Tag Archives: Husqvarna TR650 Strada

BMW X Country – Introduction

XCountry Index
• Stage 1 mods
• Swapping the subframe
• X-tank and X-rack
• Suspension
• Tutoro chain  oiler
• Midsummer update
• The Spanish Plain
• 10,000 mile review 

Time and need for a new project bike so next on my list is the BMW G 650 Xcountry (that being the correct BMW appellation). I snatched a 2008 model off ebay for £2300 with just 6300 miles and seemingly in great nick. Even with just a month of tax, for that sort of money it’s hard to think what else comes close.


Over the last few months I’ve been watching the discounted prices on the similar and recently discontinued Husqvarna Strada (right; similar to the Terra I rode in Morocco). But at least for the moment the reduced prices never added up to more than about £4500-5000 for a low mileage ex-test bike that still weighs a good 20-25 kilos more than an XCo.

I like to think the X bikes are belatedly becoming recognised as an under-rated travel bike for the simple reason that, compared to the post-Funduro F650s and the current G-GSs which followed after a two-year hiatus in the UK, the X bikes were powerful and light. With bathroom scales I combined the upright wheel weight on my ABS machine (as I did with my GS500R) and came up with 163kg with a full tank, very close to the official wet figure. Deduct the 9 litres (6.5kg) and you get a more broadly comparable 156.5kg dry. The only accessories my bike has are plastic hand guards so let’s call it 155.5kg. Compare that to the following claimed dry weights.

  • BMW XChallenge 149.5kg
  • Husqvarna TE630 151.5kg
  • BMW XCountry ABS 155.5kg (verified)
  • Yamaha XT600R 170kg
  • TR650 Terra ABS 176kg
  • Suzuki GS500R 181.5kg (verified)
  • BMW Sertao and G650 GS 182kg
xbikeadvertYou probably know all this but I’m going to say it anyway. Ready, here goes: the Xs were only sold in the UK from 2007 to 2009 using the same Rotax engine in three models: the XChallenge was pitched as an off-roader 18/21-inch wheels and taller air suspension (below left), the XMoto was a blacktop canyon basher with 17-inch wheels (below right), and in the middle below, the XCountry was a retro/street scrambler with 17/19-inch wheels and normal suspension. For me the XCo was always the best compromise for a dirt-capable travel bike and from the figures below, the best selling model. No dodgy air shocks, a much lower seat (see image below left), a steel rear subframe (or so I thought) and a do-it-all 19-inch front wheel. You know how I feel about 19s.

At a bike show one time I asked the BMW Motorrad marketing bloke why they’d been a flop but he couldn’t pin it down to one thing. Perhaps it was just a ‘perfect shit storm’ of too high asking price (around £7000 back in 2007 when a Tenere went for £4500); spartan equipment levels, lukewarm reviews, not such great looks and whole lot of teething problems. They included clutch covers which led to early wear of the unit, premature battery failures and all sorts of starter solenoid/non-starting/charging issues. The full list is here and it put me off buying a well equipped XCh when I was in the US in 2013. The thought of being stranded out on a southern Nevada track was just too galling. I got a Honda CRF 250L and never looked back. But I did miss the satisfying stomp of a 650.


The 2009 XCos was the only makeover that any of the three models got. They used engines still made from parts manufactured by Rotax in Austria, but the engines and the entire bikes were assembled by Loncin in China. Some of these bikes had hot-starting issues, but $50 replacement exhaust decompressor fixes that. The main difference on these Loncin XCos was the yellow paint job as well as a lower seat with less suspension travel, softer springs and adjustable levers. You can see above how much lower a Mk1 XCo is compared to the two other models. A more useful improvement included a steel rear subframe.

steelsub 46 51 7 716 439

Blink and you’ll miss the fact that the XCountry was the only Xbike that came with pillion footrests and too much wayward pillioning on the original alloy subs common to all three models brought up cracking issues so a steel version was quietly slipped on. As is well known, Touratech sell a replacement steel subframe for all the early Xbikes (separately from the pannier rack, also shown below right). It weighs 4.7kg against the original alloy’s 1.9 – another example of overzealous weight savings on the X range, though of course it depends very much how you load and ride your Xbike. The yellow XCo’s steel subframe bolts onto an earlier alloy model without a hitch.

When BMW finally pulled the X plug prices crashed at what were seen as overpriced turkeys. I see from the papers that came with my bike that after just over a year at the BMW Off Road Centre in Wales, it had any scratched or bent bits replaced and was sold in 2009 by Vines for just £2600. Since then it’s clocked up a thousand miles a year and just got a new clutch fitted. Presumably it was the usual problem of ruined clutch fixed by an updated clutch cover plate with a proper bearing or steel bush to support the actuating mechanism.

Sounds like a nightmare but I’m prepared to take a chance; unusual as for me reliability is a high priority for the sort of riding I do. My plan is to use the bike to support my Morocco tours later this year and then take it on a longer desert trip of its own.


XCo, first impressions
I picked up the bike in flood-struck Somerset and rode down to flood-struck Cornwall which has been the source of some phenomenal pictures over the last week. I then rode it back to London, all up about 600 miles. Rain gear report here.
Out of the guy’s house it felt a bit odd, not much up front, but everything worked as it should and by the time I’d sat in the pouring rain and headwinds for a couple of hours I was warming to the bike despite being a little underdressed myself. The Metz Tourances were rock solid in the wet, and the unscreened bike sat easily at 70mph while returning about the same mpg (average over 600 miles was 72.7mpg or 25.7kpl or 60.6US or 3.88L/100km).


Mirrors were good, so surprisingly was the stepped seat with the hump far enough back. Hand and foot positions suit me too, though the levers felt a bit far away, dash info is basic with a huge speedo read-out. I have yet to meddle with the setting buttons.
Front light seems a bit lame, the gear lever doesn’t click n’ snick like my mate’s 45,000-mile old Transalp (below right), though there’s notably no driveline lash on the BMW, and that is an annoying Jap characteristic in my experience. I can’t fault the glitch-free fuelling and engine sounds reassuringly whirry rather than rattley; quieter than my 1000-mile old Tenere. Looks wise, the XCo is a bit ungainly; along with the massive cat the front end looks odd though may well be remedied or subdued with blackened fork uppers (right). Apart from black rims – good to see on the XCo – the quickest way to improve the looks of a bike like this is to lever on some knobbly rubber! Suspension is pretty firm, especially round town, though I’ve not meddled with that yet either. They say a Hyperpro spring can help out back.


The machine looks like it has a better than average build quality, something I can’t say for last year’s CRF-L or of course the Suzuki before it. Biggest nag is the 9.5 litre fuel tank which at the above fuel consumption is good for just 150 miles (244km) though I’ve yet to calibrate the BMW’s speedo and odo against a GPS. Something will have to be done about fuel range. The 6.5-litre Xtank (left – XL version) looks neat in that it uses what little dead space the X has and could be integrated into a rack, but costing nearly £70 a litre it’s more of an RTW investment. I’m mulling over various other ideas to improve the X’s fuel range.

Less weight: it’s as simple as that
Best thing by far is the power and the weight. They say it makes 53hp which is 3.05 when divided by the 162kg weight. The very similar Husky Terra (186kg/58hp) which I tried a year ago and also enjoyed running in Morocco is 3.2 – less good by a factor of 0.15. Write that down!
The Terra felt more cammy and crisp, though that could partially be down to the noisier pipe. In Morocco the Terra’s fuel consumption over 1000 miles was 67.9 mpg. So the significantly lighter and slightly less powerful BMW is more efficient and may well match a Terra on performance if not noise. One thing’s for sure; it’s nice to have that surge of power after running the otherwise excellent CRF-L up on the high plains.
And like I say, compare that power and weight to the current G650GS/Sertao, both claiming 48hp at 192kg which equals a staggering 4 – you read it right: FOUR or about 30% less good/more bad than an XCo. Mark my words, soon they’ll all be analysing bikes like this.


Looking more closely at my mud-splattered bike to fix a front wheel puncture, you can see where they made efforts to save weight. The front wheel nut is barely half a centimetre thick, the spindle wall is thin and doubtless other stuff like the front mudguard and fuel tank were all pared down to lighten the scales.
There’s not even anything to attach a hook or loop to on the back and I saw a picture of a broken swingarm on advrider which makes you wonder. You occasionally hear about failed alloy sub-frames too, but that won’t be unique to this or any travel bike. See this thread and how the XCh was loaded on page 2; you’ll probably agree with the comments which follow.

As for handling and roadholding, the bike inspires more confidence than I can currently deliver. Much of this is down to that 19-inch front and Tourance road tyres and ABS brakes which I’m still not sure are working but read somewhere that they are ‘unobtrusive’. All in all I’m pleased to be more impressed with the XCo than I expected to be. Just as long as the electrical gremlins keep away I hope to stay that way.


WTF is happening to this Country?
It’s going to be a shame to plaster over that 163kg but the thing needs the usual functional junk to become a travel bike. Even with its XCh bias, this adv thread (right) will be useful while this one is all XCo and is over 500 pages long. One night soon when there’s nothing on telly I might wade through it.
The fuel range was mentioned above – I like frontal and low tanks; time will tell. Meanwhile a mate has sold me a full metal bash plate off his XCh. I’m waiting for new clamps from the US for the fat bars to re-use my q/d Spitfire windscreen from my CRF-L. A brief stand on the pegs found the bars were not too much of a stoop (and the legs/knees slotted in better than a Sertao) but some bar risers may help.
Front guard needs an extender if not replacing with a full length item; crap was thrown all over the bike from both ends. And some sort of rear rack is needed as well as engine bars on which I’d like to mount extra fuel cans. I see now my hand guards are only plastic but my CRF’s Barkers are going spare. I also have an LED light which will hopefully spare the 280W charging system once I  disable the headlight for day riding. Plus the Trail Tech Computer to fill up the data gaps on the dash. And as ever, a plate needs welding on the side stand for soft terrain support. That lot shouldn’t add up to more than 8 kilos.  Would be nice to save that on an alternative silencer but scanning this lengthy adv thread, X-Man Walter C finally nails it: noise ≠ power. The best you will do is lose 3.4kg off the 5.6kg stocker with an SR Racing stainless pipe for a cool €600. This late 2013 thread shows all the optional pipes as well as cat removing instructions.

First though, I ought to run my X for a while to make sure it doesn’t spit back in my face.


Husqvarna TR650 Terra – quick spin

November 2013: 1000 miles on a TR650 Terra in Morocco

2015 – It seems these Huskys are being reborn by Shineray under the old SWM brand.

As long as it’s smooth, a big single comes close to the optimal configuration for a do-it-all travel bike, especially if you intend to  ride dirt roads occasionally. You’ve enough power to pull a load, the economy to carry it a long way, and all without too much mass making the rig hard to handle on muddy or sandy tracks. And these days efi has managed to introduce smoothness and hopefully seamless starting too.


I’ve done Sahara trips riding, or riding with just about every big four-stroke single going, so when I read of Husqvarna’s new TR650 Terra and Strada I was curious to see if I might like to add one to that list. There are no press bikes in the UK for a couple of months so I paid up and took a short test ride from a BMW dealer in central London. FYI, this review adds up to no more than an hour’s ride around west London on a 650 Terra.

I’ve never owned a Husky, but it’s quite likely that in their 1970s heyday they were a better known brand in the US than the UK. I recall in the late 70s and early 80s reading in Dirt Bike magazine about US enduro champion Dick Burleson’s epic annual battles with the Blackwater 100 enduro aboard a two-stroke Husky 390WR (below left). And a few years earlier we had no less than Malcolm Smith, flat tracker Mert Lawill and the ‘Cooler King’ Steve McQ (all flying above left) hooning around in On Any Sunday – a film so good I’m going to slap in a clip right here. In fact his 400 Crosser (right) was up for auction soon after I wrote this.

Globalise it Husqvarna is the name of the former Swedish maker of off-road competition racers who were bought off Italian owners Cagiva (MVA) by BMW in 2007; it’s said to give the German marque a bit of dirt bike credibility. Then in early 2013, in the course of realignment towards urban mobility and nothing less than e-mobility, BMW Motorrad sold the brand to Pierer Industrie AG, a private company owned by Stefan Pierer, the CEO of KTM. As things stand Huskies continue to be made in northern Italy, with the new TRs using the Chinese-assembled 650 engine made by Rotax that appears in BMW’s Sertao and GS650G among others, two models more or less separated by wheel size with the implied trail- or road bike use. It’s a common ploy these days; use one motor/chassis platform to sell two or more options.

The two TRs are in this mold; identical frames and motors with the road-oriented Strada running 19/17 cast wheels and tubeless tyres (left) and the Terra trail bike with 21/18-inch spoked rims. In the UK the Strada gets ABS as standard; on the Terra it’s an option. Most expect the Terra will be the better selling of the two, although I’ve found a 19-inch front wheel rides fine on the sort of unsealed roads you do when overlanding. I believe tubeless tyres are better too. Don’t think you’ll be doing the modern version of the Blackwater 100 on a Terra just because it has a 21-inch front wheel.

Replace ‘X’ with TR? I wondered whether the two Husky TRs were reiterations of the failed X-series of 650-single BMWs from around the time BMW bought Italian-owned Husky in 2007.

That may be the vague idea, but in fact the new TRs bear a closer resemblance to a previous Husqvarna, the 2010 TE630 (right: 160kg wet; up to 57hp claimed; £6200 in 2010). Only now they’ve moved away from the TE’s off-roader attributes towards a trail and road bike using a significantly worked over BMW engine, which may help explain the drop in price.

Using this same base engine, in this respect the Terra would compare with the old X-challenge (left, on the gnarly MH5 piste in Morocco) while the Strada would equate with a 19-inch X-country. In AMH, Walter ‘Sibersky’ Colebatch describes the substantial mods he made to his air-shocked X-challenge to create a hardcore overlander, while I myself might have erred towards a tubeless 19-inch X-country.

I still haven’t got to the bottom of why the X bikes were a flop other than perhaps looks and that buyers didn’t associate BMW with light trail bikes. As far as I know it certainly wasn’t down to a disastrous reliability record out of the crate. I always thought BMW gave up on the Xs too soon – or did so to focus attention on the new 800cc twins which came out around that time (and initially had more teething problems than a chocolate gearbox).

According to the power specs issued on the TRs’ launch in Spain a couple of months ago, the Huskies both claim a notably higher 58hp over the 650GS BMWs’ 48hp, but for many the weight specs were disappointing. At 186kg a Terra with the ABS option is said to weigh just 6 kilos less than the portly Sertao (right) and some 26kg more than the preceding TE. The old BMW X-challenge with its air suspension but no ABS clocked in at just 156kg wet. And yet looking at a Sertao while sat on the Terra in BMW Park Lane’s underground hangar, it’s hard to believe there’s only 6kg or 13lbs in it. The Terra is slinky slim alongside the Sertao – like an old TT600 sat by a Tenere. And it can’t be that the motor is inherently heavy if they managed to get an X-challenge some 30 kilos lighter. This all assumes the factory figures are correct – one day some diligent publication will spend some quality time with a pair of scales. Yes we all know that the weight of something even as large as a GSA1200 magically evaporates once on the move along a nice road, but in the real word of overlanding there will be muddy diversions or gravel track opportunities where that weight (combined with tyre choice) becomes very much apparent. When the going gets tough, weight does matter.

Claimed kerb weights (wet) • TR650 Terra 186kg (with ABS) • BMW Sertao 192kg • Yamaha XT600R 181kg (no ABS) • BMW X-Challenge 156kg (discontinued) • Husqvarna TE630 160kg (discontinued)
The KLR650, and pre-Cambrian DR650 and XR650L continue to be churned out for the US and maybe other markets.

Testing testing
Like I say I’d sooner run a 19-inch front-tyred bike for long distance travels which are mostly roads, but figured more would be interested to read about the Terra. Apart from appearance, only the handling would differ; according to the specs seat height is just half an inch and non adjustable.

Manoeuvring out onto Park Lane, first impressions where of a slim, small bike with what felt like an oddly heavy front end. That and the conspicuous thud from the high-compression engine. High comp motors don’t do so well with low octane fuel out in the world, but up to a point modern computerised ignition and efi systems can cope with it. As for the heavy front, I don’t know if the Sachs UPDs and the rim are cheap items, but at least they’ve not lumbered the TRs with an unnecessary second front disc as on Yamaha’s Tenere. Even at 180 kilos, a bike can surely manage with a single, well calibrated front disc, especially when you have ABS as a back up.

The Terra is as slim as a rake (right) – my knees were about 8 inches apart which gave confidence to split the West End traffic like a pushbike. Even the pipes are slim and tucked in, compared to some cans you get. The Terra’s agile dimensions and snappy engine helps here too in a point-and-squirt sort of way, while popping on the over-run as some efi does. The high-comp blat reminding me of a TT600 from years back.

I pulled over in the park to have a closer look over the TR650. There’s really not much to it; you can see they’ve equipped it down to a price (the rack – more below – is about the sum of it) although the fit and finish were of a high standard compared to some Jap bikers I’ve owned.

The dashboard has the usual array of Christmas lights which chime up on ignition as the rev counter needle does its sweep. The salesman had inadvertently set it up to read kilometres and I couldn’t work out how to reset to mph without RTFM. (The salesman also said one of the menu buttons was a redundant ‘mapping’ button, although the LCD on the right indicated an enigmatic ‘Map II’…). All I could do was scroll the LCD read-out below the speedo between temperature, trip and odometer. A light also comes on when ambient temperature nears freezing, you need a service or the fuel gets low. The ABS can be disengaged in the usual way with a button on the bars (right).  I was also pleased to see non-BMW indicator switchgear: left, right and press to cancel like my aged Suzuki. The radiator (left) is wide and when you fall hard the plastic wing scoops may not protect it.

Where trail bikes or 21-inch-tyred bikes with high mudguards often lose their composure is at higher speeds, so I swung up onto the urban Westway freeway to see how the Terra responded. Back in my despatching days this was always a welcome blast out from the heart of town. Up to around 70 the Terra felt stable, though of course without any protection, sitting like that for a while would have its limits. The step-free MX-style seat plank felt firm, though as we know it takes an hour or two for a saddle’s true measure to shine through too. As in town, out on the flyover’s expansion joints the suspension felt reassuringly firm, but I don’t recall seeing any adjustment other than preload and maybe damping on the back. When needed, the brakes pulled the big single up sharply, though with suspension dive I couldn’t manage to get the front to ABS. Again, as in town at lower speeds the five speed gear change was slick and notch free. And on the short high-speed run along the flyover I can’t say I noticed any vibration from the seat or even the tell-tale mirrors. Despite its high-comp motor, this must be one of the smoothest big singles around which bodes well for long-range comfort. My test bike had 19 miles on the clock.

Further down the A40 I pulled over again for another look over the bike. The lack of  any protection around the engine jumps out at you – though of course a bashplate will be on the options list which includes luggage, a tiny fly screen, hand guards, heated grips and other stuff (see below). With drain plugs (below right), oil lines and exposed brake linkages (left), you’d think a chunky bash plate is one thing they could slap on, out of the crate, if for no other reason than to make the Terra look the part, alongside the Strada.

Oddly, the Terra never starts first dab of the button as you’d assume efi bikes would; it takes a few churns. It stalled on me only once. Unexplained stalling was the bane of the early F650s and could be extremely dangerous when it happened as you pulled out onto a major road. Big singles especially seem prone to efi anomalies – the big swept volume of the single cylinder makes it tricky to get it right first time, though it can be done (on an XT660Z for example, despite ropey fueling on earlier 660 XTs). Trickling through traffic on a near-closed throttle I did detect a very slight unevenness, but nothing as bad as has been said of the previous TE630 – or on my carb’d GS500 for that matter. And though I’ve not read up on it yet, there’s been a lot of talk about hot-starting issues with the new Sertao; you’d hope Husqvarna have worked around that using their own efi and ignition combination.

On the back what feels like an alloy rack doubles as a pillion grip and baggage loop, but it hangs way out behind the fixtures; a weighty box combined with a sudden thud might just snap it. As mentioned, the Terra appears a basic package after looking over the better equipped Sertao back at the shop. Even with its comparatively flabby looks, it did look like you get more of a bike with the Sertao, especially when I was told by the salesman they were about the same price.

In fact the original price difference was huge – at £6700 the Sertao costs some 28% more than a Terra without ABS at £5271. ABS manages to raise that by a rather staggering £700 to £5971 – making the Sertao now 13% pricier. Factor in the Sertao’s screen, fatter seat, thin bash plate and hand guards and you may still be ahead with a Terra if choosing better or better value third party equipment as opposed to what are often lame or over-priced OE accessories (see below).

In the UK, at around £5300 the Husky Terra matches up very well against say, Yamaha’s  XT660R at £6500 (right). There’s no ABS and the weight is similar at a claimed 181kg while making only 47hp on the 10:1 compression ratio (actually better for running on low octane fuel). If you can live without the ABS, the grand-plus saved over the XT or Sertao buys a lot of equipment for a Terra. First though, I’d like to be sure that seat delivers the miles. Cushier looking pads such as on the BMW twin I rode in Morocco proved to be a disaster.

The 14-litre under-seat tank (left, filled up from a conventionally located filler cap) is the same size as on the Sertao and so is difficult or costly to enlarge, but at what you’d expect will be a reliable 23kpl (65 mpg UK) it should be good for over 300km or nearly 200 miles. Another 3 or 4 litres would see it up to my overlanding benchmark of 400km/250 miles.

So at around five grand in the UK or under $7000 in the US they’ve pitched the Terra as a minimally equipped, budget priced, big single trail bike with an exotic Nordic pedigree and the highest power in its class. For overlanding the same-engined Sertao may be better equipped, but that comes at quite a premium, while losing the Terra’s perceived agility.

The British press have been typically lukewarm about the new Huskies, but in the US they seem to get it as a close competitor to their ageing KLRs and DRs. This massive Adv Rider thread has plenty to read, including recent owners’ reports, and there’s more TR chat on this thread at Cafe Husky. Official parts are listed on the right – or click this.

Me, what I’d like to see is a direct competitor to a Tenere, KLR or the old KTM 640 Adventure; a big tanked, out-of-the-crate overlander with an all-day seat and the necessary protection from wind, rocks and falls (a bit like this mock up).

It’s unlikely Husqvarna are going to go that way, but at the currently reasonable price without the ABS, you do have something a bit pokier and different from the usual XTs, BMWs and (in the US) KLRs, XRLs and DRs. Just remember in the UK the Italian-built Tenere was a £4500 bargain when it came out in 2008 – now it’s £7k…

It’s a shame that turning the Husky TE into a TR added so much weight without any noticeable substance, but as on a Tenere if that means a chunkier, load-carrying steel frame, then it’s weight in the right place. It’s hard to think where else it can be on the Terra. As one guy on Adv observed “Maybe this is good enough with the typical $2000 thrown at it…”

Husqvarna TR650 Terra specs UK price: £5271 (with ABS, £5971) Engine: single cylinder, liquid cooled, dohc 4v, 652cc Power: 58bhp  @ 7250rpm Alternator output: 400w Torque: 44lb.ft (60Nm) @ 5750rpm Economy: 66mpg (23.4km/l, 4.3l/100km, 55mpg US) (at 75mph/120kph) Fuel range: 3.1 gallon (14 litres, 3.7 gallons US) / 200 miles (320km) Seat height: 33.9in (860mm) Terra: 34.4in (875mm) Wheelbase: 59.1in (1501mm) Weight: 410lb (186kg) wet with ABS
Smooth, responsive engine
ABS and brakes
Firm suspension
No detectable vibration at speed
Slick gear change
Slim profile
Competitive price
Useful rack
Heavy, for what it is
At the very least, needs engine protection
Needs a windscreen too – OE accessory fly screen looks way too small
Tank a bit small.

Husqvarna Baja

If you’ve managed to read this far, hang around and check out the Husqvarna Baja retro desert racer. The concept bike from early 2012 is here and the top pic below. Then in November 2012 at the Milan Show Cycle World, among others, reported on a street-ready Baja with all the necessary paraphernalia and twin pipes. There are several more studio pix of the street scrambler on the BMW press site where you can be assured that ‘the multi-section architecture of the body displays a very clear, purist style’. Now you know.

Looks good and low with a fat 19 on the pointy end (I told you 19s are the future!) and retro Husky styling, but with the BMW engine and chassis from the TRs. Had Husky not folded it seems likely the Baja will have reached the US where Husky is better known. But, like the Yamaha Ryoku, it looks like just another interesting concept bike that will never make it to the showrooms. Good on Husky for joining the retro bandwagon with an original and cool looking machine.