Tested – 2014 Husqvarna FE 350
Ridden and rated, Enduro21.com test the 2014 Husqvarna FE 350…
Tester: Llel pavey
The 2013 four-stroke Husqvarna range was completely dropped for Model Year ’14 and rebuilt from the ground up with the 2014 Husaberg range as its base. The range now consists of a FE 250, 350, 450 and 501 models.
This means the new FE 350 has replaced the old and loved TE 310. Rocking the early 80’s Swedish styling and the KTM 350 engine, the FE 350 was sure to result in a very different bike than it’s predecessor.
The engine is pulled straight out of the widely acclaimed Husaberg FE 350. The biggest difference between the new Husqvarna and its KTM cousin is the lack of kick start. It’s purely a weight saving measure and can be re-installed via part from the Husky Power catalogue.
The 350 engine is superb. It has bags of torque with plenty of mid-range and top-end power – without being difficult to manage. The power delivery is progressive and offers tonnes of go on tap. The motor is lively, fun and an outright joy to ride.
The FE 350 has the same WP 4CS forks and DDS shock as the rest of the Husqvarna range, including the new linkage system. The new Husqvarna’s also have some shiny CNC machined, black anodized triple clamps that are designed to clamp the fork tubes perfectly and prevent warping of the fork outers.
The linkage and rear shock has added an element of stability to the Husqvarna that the Husaberg lacked. The forks felt a little ‘dead’ but they held up in the stroke better than the TE models. The ability to change fork settings on the fly is a nice edition for improving setup.
The newest generation Brembo brakes provide the stopping power. The front brake felt superb and provided ample power and feel. Husky have adopted wheels consisting of billet aluminium hubs with black anodized DID rims, Michelin Comp IV front and Comp III rear tyres. An X-Ring chain and black anodized sprocket finish off the final drive with 14/52 gearing and an additional 13 tooth included. The gearing felt well balanced on the 350 and never felt between gears.
Much like the Husaberg predecessor, the Husqvarna models utilise the Polyamide (plastic) subframe design. On the enduro range it’s the same as the Husaberg, with the same geometry and flex characteristics. While it’s supposedly more flexible than a traditional aluminium design it isn’t instantly noticeable. It is however designed to be more crash proof as the added flex prevents bending and is more likely to spring back into shape.
5. Cooling Fan
All the four stroke models run a cooling fan as standard to prevent overheating problems. Whilst it isn’t standard on the two-stroke, it is an optional extra, which will suit Hard Enduro riders.
The airbox design is universal across the range, with a standardised Twinair filter. The snorkel however, is designed individually for each model to maximise performance of the engine. The filter is behind a clipped in quick release panel and held in place by a sprung plastic clip allowing quick and painless filter changes.
7. Ride Impression
Straight up the 350 was an awesome bike to ride. Basically it did everything great. While the previous Italian built 310 was a great turning bike it lacked in the engine department and often struggled to get grip and make forward progress. Of course both bikes are completely different and have very different ergo’s, but the major difference between them is the speed with which the 350 gets going. It excels at getting out of corners and building speed efficiently.
It’s also easy to be in charge of but still has enough outright power that you will rarely be left wanting. The power comes on in a very linear fashion and this consistency makes it easy to ride. It turns well, holds a nice line in ruts and rarely feels cumbersome. It does feel slower turning than the FE 250, despite the nominal weight difference, but feels more nimble in tight going than the 450.
The linkage also makes the bike feel a little lower in the back end and has taken out some of the high rear end feel that Husabergs have typical displayed.
The suspension was well balanced all round. The fork seemed to drop through the stroke less than the two strokes but like the Husqvarna TE 250, it felt muffled and didn’t offer the best feedback. However, it never did anything unexpected or precarious.
Overall the FE 350 is a tremendous enduro bike – it’s easy to ride and is super fun. It’s a better bike than the TE 310 of last year because it has less niggling issues and a stronger engine. The linkage has given the FE 350 an added consistency and a more traditional feel and personally speaking was the most fun four-stroke of the entire range to ride. It’s a bike you will want to ride time and time again.