and 17.93 lb-ft of torque at 8800 rpm. That puts it near the bottom of the pack, but not at the bottom. It’s notable that the Husqvarna is now in the game in the motor department and can no longer be called slow or underpowered. Blasting down the start straight, the TC covered the 125-foot Holeshot Test in 4.695 seconds at 43.5 mph (last in class), but in the Third-Gear Roll On Test it ended up mid-pack with a time of 2.362 seconds over a distance of 94.2 feet.
The chassis of the TC250R is unchanged for 2013 as it had a full redesign just the year before. Even so, we think Husqvarna could have spent some time dialing in the suspension better for the U.S. market. Every rider complained that the Husky was far too soft up front front yet stiff at the back. This wasn’t a huge issue if you can land each and every jump perfectly and don’t hammer through bumps, but we are the first to admit we aren’t perfect and the Husky punishes us for it.
“The front suspension felt a little soft and the rear very stiff,” claims TLD’s Nate Verdugo. “Kind of had a saw horse feeling.”
“The Husky was just plainly undersprung; it felt like it had good handling characteristics but without a correct spring rate it’s hard to say,” adds Nick Thiel. “It was scary at times on harsh landings.”
In the handling department the soft front-end also hurt the Husqvarna on the scoresheet. At slower speeds the TC250R feels a bit off, but once the pace increases it turns easily and tracks through rutted corners like a champ. However, when pushed to race pace the soft suspension has some ill effects on the bike’s ability to really slam through the corners.
“The handling on the Husky really surprised me,” admits Matt Armstrong. “Unlike other models that I have previously ridden the bike felt more like a Japanese bike and was easy to lay into tight ruts.”
Our pro-level test rider Chris See added, “The TC was really stable on straightaways, but with the front end being so soft I seemed to always have a feeling like the front end wanted to oversteer and tuck in high speed sweepers.”
Getting into corners with the Husqvarna is fairly easy, but as the speeds increase the soft suspension hurts the handling.
Stopping the 235-pound TC250R was a drama free experience. The standard Brembo calipers and braking rotors haul the Husqvarna down to speed with control and excellent feel. The power is good, but it is bested by some of the other bikes, once again putting it mid-pack in the scoring.
“The brakes were very strong and had a progressive feel. It’s definitely a huge confidence builder knowing that I will slow in time to hit my mark,” quips Armstrong.
In the drivetrain category the TC once again finished closer to the bottom than the top. The hydraulic clutch has great feedback and does not fade during extended motos. The gearbox on the Husky earned some praise from our group thanks to solid shifts, but the gearing ratios do need some work. To keep the power in the sweet spot there is a fair amount of rowing through the gears.
Changing the final gearing may not solve the problem as Vicki Golden explains, “Having a hydraulic clutch makes everything easier on the Husqvarna. There are no worries about making adjustments in the air and the clutch is always easy to pull in. There was a lot of shifting on the bike, so a gearing change higher will make for even more shifting and a lower gearing change will make the engine even slower.”
The ergonomics of the Husqvarna TC250R are a bit different, but the faster you go the more the layout makes sense.
The rider’s area on the TC feels the most foreign due to a long flat seat that is somewhat tall. Many of our crew used the term “two-by-four” to describe the feel of the seating area. It’s not that the seat is hard, but more that it feels tall and skinny. However, the faster you go the more the cockpit makes sense, and once you’re fully invested in the business of going fast the strange feel fades. The Domino grips and Magura bars are both excellent, but the footpegs are a let-down, being too narrow and lacking grip.
When it came time to throw down in the Super Lap testing, the Husqvarna tied for last place with an average lap time of 1:23.8; that’s just over two seconds behind the quickest average. To put that in perspective, it’s only 2% slower when ridden at 100%, not a massive issue for weekend warriors but it could be for full-on racers.
At the end of our testing we are impressed with the 2013 Husqvarna TC250R. Even though it finishes in last place in our shootout, it’s not far behind and that is a huge accomplishment for Husky. The TC250R is no longer a bike that you can overlook when shopping for your next Lites racer. It has top quality components, looks cool and has the lowest MSRP at just $7199. If you aren’t racing for trophies every weekend and want to be a little different, the 2013 TC250R might be the bike for you.