When it comes to the heavyweight division of dual sports bikes the Husqvarna TE610 floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee and has the bite of an angry dog.
Photos by Trail Zone
When does an enduro bike become a dual sports bike and when is a dual sports bike not an adventure bike? Confused? When you try to pigeon hole the Husqvarna TE610 no matter which way you look at it, itís a square peg in a round hole.
Iíd ridden the 2007 TE610 briefly at a Husky launch a couple of years ago. One thing I noticed is that the powerplant was a lot smoother than the now discontinued KTM 640 Adventure so retaining all your fillings over a long haul seemed possible on the Italian stallion. Whatís more is the suspension package is far superior for extreme off road riding compared to more road oriented adventure bike set ups.
Normally our test bikes have been run in, checked over and serviced before they reach us. In this case the Australian Husqvarna importers, the Paul Feeney Group were confident enough to just pre-deliver the bike, pack it back in the crate and ship it down to the Off Road Explorer headquarters with about one kilometre on the clock. We were going to experience the bike as anyone would if they bought it off the showroom floor.
What is it?
At a glance the Husqvarna TE610 looks unashamably like an enduro bike and is the big brother of the TE family. You know, the big brother that has left home and doesnít visit the family as much as he should and as result has been a little bit neglected. Why would I say that? Well the TE610 has a history of being 12 months behind the rest of Husqvarna enduro range in overall upgrades both cosmetic and mechanically. But I digress.
Once you get to know the TE610 itís very much a no frills dual sports bike. It will cruise comfortably at highway speeds in transport sections and then can be ridden aggressively once youíre off the tarmac.† Thatís where the big bore Husky really shines.
What Do You Get For The Money?
With itís sharp enduro bike looks the Husqvarna TE610 is a true all round dual sports bike. The heart of the bike is its single cylinder, 4 stroke, fuel injected, liquid cooled powerplant which turns out 39 kW at 7000rpm at the crankshaft. A balancing counter-shaft is fitted to the 610 attributing to its smooth running that we mentioned earlier that big bore single cylinder donks have commonly suffered from. The internals are kept slippery with a lobe double oil pump and the twin exhaust ports exit to the rear through a single rear muffler. The engine has an electric start with no kick start option but no matter what the conditions or time of day the bike always fired - no problem.
The six speed gearbox provides a nice spread of ratios that youíd expect for a well rounded dual sports bike and had a more precise shift compared to some other bikes weíve ridden. The suspension package is all off road. Where other manufacturers are reducing travel to help with road manners the TE 610 sports Marzzochis, upside down enduro style, front forks with 300mm of travel. At the rear the 610 shares the same rear swingarm as the TE 450/510 and has a new Sachs shock absorber with compression and rebound adjustment using a redesigned link. The Husky is designed to carry a pillion and has passenger foot pegs fitted. The reason I mention it is that it should comfortably carry luggage but if you tend to carry a heavy load you may want to look at suspension mods depending on your own weight and gear. The Brembo brakes feature a floating 4-caliper 260 mm front disc while rear braking is a 220 mm disc and both do their job very well.
The digital instrumentation displays speed, time, mileage, rpm and has a trip-meter as well as the normal warning lights (indicators, full beam, dipped beam, service due etc.). The handlebars and controls are very much the same as the other TE models. Other road bike fittings are the steering lock and lockable fuel cap on the 12.5 litre tank. I did find the cap leaked when full (to within two to three cm from dead full). Even though the fuel ecomony was good it really needs a 18 to 22 litre tank for the long hauls.
The job of getting this all to the ground are the Metzler Karoo 140/80 Ė 18Ē rear and 90/90 Ė 21Ē up front. Donít expect them to last too long if youíre a chronic throttle jockey. The good news is that the whole package weighs in at 140.5 kg dry. Thatís pretty lean for a heavyweight.
Who’s Buying It?
The Husqvarna TE610 is for hardcore adventure riders who enjoy taking on tricky sections that would normally beach the majority of adventure bikes leaving them flapping belly up. Having said that in enduro bike applications itís a monster and if youíre built like a six foot front rower then you are probably more suited to its tall seat in technical sections. Regardless of that itíll suit any rider on the open trail who likes standing on the pegs and ridng it enduro style.
Where Did We Ride It?
We rode the TE610 probably the most kilometres weíve had the opportunity to do on a fresh test bike. 700 kms over 2 days from highway miles to deep boggy creek crossings, open forest trails to some very steep slippery clay sections. Just to get a good idea of its flexibility we rode it at the Watagans Trail Bike Rally that turned up lots of snotty, rutty single track.
What’s To Like?
For the enduro bike rider thereís a lot to like as the TE 610 shares many parts from the TE enduro family. Thereís not many dual sports bikes that have the aggressive looks of the Husky other than KTM. But compared to the latest orange range I think the TE 610 looks lighter and more nimble. The engine is surprisingly smooth with itís balancing counter-shaft. Once we ran the bike in it easily broke loose the back wheel but on the other hand it wasnít scary Ďwhat the hell happenedí power. It cruised all day at low to mid revs without complaint and got a surprising good 22.75 k/L. Mind you if you decide to get angry I imagine it would suck the 12,5 litre tank dry in no time.
The suspension and frame geometry is every inch an enduro bike and itís the first time on an adventure bike that Iíve havenít soiled my DriRiders when rounding a bend to be suddenly faced with big ruts and rocks. Thereís plenty of ground clearance for the nasty sections. The riding position suits an enduro rider that likes standing on the pegz all day. However, taller riders would probably want to fit handlebar risers. I originally baulked at the chunky Metzler Karoos and had visions of me skating of the road on the first greasy tarmac bend. I found them reasonably well behaved on the blacktop but when we reached the dirt the big knobs powered through the slippery clay and mud and I had a ball.
We found the bike didnít miss a beat and like the rest of the TE range Husqvarna† offer a 2 year warranty.
What’s Not To Like?
As a basic package the Husqvarna TE 610 is just that. A basic package. Engine, gearbox, frame and suspension all do an outstanding job but the bike misses out on those little things that would make a great package. I cannot believe that anybody would build a bike like this without a factory fitted bashplate. With the way this bike performs its screaming for a rock through the engine cases. Handguards! The TE610 doesnít even get the Cemoto plastics. The last big thing that really freaked me out is the inadequate headlight. All too often youíll find yourself pulling in to destination after dark after a long day on the road as weíve done so many times before (especially when Whiteys navigating). Iíve had bicycle lights stronger than this and further more the light shines off the back of the headlight shroud and into the riders face. It the pitch black of the Bells Line of Roads in pouring rain it was downright dangerous.
The Final Word?
The Husqvarna TE 610 is a solid package from its strong motor, crisp gearbox and great suspension. Admittedly, out of the box, itís the basics that let the TE610 down but when you think about it, the bashplate and handguards that are always the first components to be upgraded first and the Husky isnít the only bike that could do with a headlight upgrade.
I think the TE610 is at the Safari end of the adventure bike class and as our next project it is a great blank canvas. Stay tuned.