MX TEST I 2018 HUSQVARNA FC350 | Bike Reviews | Features
ADB Motocross Editor, Lee Hogan, lists his favourite and least favourites things about the 2018 Husqvarna FC350.
Words: Lee Hogan
Photos: John Pearson
SIX THINGS I RATE
The chrome-moly frames that Husqvarna and KTM have stuck with, even in road racing, are a good thing. There are times on the track where you get almost a bit too much flex, but the majority of the time it provides a plush and comfortable ride with fairly accurate handling.
In an age when it is almost swearing to say ‘air fork’ you have to give credit where credit is due. The production WP AER 48 air fork that comes stock on the latest Husqvarnas and KTMs is a very good unit. It holds up particularly well on big hits and isn’t too sensitive when it comes to fine tuning. It doesn’t have the initial plushness that you can find in a spring-cartridge fork but it still works nicely in most situations on a track.
I am a big fan of this engine and I never thought I’d be saying that about a 350cc four-stroke. It really is a world of fun to blast through some powder berms, or rail through a deep rut due to the fact that it has great power and a lighter, more agile feel compared to a 450. That being said, I personally would choose the FC450, or any of the other current 450s, if I were to line up on a startgate. My body weight, combined with the fact that I still ride fairly regularly, means that my starts and lap times would be superior on a well set-up 450. But that may not be the case for someone that weighs in the low-to-mid 70kg range. And a beginner-to-intermediate rider who may find a barking 450 a tad hard to hold onto.
The Magura brakes on the Husqvarna motocrossers are great. Later stock will come with Brembos, which are just as good. You can stop a Mack truck with these things and, when you are riding the 350cc machine, you can feel even more stopping power than on the 450cc because of the slightly lighter weight. The Magura rear can be a bit touchy when you aren’t used to it but, overall, the brakes are sensational. Any more than one finger on that front lever and you may find yourself sailing over the handlebar.
The Renthal Fatbar that comes stock is superb. And the ODI Lock-On ’grips use nice, soft rubber that won’t give you blisters in the first couple of laps while never needing to be glued or wired. The handlebar and grip combo gives a really nice feel to the cockpit on this bike.
5. HYDRAULIC CLUTCH
I feel it is only a matter of time before more manufacturers go to hydraulic clutches on their production bikes. The FC350 clutch has a nice light pull to it and didn’t fade no matter how hard I abused the clutch. And I really tried to put it through its paces. For most established riders with decent skills it isn’t too much of an issue to take your hand off and slide it over the clutch adjuster to get rid of some freeplay if you have a cable clutch. But for some of the younger, or less experienced, riders it is a positive to not have to take your hand off. The hydraulic clutch is self-adjusting and provided you don’t completely destroy it on a ride you’ll find that the freeplay will stay spot on.
THREE I DON’T rate
1. NO MAN’S LAND
I still have to ask where this bike fits in. It almost needs its own category, but with only KTM and Husky producing 350cc motocrossers that isn’t going to happen in the near future. The bike is undoubtedly an absolute blast to ride around on. Whether you’re heading out to a ride park or going for a squirt with your mates, it is a bike that won’t drain you and will out-drag most of them down the straights. But the serious racer needs to ask the question and do the maths. Will you be faster with 100cc less?
The Husqvarna is deceptive in the width department. When you first sit on the bike it feels slim between the knees around the radiator shrouds and tank area. But when you are standing both the Husqvarna and KTM have a rather wide, chunky feeling between your boots. I really like the slimness around the tank and shrouds but, if I had my way, I’d put the KTM and Husky on a diet between the footpegs.
It’s not a huge deal, but I find the gearing on the FC350 to be slightly off. There are quite big gaps between the gears and I feel that, by adding two teeth on the rear sprocket, the motor would be even punchier. Lighter riders may find the standard gearing okay but I found myself almost having to patiently wait before I could change up or the bike would bog slightly. That being said, the smooth power delivery and large gap between gears made the bike extremely easy to ride.
Check out the full feature in ADB issue #462 – March 2018.