2018 Husqvarna TE250i – EFI Enduro two-stroke
Words: Jock McLauchlan Photos: Geoff Osborne
The all-new KTM fuel-injected two-strokes have been met with universal approval. Of course, the 2018 Husky TE250i comes from the same stable. We have had the TE for quite an extended period and many notable old and bold enduro hands have given the throttle a twist or two.
Without exception all have been impressed with the TE’s crisp rideability – this technology works! But before I got super excited, I wanted to answer a few questions for myself. Which are, is it really better than a well set-up carb and how easy is it to live with?
As to the Transfer Port Injection basics, in a nutshell there is separate oil tank under the back of the main fuel tank. The filler cap is well placed just in front of the gas cap, up by the steering stem. The days of pre-mixing oil and gas with this baby are long gone.
The oil tank holds enough oil for at least two full fuel tanks of petrol and I got 70km out of a tank riding quite hard, so a top-up at night is all that’s required for most riding. It has a normal throttle body but with transfer port injection, which Husqvarna denotes with the ‘i’ suffix at the end of the bike model name.
Okay then, I have to say on a day-to-day live with basis it is a clear winner. Starting it up, don’t touch the throttle, just like a four-stroke it will fire straight up. Messing around with the throttle when trying to start the bike does seem to upset things, but it’s no real biggy, just hold the button a little longer… but with the throttle closed it’s there.
Long time two-stroke riders will be used to their engines loading up and requiring a heap of throttle to clear them out for crisp operation from cold – this is a thing of the past with these injected engines, and is quite remarkable for old school riders like me. What’s more, it never really seems to smoke, which is nice for following riders and those chaps you ride past who seem to love cuddling trees.
The power delivery is crisp with great torque for a 250cc and is extremely rideable. I don’t believe it’s quite as crisp as a well-jetted carb model can be in some parts of the rev range… where sometimes a little leanness can be your friend. However, the power is sharp at all revs, linear and it never loads up, which makes it fantastic for most and my guess is, very reliable too with the elimination of dodgy (read: lean) jetting.
You can even let it idle for a good while and it well still pull away cleanly. So really I have to say it’s a winner here too with its crisp, responsive and idiot-proof power delivery.
The rest of the machine is normal Husky… which really means it’s bloody great. I’m going to stick my neck out and say I prefer the PDS rear suspension on the KTM to the linkage set-up on the Husky for enduro work. I’m not sure whether it’s my oversize weight or what, but for me the PDS system is plusher, more controlled and more bottom resistant.
By comparison the TE was too soft in sand whoops for me and then a little harsh in hard packed clay even with a little clicker fiddling. However, I’m way over the weight spec for the standard springs and I’m talking about subtle differences here, not big ones.
For 2018, the brake calipers are made by Magura, but braking performance seems every bit as good as the Brembo units they replace front and rear. Braking is excellent in all regards up front, but most crucially in feel and strength. However, I’m not sure the small rear disc that both the KTM and Husky run is quite as good as the larger Japanese variants. To me, rear feel is not quite as good and they tend to fade a little easier in fast going too.
The ergos are top of the line with a roomy, well laid-out and comfortable riding environment. The only issue I have, and this is common to many brands, is that they’re very tall for most riders, particularly in tricky terrain and taller than necessary I think. Serious riders always seem to lower the subframe a centimetre or two at the back of the seat if they want to – every little bit can help.
Reducing the suspension travel can work well too. As an example, years ago I reduced the shock shaft travel on my race bike 3mm. It lowered the rear of the seat around 15mm and made the bike steer more accurately with better overall balance. So there are plenty of options to consider if you feel your bike is too tall or you’re not quite happy with the steering.
Getting back on topic, the Husky is a fantastic machine overall. Two years ago the counter-balanced engine was a real breakthrough for its two-stroke engines and now Husky has done it again with its TPI fuel-injected machine. Husky (and KTM) two-strokes are class acts and the TE250i is a stunning machine that’s already gaining a strong following.
Husqvarna TE250i Second Opinion
By William Eyre – A young national level expert
I leapt at the opportunity to ride the very classy looking Husqvarna TE250i for an afternoon with the guys. I like the slightly retro front light, the plastics are super sleek and my boots just glide right over them. The graphics on the bike are simple but stylish. The advice given to me before riding the new bike was to “make sure you short-shift the bike, it’s got plenty of power… and have fun.”
Hopping on the bike it felt a bit tall for me. This is probably because the bike is designed for a rider with a decent frame, not this 60kg lightweight. The little grey starter button just next to the throttle instantly brings the 250 to life, every time. The bike idles super low, at first I thought it was gonna stall but it seems the onboard computer has got this dialled.
The clay surface we were on was a bit wet and slippery after two days of rain but the Husky was forgiving and easy to ride. The power came on from rock bottom and continued to build with no sign of the classic “hold on to your steak and cheese” power-band.
All the torque made it super easy to short-shift through the gears to keep the 250 purring in the tricky stuff. Even crawling through some dark and slippery single track the TE just purred through in second gear making easy work of the clay and logs.
This is a really forgiving bike, coming into one sharp turn a bit hot the brakes pulled it up really nicely, and then coming out of the corner the bike pulled beautifully despite being in too high a gear.
The bit I enjoyed most in the Husky was the suspension setup, even with my light 60kg frame, it worked amazingly. The forks were great, didn’t dive too much and had a super smooth ride – really confidence inspiring. The rebound was spot-on, after a lumpy landing the forks didn’t jump back up, instead you could ride on as if nothing had happened. I think the TE250i is a bike you could just trust and love riding – it’s a class act.
2018 Husqvarna TE250i Strengths and Weaknesses
- Strengths – TPI fuel injection, power delivery, great package
- Weaknesses – It’s tall, white plastics tend to mark easily
2018 Husqvarna TE250i Specifications