The day turned out to be a cracker and the memories and impressions of the 2023 HUSQVARNA FC 250 are still firmly stuck at the front of my mind
The 2023 model Husky range is one that we have had our eye on for some time. We all knew they were coming when we saw the 2022 Rockstar Special Editions and we have all seen them being raced in the AMA Supercross and Motocross. There was no secret behind it but it was exciting to finally go and ride the 2023 range at the iconic Conondale Motocross Track up on the Sunny Coast in Queensland.
I haven’t ridden Conondale since I hung my boots up on racing the Australian MX Nationals ten years ago. I arrived in Queensland and the girls from Husqvarna threw us the keys to a hire car and let us loose for the afternoon before a presentation on the new 2023 models and dinner over a few beers. The next day we saddled up and threw our legs over the bikes at the track, it was great to get back and ride on a track that I had fond memories of.
Unfortunately, the track was hammered with 200mm of rain the week before so grooming it was a nightmare and we had to make do with what we had on the day. The day turned out to be a cracker and the memories and impressions of the 2023 HUSQVARNA FC 250 are still firmly stuck at the front of my mind.
It’s actually easier to read off the list of parts that haven’t been replaced for 2023 but here is the long list of updates. The new 2023 FC 250 now has a new larger bore and shorter stroke measuring 81mm x 48.5mm compared to 78.0 x 52.3mm on the previous model. This goes along with the increased compression ratio of 14.5:1 and the redesigned cylinder head with larger 27.5mm exhaust valves. The redesigned clutch basket is now the same as the FC 450′s and has a primary drive ratio of 24:72. The new engine sits 8mm lower in the frame and is tilted two degrees back for better mass centralization.
The electronics have been hit with some new features as well. Most noticeably is the new quickshift (QS) feature located in the combination switch on the left side of the ProTaper handlebar. This new switch controls map selection, traction control (TC), launch control, and the quick shifter function.
The suspension is where the FC differs from the KTM the most and receives its own personality as the WP XACT 48mm AER fork and WP XACT shock use different internal settings. The forks are 10mm shorter and the rear of the bike is lowered 10mm via a different swingarm linkage.
Also new in 2023 is a new frame, swingarm, and engine placement. Footpeg mounting has also been revised, along with all the plastics, seat and subframe which is still a composite subframe but now also incorporates aluminium bracing. One of the major frame design changes from 2022 is the shock mounting point. A new shock tower is welded to the frame’s side spars instead of being connected to the frame’s backbone.
WHAT DID WE LIKE?
- Power – The power of the FC 250 is impressive, especially the mid-range roll on power. 250 four-strokes are not supposed to produce this much torque but somehow Husqvarna pulled some ponies out of this engine.
- Over rev – The FC engine just keeps revving long past where you would expect it to. I found myself pushing the rev limiter just to see if the bike had one and what I noticed is the bike produces power right through the range all the way up to that limiter.
- Map Switch – The Map Switch now incorporates Map 1 and 2 as well as launch control, traction control and the quick shift function. What I liked about it is the distinct difference between maps. Switch over to Map 2 and the difference is certainly appreciated.
- Brakes – Like always the Brembo brakes are solid. The feel they provide always smooth and precise and they are as powerful as any top shelf brake out there.
- Clutch – The Brembo actuated diaphragm spring clutch is smooth and accurate with a precise friction point all the way through the moto. I did not experience any fade and prefer the Brembo hydraulic system much more than the previous Magura system.
- Handling – The FC sticks to the track well in all scenarios. The rider position is very on top of the bike and over the handlebars which I find makes it easy to move the bike around. The bike is very planted and stable.
WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE?
- Rear Shock Adjustment – The bodywork is slim and comfortable but to achieve this Husky has had to fit a piece of body work across the top of the shock blocking direct access to the compression adjuster. The rebound adjuster is now plastic and can be adjusted by hand but I worry that a plastic adjuster this low to the ground in direct route of rocks and roost may get damaged easily but time will tell.
- Too Small – The FC 250 feels like a really low and small bike to me but you could argue that a 90kg, six foot rider shouldn’t be on a 250cc machine anyway to which I would agree. Being low to the ground also means that it stays very well planted and steers through turns very well. If the FC was made taller then the handling might be compromised.
- Quick Shift – This isn’t necessarily a dislike, it’s not like I’m totally against it. I’m sure in the future all the young punks will be saying things like “how did you guys ever ride without it?” For me it was very hard to break old habits of flicking the clutch to shift so it just didn’t feel necessary for me.
Is The 23 Better Than The 22?
I have very little negative to say about the 2022 model but the 2023 model has stronger power right through the entire rev range, with a significant increase through the midrange. The handling characteristics of the bike are very similar, which is a good thing. The ‘22 model handled very well and stayed very well planted to the track both through rough bumps, in corners and in ruts.
I find the rear end on the ‘23 model to be even more predictable while still staying well planted to the ground. I did find the rear end on the ‘23 model to feel better when braking on rough bumps as it tends to sit down and bite into the ground. The mapping switch makes a greater difference on the ‘23 model when switching over compared to the ‘22 model. Personally I like the look of the ‘23 model better so my answer is yes, the 2023 model FC 250 is a better bike all round.
On the track the ‘23 FC 250 rides very well. Typically, I find 250 four-strokes to be under powered as I spend the majority of my free time riding 450cc machines. At first when I hopped on the FC 250 I thought I might have made a mistake and got on the 350 so I was pleasantly surprised when I figured out that I was indeed on the FC 250.
The FC revs like nothing I have ever ridden before. At first I thought the bike had no rev limiter but I did manage to find it and to my surprise it continues to pull and make power right up until the rev limiter cuts in. The FC 250 engine isn’t just a revvy engine, it produces torque.
I am used to riding a 450 so I like to ride a gear higher and let the engine pull me around in the midrange. This is something I need to change when I ride a 250 and I usually have to get adjusted to swinging off the throttle and making little 250 engines rev. What impressed me the most about the FC engine was the midrange roll on power. It will pull through a turn very well without having to constantly change gears and keep the engine above 10,000rpm.
Switching to Map 2 makes a significant difference to the power curve. I did play around with the traction control but found it was probably more suited to a skatey, slippery track. The quick shifter I found hard to get used to as I have spent the last thirty years changing gears using a clutch so to not use it felt foreign to me.
Handling wise the FC 250 is very good. The initial part of the stroke feels plush but does stiffen up well through the stroke and handled all the bumps and jumps I could throw at it. I found the standard setting to work really well but I do feel if the track had developed some bigger bumps or if I had to ride at a race pace then I would have liked the suspension a little stiffer. I am 90kg which is above the recommended weight for the standard springs.
The FC actually responds very well to body position changes. It tips into ruts very easily while still allowing you to get in a good position for flat turns. The chassis is very balanced and along with the suspension makes a very easy to ride package.
The brakes on the FC are excellent, just what we have come to expect from Brembo and the Brembo hydraulic diaphragm spring clutch works really well. It has a consistent and precise friction point that does not change as the cutch gets hot.
Overall the FC 250 is a very strong package. It has a very fast and competitive engine with a chassis that is easy to ride and handle by all abilities.
Type: Double overhead cam, single cylinder, four stroke
Bore & Stroke: 81mm x 48.5mm
Cooling: Liquid cooled
Compression Ratio: 14.5:1
Fuel Metering: Keihin fuel injection
Tank Capacity: 7.2 Litres
Transmission: Five speed
Clutch: Brembo hydraulic, wet multi plate DS clutch
Seat Height: 939mm
Ground Clearance: 336mm
Claimed Weight: 101.2kg without fuel
Front: WP XACT 48mm adjustable USD air fork
Rear: WP XACT Mono Shock with linkage
Front: Brembo twin piston caliper, 260mm disc
Rear: Brembo single piston caliper, 220mm disc
Handlebar: Pro Taper
Front Tyre: Dunlop Geomax MX33
Rear Tyre: Dunlop Geomax MX33
PRICE & CONTACTS
Warranty: Six months
This article appeared in ADB magazine issue #517
WORDS // MAT BOYD
PHOTOS // CADE MEDIA