It’s looks sexy, feels sexy and IS sexy. Husky’s latest entry into the fast-growing adventure and dualsport market doesn’t just look good. It’s a performer as well.
Husqvarna isn’t noted as a major player in the dualsporting world. It’s had some great bikes at the big end of the TE range, but they’ve never caught the general public’s attention the way the championship-winning competition bikes have. The TE610 of the mid-2000s was a nice bike, and the TE630 of recent years was even nicer, with good performance in the dirt and easily capable of long-distances on the road. But those bikes still weren’t really embraced by the general public in the way they probably deserved.
Now there’s the TR 650 Terra, and if this bike isn’t a bulls-eye for riders from the commuter/casual weekender through to the serious, long-distance back-roader, then Husky might as well give up. Not only is the bike a pleasure to ride, the price is amazing.
There’s a great deal being written and discussed about the Husqvarna/BMW relationship so we won’t rehash it here. For those who may not know, BMW bought Husqvarna, although the companies are still separate (in fact, as we write this Husqvarna has again been sold, this time to a company whose major shareholder is the CEO of KTM). Anyhoo, with BMW’s impact in the dualsport and adventure market, Husqvarna would have to feel short-changed if at least some of that hard-won expertise didn’t make its way to Italy. Clearly it has, and in the Terra’s case, in the best possible way.
Jumping on the Terra offers a couple of very nice surprises straight away.
The first is a realistic seat height.
Ground clearance is important for an off-road bike, but so is the rider’s ability to put his feet on the ground and push in rough terrain, or just to be able to sit on the seat and move the bike comfortably around a parking space or campsite. A seat height of 875mm on the Terra is ideal for riders from about 170cm on up. The seat itself has a small step which allows the rider’s position to be a few millimetres lower than the pillion seat, and that can sometimes be a pain when there’s a need to move a rider’s weight back for hard braking. In the case of the Terra though, the difference is more of a small bump than a step, similar to the set-up used by the desert-race guys for the last few years. It’s just enough to allow a lazy rider to plonk his backside down and crank the throttle open without sliding back, but not enough to hamper his intentional backward movement.
Another pleasant first impression is the quality of the fittings and instruments. As we’ve seem from Husky for quite a few years now, the gauges, ’bars and fittings are all beautifully finished, high-quality product.
Not only that, but the Italian design gives that understated impression of elegance that feels almost a little sensual and forbidden in an off-road bike. The curves and hidden delights of the glossy plastics are like something from a Penthouse letter (we imagine. We’ve never read one, of course).
The test bike had accessory handguards, bashplate, screen and footpegs, as well as a Husqvarna “soft top case”, all of which we’d have fitted to the bike by the dealer if we were buying one. The ’pegs were especially nice, and were easy to clean. The stockers have a rubber insert. We didn’t try the stockers, but we’ve never ridden rubber inserts on footpegs that were much chop, especially in the wet.
The screen was incredible. How such a tiny, out-of-the-way piece of plastic can make such a huge difference is beyond us, but it does, deflecting the wind blast well away from the rider.
We aren’t rapt in top cases in general because they hold weight up so high and back so far, but once we started using it the thing was so damn handy we didn’t want to be without it.
All up those accessories add around $1000 to the price, but they’re worth every cent in our opinion, and it still makes the purchase price of the Terra very, very attractive.
The TR650 uses a tried-and-true motor, familiar to most as the powerplant in the BMW 650 singles. It’s built a huge reputation for rock-solid reliability, even if it’s never been noted for a big power output.
The Husqvarna-spec 652cc version wrings an extra 10 horsepower from the DOHC, twin-spark, liquid-cooled, four-stroke single, and the difference is quite startling for those familiar with the Funduro, 650GS, Xchallenge, Xcountry and Xmoto. It’s fuel-injected of course, and whatever other advantages that may offer, the fuel economy is amazingly good. With mixed highway touring and off-road riding the tank should offer a comfortable 300km or more, and that’s impressive when you can’t even see the 14-litre cell.
The twin-pipe set-up gives the motor a snarl that’s a little louder than its stock Japanese competitors, but is far from offensive. In keeping with the look of the bike, the exhaust note is just aggressive enough to make heads turn. Once the heads are turned, the eyes will run over the bike front to back, because it’s a great-looking outfit.
Our test bike was the ‘full-power’ version. The Terra can be purchased in a LAMS-approved configuration, and that involves a mechanical limit to throttle movement. It’s a quick job for a dealer or mechanic to remove the stop once the rider has a full licence or wants to sell the bike, or the dealer can supply the bike in full-power configuration once he’s sighted the buyer’s open motorcycle licence, but we didn’t ride with the LAMS limiter in place. As it was, the engine on the test bike was sharp and responsive. It came alive at around the 4000rpm mark, and became wonderfully aggressive at around 5000rpm. From about 5000rpm on up toward the 8000rpm redline it was all elbows-up and big smiles as the Terra snaked its way through the curves or hung the back end out on the dirt. Power delivery has no nasty surprises, even as it arcs up at 4000rpm, and it should have all levels of rider grinning foolishly.
Below 4000rpm there’s still enough tug to handle a bad gear change or lug the bike through traffic, but it’s quite sedate and very predictable.
Actually, that’s a little interesting. We don’t recall stalling the Terra even once during our time with the bike, and that’s very unusual. Admittedly, we didn’t throw the bike at any extreme situations, but still, it just underlines how willing the donk is. Normally we’ll stall a couple of times while we’re getting used to a motor’s feel and characteristics, but not this one.
All in all, the engine and stock ignition curve is a good all-round package, ideally suited to the intended dualsport use.
The motor drives a five-speed box, and that’s possibly a little unfashionable these days. Six-speed boxes are all the rage, but to be honest, the gear ratios on the test bike were spot on as far as we could tell. Freeway speeds were effortless and lugging through traffic was a piece of cake. We hardly noticed the gearbox during our time with the bike, and that’s generally a sign it’s doing its job well.
We’d like to give you’re the sprocket sizes, but we ran into a problem there, and we’ll cover that a little later. The rear was a 47.
The only thing about the gearbox that drew our attention was the tendency for it to hang up a little in third. It wasn’t a drama, but every now and then it would for some reason be a tiny bit reluctant to slip from third to fourth. It’s probably one of those little foibles all bikes have and owners soon get used to, and it certainly didn’t detract from our enjoyment of riding the thing, nor did it ever become anything like ‘a problem’. It was just there.
The cable clutch is super smooth and very light. It’s so light we had to double-check it really was a cable clutch. There’s plenty of feel and it’s nice and progressive. One finger is all that’s needed to use that slinky little lever.
Braking is excellent. Front and rear Brembos on single discs do the job a treat. The front is strong with plenty of feedback to the rider, and the rear isn’t so strong as to make using it something a rider needs to be careful of, but it has plenty of stopping power and gives the rider a good indication of what’s happening.
Braking brings suspension into play in a big way, and the stock Sachs components do a really good job. The front is a pair of upside-down 48mm jobbies that offered a firm ride with heaps of compliance. There’s no adjustment on the forks, but we really can’t see it being any problem. The rear has preload and rebound adjustment, and we reckon it’ll cover just about everyone and most situations. The standard components certainly do their job well on both bitumen and dirt-road. On choppy, corrugated sections the bike tracked true, with the rear wheel generally following the front, and in a dualsporter, that’s a most important indicator of how suspension is working. Hard-core adventurers might want to hit hard-edged ledges or land from big jumps, but it’s not really what the bike’s about, and we wouldn’t be surprised if the Husky handled those scenarios fairly well. It gave us a very smooth ride start to finish, over all types of rough asphalt and choppy dirt, and was a dream on the blacktop.
So that’s the mechanical description of the bike we rode. Now the important question: What was it like?
It’s a heap of fun!
Gav had a quick blast and remarked the Terra reminded him a lot of Yamaha’s modern XT660, and there’s a big similarity in the way the two bikes appear to the rider looking over the ’bars. The front wheel and guard are hidden, and that gives the impression the bike is short. It’s not especially, but it puts the rider in a lively frame of mind straight away. There’s no bulky fairing or even a bulbous tank to give the impression of a big adventure mount, so there’s a definite impression of a lively, easy-to-turn bike waiting to be stabbed late into tight corners. In reality the Husky does do that well, but it maintains its stability on the open road, and that makes for a huge reduction in fatigue over a long day.
The single facet of the Terra which made the biggest impression on us was how smooth it was. Not just smooth from the engine or vibration point of view, but how smooth it was in every part of its operation. The handling is very neutral and the suspension copes well, so on a long day a rider is free to snuggle on down into that wide, firm seat, twist the throttle and let the bike take care of just about everything. There’s very little vibration from the motor making its way to the rider, and the bike itself is very steady. Even leaned over through rough corners the Terra seems to want to hold its line. But then, when asked to turn fast and tight, the handling and surefootedness is concise and predictable. The cockpit is open and very comfortable, and standing up over rough ground is just as natural.
The screen was especially amazing. It’s only small, but it really kept the rider in a nice area of calm air.
The real pleasure will be for the genuine dualsporters, the riders who want to carve off some distance, see some out of the way places and love the feel of being on a really nice bike while they’re doing it.
The down side
We’ve raved on, and obviously the Terra can’t be perfect. There must be some things about it that aren’t good, right?
We honestly can’t think of any. The air-filter access is a little fiddly, and we mentioned we couldn’t check the size of the front sprocket. That was because the bolts on the Terra are all Euro-standard Torx-heads. We had what we thought was a reasonable Torx set, but owners will need to set themselves up with more than just basics. It needs a long-shafted affair to get at some of the fittings – like the front sprocket cover and the air filter. But any owner will have to set up a tool kit for any bike, so we don’t see that as a major flaw in the Husky. For those who’ve always had Japanese bikes it’ll be a pest, but those who’ve always had BMWs or recent KTMS will wonder what we’re talking about.
Even details like an 18-inch rear wheel are taken care of. The paper air filter element is common enough these days and we bet someone will have a foam element in short order, and for those looking for serious distance there’s an accessory tank under development right now. Service intervals are an impressive 10,000km.
So there’s not much left to whinge about…nothing we can find.
We’ve already made it clear we liked the Terra. We more than liked it. We reckon it’s a really excellent bike for its intended purpose. It’s comfortable on the road, a hoot in the dirt, it looks a million dollars and it makes the rider feel like a king. And at $9995 ride away, that is awe-inspiring value.
TR 650 Terra
|Type||Water cooled 4-stroke single-cylinder, DOHC, four valves|
|Bore / Stroke||100 mm x 83 mm|
|Rated output||43 kW (58 hp) at 7,250 rpm|
|Max. torque||60 Nm at 5,750 rpm|
|Mixture control / Engine management||Marelli F1 engine control|
|Emission control||Closed-loop 3-way catalytic converter|
|Performance / Fuel consumption|
|Maximum speed||170 km/h|
|Fuel consumption over 100 km at constant 90 km/h||3.2 l/ 100 km|
|Fuel consumption over 100 km at constant 120 km/h||4.35 l/ 100 km|
|Fuel type||Unleaded super, minimum octane rating 95 (RON)|
|Alternator||400 W 12V|
|Clutch||Multiplate wet, mechanically operated|
|Gearbox||Constant mesh 5-speed|
|Chassis / Brakes|
|Frame||Steel bridge frame with bolt-on steel rear frame|
|Front Wheel Suspension||Sachs upside down fork, ø 48 mm|
|Rear Wheel Suspension||Steel swingarm with progressive link and Sachs shock absorber, spring preload mechanically adjustable, rebound damping adjustable|
|Travel front / rear||190 mm / 190 mm|
|Steering head angle||63°|
|Tyres, Front||90/90 R 21|
|Tyres, Rear||140/80 R 18|
|Brake, Front||Brembo hydraulically actuated single disc brake, ø 300 mm, floating two caliper brake|
|Brake, Rear||Brembo hydraulically actuated single disc brake, ø 240 mm, floating single caliper brake|
|Dimensions / Weight|
|Total length||2,267 mm|
|Total width with mirrors||875 mm|
|Seat height, unladen||860 mm|
|Unladen weight, road ready||183 kg|
|Permitted total weight||369 kg|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||14 l|