2019 HUSQVARNA FC 350 | First Impression
By the Testing Staff of TransWorld Motocross
The Husqvarna model lineup is extensive, offering an impressive variety of bikes for nearly every discipline and displacement in motocross and off-road racing. One of the more unique offerings from the legendary brand is the FC350. Blending a compelling balance of the agile handling, high-revving 250F with the usable torque and power of a 450F, Husqvarna has identified a considerable gap in the motocross market. Frankly, 250F's often require a higher level of aggression and energy to ride effectively than the average rider wants to or is capable of delivering, however, many would argue that 450 power is far too potent for all but the sport's most elite riders. The FC350 aims to fill that void.
Although the FC350 is ultimately without competition (save for its KTM counter-part) the 2019 model enjoys the benefits of Husqvarna's meteoric development cycle and features significant improvement over last year's model. The new blue powder-coated frame offers increased torsional rigidity to improve handling down the straights and entering corners while also increasing the longitudinal flex for more comfort and better feel in the bumps. Husqvarna replaced the three-piece carbon fiber subframe with an all-new 2-piece design which not only increases the vertical stiffness by over 30% for better handling and rider comfort, it also shaves 250g of weight. Complimenting the increased rigidity of the frame, the upper triple clamp now has a new shape which makes it stiffer for a more positive front-end feel. It also offers adjustable bar mounting positions, rubber damping to reduce vibration, and a triple clamp protector integrated into the front number plate. The WP AER front fork received new settings to match the new frame flex character, as did the WP rear shock which also receives a new main piston. The chain adjustment slot in the swingarm has increased by 5mm towards the rear, extending the total wheelbase adjustment length for improved straight-line stability on faster tracks.
The FC350 features an updated cylinder head casting process which saves 200g of weight. The internals feature polished camshafts and DLC coated finger followers, resulting in reduced friction and allowing the engine to rev freely to 13,400 rpm. The new header pipe features a flow designed resonance chamber for better performance and leads to a new silencer that is shorter and more compact while still delivering the same damping volume and noise levels. In addition, he header pipe has a new joining position which allows it to be removed without removing the rear shock.
The FC350 utilizes Husqvarna's integrated cooling system which channels coolant through the frame for improved cooling while eliminating the need for additional hoses. New for 2019 is a 4 mm larger center tube through the frame which offers more consistent flow by reducing pressure.
On The Track
We were impressed right away with the power of the 350. The engine is extremely versatile and can accommodate a wide variety of styles effectively. In a lower gear, the bike screams hard with a very free-revving feel – comparable to a really fast 250F type delivery. It feels like it makes great power way up into the rpm range and begs to be pushed hard. Conversely, we were pleasantly surprised by how much grunt it has down low and the ability it affords to pull a higher gear to smoothly torque out of the corners with more of a 450 influence. The mid-range and top-end yielded similar results. The bike felt just as effective revving high in the RPMs as it did being short shifted and in the meat of the power. The juxtaposition means that the bike could work equally as well in the hands of an aggressive young rider looking for a little more power than the 250F, as it would for a Senior rider looking for something a little tamer than an often violent 450 hit. Although Map 1 was effective throughout the curve, we preferred Map 2 which offers more grunt down low and the opportunity for a little more roll-on prowess out of the corners.
We have enjoyed the chassis changes on the other Husqvarna models and the 350 is no exception. The changes in the frame flex, triple clamp and subframe cumulatively result in a much more positive, precise, and connected feel to the track. It's interesting, the 350 ostensibly feels much lighter to us than the 450 (largely due to less rotating mass) although it is not, yet feels more planted and connected than the 250. The light/planted feeling is excellent under braking, which the Husqvarna already excels at. This thing stops quickly! The other benefit is in the cornering. The bike is agile and easy to lay into the ruts, while the front-end tracks right where you point it without any push or wander.
We are big fans of the new ergonomics. The seat, tank, and side panel junctions all got considerably narrower making the cockpit sleeker and easier to move around on. Although we are yet to experiment with it, we appreciate the option of utilizing the longer swingarm adjustment for more stability in the whoops. However, we have not had any problem with the handling as both ends of the suspension handle the small chop and hard landings gracefully. And as we have come to expect, the hydraulic clutch action, bar mounted map switches and optional traction control continue to be top of the class.
Overall, we think that Husqvarna has filled an incredible void here. If given the opportunity to test an FC350 verses the 450 most weekend warriors are riding, we think there is a very good chance they could shave seconds from their lap-times….There is a great chance they can up their fun factor!
- New Blue Frame offering increased longitudinal rigidity
- New 2-piece subframe design (250 g lighter)
- Updated setting on the WP AER 48 forks
- Chain adjustment length increased by 5 mm
- More rigid upper triple clamp
- Triple clamp protector integrated into the front number plate
- WP DCC rear shock featuring new piston and updated setting
- ProTaper handlebar with new bend
- New flow-designed resonance chamber
- Shorter and more compact silencer
- New generation Li-Ion 2.0 Ah battery
- Updated cooling system featuring new center tube
- Lighter cylinder head
- Redesigned bodywork
- Blue Frame