Matrix: Husky stuck with the plastic subframe they
inherited from Husaberg. It looks cool, but has some issues.
Pusher: The electric start button is on the right and the
map switch and launch control lever are on the left.
Husqvarna isn’t in the scary-fast category. Now you would
think that since there is not one iota of difference between
the internal parts of the class-leading KTM 450SXF engine
and the FC450 engine that it would be a dead heat on a
merry-go-round. Not so. Why? While the internals may be
identical, the externals aren’t. Husqvarna made some very
deliberate choices regarding the style of power it wanted.
The Husky could easily have had the same amount of
power as the 2016 KTM 450SXF, which Honda, Kawasaki,
Suzuki and Yamaha would jump at, but the engineers at
Husky have a sibling rivalry with KTM’s engineers that
doesn’t allow them, psychologically, to do what KTM does
(any more than they have to). We’re not sure that we like
their decision, but we have to respect the bravery of a
company that purposely detunes the power delivery of its
product. Plus, we know how to get the power back.
Oh, don’t get us wrong, the 2016 Husky FC450 isn’t slow
by any means; it’s just not rompin’, stompin’, white-knuckle
fast. It is, for lack of a better phrase, “rheostat fast.” It has
a steady, deliberate and metered pull that is superbly manageable. The breadth of the powerband is amazing in its
length. The pleasant low-to-mid transition becomes stronger
as you go—and it goes and goes and goes. What it doesn’t
do is thrill you. It doesn’t have the gun-and-run surge that
the KTM 450SXF and Yamaha YZ450F have. You catch
and pass people by laying down smooth, effortless and
consistent laps, not with bare-knuckle brawling.
Once the MXA test crew realized that Huskys had a lap-time engine as opposed to a sprint engine, they calmed
down and went to work with what it had to offer. Test
riders could push the chassis of the FC450 to the limits
of adhesion without fear of being bucked off by a sudden
burp of testosterone from the powerplant. There was power
everywhere. And while we might have wanted more power
at different points on the space/time continuum, you gotta
love an engine that churns from off-idle all the way to the
top end. The 2016 Husqvarna FC450 powerband is long,
broad and pulls forever. And just to be perfectly clear, the
Husky makes more peak horsepower than the 2016 Honda,
Suzuki, Kawasaki or Yamaha.
Q: WHY IS THE HUSKY’S POWERBAND
MELLOWER THAN THE KTM’S?
A: We need to address the elephant in the room. What
did Husqvarna do to make the engine manageable instead
(1) They resuscitated KTM’s long-gone 2013 ice-cream-cone muffler core. By putting a restrictive cone in the end
of the exhaust pipe, Husqvarna killed two birds with one
stone: the restrictive muffler killed decibels to make it
quieter than the KTM while also killing throttle response.
Whereas the KTM can bark with the slightest flick of the
wrist, the Husky purrs. Are you a cat lover? If so, this
muffler is for you. We took the stock straight-through
muffler from our KTM 450SXF and put it on the FC450
and got the bark back. It is a simple fix, but it will cost
you post-showroom money.
( 2) Husqvarna’s engineers must have gotten their degrees
in submarine design. They don’t want water to get in or
air to get out. Whether it is submarine or enduro tech,
Husqvarna seals off its airbox tighter than Jimmy Hoffa’s
55-gallon drum. It took us a while to trace the path that air
has to take to get into the FC450 airbox. Hidden inside the
handholds on the side panels are slots that direct air under
the seat, where it goes through openings in the plastic
subframe and eventually gets to the air filter. Both the
muffler and the air inlets suffer from chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease. The FC450 can’t take a deep breath, nor
can it exhale fully. Break out the drill.
Ice cream: Husky’s muffler has a cone-shaped restrictor
inside thet keeps decibels down and knocks off some bark.