2020 Husqvarna FC250 Review | Bike Reviews | Features | News
The gap between the Husqvarna and KTM platforms is starting to widen, with the factory engineers moving to tune the Husqvarna suspension differently from the KTMs.
As we found with the FC450 we tested last issue, the WP components might be the same but you get a more comfy ride on the white bikes – is it the same for the 2020 Husqvarna FC250?
The move to plusher settings on the Husqvarnas is apparently to suit the type of riders buying these bikes over the Katos.
Apparently, Husky riders were complaining that the suspension was too harsh, not that we’re judging or anything …
Husky tells us there are no internal changes to the engine but the power delivery has definitely improved, so maybe it’s just slightly different mapping along with the vented airbox cover and more aggressive throttle cam from the spares kit that make the big difference to the power. We took the 2020 Husqvarna FC250 for a spin around a private track in NSW to answer the big questions for you guys.
IS IT BETTER?
For most riders in Australia, I reckon the bike is a big improvement. Faster riders might not be keen on the softer suspension but the majority of people buying FC250s are Juniors or people of club level so the suspension will suit them better and be much more forgiving than the old firm stuff.
DID THEY TAKE RISKS?
It’s common knowledge that KTM and Husqvarna share the same production line in Austria. The two brands share much of their componentry, which means the company can cut deals with suppliers. This strategy might be cost-effective but it means that the two brands have been accused of producing essentially the same bikes, just one orange and the other white. We can’t wait to see what this policy does to Pierer Mobility’s latest acquisition, Gas Gas.
Husqvarna and KTM share the same engines, frames, suspensions, electronics, cooling systems, batteries, transmissions, hubs, fuel injection and components. Yes, Huskies run carbon composite subframes, different plastics, seatcovers, airboxes, handlebars, brake rotors, rims and master cylinders, but that hasn’t been enough to remove the slur that they are “white KTMs”.
Changing the suspension settings for 2020 sets the two brands further apart for riders. The move carries risk for both Husqvarna and KTM because the settings can’t please everyone, but I can see the gamble paying off for both.
WHAT ABOUT THE FORK?
My observation has been that the main buyers of Husqvarna motorcycles are not chasing supercross-hard suspension but are club-level riders or weekend warriors who want their suspension to move and absorb the bumps without being harsh or beating them up. Racers and young blokes tend to gravitate towards KTMs but, due to this year’s plusher suspension, I can see more riders looking to the Husky FCs.
This change has been achieved by switching the WP Xact 48 compression shim stack to make the fork softer from the mid-stroke onwards. WP eliminated free bleed in the mid-valve, increased bottoming resistance by raising the oil height and upped the recommended air pressure by 2psi to hold the fork higher in its stroke. Husqvarna has succeeded in reducing the mid-stroke harshness, smoothing out the action, improving front tyre contact and increasing the overall comfort.
WHO WILL LIKE IT?
Husqvarna’s smoother fork will appeal to the majority but if you don’t fit into the standard weight range or you’re at the faster end of the racer spectrum then you may find the fork too soft. Faster riders competing in pro-level motocross will find it too plush and will want it revalved, but a pro rider will have every aspect of their bike customized anyway. The average rider will find a comfortable setting here without having to ship their fork off for an expensive overhaul.
SHOCK AND AWE?
To get a balanced chassis I ran the rider sag at 105mm but I found my 90kg was too heavy for the shock spring and the valving was a little on the light side towards the bottom of the stroke. The shock was plush and smooth but if I hit any harsh bumps at speed the shock would get unsettled because it just didn’t want to cope with my weight.
Ninety kilos is too heavy to be a 250cc rider anyhow and at lower speeds I found the shock to work really well. If I was to race this bike I would opt for a shock with stiffer compression valving, slower rebound and a stiffer spring. For anyone who comes in below me on the scales of justice I feel confident to say you will not have a problem, but if you have any doubts about the spring, measure your free sag. If it isn’t between 30mm and 40mm unloaded, you need a different one.
WHAT ABOUT THE DONK?
Husky tells us that the latest engine is the same as the 2019 one. That means no changes to the Pankl piston, crank, cams or anything. I’m guessing there was a mapping change as the MY20 revs more quickly and doesn’t have the slight lag that the 2019 bike had. The MY20 engine accelerates quickly through the rev range and needs to be shifted up more rapidly. The aggressive power map really livens up the engine and the vented airbox cover adds a really nice power hit.
HOW’S IT GO?
The first thing I noticed about the 2020 Husqvarna FC250 was how far the engine revved. Some will rev a long way but stop making power about 1500 revs before the limiter. The Husky makes power right up to the limiter, meaning you need to rev it until the fat lady sings to get the most out of it.
The longer you can hang off shifting the faster the engine will go. Last year I felt you needed to run in the lower gears to get the Husky out of tight turns but this year the bottom end is strong right into a punchy mid-range, followed by a rocketing top-end. The engine has strong power right through the range rev which will satisfy riders from beginners to professional.
HOW’S THE GEARING?
I found when Husky introduced the 14-tooth sprocket the bike became a little sluggish off the bottom and you needed to use lower gears and more clutch to get the bike out of the tight turns. This made me feel like the gearing was way off, especially jumping from Japanese bikes. With the increased power, there is no longer a problem as the engine has enough torque to pull out of turns in any gear.
WHAT DID YOU RATE?
THE WEIGHT: The Husky is so light and effortless to throw around.
THE BRAKES: The Brembo brakes with Galfer discs work really well and give a solid feel every lap.
MAP SWITCH: While I spent most of my time on the more aggressive map, I did like the idea of being able to tone back the power if the track got dry and slippery or if I got worn out and started to get arm pump.
HANDLING: The suspension gives a plush but planted feel and the front-end response is fantastic once you get the air pressures customized to what you like.
AIRBOX COVER: The spares kit vented airbox cover really livens up the power right through the rev range.
OPTIONAL THROTTLE CAM: By switching to the more aggressive, black throttle cam in the spares kit the bike hits full throttle, quicker making the power much more aggressive.
WHAT DID YOU HATE?
SEATCOVER: The vinyl is rough enough to rip a hole in your backside.
CLUTCH MASTER CYLINDER: The Brembo master cylinder used on the Katos gives a nicer feel.
STICKERS: I think Husky must have fired its graphics designer because the graphics kit this year is way too plain.
The 2020 model FC250 is a step in the right direction for Husqvarna. The suspension is more user friendly and suits a much broader market. The power has improved and makes riding the bike almost effortless as there is strong power right through the rev range.
For a novice or intermediate rider, I feel the bike is set up perfectly but for a rider wanting a little more you can fit the vented airbox cover, the larger throttle cam and select power map two and you instantly have a bike with a far more aggressive power curve that will tighten your sphincter when you crack the throttle.
The suspension is more like a hard enduro set-up so it is forgiving and easier to handle. Faster or heavier riders will find they want it stiffer but the majority of people buying this bike will feel like they are riding on clouds.
WORDS // MAT BOYD PHOTOS // MITCH LEES
2020 Husqvarna FC250 SPECS
Type DOHC, four-valve
Bore & STROKE 78 x 52.3mm
Compression ratio N/A
Fuel metering Keihin 44mm EFI
Tank capacity 7.5L
Transmission Five-speed, constant mesh
Clutch Magura hydraulic, wet multiplate
Seat height 950mm
Ground clearance 370mm
claimed Weight 101kg without fuel
Front WP Xact 48 USD, 310mm travel
rear WP Xact monoshock, 300mm travel
Front Brembo twin-piston, 260mm wave
Rear Brembo single-piston, 220mm wave
Handlebar ProTaper alloy tapered
Front TYRE Dunlop Geomax MX3S, 80/100-21
Rear TYRE Dunlop Geomax MX3S, 120/80-19
Price & Contacts
BLOWER 1800 644 771
Warranty Three months parts only