How do you follow up successfully redesigning and re-launching a niche off-road motorcycle brand?
You expand your model range to make it appeal to a wider audience, that’s what. Which is exactly what KTM-owned Husaberg has done for 2010.
Last year, the Swedish-based firm (originally created by ex-Husqvarna employees when that company moved to Italy) stunned the off-road world with the launch of its radically-different, ‘forward facing cylinder’ 450 and 570cc enduro machines.
Now, for 2010, the innovative company has added three new models to their range, based around the same powertrain.
To expand its core ‘FE’ enduro range there’s the new 390FE, a slightly odd-ball displacement machine to sit alongside its existing 450 and 570 models, and designed to be as agile as a 250cc four-stroke yet with a stronger, more user friendly bottom-end power supply.
Next there’s the FX450, a dedicated ‘cross-country’ as opposed to enduro machine, which is aimed at riders who only use their machines in closed course competition and thus don’t need to be street legal, as endures do.
But it’s much more than just an enduro bike without the lights, the FX features motocross-style, closed cartridge WP forks as well as revised gearing, making it better suited to racing than trail or enduro riding.
Finally, after an absence of a year, Husaberg is again offering a supermoto bike – the FS 570.
Based on the FE570, the FS features 17-inch wheels complete with KTM’s patented, lightweight, tubeless Saxess rims; closed cartridge 48mm WP forks; adjustable off-set triple clamps and an oversized Magura front brake.
But it’s the FE 390 that’s the most interesting development. Although almost identical to the FE 450 as far as appearances go, the ride is very different to that of the 450.
It soon becomes clear that the 390 isn’t aimed at serious competition use. Instead it’s when faced with technically demanding terrain that the bike excels. The 390 is physically smaller than the 450 and is even more manoeuvrable.
What’s more, by having less overall power the 390 is extremely easy to control and comes into its own when faced with the type of terrain where a ‘big’ bike can become simply too much.
Tricky uphill climbs, slow winding down hills, trials-like rock ledges and tree root-littered trails are the type of terrain the 390 thrives in.
With an incredible amount of bottom-end power, the torque of the motor enables it to find its way up or over almost anything.
Where a conventional 250 wouldn’t quite have enough low-end drive, and a 450 possibly a little too much, the 390 has strong, manageable power.
Of course, there’s a trade off in all this – riders looking for an equally impressive top-end won’t find it, as the 390 doesn’t have the top-end strength some would hope and requires constant gear shifting, more like a 125cc two-stroke.
But for less-experienced riders not overly worried about competition the new FE 390 ticks all of the important boxes.