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On board Britain’s fastest Husqvarnas

Ever since Husqvarna revived itself back in 2014 and got in bed with KTM, the factory has been able to produce some of the fastest and lightest motocross bikes ever to hit the track. So when you go testing Huskies, you know they’ll be punching well in the power department. But it’s interesting to ride race-ready team bikes to see whether the riders have kept the production bikes’ characteristics or developed a more individual and personalised feel.

Team bike tests are interesting because the test doesn’t just tell you about the way in which a rider likes their machine to feel, but it also tells you a lot about the team and how they think the bikes should be compared to stock.
I ’ve been testing bikes for over a decade now and I’ve been luckily enough to test a wide range of machines from prototypes to production and even factory bikes.

So it’s fair to say I’ve ridden some of the best bikes in the world produced by the best teams in the world and those bike have parameters in which they work that are all based around the design and engineering of the stock bike. They might have the power moved around, slightly unusual cockpit set-up or a different suspension balance, but none veer too far away from stock which is testament to how good production bikes are. In fact the only time ridden a bike which had totally changed its characteristics was Jeffrey Herlings’ 450 in 2017 and even he opted back to a more conventional feel in his title-winning 2018 season.

With that in mind, we got to try the British-championship winning Revo Husqvarna 250 of GP rider Dylan Walsh, the Chambers bike of Jake Millward which finished third in the British MX1 series and the Geartec Husky 450 of Elliott Banks-Browne which won the last moto of the British championship season.

Walsh’s potent weapon

The fast New Zealander has been a class act in the British championship this year with a dominant performance in the last half of the season, plus some decent GP results too. His super aggressive and attacking riding style has made its presence known wherever he goes. I’ve tested Revo bikes for a number of years now and I have to say they’ve got this one spot on. It’s definitely the best bike I’ve tried out of the previous Revo machines I’ve tested. It’s just a shame the team is stopping in 2020 as I feel they’ve just started to reap the rewards from all their knowledge and efforts.

The machine looks on point it’s definitely one of the best looking bikes in the paddock. The bike had that factory feel when you sat on it and the suspension feel was firm which allows Dylan to reflect the new generation of scrubbing and attacking track obstacles hard. The firm setup felt good on track and was very well balanced, allowing you to hit anything without worrying you were going to smash through the suspension.

The motor is all the work of Revo and it works well. The power was exceptionally good and the delivery was predictable. It’s punchy with a great over rev to match. The engine didn’t stop pulling and it was so good to ride.

With great but firm suspension, powerful brakes, a great setup of bars and levers plus a motor that’s better than stock in every way, it’s a bike anyone would get on and ride fast. Faster than a stock FC250, for sure. It doesn’t quite have the outright power and torque of the full factory motors, as you’d expect. But it’s a solid bike and feels like a stocker, only better.

Millward’s rookie racer

What an incredible rookie season Jake Millward has since moving to the MX1 class this year. Right from the start of the season at a wet Fatcats, Jake came out all guns blazing and he’s never been too far away from the front ever since.

And that’s on virtually a stock bike except for factory WP factory 52mm forks and rear shock to suit his weight and style. It seems Jake sent most of the winter dialling in his setup to make him feel comfortable on track which was a wise move because the stock FC450 has plenty of power, especially for a featherweight rider. It’s standard protocol for a 250F rider stepping up to the 450 class to be happy with the amount of ponies the 450 pushes out after revving the hell out of a 250F for so long. They always feel the power is more than enough and righty so!

Jake’s body size and frame isn’t one of a typical 450 rider but he’s made good use of his advantage this year by grabbing good starts at will and the race speed to match which has destroyed the competition at times in 2019. He’s definitely a gutsy rider and favourite to watch.

Riding his bike is exactly like riding a stock bike with an aftermarket pipe as that’s what it is! The power delivery is good and the five-speed gearbox gets worked a little more a 450 KTM four-speeder but I like that because you’re working the bike. Jake has the mapping on position two at all times and I think that’s perfect because it gives the motor a little more punch and a better throttle connection.

The balance of the bike is good and at no point did I feel uncomfortable even though it was a little soft for my weight. The 5front forks offer good stability around the track which allows you to push the bike with out losing the front end. I find that the extra rigidity of the bigger forks offer a perfect combination for the steel-framed FC450.

The bike is a stock bike with a pipe and improved suspension, so is a machine most riders would enjoyed and go fast on. It’s a refined stock bike that simply works for every level of talent, from club racer to British championship winner.

Elliott’s extreme machine

There is no doubting the talent and raw speed of Elliott Banks-Browne. He’s led GPs, won British championship titles and came back from injury to win the final British MX1 championship moto of 2019. I’ve tested  Elliott’s bikes for a number of years now and it’s safe to say the last few times we haven’t gotten along because his machines have bitten me. I do feel bad giving the bike back bent to the team because they are such a passionate bunch which puts heart and soul into racing.

My first experience of hitting the floor hard was at Mildenhall a couple of years ago and if I’m totally honest I didn’t know what the hell happened. One minute I’d landed of the jump and then I was lying in the fall due to the loss of the front end. Then on his 2019 bike at Cusses for this test, I went down hard again.

When I first got on the bike, it clear the setup was a little different than previous years in the bar and lever department. It shows EBB is always on the hunt for improvement and every little helps. I’m going to be totally honest as the moment I got onto the track, I felt uncomfortable. The bike wasn’t balanced for me I had a feeling of the front end pushing coming into the turns and the rear feeling loose. I felt my body weight was forced to the front of the bike and that made a big difference to the feeling I got even around a track I know well.

In fact, I didn’t want to ride the bike a lot because of how I felt, due to the unbalanced suspension and setup. It obviously works for Elliott, but it didn’t for me and made the bike feel totally different to a stock Husqvarna. On my short time on the bike, it was clear to feel that the power was punchy and the motor definitely had a sharp hit to it which I liked. I could feel the benefits of the motor especially on a track where everything is ripped to hell.

Now my crash actually wasn’t using Elliot’s setup and it was my mistake – even though I’m not sure how I ended up highsiding on that section of track where I went down.

EBB was due to test new WP Xact Pro suspension that day. After I tested the bike, the new suspension was fitted I rode the bike straight away to see if the bike felt better. For me, it was instantly much better. So much better that I actually put in a lot more laps until my mistake, of course.

What was better was the balance and the predictability of the bike. It more grip at the front and rear and it felt like it had its stock Husky characteristics back. I’ve spoken to EBB since and he’s been mega about me totalling his steed. In fact, he assures me that his setup was much better by the end of the season because he’d had more bike time himself. Due to a few injuries early in the season, he felt behind on the bike development and setup and he said he’d have liked me to have ridden it again after the last Maxxis round. Unfortunately, I was still injured! Anyway, sorry once again Elliott for bending your machine.

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