Husqvarna FC350: Long Term Update #9 FINAL UPDATE | Back End | Bike Reviews
The time has come once again for me to part ways with a long-term test bike. Every time this happens it feels a little like a break-up.
I put endless hours of tool and seat time into each of my long-term test bikes in an effort to get my head around living with each particualr machine. But in the end I always have to give them up for adoption to some lucky punter, kinda like a seeing eye dog trainer farewelling their pup. However, you know this is the case with long-termers and I’m not complaining for one second. This time round I have to say goodbye to my Husqvarna FC350, but before I do, let me reminisce about the 12 months we have spent together.
The FC350 is light and nimble. It feels like riding a 250cc four-stroke but with more power. It’s lightweight, easy to handle and changes direction like a rabbit. The bike’s balanced and tips in and out of ruts quickly. The biggest surprise to me was the power – it was much better than I expected. After riding almost every 350cc four-stroke in the last five years and not being overly impressed with any of them, I was glad to notice such a big improvement in power. That being said, the motor was still a little soft off the bottom compared with a 450cc four-stroke.
To fix the bottom-end power I opened up the airbox by drilling holes into the sidecover of the airbox and fitting wire mesh over the holes to allow more airflow but prevent rocks or large clumps of dirt getting in. I also removed the mesh cone from the silencer which is designed to make the bike quieter but restricts gas flow. Once the exhaust and the airbox were opened up, the bike was able to breathe better and the power delivery became stronger with more torque.
My only other issue with the bike was with the front suspension which I found unpredictable. The fork felt rough and choppy, like it was too hard, but then when pushed hard or under high fork speeds it would blow all the way through and bottom out with a large clunk. The fork definitely didn’t inspire confidence.
I had to go up to .50kg in the springs while totally revalving the compression, mid and rebound valves. To get the valves flowing better I machined wider ports and converted the fork to an open-cartridge format instead of 4CS. This allows me to run a 60mm oil-to-air gap in the fork.
This smaller air gap allows the fork to operate smoother and more progressively. It solved the bottoming issue while still being plush and forgiving. It took many hours of work to get the fork where I wanted it but I am now happy to say that I am very pleased at where the suspension is. It is forgiving and plush, but progressive enough to take big hits on large and fast jumps or large braking bumps. This bike now handles better than it did when I first got it.
The rear-end worked very well from standard. In fact, it’s probably closest to being one of the best standard production shocks I have ridden.
While the suspension received the most work and the airbox and exhaust got small modifications the rest of the bike remained completely standard. There were a few other little tricks I did to the FC350 like lock wire the oil filler cap on because I kept kicking it and undoing it with my boot while riding, and I lock wired the ignition wires in place from the stator as I was worried about them getting caught on my boots.
If I had more time with the bike the next modification I would’ve made would be a different seat cover. The standard one is super grippy but the seat is rough and tears into your pants. I’d then port the head and raise the compression, as well as remap the ignition to get more power out of the engine. The engine is strong but it has more power there that could be unleashed which would make it a real threat to the 450’s. And while I believe the brakes are already great standard, I believe an oversized front disc would have given just a little more stopping power as well as a taller set of handlebars that would have suited my frame a little better.
The tyres I’ve been running on the bike are Bridgestone Battlecross with an X20 compound on the front and an X30 compound on the rear.
The X20 is the softer of the two which found more grip while the X30 is a harder compound and lasted a little longer. The bike has been well maintained which, in turn, has rewarded me with great reliability. The bike has been serviced every five riding hours and obviously washed after every ride, with the air filter cleaned too.
TOTAL HOURS: 45
This long term update was published in ADB issue #445 – October 2016