MXA RACE TEST: THE REAL TEST OF THE 2022 HUSQVARNA FC250
THE GEAR: Jersey: O’Neal Hardwear Haze, Pants: O’Neal Hardwear Haze, Helmet: 6D ATR-2, Goggles: Scott Fury, Boots: Gaerne SG-12.
Q: FIRST AND FOREMOST, IS THE 2022 HUSQVARNA FC250 BETTER THAN THE 2021 FC250?
A: The differences between the 2022 and 2021 models are so small that it depends on personal preference. The biggest change to the Husqvarna motocross lineup for 2022 was the switch from a Magura hydraulic clutch to a Brembo unit. This is the same Brembo clutch that comes standard on the Husky’s sister brands, KTM and GasGas. We already know that the Brembo hydraulics are a tried-and-true product. The question is, is it a better system than Magura’s? We will talk more about that later.
The only other changes made to the 2022 Husky FC250 are the updated graphics, making the bottom half of the strange two-piece side panels white instead of grey, and blue fork guards instead of last year’s yellow.
Q: ARE THESE SMALL UPDATES ENOUGH TO KEEP CUSTOMERS HAPPY?
A: The Husky FC250 won MXA’s “2021 250 Shootout.” It had a lot going for it last year, and it hasn’t lost a step in 2022. Customers were more than happy with the 2021 model, and they will be equally happy with the 2022 model. Why? Motorcycle production for 2022 has been hurt by the supply issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, almost every motorcycle manufacturer in Europe or Japan has elected to stand pat with what they had in 2021 (save for the all-new Honda CRF250). Normally, we would suggest that you forget about the 2022 models and just buy a left-over 2021 FC250 at a blowout price from your local dealer; however, the 2021 models have been sold out for months because of impulse buying during the coronavirus lockdowns.
Husqvarna FC250 buyers are between a rock and a hard place; they can’t buy left-over 2021s, and with an all-new 2023 FC250 coming over the horizon, money spent on a 2022 would lose resale value. So, to answer the question, customers who need a new bike will be very happy with the 2022 FC250—that is until the all-new 2023 Husqvarna FC250 comes out in the coming months.
Q: WHY DID THE FC250 WIN OUR SHOOTOUT IN 2021?
A: We thought the day would never come that the powers that be in Austria would allow their Husky brand to be better than the “Race Ready” KTMs. Well, it happened. Maybe it wasn’t on purpose, but Husky took the gamble of lowering the 2021 bikes by almost an inch overall. Manufacturers have been so busy making their bikes taller since the 1970s due to the success of increasing travel, they didn’t realize that there was a point of diminishing returns. Lowering the FC250 helped it corner better and handle better, and the suspension offered better action, even though the Austrian juggernaut intended to make the suspension components work identically to those of the KTM 250SXF. Whoops!
Since the KTM had the broadest 250 four-stroke powerband, that meant that the Husky FC250 did, too. Even though every single part of the two engines is identical, the FC250 always seems to produce higher peak numbers on the dyno. It could be due to the restrictive Husky airbox that revs the engine slower, in turn creating the most peak horsepower in its class with 44.36 horsepower. On the other hand, our hypothesis doesn’t make much sense when the FC250 also produces the most torque in its class on the dyno.
When the FC250 tires hit the dirt, the engine is deceiving. It doesn’t have a jolt of power like the YZ250F or CRF250; instead, it is smooth and metered all the way through. The engine just keeps on going. So much so that lower-level testers and Vets have trouble getting to the upper echelons of the high-revving power. This is due to the tall gearing. The engine is so broad and powerful you can make the engine feel like any color bike you want with a simple gearing change. We geared it down. This flexibility allows the FC250 to accommodate a wide range of riders.
There will be an all-new 2023 Husqvarna FC250 in a couple months, but it will have to be pretty brilliant to best the 2022 FC250.
Q: WHY IS THE HUSKY FC250 THE MOST EXPENSIVE BIKE IN ITS CLASS?
A: We aren’t clear on this. Because the FC250 is $100 more expensive than the KTM 250SXF, coming in at $9499, it should have some features that are better, right? In the past, Austria has allowed differences between the two models, but they have purposely been detuning the Husky brand by closing off the airbox. The only justification for customers paying more for the Husqvarna is the 118-year legacy of the brand. The truth is, the differences between the two bikes have become less and less over the last few years. The Brembo clutch unit is a prime example.
Speaking of cost, the FC250 has added $1000 to its price tag since 2016. There hasn’t been a year that KTM or Husky hasn’t increased the price by at least $100 in recent history. We are guessing that pattern won’t change any time soon, especially with an all-new model in the works. We have to ask why the price has risen so much even though the frame and engine have remained the same. Yes, they did make quantum leaps with their suspension in the last two years, but the 2022 suspension is unchanged from 2021. Raising the MSRP every year will eventually price them out of the 250 four-stroke market, which is more youth-oriented than Husky’s off-road or 450 clientele.
We admit the Japanese competition raises its prices as well, but not as much as the Austrian brands. Since 2016, the CRF250 raised its price $500, the KX250 $800, the YZ250F $909 and the RM-Z250 $200. According to the Social Security website, the cost of living has risen by 8 percent since 2016, which makes the CRF250 and RM-Z250 come in under the rise of the cost of living. The Austrian brothers are outpacing this rate by nearly 40 percent. At their current rate, the price of an FC250 will go up $1000 by 2029.
No one likes how expensive bikes are becoming. The price of the bikes is directly linked to how many racers there will be on the starting lines; however, more power, less weight, increased durability, better suspension and topnotch components cost money. The catch-22 for the manufacturers is that it costs a lot of money to be competitive.
Q: WHAT DO WE REALLY THINK OF HUSQVARNA’S LOWERED SUSPENSION?
A: This is the greatest suspension innovation in the last 12 years. Making the forks shorter and redesigning the shock linkage to drop the rear of the bike by 1 inch resulted in the 2021–2022 Huskys becoming the best-handling bikes on the track. The Husqvarna FC250 feels like it’s sucked down with ground effects. When you combine the lower center of gravity with the vastly improved WP XACT air forks, you get something special. Of course, it goes without saying that having a bike that allows riders to easily touch the ground is an answer to prayers for short riders.
Q: DO WE LIKE THE BREMBO HYDRAULIC CLUTCH BETTER THAN THE MAGURA UNIT?
A: A few years back we had trouble with the Magura clutch slave cylinder going out on the FC450. This issue was fixed, and we haven’t had trouble since. What we liked about the Magura clutch that the Brembo doesn’t offer is its folding lever technology. It is a nice touch. As far as performance, most riders gravitate to the Brembo unit, as it offers a “pop sensation” when engaged. The Magura has more of a linear feel. For most riders, it is a small difference. We could go either way, although we would rather the Husky have the Magura clutch to differentiate it from KTM.
Tons of top-end power.
Q: WHAT GEARING IS BEST?
A: We don’t understand Husky’s logic on gearing. Since 2016, Husqvarna has been making big swings in gear-ratio changes. The 14/51 gear ratios were well-matched to the internal gear ratios but in kind of a dull way. Most MXA test riders wanted to get more out of the powerful engine. Given our druthers, we would drop the front countershaft sprocket from a 14 to a 13. It is a big change, but the added surge of power exiting corners is incredible. You have to sharpen the reflexes of your left foot to make the most of it. If you feel that the 13 is going too far and want to keep the smooth shift points, leave the 14 on and try going up a tooth or two on the rear sprocket. There is no one gear ratio that fits all riders on the FC250. The broad power allows you to tailor the power to your needs.
Q: WHAT MAP DID WE LIKE BEST?
A: Hands down, the aggressive (map 2) is better. It offers more power at every step of the power curve. The stock map (map 1) smooths the power out, making it less aggressive. If the track is slippery or you want to tone down the power for a long race, map 1 has its place.
ProTaper bars and braided steel hoses.
Q: WHAT DID WE HATE?
A: The hate list:
(1) Bolts. Check the spoke nipples and rear sprocket bolts at regular intervals. We can guarantee the spoke nipple by the rim locks will come loose eventually. Why? Because when the rim lock is tightened, it compresses that section of the rim, making the spokes next to it the odd ducks.
(2) Airbox. The restrictive Husqvarna airbox mutes the engine, and Husqvarna’s optional vented airbox cover is more design than function. The vents are in the wrong place and are very small.
(3) Gas-cap hose. The gas-cap hose gets tangled up when taking the gas cap on and off.
(4) Side plates. Two-piece side plates mean two-piece number-plate backgrounds. We want less design and more functionality.
(5) Gearing. The standard gearing makes the bike feel sluggish. The tall gearing needs at least 1 tooth on the rear.
The clutch is now Brembo instead of Magura.
Q: WHAT DID WE LIKE?
A: The like list:
(1) Weight. The 2022 Husqvarna weighs 219 pounds, which is a pound more than the KTM 250SXF, but 10 pounds lighter than some of its 250 competitors.
(2) Brakes. The Brembo brakes and GSK rotors are great.
(3) Clutch. We love the pop feel of the Brembo clutch. It stands the test of time.
(4) Electronic suite. We like having options to choose from; however, on a 250, most riders want all the power they can get. Every MXA test rider uses Map 2.
(5) Transmission. The gearbox is made by the Formula 1 supplier Pankl Racing systems. It makes shifting from gear to gear smooth as silk.
(6) Handling. This is the best-handling bike in its class hands down. It does everything right and nothing wrong.
(7) Suspension. The WP AER air-suspension components work great—unless you don’t work to set them up properly.
Add one tooth to pick up the midrange power.
Q: WHAT DO WE REALLY THINK?
A: We think the same thing as last year. First, the FC250 powerplant is basically the same as it was seven years ago. It is quite an engineering feat for KTM to design a powerplant that is still beating the best the Japanese brands have to offer, yet is old enough to be ARMHA eligible. We used to say that eventually the Japanese 250s would catch up to the elderly KTM 250SXF engine, but since KTM has a brand-new 250SXF engine waiting in the wings, we will have to retire that idea. No matter how old it is, the Austrian engine still offers the broadest power in its class with the most torque and peak horsepower.
When it comes to handling, this bike takes the cake. It slices through corners without losing any front-end stability. It is steady at speed and nimble as a cheetah running down its prey. This is a bike that riders young and old, big and small will love.
Thanks to its low center of gravity, the FC250 carves, slices and dices a race track.
MXA’S 2022 HUSQVARNA FC250 SETUP SPECS
This is how we set up our 2022 Husqvarna FC250 for racing. We offer it as a guide to help you find your own sweet spot.
48MM XACT AER AIR-FORK SETTINGS
The stock Husky XACT fork air setting is 10.5 bar or 152 psi. This pressure is perfect for the majority of our test riders, but there is nothing stopping you from going as low as 135 psi or as high as 160 psi. The recommended air pressure offers a plush feeling that held up well on hard hits. This is a great base setting for just about any rider. Many testers tried different clicker settings, but most ended up close to stock. Lighter riders should go softer on compression to use more of the stroke. On tracks with good traction, the front tire wanted to climb out of ruts. We pushed the forks up 1mm, which balanced out the chassis better. For hardcore racing, we recommend this fork setup for an average rider on the 2022 Husqvarna FC250 (stock specs are in parentheses):
Spring rate: 152 psi
Compression: 12 clicks out
Rebound: 15 clicks out
Fork-leg height: 6mm (5mm)
Notes: Remember to let the air out of both forks’ bleed screws each ride. It is the difference between a great setting and a horrible one.
WP SHOCK SETTINGS
This is a very good shock that balances perfectly with the forks. The majority of test riders liked the standard setting best. Lighter riders will want to go out on low-speed compression. For hardcore racing, we recommend this shock setup for the 2022 Husqvarna FC250 (stock specs are in parentheses):
Spring rate: 45 N/mm
Race sag: 105mm
Hi-compression: 2 turns out
Lo-compression: 15 clicks out
Rebound: 15 clicks out