2013 Husqvarna TR650 Terra | See again
2013 Husqvarna TR650 Terra Review
As far back as most of us can remember, Husqvarna has been a manufacturer of off-road motorcycles. Sure, a few models here and there have been given superficial amenities to make them street legal, but the emphasis has always been on off-road performance.
BMW bought Husqvarna in 2007 with the aim of breaking into the off-road market, following the failed sales of off-road BMWs. The purchase of the struggling but prestigious Husqvarna brand gave BMW instant access to the history and credibility of the formerly Swedish, currently based in Italy brand.
Taking advantage of his access to BMW technology and equipment, Husqvarna cleans up his act and takes him to the streets. The Nuda 900, a street bike based solely on the twin BMW F 800 GS, was Husky’s first pure street bike; Unfortunately, the bike has not yet arrived in the United States.
Instead, for 2013 America gets a pair of brothers – the TR650 Terra and Strada. Ultimate MotorCycling associate editor Jess McKinley took a little ride on the supermoto-style Strada at the launch of the BMW HP4, and left with a smile on his face and a little excitement for a full test .
However, the first to fall into our hands is the Terra, a bike that Husqvarna describes as a half-dirt / half-street bike that is powered by an engine based on BMW’s venerable G 650 GS single-cylinder engine. However, with a seriously retooled engine (with the distinctive Red Head valve cover) and everything else pure Husky, the Terra is unmistakably its own machine.
Going with a combination of 21-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels exclusive to the American version, the Terra has the rim options needed for serious off-road tires. It’s part of Husqvarna’s strategy to make the Terra a bone-free motorcycle that’s meant to be personalized by every rider.
To this end, the Terra and Strada will have a wide range of Husqvarna branded accessories, including adventure-style racks, skid plate, windshield, footrests, lower seat, heated grips, an alarm system, etc. We took out a no-frills Terra and put it to the test in the streets and dirt.
First off, Husqvarna has done wonders with the BMW 650 thumper. With a new Magneti Marelli EFI system, a reworked cylinder head, larger valves, increased compression, as well as a lighter piston and crankshaft, you won’t would never guess it’s the same engine. Husqvarna claims a 20% increase over the BMW engine – peaking at 58 horsepower – although in practice it seems a lot more.
Simply accelerating intelligently from a brake light can cause the front of the road to lift unexpectedly. The engine is ready to let off steam at any time, and the throttle can be turned from any engine speed and good response is available. The high rpm output is strong, and the five-speed gearbox is adequate for an engine with such a wide power band.
Although Husqvarna claims the lower end is the same as the G 650 GS, the operation of the clutch and gearbox is greatly improved. On the BMW Sertao we tested, the clutch had a chronic drag problem (so much so that it could only be reliably started in neutral) and downshifting was difficult during hard acceleration. . None of these issues affect the Terra, who are happy to go out and play hard on the streets.
With a dirt-style upright seating position, wide bars, a relatively narrow midsection, and a seat that’s a good compromise between dirt and street, you can tackle corners with abandon. Its 406 pounds (claimed curb weight) vanish from under you, leaving you with only that purely gut feeling that tells you you’re on a good bike.
Cornering clearance is excellent and Metzeler Sahara tires suitable for the road allow you to get the most out of it. Dipped into the corners, the 300mm front disc is skillfully gripped by Brembo calipers, so braking is a big plus for the TR650.
As you roam the city, the Terra is an explosion. The temptation to jump the sidewalks is there, although the lack of an original skid plate tempers that enthusiasm, and there’s that propensity to wheels that is hard to control.
Either way, anyone who knows how fun dirt bikes can be on the streets will be delighted with the Terra. It has the tires you want for the pavement, plus the agility and power to make any road riding as fun as you want it to be.
Hardened riders won’t be impressed by the Terra’s all-terrain prowess. This is good, because they can always jump on one of the TE models from Husky and be fully satisfied. Much like an adventure bike, the original Terra is best preserved on dirt roads in fairly good condition.
The inverted 46mm forks and linkage rear suspension (both from Sachs) may seem dirt-ready, but they only have 7.5 inches of travel and aggressive riding isn’t greeted with enthusiasm. Even the smallest air taxes the suspension when the 406 pounds (plus the pilot) comes back to, um, dry land. The more difficult the dirt road or trail, the less satisfactory the suspension behavior.
Sahara tires are good in the dirt, but you have to be extremely careful with the throttle or they spin like a caster on everything but the stickiest soil. Test the front end and it will sprout as soon as possible, and disappear completely if you press the tip. Still, if you take it slow and enjoy the scenery, the Terra is a better road bike than most machines designed for adventure.
Husqvarna has incorporated some flexibility into the TR650 Terra. You can add a skid plate, upgrade the tires, and slap some of those cool saddlebags, and the result should be a very competent adventure bike, as long as you don’t feel limited by the 3.6 gallon fuel tank. .
On the street, it’s perfect right next to the showroom. If you are looking for a pavement-only machine, the Strada may be a better choice. However, if you like the look of the Terra (bigger wire wheels, for example), it won’t disappoint you on the street, and you always leave yourself open to the possibility of taking it out and getting dirty. Husqvarna’s first foray into the streets of America is great.
Photograph by Scott Cox and Jean Turner