While the TE630 was the angry opponent in the small bore dual sport market a logical heart transplant is just what the doctor ordered to take on an aging opposition.Photos by Clubby
Dirt bike legend Malcolm Smith must kick back each morning and gasp with horror when he reads that his beloved Husqvarna has another owner. It must make running for President of the United States look a little more predictable in the outcome department but perhaps in this case BMW’s injection maybe the secret to this 650 cc’s success.
As I travel through city traffic in the ORE transporter I’ve spotted more dual sport bikes making the daily commute than any other class of bike. And it’s easy to spot the bling and adventure apparel that indicates that most are serious weekend warriors.
Now we’ve had both the Husqvarna TE610 and the TE630 as long-term project bikes and from an off road perspective these bikes were awesome. Needless to say they were weapons and required a firm hand to perform at their best. However as a commuter the gnarly throttle response had them jumping off from the lights like an angry rodeo bull and the saddle didn’t make things at all comfortable.
When the BMW owned Husqvarna brand unveiled the new TR650 Terra it looked like a match made in heaven. The TE630’s replacement now has BMW’s reliable 650 Rotax engine and a much more comfortable seat while retaining Husqvarnas suspension package and aggressive looks. It looks like it’s about to wipe the floor with the dinosaurs that currently dominate the 650cc dual sport market.
What is It?
The Husqvarna TR650 is a successful crossbreed of German engineering and Italian styling. While sporting a similar frame to the BMW Sertao to accommodate the BMW powerplant, the Terra sports an all Husqvarna Sachs suspension package. I liken it to a lean mean Sertao or a Husqvarna TE630 on just enough Prozac to take the edge off. No matter how you look at it, it’s a huge step in the right direction.
What Do You Get For The Money?
The new Husqvarna TR650 now utilises the proven liquid cooled, high-torque single cylinder engine of the BMW 650 GS model with two overhead camshafts, four valves, fuel injection, and double ignition and a smooth delivery thanks to the balancer shaft. Originally developed by BMW and Rotax its 652 cc displacement delivers 43 kW (58 hp) at 6500 rpm, which is 10hp more than it’s German counterparts. That’s thanks to the TR650’s newly designed cylinder had with an optimised duct layout and with 10kg lighter over the GS models it is very responsive.
The gearbox is a five-speed constant mesh gearbox transferring power to the rear wheel via a chain drive. The engine sits within a steel bridge frame with a bolt on rear subframe and with Sachs USD forks and steel swingarm with a Sachs shock absorber, spring preload mechanically adjustable and rebound adjustable suspension on the rear. At this price bracket this is as good as it gets
The wheelbase of the of the TR650 is 1501mm with wire spoke wheels at either end with a 21 inch up front (2.50 x 21) and an 18 inch on the rear (140/80 x 18) on the rear. That will make plenty of serious adventure riders happy.
The TR650, while a little more docile than the TE630, is still a rocket ship and to bring that momentum to a stop the TR650 has Brembo hydraulically actuated single disc brake, fully floating, 300 mm diameter with a double piston floating calliper up front. On the rear is another Brembo hydraulically actuated single disc brake, 240 mm diameter with a single piston, floating calliper. Disengagable ABS is an option that some riders may prefer for those greasy wet commuting mornings.
The cockpit features digital speedo and an analogue tacho basically the same as the new Nuda but over all the cockpit is very basic and begs improvement. The seat height is 875mm and is a similar design to the BMW seat making it much more comfortable than the old TE630 seat. The tank profile is long a low, which allows the seat to extend further up the tank. While the fuel tank fills front and centre like a traditional bike it extends down and under the rider helping lower the centre of gravity. The 14-litre capacity gives the TR650 an estimate fuel range of more than 350 kilometres. The fuel light gives you plenty of warning when you’re down to your last 2.5 litres.
The headlight and front guard styling has been adopted from the TE/SM 630 models, which sets it apart from the Nuda and retains its TE roots. After all, this bike still allows its enduro DNA to shine through.
Who's Buying It?
Now this will be interesting. Up until now the small-bore dual sport market has been dominated by the Suzuki DR650 and the Kawasaki KLR650. For only one thousand dollars more the Husqvarna TR650 offers a proven, fuel injected BMW powerplant, Sachs suspension and brakes and Italian styling. To upgrade either of the forementioned japanese bikes to the same spec will cost you a lot more dollars than that. LAMS approved, robust performance, cool styling, sharply priced along with 24 months unlimited kilometres warranty makes it hard to beat. With a raft of accessories from Husqvarna and other aftermarket manufacturers there will be some serious setup options. Furthermore Safaris tanks have even announced they will be manufacturing a large capacity fuel tank. For all dual sports adventure riders this is a serious contender in the market. City commute one day, Simpson Desert the next.
Where Did We Ride It?
Like any serious adventure rider I geared up into my Husqvarna enduro gear and headed to my local beachside café for my regular café homo enduro Italian bean roast skim latte with honey. Once the taunts of ‘who’s the tosser wearing the beanie’ got too much I headed down the cost along back-road tarmac and fire trails and twin track.
What's To Like?
When I first heard that BMW had taken over Husqvarna I wondered what a 650 Rotax would be like in a Husqvarna frame. I then got distracted from that idea when the Nuda was release and my head was filled with thoughts of a Husqvarna 900 twin adventure bike.
As it turned out we’ve been gifted with the TR650 and looking at the big picture the market has been screaming out for a high performing fuel injected 650 at an economical price.
The BMW 650 Rotax powerplant has been around for quite sometime and Husqvarna has extracted 10 more horsepower by enlarging the intake and outlet valves and increasing the valve stroke. Heavy-handed use of the throttle will raise the front wheel from the road without any clutch trickery.
While our test bike didn’t have ABS the stoppers certainly did the job although you do need time to get the feel to avoid lock up especially in the wet. The good thing is that ABS is an option, which is not available on its cheaper competition.
The 18 inch rear wheel will give you more options for tyres especially when trying to source rubber in remote locations and when making your way to those far off lands you will definitely appreciate the broader saddle. Behind the saddle is a functional rear rack, which will suffice for a medium size gear bag.
The bike overall looked a bit awkward for some reason and we suspect that the lack of a bash plate was the problem. However the more we looked at it, the more we saw the potential and coming down the road it’s a very sharp looking ride.
Overall, with its extra horsepower and lighter weight, the Terra is quite a nimble weapon and managing that is made easier with the tractable power of the Rotax powerplant.
Husqvarna have a wide range of accessories available from bash plate, hand guards and heated grips to hard luggage systems. With an industry standard 24 month, unlimited kilometres warranty the Husqvarna is very competitively price at $8995 RRP.
What's Not To Like?
To get the TR650 in a price leading position the German owners struck some essentials off the basic equipment list and cut a few corners. The lack of a bash plate and handguards will come to your immediate attention and leaves the bike looking very vulnerable to damage. The handlebars are standard looking thin steel bars and except for the instrument panel it looks very low spec. The digital speedo display has a polarising cover to reduce sun reflection. Unfortunately if you’re wearing polarise sunglasses it creates a rainbow film over the display and you can’t read it.
Other than that the Rotax wiring looks a bit untidy around the voltage regulator and the radiator hoses look a little too exposed along with the agricultural looking rear brake lever and gear shift lever that seem to hang out in the wind. Nevertheless nearly all that can be fixed, tidied up and protected.
The Final Word?
The Husqvarna TR650 Terra is the wake up call that the economical end of the dual sport/adventure market needed. It is by far much better value for money than its cheaper counterparts. It has huge potential and even in its standard form it’s just a fun bike to ride. It’s a great all-rounder.
With the surprise announcement of a new owner for Husqvarna we can just hope that there’s a steady hand on the rudder. Should the powerplant change for something similar then the Husqvarna TR650 Terra should out sell the competition hands down.