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Scaring Myself On A Husaberg Review

Blog Date - 30 October 2011

"It feels like being rear-ended by a lorry doing 60..."

I was sat at Rivington Barn the other day, drinking tea and chewing the cud with a few friends when R arrived on his Husaberg FS570.  I took the time to look at this bike as the engine is located in a quirky and novel manner in the frame.  The piston lies flat, inline with the bike, much like a very large and mean looking C90 or Innova 125 motor. Unlike the old Honda motor though the gearbox sits almost below the piston rather than behind it.  There's all kind clever technical reasons to do with weight distribution and such like.  I'm sure if you read the blurb on the Husaberg website they'll be happy to tell you all about it.

I don't think I'd want one of these, although I'm fascinated and curious about them.  It's a toy.  Owners talk of 8 hour service intervals, regular engine rebuilds and a maintenance schedule that makes me wince.  They're race bikes with lights, not everyday riding machines.  R, the owner, says "Take it for a ride".  I baulk initially, I'm always afraid of stepping out of my comfort zone.  R asks again and I think about how it's less powerful than my Fazer 600, how I rode a 650 single for 3 years and how I'd like to know what all the fuss is about.  I get my gear on and climb, yes climb up the pegs and struggle aboard.  It's tall.

R warns me it's a race box, I'll never find neutral, there's no ignition key, just a start and stop button but he doesn't tell me the indicator switch is a daft, fiddly and unreachable rocker switch, how basic.  I "duff duff duff" out the car park with a sense of trepidation.  Riding at walking pace in first gear I'm incredibly surprised to find it is very smooth, no transmission lash, the motor puffs away and the bike feels perfect.  Mechanically perfect.  The seat is like having a narrow plank of wood wedged into my buttocks and there appears to be no discernible movement from the long travel motorcross suspension.  Smooth and harsh in the first 200 yards.

At the junction onto the road I almost fall off when I stop.  The front brake is pin sharp, not like the dull and faded brakes I'm used to on my old rattlers, and the floor is a long long way away.  I compose myself, check for traffic and gently set off..duff duff duff duff.  I'm upright with a short straight so I turn the throttle a tad to gain speed.  


It's a difficult sensation to describe.  The Fazer can give a good punch when the revs are up above 7,000, the SLR 650 I used to own would gleefully jump forwards at any revs with a twist of throttle and even the old NTV could make me smile.  The only way I can begin to express what I felt is to imagine travelling at maybe 20mph and a lorry travelling at 60mph hits the rear of your bike.  There's no build up of speed, no pause while the engine clears its throat and no waiting for the carburetor sliders to react.  Instant, clean, raw acceleration on an epic scale.

I crap myself.  As I slide back on the seat I close the throttle and slide forwards, rocking like an action man strapped onto the back of a greyhound.  I compose myself and resolve to be much more gentle with the twist grip.  The duff duff duff is now a firm pop pop pop after carefully and nervously negotiating onto another straight.  I'm scared to blip the throttle, I fear the front end will rise like a jack-in-the-box and smack me in the face then leave me sprawled across the road, the bike would carry on, laughing at me as it left.  I approach a bend.  I make the mistake of touching the front brake and I wobble ungraciously around the bend like it's a 50 pence piece.

After a few more wobbly corners I reach an open and clear straight.  I open the twist grip of death and progress slowly.  As the motor lazily pop pop pops I look down at the tiny digital speedo and I'm surprised to see I'm doing in excess of 60.  It feels more like 30.  The motor's not even making an effort, the chassis is stable and there's a million more horses ready to escape if I dare to let them.  I so want to be able to ride this bike properly, to whack the throttle open, to curve a corner and to feel everything it is capable of.  I can't, I'm lacking in three things.

Firstly I'm lacking in experience.  I've done well over 300,000 miles, maybe even 400,000 miles on bikes, I've done more miles than most, but I've done all of them on 100's, 200's 400's, 600's and 650's.  All of those bikes were billy bog standard road machine and most of them gained high mileages and became dulled with age.  I've never ridden a crisp new sports bike, never raced on a track and never experienced a machine as raw as the Husaberg.  Secondly I'm lacking in ability.  I'm not a natural rider and the only reason I can stay onboard is pure experience.  Thirdly, I'm a chicken.  I really don't like to step out of my comfort zone.

I wobble and jerk my way back, trying to pluck up the courage to give it a handful.  It comes as something of a relief when I finally get stuck behind 3 cars.  As I ride at a sensible and manageable pace I notice just how well the motor runs at low revs, how easy it is to handle and how light it is.  If it had a comfy seat, a less scary power delivery and an engine that could be abused for thousands of miles then this would be a good bike.

Horses for courses.  I learn upon my return that this particular bike has been tweaked.  It has a fast action throttle hence the scary twist grip.  The suspension is all tricked up and there's all kinds of magic going on in the exhaust.  It was certainly an experience and an eye-opener to ride this bike.  I can't get over how fast it accelerates even though on paper my Fazer is more powerful.  I'm amazed and impressed at how cleanly it accelerates, no steps in the power (not that I reached full power) and perfect injection.  I'm also stunned at how it accelerates without a moment's hesitation. 

When I rode home on my 125, I felt a lot safer, but somehow it seemed to be lacking somewhat.  I consoled myself with 1,200 mile oil changes, 105mpg and tyres that last for over 10,000 miles.  I'd like to ride more bikes like this to get to grips with them, but I wouldn't want to own one.  I was thinking of putting this under "Bike Reviews" but I can't really do the bike any justice.  That's why I've put it in the blog.  I'll put it down to experience. 

husaberg fs570 supermotord motorcycle in white, blue and yellow
Scary machine me

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Reader's Comments

Peman said :-
You should try an FE570 with the standard 13/52 gearing, if you want scary
Ren - The Ed said :-
Is that an offer Peman? I really couldn't do the bike any justice, it would be far more capable that I am. I would like to learn the skills required to ride one properly.

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