HUSABERG FE570S VS. HUSQVARNA TE511
Enduro-ready and adventure-bound: Will your next dirtbike be street-legal?
IT'S MORE THAN JUST A TREND; IT'S A DISturbing fact: Off-highway riding areas are shrinking, and more restrictions keep piling onto non-closed-course off-road motorcycles. The result is less and less freedom for the classic enduro bike. This is nothing new for the European market. That’s why the chaps across the Atlantic have been going full-throttle producing street-legal hardcore enduros that also allow riders to give a friendly wave to park rangers on the trails and cops on public highways. Yeah, I’m legal! A license plate and full road lighting allow you to connect epic trails via patches of asphalt.
Joining the increasing list of streetlegal real dirtbikes are the Husaberg FE570S and Husqvarna TE511. Although newly plated, the ’Berg is no off-road rookie: In 2009, it “turned the enduro world upside down” with its flipped and rotated engine configuration. The smallerdisplacement FE450 even nabbed OFs Ten Best Award in the Enduro category that year.
Husqvarna, on the other hand, might as well be called the innovator of modern street-legal enduro bikes: The TE line has been wearing license plates since 2006, and its TE450 won our “Euro Enduros” dual-sport comparison in October, 2009. But it’s a new game this year, because the TE511 has an all-new chassis with a basic engine adopted from the G450X built by Husky’s parent company, BMW.
So dirt-worthy are these bikes that it is easy to forget that they have passed the stringent EPA emissions standards for road use. It took a lot of hard work by Husaberg and Husqvarna to get these bikes to meet those requirements and still perform acceptably, so we ran ’em stock and can see no immediate rush for serious modification.
With its 565cc engine, the ’Berg takes the prize for its displacement being the closest to what is implied by its model designation. Compared to its little-brother FE450, the 570 has a larger bore (up from 95 to 100mm) and stroke (lengthened from 63.4 to 72mm). Husky, though, only increased the bore size on the TE511 from the TE449’s 98 to lOlmm, with both using the same 59.6mm stroke. So, the displacement of the TE511 is only Alice.
The good news is that the TE doesn’t have to be any larger to keep up. On every hillclimb, from every stoplight and down every dirt or paved road, the Husky closely matched the ’Berg’s speed and acceleration.
Still, power delivery between the two is different, yet both are pleasing. The ’Berg’s fuel injection is better sorted out, always allowing the engine to respond cleanly and crisply; any time the
throttle is snapped opened, you get instant gratification. That quick response also contributes to the FE’s lightweight feel. The result is an engine that’s fast, torquey and ultra-controllable.
What’s surprising is that when you drop down 88cc to the Husky, there isn’t a huge difference in oomph. The 51 l’s range of power is not as broad as the ’Berg’s and is delivered with a little less excitement, but it’s always there when you need more; the bike just motors along and will tractor up anything. Our
testbike didn’t have the crispest injection, however; the fueling sometimes was a little rough, and on occasion, it caused the engine to sputter and quit. Also, the TE engine expelled a significant amount of oil out its breather hose and into the airbox, causing quite a mess since the ’box drains on top of the engine. Husqvarna recommended running the oil level near the “minimum” mark to reduce the problem until engine break-in was more complete on our sub-500-mile unit.
While neither bike is going to give the touring bikes elsewhere in this issue a run on the interstate, the Husaberg affords the rider a little more comfort with less engine vibration in the 65-to-75mph range. The TE’s sixth gear is way low and engine vibration higher. Shift quality is also a bit notchy compared to the ’Berg’s slick box.
Although the engines in these two enduros offer similar behavior despite their differences, the chassis are nothing at all alike—so much so that anyone riding both probably wouldn’t realize that they have identical, 37.2-inch seat heights.
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The Husky is abnormally wide down by the footpegs where its Coaxial Traction System (CTS) puts the swingarm pivot and the countershaft sprocket on the same centerline. The midsection is relatively slim but widens farther back on the bike. The ’Berg, meanwhile, is thin near the footpegs and thickens in the midsection near the saddle. Both positions are perfectly livable, but the FE has nicer lines for the rider’s legs to grip.
These two really come across as complete opposites in handling and ride character, mostly due to the huge differences between the Husqvarna’s CTS chassis and the Husaberg’s unique engine placement. If you’re a dirtbike guy, the ’Berg rules and the Husky, by comparison, feels more like a streetable dual-purpose. Yet the goal remains the same for each respective company: build a hardcore enduro that also is street-legal.
Suspension settings are not race-spec on either bike, and that’s a good thing; mortal trail riders demand comfort. In slower-speed terrain, the two behave fairly equally and can traverse rocks and ruts with little or no deflection. But when the speeds elevate and the bumps get larger, the TE falls behind the FE. In desert whoops, the 511 feels heavy and mushy, even though at 277 pounds, the Husky is only 11 pounds “huskier” than the 266-pound ’Berg. The FE570 stays quite straight and stable in these conditions, but don’t credit the weight alone; the new WP closed-cartridge fork works exceptionally well.
Stability on open trails such as fire roads and two-track is the Husky’s strong suit. It steers more slowly than the ’Berg and has an easier time holding a line during casual riding conditions. The compromise is that the Husky doesn’t have the FE’s light, flickable handling on tighter and more technical trails. Sure, the TE can keep up in the nasty single-track, but it requires more rider input. The ’Berg has its drawbacks, too, including the way its front-end tends to knife in sand or softer terrain.
But overall, the Husaberg FE570S clearly is the better hardcore enduro here. Plus, its fit and finish is right up there at Japanese quality: Every part and piece has been thought out to the last detail. You should expect nothing less for the FE’s $10,498 price tag, however, which could put it out of reach for a whole lot of riders. But if you’re not such a gung-ho dirtbike rider and more of a dual-sport kinda person, the Husqvarna TE511 makes more sense, even at its $8999 buy-in.
Either way, you’ll have one important thing going for you: You’ll be able to buck the trend and ride practically anywhere you want, on-road and off. □
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