TEST UPDATE: 2023 HUSQVARNA TC125 TWO-STROKE
HOW’S THE ’23 HUSQVARNA TC125 ENGINE? The 2023 Husqvarna TC125 feels fast on the track, and it’s friendly to ride through corners, requiring less skill than its carbureted competition; however, the TC125 does give up peak power to its red-headed stepbrother (the GasGas MC125).
HOW FAST IS THE ’23 HUSKY ENGINE ON THE DYNO? Both the TC125 engine and its orange brother got slower for the 2023 season. They ditched the carburetors and left 1 horsepower on the table. Comparing TC125 dyno numbers to the GasGas MC125, which uses the same engine and Mikuni TMX38 carb that Husky had last year, the new engine is just a hair slower off the crack of the throttle. At 7500 rpm, the KTM, Husky, and GasGas 125s are exactly the same until 10,800 rpm, where the GasGas continues to climb and the fuel-injected KTM/Husky 125s begin to taper off. The Husqvarna peaks right next to the KTM with 37.09 horsepower at 11,200 rpm, while the GasGas hits a peak of 38.25 at 11,400 rpm.
COULD THE ’23 ENGINE BE BETTER? Yes, of course it could. Like the KTM, the Husqvarna uses an electronic control unit (ECU) to manage the fuel-injection system’s fuel/air mixture. The new KTM/Husky two-strokes rely on a Continental ECU system (different from the Keihin ECU used on the four-strokes). Because these EFI bikes are in their first year, we expect them to get better over time, but we wish that it weren’t so hard to crack into the ECUs so we could try re-mapping them to run a little richer. Our Husky TC125 didn’t have any issues running 91-octane pump fuel mixed at 40:1, but we haven’t been able to make engine upgrades to it yet without having detonation issues.
HOW GOOD ARE THE TC125 FORKS? The WP XACT air forks are 10 millimeters shorter than the KTM forks. Husqvarna did this, in addition to lengthening the seal head and adjusting the shock linkage, to lower the overall seat height. The result is a lower center of gravity, which makes the bike corner exceptionally well. As for the fork action, it’s considerably softer than the KTM 125SX setup. Our intermediate and Pro testers thought it was too soft, but our Vet testers were drawn to the lower and softer TC125 setup.
WHAT ABOUT THE REAR SUSPENSION? The suspension is very plush and user-friendly for lighter and slower riders, but if you’re heavy or fast, you’ll need to up the spring rate on the rear shock, in addition to upping the air pressure and going stiffer on the valving in the forks.
HOW DOES IT HANDLE? The TC125 handles like a dream. The lowered chassis helps you find the rut and stay in it easier, allowing you to carve through corners. Plus, the smooth power of the new, fuel-injected, electronic power-valve-equipped engine also contributed to better rear-wheel traction and a smoother overall ride.
WHAT DID WE HATE? (1) Our complaints about the Husky TC125 are the same as our complaints about the KTM 125SX. The locked ECU creates a serious roadblock for aftermarket upgrades and tuning. We didn’t have any detonation issues with our TC125 until we tried using a Pro Circuit pipe on it. The pipe and silencer from Pro Circuit boosted power big time, but it needs to be re-mapped or re-jetted to work properly. Stay tuned to a future issue of Motocross Action for a review of the pipe as we continue to figure out how to manage these new bikes. (2) The Husqvarna TC125 gained 9.5 pounds—no bueno. (3) An electric starter on a 125 is overkill. (4) The bike comes with two maps, but the green map bogs. Stay away from it.
WHAT DID WE LIKE? (1) The TC125 engine is smoother than ever, which helps riders who are less experienced. (2) The break-in period was simple and easy, thanks to the soft suspension. (3) The lower suspension platform is great for young riders making a transition to big bikes and for riders who like to turn.
WHAT DO WE REALLY THINK? The first-year-model 2023 Husqvarna TC125 is great for young riders transitioning onto big bikes and for Novices looking to improve their craft on a 125 two-stroke. The lower seat height and smooth power are great for feeling comfortable and carving corners, but the locked ECU box limits the mods that can be made to the engine, making it a less-than-ideal choice for experienced 125 riders who plan to buy a bike and mod it out, full tilt.
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