Husqvarna Motorcycles built its reputation in off-road racing and, under KTM ownership since 2013, continues to be a prominent player at the highest racing level.
Its motocross lineup for 2017 consists of the four-stroke FC series with 250, 350 and 450 cc engines, while on the smokier side of the garage we meet the TC 85, 125 and 250 two-strokes – all of them based on the relevant KTM models.
The big news is the application of a traction control system in all four-stroke models. In recent years almost all manufacturers have used some kind of launch control system on their motocross models; used only for race starts, this is effectively a crude form of traction control where sensors compare the rotation speed of both wheels and regulate the ignition accordingly when they determine a substantial difference.
Kawasaki introduced a full-on traction control system in last year's KX450F and now it's Husqvarna's turn to follow suit, using an updated version of the Keihin engine management system that KTM employs throughout its four-stroke range with four selectable ignition maps and an integrated launch control.
Husqvarna is the first manufacturer to unveil its 2017 weaponry, and as the rest of the class is gradually revealed over coming months we expect to see more factories adding traction control to their motocross models – especially since the AMA updated its rulebook to allow for such systems, as long as they are homologated in the production models.
All of Husqvarna's 2017 motocross models inherit the latest front forks from WP Performance Systems that debuted last year on KTM's lineup. The AER 48 forks follow the latest trend that combines the traditional hydraulic damping on the right leg with pneumatic damping on the left. This new generation of motocross forks has completely taken over the field, with WP's offering joining the Showa SFF-TAC and Kayaba PSF.
The benefits of this tech are felt on several levels. In a motorcycle class where manufacturers follow the annual ritual of shaving a few grams from every part of the bike that can take it, the 1.4 kg (3 lb) gain of the AER 48 makes a lot of sense in motorcycles that weight 100 kg (220 lb) or less.
Another important advantage of these forks is their easy adjustability; all it takes is a hand-pump to change the behavior of the suspension, allowing for adjustments that in a conventional fork would require playing with different springs and, perhaps, the oil's level or viscosity.
The most notable change in Husqvarna's 2017 lineup is the heavily updated TC250. Featuring a brand new engine, the two-stroke MX1-class bike promises to be lighter and smoother with less vibration and optimized mass centralization. Two-strokes are in fact making a comeback in the off-road world, appealing to the hobbyist who appreciates the lower maintenance costs and overall technical simplicity – a fact no doubt acknowledged by Husqvarna.
The 2017 Husqvarna motocross range is expected to hit the showrooms worldwide in June.