2016 Husqvarna FC 250, FC 350, FC 450 - FIRST RIDE REVIEW

Husky’s new four-stroke motocrossers further set themselves apart.

2016 Husqvarna FC 350 off-road action

In its second year since being reinvented by KTM, Husqvarna has begun to evolve and grow back into its own brand. Last year's models were nearly outright copies of KTMs aside from their composite subframes, different graphics, and white plastic. For 2016, that's not the case, as numerous changes have begun to distance the historically Swedish machines from their Austrian counterparts.

On the surface, the revamped bodywork of the new Huskys looks drastically different, and that hints at the abundant changes bestowed upon the four-stroke FC line. Beginning with the chassis, all FC models received a new subframe, which is made from an all-new lighter carbon-fiber composite material. The frame is also redesigned for better torsional rigidity and longitudinal stiffness, for improved handling and rider comfort. Complementing the new frame and subframe is a redesigned swingarm that’s said to be stiffer and lighter than last year.

2016 Husqvarna FC 350 static 3/4 view

The suspension has been updated with new settings for the WP 4CS fork. There is also a shorter and lighter WP shock that—working with the fork—has been designed to give the chassis improved ride characteristics. Lastly, the triple-clamps feature new fully adjustable rubber-mounted bar clamps, which hold high-end Pro Taper handlebars. Other notable changes done to every 2016 Husky FC include a new Magura clutch perch, improved brake discs, different grips, an updated exhaust, and a new integrated launch control system.

In addition to the chassis and suspension changes done to each of these 2016 Huskys, all three of the FC machines received targeted engine improvements. On the FC 250, a new cylinder head with a revised combustion chamber and camshafts is designed to increased low- to mid-range torque, plus overall power. Additionally, a lighter piston and cylinder are aimed at improving throttle response and high-rev performance. A new crankshaft is said to improve durability, while the crankcases have been altered to fit in the new frame, reduce vehicle weight, and improve the mass centralization of the bike. Lastly, the five-speed gearbox has been redesigned for better shifting feel, with a clutch that has been tweaked for improved action and longer life.

2016 Husqvarna FC 350 engine details

The FC 350 was given just as many engine improvements, the most major being a new head, cylinder, and piston. The head has a redesigned combustion chamber, plus new ports, camshafts, and valve springs. These improvements are aimed at improving overall power while allowing the bike to rev more freely. The FC 350 also received a lighter piston, a new crankshaft and cases, plus the updated gearbox and clutch. Husky says power output has improved.

The final bike in the 2016 Husky FC lineup, the FC 450, shares nearly all the same engine changes as the 250 and 350. The engine is lighter, narrower, slimmer, and shorter than last year, and it features a new cylinder head with optimized combustion chambers and ports. A revised water jacket gives the shorter cylinder better durability, and a lighter piston helps improve power output. Rounding out the engine changes are a stronger crankshaft, plus the improved gearbox and clutch.

2016 Husqvarna FC 250 off-road action

ON TRACK: 2016 HUSQVARNA FC 250

When compared to other 250cc four-strokes last year, the FC 250 was competitive. However, it lacked in the power department. Even when ridden back-to-back with its fraternal twin, the KTM 250SX-F, the FC 250 was slower. This year, thanks in part to the various motor changes—and a new airbox that flows more air—the Husky now has a stronger hit down low, which leads into an even more impressive top-end pull and over-rev. In spite of this, we’d still like a little more top-end power out of the FC 250. While riding, we kept the ignition in the most aggressive map position.

Handling-wise, the TC 250 is excellent. The fork works very well in holding up to hard hits and landings, while the shock performs equally as well. On harsh braking bumps and on straights, this Husky remains balanced and controllable. In corners, it stays planted and is very responsive. The front end doesn’t knife or push, and the bike’s light and nimble feel makes it easy to throw into deep ruts.

2016 Husqvarna FC 350 static side view

ON TRACK: 2016 HUSQVARNA FC 350

This was by far our favorite Husqvarna motorcycle to ride. As a complete package, the FC 350 is tough to beat. It’s incredibly fun to ride. The power is enough for everyday riders or racers, and the light weight of the bike makes it an absolute blast to throw around. In stock trim, the engine isn’t difficult to control, yet it still provides enough power to get you into or out of trouble; it comes on strong and continues to pull into the upper echelons of the powerband, and we never found an instance where we wanted more.

We tested the new Launch Control System multiple times, and while it does make a difference in allowing the power to be applied evenly and steadily, we still found that not using it was the best option. Proper start technique, along with good throttle control and correct gear selection, make it possible to get better starts without LCS engaged. Where the 2016 FC 350 really shone was in the suspension department. For the average rider, the fork and shock are excellent, helping keep the bike planted and controllable in even the roughest condition.  Also, the suspension doesn’t blow through the stroke on hard landings or big G-out hits.

2016 Husqvarna FC 450 catching air off-road action

ON TRACK: HUSQVARNA FC 450

Of the three bikes, the FC 450 was obviously the fastest. The power, though, doesn’t hit hard with the initial crack of the throttle. Rather, it comes on in a gradual linear manner that is controllable and fun to ride. The bike has a lightweight feel, and the new bodywork makes the feel slim from the saddle. The suspension works well, and, as on the 250 and 350, the fork and shock withstand hard hits while keeping the bike balanced and plush on rough straights and braking bumps. In tight corners, though, it was necessary for the rider to move as far forward as possible to initiate the turn. In most corners, though, the FC 450 liked to go exactly where we wanted.

FINAL THOUGHTS

While our time aboard the new 2016 Husqvarna machines was limited to one day, we came away impressed with the improvements and advancements made to the FC 250, FC 350, and FC 450 models. When compared to the 2015 bikes, these new 2016 Huskys are a step in the right direction. More important, they will stand up well against the competition this year.

UPS:

—All three FCs feel lighter than last year

—FC 450 has strong linear power

—Launch control works well, making it easy to get off the line

—New Pro Taper bars are a welcome change

—Gripper seat is a blessing

—New bodywork makes it easy to move around on the bikes

—Suspension is well balanced

—Hydraulic clutch is smooth and doesn’t fade

—Brembo brakes are strong and progressive

DOWNS:

—Blue plastic scratches (and looks worn out) quickly

—Stock handguards are big and ugly

—Suspension needs to be stiffer for faster or heavier riders

SPECIFICATIONS
|2016 Husqvarna FC 350
ENGINE|liquid-cooled four-stroke single
DISPLACEMENT|350cc
BORE x STROKE|88.0 x 57.5mm
TRANSMISSION|Five-speed
CLUTCH|Wet multiplate
CHASSIS
FRAME|Tubular, chrome-moly steel
FORK|WP 4CS, inverted
FRONT TRAVEL|11.8 in.
SHOCK|WP, with linkage
REAR TRAVEL|11.8 in.
FRONT BRAKE|260mm rotor, two-piston floating caliper
REAR BRAKE|220mm rotor, single-piston floating caliper
RAKE|63.9º
WHEELBASE|58.5 in.
SEAT HEIGHT|37.8 in.
FUEL CAPACITY|1.8 gal.
CLAIMED DRY WEIGHT|224 lb.

Action #1

2016 Husqvarna FC 250 off-road action.Husqvarna Photo

Action #2

2016 Husqvarna FC 250 off-road action.Husqvarna Photo

Action #3

2016 Husqvarna FC 250 off-road action.Husqvarna Photo

Action #4

2016 Husqvarna FC 250 off-road action.Husqvarna Photo

Action #5

2016 Husqvarna FC 250 off-road action.Husqvarna Photo

Static #1

2016 Husqvarna FC 250 static side.Husqvarna Photo

Static #2

2016 Husqvarna FC 250 static 3/4 view.Husqvarna Photo

Details #1

2016 Husqvarna FC 250 side profile.Husqvarna Photo

Details #2

2016 Husqvarna FC 250 engine.Husqvarna Photo

Details #3

2016 Husqvarna FC 250 exhaust.Husqvarna Photo

Action #1

2016 Husqvarna FC 350 off-road action.Husqvarna Photo

Action #2

2016 Husqvarna FC 350 off-road action.Husqvarna Photo

Action #3

2016 Husqvarna FC 350 off-road action.Husqvarna Photo

Action #4

2016 Husqvarna FC 350 off-road action.Husqvarna Photo

Action #5

2016 Husqvarna FC 350 off-road action.Husqvarna Photo

Static #1

2016 Husqvarna FC 350 static side view.Husqvarna Photo

Static #2

2016 Husqvarna FC 350 static 3/4 view.Husqvarna Photo

Details #1

2016 Husqvarna FC 350 engine.Husqvarna Photo

Details #2

2016 Husqvarna FC 350 engine.Husqvarna Photo

Action #1

2016 Husqvarna FC 450 off-road action.Husqvarna Photo

Action #2

2016 Husqvarna FC 450 off-road action.Husqvarna Photo

Action #3

2016 Husqvarna FC 450 off-road action.Husqvarna Photo

Action #4

2016 Husqvarna FC 450 off-road action.Husqvarna Photo

Action #5

2016 Husqvarna FC 450 off-road action.Husqvarna Photo

Action #6

2016 Husqvarna FC 450 off-road action.Husqvarna Photo

Action #7

2016 Husqvarna FC 450 off-road action.Husqvarna Photo

Action #8

2016 Husqvarna FC 450 off-road action.Husqvarna Photo

Static #1

2016 Husqvarna FC 450 static side view.Husqvarna Photo

Static #2

2016 Husqvarna FC 450 static 3/4 view.Husqvarna Photo

Details #1

2016 Husqvarna FC 450 left grip.Husqvarna Photo

Details #2

2016 Husqvarna FC 450 engine.Husqvarna Photo

Details #3

2016 Husqvarna FC 450 engine.Husqvarna Photo

Details #4

2016 Husqvarna FC 450 engine.Husqvarna Photo

Details #5

2016 Husqvarna FC 450 exhaust.Husqvarna Photo