Sunday, December 12, 2010



Late last week the Australian importer of Husqvarna motorcycles, the Paul Feeney Group, invited the national motorcycle media to Braidwood, NSW, to test-ride the all-new 2011 Husqvarna TE449 and TE511 enduro machines.

The two-day soiree kicked off in Bateman's Bay with the formal unveiling of the bikes and technical briefings by the PFG brass and Thomas Moser, the Executive VP and CFO of Husqvarna Italy, before adjourning for a slap-up dinner (which is always an important part of any new bike launch ... hic!)

The next day we moved up the mountains to Braidwood -- the very same day that nearby Queanbeyan was flooded by a storm of biblical proportions!

Yes, conditions at Braidwood were grey and wet, but thankfully the showers were infrequent enough that we could get in some serious saddle-time on the new Italian stallions, around a wicked mix of specially laid-out grass-track, enduro and trail riding sections.

At a time when most manufacturers have pulled the handbrake on when it comes to new trail/enduro bike development, Husqvarna is bucking that trend entirely and the TE 449 and 511 are brand new from the ground up.

Yes, the two bikes run the fuel-injected, liquid-cooled, Taiwanese-made four-stroke powerplant debuted on BMW's recent G 450 X enduro machine (remember, BMW now owns Husqvarna), but the chassis (which retains the BMW developed coaxial swingarm pivot/countershaft drive), suspension (with new rear above-swingarm linkage system) and details (that includes one-piece side bodywork panels and sharp, angular guards) package is all Husqvarna.

The mood amongst the PFG crew at the launch was decidedly upbeat, and why wouldn't it be: Husqvarna sales are on the way up and the involvement of parent brand BMW has given the Italian marque a massive boost in stability. In fact, PFG has signed a new long-term contract with the Italian head office, and has in turn invested in a new and much larger headquarters on the Queensland Gold Coast, which they will move into in the new year.

The new TEs both deliver the kind of performance to put them very much in the hunt against their rivals, and both are priced very sharply against the competition -- and come with the added bonus of an Akrapovic competition muffler.

The new TEs are arriving in Husqvarna dealerships now (check out the recently revamped web site for all the tech details on the new bikes) -- while we'll have a full test-ride report on both machines in our next issue of TRAIL ZONE #34 that will go on-sale in February.

-- Clubby,

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