It’s a well-known fact that the 250cc four-stroke division is one of the toughest in the market when it comes to performance. Every inch of power pays dividends and a top-shelf handling package is just as important to make the most of it.
For Husqvarna, the Lites/MX2 class has been a challenge since its revitalisation around a decade ago. The company has worked hard to raise its game to a level that it hopes will soon match the leading brands in the class.
So just two years after releasing a radical revamp of the TC 250, Husqvarna has launched another brand-new contender into the mix, this one coming after a host of real-world race experience against the best of the best in the MX2 Motocross World Championship.
Features on the new model include an upgraded engine, headlined by a high quality twin-cam valve train that’s been designed by former BMW F1 engineer Ralph Clyde, along with the strategic placement of key components to enhance power and durability.
The suspension package is now completely made up from KYB components, rather than the Sachs shock/KYB fork combo that it had in recent years, and for the most part that is another important step forward.
Long story short, there are a huge variety of updates that the Italian manufacturer is hoping will finally put it on the Lites-class motocross map, right there with the four Japanese makes and fellow Euro manufacturer KTM (see the tech breakout for the complete rundown).
Australian distributor Paul Feeney Group introduced the 2012 model TC 250 at the Queensland Moto Park early in March to the local moto press, delivering a popular bike that’s definitely made inroads as a competitive option in stock trim.
The engine is where I’d say the majority of the improvements are, because to be brutally honest, the former model just didn’t have enough power. This year’s model has improved in much needed torque, and the top end is a step better than last year’s model, but it still doesn’t quite match its rivals in terms of over-rev.
The fuel-injection system works wonders for throttle response, as we’d expect, and it is a fairly predictable powerplant that I found good enough to enjoy the motos on. Like I said, it’s not the fastest out there by any means, but it’ll do the job for the majority, unless you’re a regular A- or B-grade racer.
What I wasn’t overly impressed with was the gearshift, as I constantly had to back down the revs too much to change gears. The techs on hand from Husqvarna explained that this is due to a design process that makes the transmission more durable than others.
I’d still prefer a swift shift, even if it were to match reliability of other Lites bikes. The reason is that when you’re in the heat of battle, chances are you’ll be revving it much harder than I was at the test, so being forced to back off to click third when you need it just won’t cut it. Keep in mind, though, that our test bikes were most likely still bedding in.
Apart from that, the engine didn’t miss a beat, and I can’t complain about that. If you’re planning to ride Supercross then you’ll want some more ponies off the bottom, but all in all it is a good base and an improvement – that’s the key word for this whole test. It’s a much, much better bike than 2011’s.
I was pretty stoked when I saw the quality Akrapovic exhaust complete with a ‘power bomb’ on it in stock trim, but it’s actually super quiet and that surprised me. The guys at PFG said that they’ve tested a number of aftermarket exhausts on the dyno and none make more power on the TC 250 than the stock one. It looks cool, too.
Ergonomically, the Husqvarna’s cockpit was okay for me, apart from what I felt was a rounded seat that was almost too soft when it comes to the foam they use. It just doesn’t put you in attack mode, but for the most part it works well and the TC feels light at speed.
The light feel of the TC 250 is probably one of its best assets, because you can do reasonably lengthy motos and not really get too fatigued (it might even be because the motor isn’t as aggressive as the leading Lites bikes, too).
What I struggled most with on the Husqvarna was the fork. It just didn’t want to turn in as I like a bike to, because I’m the type that doesn’t brake a lot with the front in an aggressive manner. This meant that flowing into the turns, it just wasn’t going in the direction I was trying to point it.
To my surprise though, constant adjustment via the clickers in both compression and rebound made a very noticeable difference as we went softer. It did end up a little ‘springy’ off bumps, but I feel as though if I had a chance to switch to softer springs and dial in the clickers again, I could come up with a positive feel.
The rear KYB shock is an improvement on paper over the former Sachs suspension, and that is the same on track. What I liked most about the shock was its potential to hook up and drive off turns, which is also a credit to the Pirelli tyres.
The balance wasn’t quite there in standard trim between the front and the rear for me, but it was in the ballpark by the time I finished setting it up.
Brembo brakes are solid, as is the hydraulic clutch. We love the hydraulic clutch and everything about it, since it’s just so incredibly easy to operate.
Excel rims add to it all, increasing the value of the bike.
At $10,495 the Husqvarna comes with all sorts of brand-name parts that make it that much more exclusive on the showroom floor, which is all the more reason to give one a go if you’re looking for something to stand out from the crowd. Give it time and work to extract its strong points, and you may surprise yourself with the outcome.
Husqvarna’s 2012 TC 250’s steel frame is strengthened and made more rigid with new chromoly plates at the steering head.
There’s a new setting for the 48mm Kashima-coated Kayaba fork. The spring rate has been upgraded from 44Nm to 46Nm and new spring settings give the bike better bottoming resistance, according to Husqvarna’s press kit. To match, new handlebar clamps increase rigidity. The rear shock is now a Kayaba unit, with externally adjustable damping (high/low speed compression and rebound).
The engine is where the more important changes are, because this is where the previous TE 250s have struggled against their competitors.
Husqvarna’s latest 250cc four-stroke X-Light engine has been the most compact and lightweight powerplant in its class since its introduction, at just 22kg.
The valve train was completely redesigned by Husqvarna’s head of engine development, former BMW F1 engineer Ralph Clyde, and now incorporates individual ‘finger followers’ that deliver a rocker ratio advantage and eliminate the need for a conventional bucket-and-shim system.
The four redesigned titanium valves and a lightweight high-compression piston complete the package to deliver a significant increase in power and torque. The all-new battery-less fuel-injection system features a Keihin ECU and throttle body.
Performance exhaust specialist supplier Akrapovic has developed a power-bomb-type titanium system specifically tuned for the 2012 Husqvarna TC 250, which is a nice touch.
To cap it all off, new graphics benefit from Husqvarna’s IPD (In Mould Design) process, while a black-painted frame and silver anodised rims also represent updates for this year.