If the electric starter makes you nervous, there’s still the possibility of installing a kick-starter. You won’t need it.
from Buick mentality to something more reasonable. It still
makes a ton of power—you could argue too much—but
it’s a step back toward sanity. The 350’s power output is
enough for anyone. Anyone. Ask GNCC champion Kailub
Russell about his KTM 350XC. Ask MX1 world champion
Tony Cairoli about his KTM 350SX-F.
In truth, the FE350 has a fairly mild motor compared
to any of the other 350s in its family tree. The Husqvarna
has an airbox that is built into the subframe, and it has
very different air-flow characteristics compared to KTMs.
If you’ve talked to anyone about the new generation of
Husqvarnas, you’ve probably heard that the airbox is
restrictive. That’s true, perhaps, but the result isn’t necessarily bad. The FE has very smooth power delivery and
has better snap at small throttle openings. This isn’t stuff
that shows up on a dyno, which always runs with the
throttle wide open. In the real world, you almost never
twist the throttle to the absolute stop, and the Husky is
extremely happy in those mid-throttle zones. And down
even lower, in the area that’s just above a stall, the FE
is as good as any four-stroke made. Down there a 450
is flirting with flame-out and a 250 is anemic. A 350, and
more specifically this 350, is almost ideal, even encroaching on two-stroke territory.
When you need your horsepower fix, the 350 wails on
top. As we said, the FE isn’t the screamer that some of
its siblings are, but you need to put that in perspective.
It’s still spinning faster than 13,000 rpm. That would have
been impossible just a few years ago. With all those revs
comes horsepower. The FE350 is a great hill-climber and
awesome in the deepest western sand wash. If you still
think you’re giving something up to your 450 buddies, you
can go toward competition exhausts and airbox vents,
but be careful. The bike has very lean fuel mapping, and
those types of modifications will only make it leaner. KTM
has made it fairly difficult to modify the ECU. There are
still some piggyback fuel modifiers on the market, and the
Internet is full of vague references to the “EU” fuel maps.
From our experience, these are rocky roads. The FE runs
well as it is. Why mess it up? The only real tip is to make
sure the throttle position sensor is set up to within factory
specification. This is the adjustable sensor on the side of
the throttle body that tells the ECU how far you’ve opened
the throttle. Its setting can be measured with a volt meter
and should be around 0.596 volts.
THE AGILITY FACTOR
Horsepower is a very heavy thing. We’re not talking
about pounds here; this is about perceived mass. The
Husqvarna FE350 weighs 248 pounds without fuel. That’s
kinda heavy; pretty much the same as an off-road 450. But
it feels much, much lighter. For that matter, it feels lighter
than any 450 motocrosser, and most of them weigh less
than 240 pounds. There’s something about the pulses of
a big piston that make a motorcycle cumbersome. The
Husky 350’s power doesn’t get in the way, so the bike
is more confidence-inspiring. Having said all that, the
bike isn’t as agile as a 250F or virtually any two-stroke. It
makes sense. The only time that the Husky’s full weight
is a factor is under hard braking. The fork dives and the
bike is hard to rein in. The WP 4CS fork is probably a little
under-sprung for the 350. We’re still on the fence about
this fork. It’s better to have it too soft than too stiff. So
even though the Husky dives and is a little mushy, it’s at
least comfortable on little chop and in rocks. If you weigh
over 190 pounds, though, forget about it. You have to go
up a step in spring rate.
In the rear, the FE350 is a little soft as well. But it should
be. This is a Husky, remember? It’s supposed to be for
tight, grueling trails. The rear end is great on that stuff, and
even heavy guys will probably be able to leave it alone.
There’s no KTM that has rear suspension quite like the
Husky’s. The KTM 350XC-W is close, but it has no linkage.
That means that it’s possible for the Husky’s linkage to
hang up on rocks. Some riders say this is an issue, but in
the real world, this isn’t much of a problem for rank-and-file dirt guys, and certainly no reason to buy the KTM over
THE GOOD STUFF
When you ride the FE for even a short distance, you’re
going to notice a bunch of things you like. First is the The muffler is reasonably quiet and has a spark arrestor.