MXA’S WEEKEND NEWS ROUND-UP: VILLOPOTO, HARTRANFT, CASELLI, TRIUMPH & MORE
• IN LIGHT OF HIS INJURIES, BRANDON HARTRANFT HAS RETIRED FROM RACING
In the off-season before the start of the 2023 Supercross opener, Brandon Hartranft’s bike locked up over a jump at HEP Suzuki’s Fresno, California, test track. Brandon suffered major head trauma, broken ribs, a partially collapsed lung, dislocated hip, broken shoulder and serious spinal injuries. Brandon has been through extensive rehab for his broken bones, but the brain injury was not as easy to recover from. Last week Brandon posted on Instagram that he was stepping away from racing. Here is what Brandon announced:
“I’m stepping away from racing professionally. The last few months have been some of the most challenging of my life battling through the injuries sustained prior to Supercross. The hardest part to take is that it was completely out of my control, but that is a part of this sport. Racing has been my entire life up until this point, so the transition isn’t going to be easy, but I’m proud of my accomplishments and the man motocross has made me. I still plan to stay active within the motocross industry and I’m excited to share my next adventure with Alpha MX Dynamics . I’m truly thankful for everyone who has supported me over the years. Bring on the next chapter.”
The work ethic that got Brandon to the top of the motocross world will serve in well in whatever he plans to pursue in the future.
• “THIS WEEK IN MXA WITH JOSH MOSIMAN”… WITH RYAN VILLOPOTO
• 2023 YAMAHA BLU CRU INVITATIONAL AT GLEN HELEN ON DEC. 2-3
Are you ready to put your moto skills to the test? Yamaha USA welcomes bLU cRU riders to join us at the inaugural bLU cRU Invitational at Glen Helen Raceway on Saturday, Decembee 2 and Sunday, December 3. The event is open to riders of any skill level ages from 4 years old to 60 plus years. Plan for two full days of incredible racing action with a three-moto format on the World Famous Glen Helen Raceway, followed by a full slate of fun evening activities, prizes, exclusive gifts and special guests. It’s the perfect opportunity for an unforgettable race experience with your fellow Yamaha enthusiasts. To join the Yamaha bLU cRU Click Here.
Brought to you by Yamaha bLU cRU , this is an exclusive event open only to Yamaha bLU cRU riders. To register for the event Click Here
• MXA VIDEO: WE TEST THE 2024 KTM 350SXF FOUR-STROKE
• 2024 YAMAHA YZ250 “FIRST RIDE” VIDEO VIEWS BY MEDIA OUTLET
• THE WAIT IS OVER! GET A CLOSE LOOK AT THE 2024 TRIUMPH TF250X
• 10TH ANNUAL KURT CASELLI RIDE DAY ON SATURDAY, DECEMBER 2, AT PALA
The 2023 Kurt Caselli Ride Day will be held on Saturday, December 2, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Pala Raceway. It is hosted by The Kurt Caselli Foundation and you can secure online tickets and recieve a $10 Rocky Mountain ATV/MC Credit and a free commemorative event T-shirt from presenting sponsors Rocky Mountain ATV/MC & FMF Racing. Early birds may also snag a RMATVMC swag bag! You can get you early tickets by Clicking Here.
• MXA PHOTO OF THE WEEK: WHAT’S NEXT? VALET PARKING IN THE PITS?
• THE GREATEST DEAL IN MOTOCROSS! SUBSCRIBE TO MXA & GET $25 ROCKY MOUNTAIN CREDIT & A YEAR OF MX FUN
Did you know that you can subscribe to MXA at absolutely no cost to you—because when you subscribe you receive a Rocky Mountain ATV/MC credit for $25 towards anything in their massive inventory. Plus, you will get all the content in the 12 monthly issues of Motocross Action magazine delivered to your home by a uniformed U.S. government employee. Don’t miss any more four-stroke tests, two-stroke tests, retro tests, race coverage, new tech or product tests….most of which never appear on the internet. And, don’t forget, the $25 credit from Rocky Mountain ATV/MC that will more than cover the cost of your subscription. To subscribe call (800) 767-0345 or Click Here
• MXA PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT: FASTWAY STAR & BARS HAT
This one-size fits-all snapback hat features the Fastway logo on the front and the underneath portion of the bill is bright red. The retail price is $32.95 at www.fastway.zone
• TRAVIS PASTRANA’S NITROCROSS RETURNS TO GLEN HELEN ON DECEMBER 9-10
For more info or to order ticketsw go to www.nitrocross racing.com
• WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO RIDE THE UPSIDE-DOWN ENGINE 2010 HUSABERG FX450We get misty-eyed sometimes thinking about past bikes we loved, as well as ones that should remain forgotten. We take you on a trip down memory lane with bike tests that got filed away and disregarded in the MXA achieves. We reminisce on a piece of moto history that has been resurrected. Here is the test of the 2010 Husaberg FX450 from the March 2010 issue.
Q: FIRST AND FOREMOST, IS THE 2010 FX450 BETTER THAN THE 2009 FX450?
A: Yes, with a caveat. The FX450 is a new model that didn’t exist in 2009. The previous Husaberg was the enduro-based FE450. The FX450 is designed for cross-country racing, while the FE450 was largely an all-around hare scrambles, WORCS and GNCC bike.
Q: IS THE 2010 HUSABERG FX450 A MOTOCROSS BIKE?
A: No. Think of the Husaberg FX450 by using these comparisons to KTM, which owns Husaberg. KTM basically makes three categories of bikes: (1) EXC. The EXC enduro models are designed for woods riding and enduros. (2) XC. The XC cross-country bikes are for GNCC, WORCS and hare scrambles. (3) SXF. The SXF bikes are KTM’s full-blown motocross bikes.
In Husaberg parlance, the FE450 is the equivalent of the KTM EXC, and the FX450 is the blood brother of the XC. Husaberg does not make a comparable SXF machine. That said, the 2010 FX450 is as close as Husaberg gets to a motocross machine, and with a few tweaks, MXA was able to race the FX450 much more effectively than last year’s FE450.
Q: IS HUSABERG SWEDISH OR AUSTRIAN?
A: Shhhh. Don’t tell anybody, but the Husaberg FX450 is made by KTM. And more than that, with the exception of the plastic, frame design and engine cases, every part on the Husaberg FX450 comes from the KTM parts catalog.
Q: WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH THE UPSIDE-DOWN ENGINE?
A: If you are among the majority of motocrossers who tripped over themselves to get a look at the reverse-cylinder 2010 Yamaha YZ450F, then you should recognize the Husaberg’s Jens Elmwall-designed engine as the precursor to the idea of moving the rotating mass closer to the center of gravity.
With the exception of the engine cases, the engine is made up of KTM parts, but not KTM 450SXF parts. The FX450 uses the single-overhead-cam, rocker arm-equipped 450XC-W engine. This SOHC engine is the replacement for KTM’s old RFS design. The single-cam activates rocker arms that control four stainless steel valves.
Q: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HUSABERG’S CENTRALIZATION OF MASS IDEA AND THE 2010 YAMAHA YZ450F IDEA?
A: In theory, the answer is nothing, but in practice, there are major differences. Whereas Husaberg tried to move the rotating mass of the engine’s crankshaft closer to the center of gravity by flipping the engine up and over, Yamaha angled its cylinder backward to get the rotational inertia of the cams nearer to the sweet spot, but not the crankshaft.
As you would expect, both ideas achieve a lighter feel in pitch, roll and yaw, but when designers take different paths to achieve the same thing, there are side effects.
Raising the crankshaft up 100mm and backwards 160mm, and putting the gearbox beneath the cylinder rather than behind it, places the rotating mass of the crankshaft closer to the bike’s center of gravity. With the rotating mass closer to the center of gravity, the torque effect on the chassis is greatly reduced. In layman’s terms, Husaberg put the part of the engine that wreaks havoc on handling as close as possible to the place where it will have the least effect on handling. Simple but clever.
The drawback is that Husaberg moved the heaviest parts of the engine upwards (and when gravity kicks in, you can feel it).
Q: IS THE 2010 FX450 FASTER THAN THE FE450?
A: Yes. The straight-through muffler, new EFI map, lighter weight and better gear ratios produce a bike that is faster and more responsive than any other Husaberg.
Q: IS THE 2010 FX450 FASTER THAN A KX450F, CRF450, YZ450F OR 450SXF?
A: No. It’s not fast in a white-knuckle, arm-jerking, hairball way. It is pleasant, smooth and tractable. Those are code words for “slow.”
Q: HOW GOOD IS THE 2010 HUSABERG’S POWERBAND?
A: As far as the power goes, this is a majestically usable engine—not fast, not powerful, not aggressive. It asks the rider to maintain momentum, and it doesn’t get in the way if he gets the FX450 rolling. It is like a mild-mannered Clark Kent (without the Superman cape).
The good news is that Novice and Vet riders loved the engine. They were well aware that it took its own sweet time about getting going and could have used a little extra over-rev, but when used to its fullest, it carried speed with ease. Don’t get us wrong; it didn’t make speed, it just utilized what it had to the fullest. The power delivery was dual-stage. The low-to-mid transition was leisurely; then, as the power reached the middle, it surged with its best power delivery. It goes flat at the typical 8200 rpm of most fuel-injected bikes.
The bad news is that MXA’s intermediate-and-up test riders wouldn’t touch the Husaberg FX450 with a 10-foot pole. They wanted more hit, more power and more rev. The things that the Vets and Novices liked weren’t in the wheelhouse of a pro-level rider. A Pro doesn’t care much about the benefits of well-modulated power.
Your guess is as good as ours as to how you get the pipe off the FX450.
Q: HOW DOES THE 2010 HUSABERG FX450 RUN ON THE DYNO?
A: At 50.29 horsepower and 33.05 pound-feet of torque, the Husaberg is much better on the dyno than we expected. Although the power is soft and slow revving, the Husaberg FX450 actually makes more power than the 2010 Honda CRF450 from 5000 rpm to 8000 rpm (then the CRF450 beats it by 6/10 of a horsepower at peak).
When you compare it to the class-leading KX450F and KTM 450SXF, the Husaberg isn’t very impressive. It gives up over 3-1/2 horsepower at peak to both the green and orange bikes (and 4-1/2 horses at 9000 rpm to the KTM 450SXF).
Q: HOW WAS THE HUSABERG FX450 SUSPENSION?
A: We don’t know. Well, we do know, but because we knew, we didn’t even try to run it. Since we were only interested in racing motocross on the 2010 FX450, and we knew that the stock forks and shock weren’t up to the task, we swapped the FX450 forks for a set of KTM 450SXF forks. This may seem like an exotic switch, but it isn’t. The stock Husaberg forks are in fact off of a KTM 450XC, which has lighter valving and softer springs than the SXF forks we switched to. We could have re-valved the stock FX450 forks to achieve the same setup, but it was quicker and easier for us to make a brand-to-brand swap.
As for the shock, we couldn’t make a straight-across swap from the 450SXF to the FX450. Although the Husaberg shock is a replica of the KTM 450XC shock, the piggyback reservoir is mounted slightly askew to clear some parts of the Husaberg frame, thus the KTM shock won’t fit on the Husaberg. We re-valved the Husaberg shock to SXF specs and added a 7.6 kg/mm shock spring.
Q: HOW DOES THE 2010 FX450 HANDLE?
A: We absolutely loved it. Adored it! The combination of Jens Elmwall’s centralization of mass theories, our suspension stiffening program, the new triple clamp offset, the broad powerband and more balanced stance produced a bike that wanted to turn. In fact, it insisted on turning. The FX450 could rail berms, track through ruts and change directions on flat turns like, dare we say it, a Suzuki. Perhaps if we had kept the ultra-soft XC forks and shock, we would have been singing a much different tune; but, with our suspension setup, this thing was a dream to ride on a tight twisty track.
What we didn’t absolutely love is that the FX450 is heavy, and no amount of Elmwall Legerdemain can make that extra 20 pounds disappear. It might dissolve in the air, but it returns when you land. It might vanish when you lean it into a berm, but it reestablishes itself when you straighten up. The FX450 might feel agile when pitching the nose up and down over a tabletop, but it feels portly when terra firma is under the wheels. All that said, we were impressed.
Q: WHAT DID WE HATE?
A: The hate list:
(1) Subframe. From an innovation point of view, Husaberg’s molded plastic sub-frame is very trick, but on a practical level it is stupid. It is ungainly, bulky, blocks access to the shock (we had to take the shock off the bike to change the spring preload) and, even with molded-in handholds (which are too far forward to be of any use), we’d need a Charles Atlas bodybuilding course to get the FX450 on its stand. Give us an aluminum subframe and we’ll be happy.
(2) Weight. We have a rule at MXA: if you can’t pick it up, you can’t race it. That left most MXA test riders sitting on the sidelines. Husaberg is on the no-fly list. You would think that all the stuff Husaberg removed from the FE450 to make it into the FX450 would add up to more than a 3-pound weight savings.
(3) Cost. At over $9498, you gotta want to be different.
(4) Gearing. When we tested the 2009 Husaberg FE450, we were shocked with how low first gear was and how short each gear was after that. The 2010 FX450 has different gear ratios, but they are equally weird. We thought about changing the 13/52 gearing, but nothing we tried worked well enough.
Q: WHAT DID WE LIKE?
A: The like list:
(1) Airbox. The air filter is located directly behind Husaberg’s remote gas cap and uses the seat as an airbox cover. Yamaha might want to buy a Husaberg to see how easy it can be to design an accessible airbox.
(2) Seat. The seat comes off in 5 seconds with a ripcord-style cable release system. Unfortunately, our first FX450 seat was constantly falling off in the middle of motos. The second one stayed put.
(3) Gas tank. The 2.2-gallon gas tank is under the seat to help with the centralization deal. It’s translucent gray and isn’t all that attractive, but we aren’t fans of black tanks either.
(4) Gas light. There is a low-fuel idiot light next to the EFI diagnostic light that comes on when you get down to a 1/2 gallon of gas. This is useless to a motocrosser, but we found the idea amusing.
(5) Diagnostic light. Should there be something wrong with the engine’s electronics or sensors, this light will flash out a Morse code-style dots-and-dashes signal. For example, four long flashes and one short flash means a short circuit in the fuel pump circuitry.
(6) Steel frame. Although it is not identical to a KTM frame, the FX450 frame does adhere to KTM’s design philosophy.
(7) Brakes. MXA has always been impressed by KTM’s 260mm front brake, but never has a bike needed good brakes as much as the overweight FX450.
(8) Electric start. Push-button bliss.
(9) Graphics. Not being Swedish, we aren’t that into the blue and yellow decor, but we like the durability of in-mold graphics. They last forever.
Q: WHAT DO WE REALLY THINK?
A: From a purist point of view, the 2010 Husaberg FX450 is too heavy, too slow and too weird to be taken seriously by hardcore racers. On the other hand, this bike is like no other machine on the planet—and because of that, it does some things remarkably well. A cross-country racer who does the occasional motocross probably couldn’t find a better bike.
• OLD SCHOOL TT SCRAMBLES AT GLEN HELEN ON DECEMBER 17
The race will be held on Sunday, December 17, on Glen Helen’s Truck Track, but there will be practice on Saturday December 16 starting at Noon. For more info go to www.ossrg.org.
LOOKING FOR HELP FOR NEXT SEASON? SCAR RIDER SUPPORT
SCAR a global leader in high-performance titanium, aluminum and carbon motorcycle parts and accessories is pleased to announce the opening sponsorship program to off-road riders of all ages skills, and disciplines across the world. We offer more than 50 different types of products with more than 1000 references such as Footpegs, Triple clamps, Handlebars, Grips, Titanium bolts, Shift levers, Oil filler caps, Axle blocks, etc… For support and to gain access to the same products as those who have ridden in Pro SX/MX and MXGP championships, send a request to : [email protected] For more information about SCAR and its products, please visit www.scar-racing.com
CLASSIC MXA PHOTO: BEFORE JEREMY WAS A STAR, HE WAS A STAR
• THE 2024 AMA ARENACROSS SERIES SCHEDULE
2024 AMA SUPERCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP
Jan. 6…Anaheim, CA
Jan. 13…San Francisco, CA
Jan. 20…San Diego, CA
Jan. 27, Anaheim, CA
Feb. 3…Detroit, MI
Feb. 10…Glendale, AZ
Feb. 24…Arlington, TX
Mar. 2…Daytona Beach, FL
Mar. 9…Birmingham, AL
Mar. 16…Indianapolis, IN
Mar. 23…Seattle, WA
Mar. 30…St. Louis, MO
Apr. 13…Foxborough, MA
Apr. 20…Nashville, TN
Apr. 27…Philadelphia, PA
May 4…Denver, CO
May 11…Salt Lake City, UT
2024 AMA NATIONAL MOTOCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP
May 25…Pala, CA
June 1…Hangtown, CA
June 8…Thunder Valley, CO
June 15…Mount Morris, PA
June 29…Southwick, MA
July 6…Red Bud, MI
July 13…Millville, MN
July 20…Washougal, WA
August 10…Unadilla, NY
August 17…Budds Creek, MD
August 24…Crawfordsville, IN
2024 2023 FIM WORLD MOTOCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP
Apr. 14…Italy #1
June 16… TBA
June 30…Indonesia #1
July 7…Indonesia #2
July 21…Czech Republic
Sept. 29….Italy #3
2024 MOTOCROSS DES NATION
Oct. 6…Matterley Basion, UK
2024 AMA ARENACROSS CHAMPIONSHIP
Dec.1-2…Boise, ID, NY
Jan. 5-6…Loveland, CO
Jan.12-13…Grand Island, NE
Jan. 19-20…Guthrie, OK
Jan. 26-27….Guthrie, OK
Feb. 2-3…Prescott, AZ
Feb. 23-24…Mesquite, TX
Feb. 2-Mar.1…Daytona Beach, FL
Mar. 8…Fayetteville, NC
Mar. 15…Salem, VA
Mar. 22-23…Denver, CO
Mar. 29…Las Vegas, NV
2024 WORCS CHAMPIONSHIP
Jan. 5-7…Taft, CA
Jan. 26-28…Glen Helen, CA
Feb 23-25…Marysville, CA
Mar. 15-17…Lake Havasu, AZ
Apr. 12-14…Blythe, CA
May 17-19…Cedar City, UT
Sept. 6-7…Glen Helen, CA
Oct. 4-6…Mesquite, NV
Nov. 1-3…Primm, NV
2024 DUTCH MASTERS OF MOTOCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP
2024 ADAC MX MASTERS
Apr. 21…Princely Drehna
2023 “SATURDAY AT THE GLEN” SCHEDULE
Dec. 9…Winter Series #4 (Arroyo Vet track)
Dec. 16…Winter Series #5 (National track)
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Photos Credits: KTM, Trevor Nelson, MX Sports, Debbi Tamietti, Jon Ortner and MXA archive