Husqvarna held the world press intro for its 2016 motocross line at Maryland’s Budds Creek motocross track. At no time during our Budds Creek trip did Husqvarna reference KTM, its parent company, which might not seem weird until you find out the how similar the two brands really are. Decoding Husqvarna’s very calculated answers to our questions revealed just how close the 2016 Husqvarna MX bikes are to the 2016 KTM SX-F models. And after reading between lines, comparing spec charts and analyzing photos of the two brands, the Husqvarna and KTM are even closer than we first thought.
The 2016 Husqvarna FC 450
We initially reported valving changes to the suspension on the Husqvarnas but there aren’t; suspension specs are the same as KTM. We are also 99.9% positive the new composite subframe on the Husqvarna will bolt onto a 2016 KTM and vice versa. It would require an air boot change, but the point is the 2016 Husqvarnas are essentially white KTMs. But this isn’t a bad thing. Husqvarna doesn’t want to do its customers a disservice by offering older technology, and KTM is at the forefront of dirt bike technology and development. Husqvarna would be crazy to not utilize every last bit of it. But it is clear Husqvarna doesn’t want to be considered a KTM. The brand wants its own identity, but this is difficult when the motocross lines from both marques have never been so similar.
There are only a few differences between the 2016 Husqvarna and KTM motocross bikes. Husqvarna comes with D.I.D rims, subframe made from composite carbon fiber material instead of aluminum, Magura hydraulic clutch system instead of Brembo and GSK brake disc rotors instead of Galfer. The gas tank is only slightly changed (different plastic) and the handlebars are ProTaper. The Husqvarna TC and FC models come with MX52 tires but at the intro Husqvarna wisely outfitted the bikes with Dunlop MX32s (same as their orange counterparts), a much better performing tread pattern.
After a day at Budds Creek aboard the all-new Husqvarnas we are very pleased with the bikes. So what if they are white KTMs? They are significantly lighter and better handling than the 2015 Husqvarnas, and therefore a great improvement. We are also extremely glad to be rid of the 2015’s slippery seat cover – that thing was nightmarish. Onstead, the 2016 FC line gets a full gripper seat. In the looks department Husky gets an A, the clean white and blue mix looks full factory just sitting on the stand.
The 2016 Husqvarna FC 250 in flight
The 2016 Husqvarna FC 250 feels very similar to the 2016 KTM 250 SX-F, as it should. The all-new engine is significantly stronger than last year and offers up way more bottom end and increased overall power all the way to the 14,000 rpm rev limiter. Cornering on the FC 250 is pure bliss, just aim and go, the bike will rip a rut or carve a nice arc through a flat turn.
At Budds Creek the Husky’s WP suspension felt a little faster on rebound and possibly a little stiffer through the mid-stroke compared to our 2016 KTM 250 SX-F, but comparing two bikes on separate tracks is problematic. The 4CS forks, combined with the new chassis, works better than any other 4CS setup to date. If you mess up and come up brutally short on a jump the 4CS still blows through and clanks on the stops pretty hard. For the average rider the suspension settings are decent but faster, heavier riders will want to crank up the compression. With only one day riding the new bikes we are excited for Husqvarna and its new motocross line.
The FC 350 has improved power, especially off the bottom
The FC 350 is a pure delight to ride! It is painfully cliché to say, but the FC 350 (as with the 2016 KTM 350 SX-F) is a game changer for a lot of riders. This is the most potent and fun 350 engine ever produced, making the FC 350 a clear favorite among riders who used to swear by 450s. The all-new engine design pumps out very strong torque while still revving to a screaming-high rpm, allowing all styles of riders to enjoy the engine.
Since all the FC motocross bikes share the same chassis, the FC 350 is an excellent turning machine, just like the FC 250. The 4CS fork works well with the new chassis and rear shock to provide a very balanced bike that offers up incredible traction, both in the corners and under acceleration. You might not grab the holeshot every time off the line but the lightweight, easy-to-ride chassis (only 1.5 pounds heavier than the FC 250) and its friendly engine won’t wear you out as quickly as a 450, leaving plenty of energy to hammer to the finish.
The 2016 FC 450 delivers silky smooth power in a great handling chassis
The 2016 Husqvarna FC 450 is one of the lightest production 450 motocross bikes (as is the 2016 KTM 450 SX-F) on the market. The FC 450 is way lighter than it’s 2015 predecessor and is an all-around better dirt bike. The 450’s power delivery can only be described as magical. Like its orange clone, the KTM 450 SX-F, the FC 450 provides gobs of forward drive in a friendly manner. The best attribute of the power delivery is that it is closely related to the rotation of the right hand. A little throttle provides smooth power but there is plenty on tap if you crank the right wrist.
The 2016 Husqvarna FC 450 is all-new, lighter and more powerful.
This is one of the most versatile 450 four-stroke engines and the smooth power really helps the FC 450 corner consistently. Because there is so much power on tap, irresponsible use of the throttle will have the FC 450 standing up more in the corners than the FC 350 or FC 250 but this is easily avoidable. The FC 450 only weighs a few pounds more than the FC 350 but the mass of the engine makes it feel more significant.
The 2016 Husqvarna FC 450 is extremely light and easy to lay over in corners.
We aren’t complaining that the FC 450 feels heavy – as it is by far one of the lightest and most flickable 450 MX bikes on the track (along with the 2016 KTM 450 SX-F).
The Bottom Line
The 2016 Husqvarna FC motocross bikes are a huge improvement over the 2015 models. They are much lighter, better handling and have more power. The biggest handling difference for 2016 between the KTM SX-F and Husqvarna FC motocross bikes will come from the difference in Dunlop tires.