TANGO FROM DURANGO
THE ’BERG BACKSTORY
In case you haven’t been following the
weekly drama that has unfolded around
Husaberg, here’s a short recap. The
Swedish company was purchased by
KTM in the late 1990s for its four-stroke
technology, which was cutting edge at
the time. In the years that followed, KTM
moved production to Austria and used the
Husaberg brand to experiment with new technology. The best example of this was the 70-degree four-stroke motor, which was unconventional thinking at its
best. But, in the long run, the market wasn’t strong
enough to support an independent line, so Husabergs
eventually degenerated into little more than rebadged
KTMs. They were, however, very good. The few features
where they differentiated themselves from rank-and-file
KTMs were all well received. One of those features was
the WP 4CS fork with the rebound damping in the right leg
and the compression in the left.
This year represents the final chapter for Husaberg.
KTM will abandon the name, having acquired Husqvarna.
There just isn’t room for two former Swedes in the extended KTM family, so this bike is the last of its kind. And what
a bike it is. The 250cc two-stroke motor is powerful,
torquey and smooth. It isn’t that far removed from the
250SX motocrosser, which is the class horsepower champion, but the Husaberg has more flywheel, wider gear
ratios, electric start and no suspension linkage. Krefting’s
goal for the bike was to tailor it for the rocks and trails of
Colorado, with most of his effort going into the notoriously
FRONT AND REAR
With the no-linkage rear suspension and 4CS fork, the
Husaberg is a stubborn child. The suspension is designed
to be all things to all people, and for the most part, it does
a good job. But once you take the ’Berg out of the center
of the bell curve, it’s difficult to modify. That’s why KTM
now uses linkage suspension on its SX and XC race bikes.
It makes the suspension tuner’s job a little easier. Krefting
had to work on the other side of the bell curve. Making the
rear suspension react easily to low-speed impacts like
rocks and roots is even more of a challenge. Finding anyone who even understands the fork is difficult.
The 4CS fork’s 8mm compression damping rod is small-
er than normal, and that results in a very low volume of oil
that is required to do all the work. Krefting has his own
piston design that allows for more precisely controllable
valving. Beyond that, he’s discovered that seal friction
takes a disproportionately high toll on low-speed suspen-
sion performance. When you land from a 100-foot double
jump, the drag caused by the seals is negligible, whereas
it’s a very big deal when you hit a 2-inch rock. So, he has
developed a method of making microscopic crosshatches
in the tube that can carry oil past the seals, and making
the surface less smooth results in less friction.
There’s a huge population of suspension tuners who
have theories about how to improve the PDS no-linkage
suspension. The truth is that WP and KTM have been
refining it since 1999. The stock system is pretty good for
the average rider, whoever that is, on average terrain,
whatever that is. For really good performance on mountain
trails, the real problem is that you can’t go soft and expect
the stock shock to work anywhere else. Among other
modifications, Krefting has designed a seal head for the
WP shock that has a long top-out spring. This allows the
bike to settle into its travel like a bike with linkage, eliminating the KTM stinkbug feel without compromising high-speed performance.
Split Designs created a new look for the last Husaberg. Next
year, Husqvarna will take this slot in the KTM family.
The Kreft rear suspension allows the ‘Berg to act like a bike
with rear suspension linkage.