Husqvarna, a formerly Swedish company based in Italy and owned since 2007 by Germans (BMW), has been making motorcycles for 110 years. Best known for its motocross and enduro bikes, Husqvarna offers street-legal dual-sport bikes in its TE line, but they’re of the 90/10 dirt/street variety, fairly hardcore bikes that are just legal enough to connect trails together.
Hoping to expand its appeal, for 2013 it is introducing the 50/50 dual-purpose TR650 Terra and the street-only TR650 Strada. Sharing the same platform, both are powered by a tuned-up version of the 652cc liquid-cooled single found in the BMW G 650 GS. A stiffer, lighter forged piston, higher compression, larger intake and exhaust valves and higher-lift cams are said to deliver a 20-percent bump in horsepower, up to 58. The TR650 also gets a new fuel injection system, a reworked cylinder head, a revised crankshaft with lighter balancer shaft, a high-flow airbox, higher capacity radiators and a more powerful charging system. The steel-bridge frame and steel swingarm with progressive linkage are purpose-built, but the 5-speed gearbox and cable-actuated clutch with adjustable lever are the same as those on the BMW G 650 GS. Sachs suspension provides 7.5 inches of travel front and rear, with a nonadjustable 48mm male-slider fork and a rear shock that’s adjustable for spring preload and rebound. Dual discs are squeezed by Brembo calipers.
Given their different intents, the Terra and Strada differ in appearance and functionality. The Terra has a high front fender, spoked 21-/18-inch wheels and a 34.4-inch seat height. The Strada has a low front fender, cast aluminum 19-/17-inch wheels, a 33.4-inch seat height and standard ABS that can be turned off. ABS is an option on the Terra in Europe, but it isn’t available for U.S. bikes because they run 18-inch rear wheels, allowing a wide range of tire options, instead of the Euro-spec 17-inchers.
Both models have sleek and slender bodywork with a small flyscreen that provides minimal wind protection. Instrumentation is compact, with an analog tach paired with an LCD display that shows speed, engine temperature and one of several other functions (odometer, tripmeter, clock and ambient temperature). The seat is long and narrow like those found on dirt bikes but with more padding. A small luggage rack is standard equipment, and available accessories include hard saddlebags and a trunk, soft luggage, heated grips, a windscreen, engine guards, a skid plate, wider cleated footpegs and an anti-theft device.
I had a chance to ride the TR650 Terra at its U.S. press launch, a 100-mile loop that included interstate highways, traffic-clogged city streets, twisty canyon roads and a sandy, rocky national forest road. Having tested both the BMW G 650 GS and G 650 GS Sertão, I was immediately impressed by the more powerful engine, its quicker-revving nature and its smoothness all the way up to the 8,000-rpm redline. The Terra leaps away from a stop and accelerates better than any 58-horsepower motorcycle has any right to. A common complaint about large singles is their unpleasantness at high speeds. Except for the lack of wind protection, the Terra cruises easily at 85 mph, and on a slight downhill on a desolate road, I managed an indicated 103!
The 406-pounds-wet bike is easy to handle on- and off-road. It’s very slender, its 3.8 gallons of fuel are stored under the seat, it has a wide motocross-style handlebar and it has narrow wheels (1.85-inch front shod with a 90/90-21 tire, 3.00-inch rear shod with a 140/80-18 tire), all of which make it easy to toss from side to side and pick any line on any kind of road. Metzeler Enduro 3 Sahara tires provide good traction on a variety of surfaces. The Terra felt more nimble off-road than the G 650 GS Sertão, something likely attributable to Husky’s own chassis, dirt bikes being the company’s bailiwick. The Brembo brakes offer good power and are easy to modulate. Shifting the 5-speed transmission was trouble-free, with nicely spaced gear ratios and a light clutch pull. And the long-travel suspension soaks up rough pavement and off-road obstacles like a champ—just bring your own hook spanner to adjust rear preload; no toolkit is included. There’s not much to complain about, except the hair-trigger kickstand spring, which will retract the kickstand unless it is fully deployed. I nearly dumped the bike in my garage!
The Terra is an incredibly fun bike to ride, so much so that I’ve been fantasizing about having one in my garage on a full-time basis. At $6,999, it is very competitively priced—just $500 more than the best-selling Kawasaki KLR650 and $1,651 less than the BMW G 650 GS Sertão, though the GS comes standard with ABS, a skid plate, hand guards and more.
The TR650 Terra is available now; the TR650 Strada should be in dealers by the end of the year.
2013 Husqvarna TR650 Terra (Strada)
Base Price: $6,999 ($7,499)
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled single, DOHC, 4 valves
Bore x Stroke: 100.0 x 83.0mm
Transmission: 5-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Wheelbase: 59.1 in.
Rake/Trail: 27 degrees/4.41 in. (26 degrees/3.98 in.)
Seat Height: 34.4 in. (33.8 in.)
Wet Weight: 406 lbs. (410 lbs. claimed)
Fuel Capacity: 3.6 gals., last 1.0 gal. warning light on
Average mpg: NA