Project Bike: 2012 Husaberg FE 390

The complete run down on the Dirt Action 2012 Husaberg FE390 Project bike

Words: Damien Ashenhurst

PART 1 – THE NEW BLUE

A Husaberg FE390 arrives and immediately forces a wedge between Damo and his family

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There was a time when the thought of owning a Husaberg was akin to wearing a landmine for a hat. You just never knew when it would blow up but you could be fairly certain it would. Weird stuff went wrong with the ’Berg that you just didn’t see on a Japanese bike and so it was relegated to the exotic brand category, somewhere in the neighbourhood of the since deceased VOR.

To appreciate how far Husaberg has come, take a moment to compare the 2012 models to what the Japanese are offering now. The tech tables have turned.

The Husaberg story begins in 1988, the year of Australia’s bicentennial. While we were watching First Fleet replicas sail into Sydney harbour and attending World Expo, in Sweden the very first Husaberg was being presented to investors. Things didn’t quite go to plan, however, and that first bike launched itself in front of the dignitaries.

History will let that one slide as, when we fast-forward to 2011, we find that company — now owned by KTM — is building the most distinctive and forward-thinking enduro bikes in the world.

NEW ARRIVAL

Last month we took delivery of a FE390 to serve as a long-term test bike. I picked it up just before I went on five days’ leave, which I’d promised my wife and kids wouldn’t involve any dirtbike-related activities.

Sometimes you’ve just got to get away from it and give your time selflessly to your beautiful family. I lasted half a day.

You never expect a whole lot on the first ride of a new bike. Things are stiff and tight and need some bed-in time. My first day on the ’Berg was supposed to be short. I promised that beautiful family I’d be back in a couple of hours.

Every bloke knows he’s lying when he puts a time limit on a ride. No matter what you say, you’ll take longer. Even if you set the bar at seven hours, you’ll take eight — it’s just the way the world works.

So, four-and-a-half hours later I returned home to a family that I sensed were not all that happy. I explained that I’d made this great rut/berm in soft soil and went round and round in it for about 45 minutes. No matter how exciting I made this sound they found no joy.

I apologised and promised to spend the rest of my time doing family stuff. They forgave me and the kids’ smiles were heart-warming. This also lasted only half a day. As soon as I woke the next morning the first thing that came to mind was it was a sweet day for a ride and there was a brilliant bike in my shed.

There’s nothing I can do about this. I went to Bunnings and bought a long-handle shovel, some pond liner and a compost bin. I had things I needed to do and I knew I must concentrate on serving my home and family like a man should do. I’d fallen behind in so many chores and apparently women’s magazines say I should look like I want to do them.

I’m an imperfect man. I have flaws and one of them is that I can’t look interested in something I don’t want to do. It’s a skill and I don’t have it. My wife eventually recognised that I wasn’t all there and, bless her heart, suggested that I go for a ride. That’s love, people.

I’ve had a few rides on the ’Berg now and I’ll say this straight up: it’s the best four-stroke enduro bike I’ve ever ridden. It suits me like nothing else. The bike itself has its share of faults. Trying to adjust the sag isn’t as easy as I’d like, for example, but man, it’s nit-picking from there on in.

We’ll get into it in far more detail as we rack up the kilometres, but for now it’s welcome to DIRT ACTION for the 2012 Husaberg FE390.

 

PART 2 – ’BERG ON-TRACK

The second month on our Husaberg FE390 has been both enjoyable and a little painful. The joy comes from the bike and the pain comes from my own stupidity.

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The story begins with me crashing and fracturing my scaphoid, which is a little bone in the wrist. I waited six weeks before going to get it X-rayed because I hate going to the doctors and I kept riding through those six weeks because I just thought I had a dull ache that it would go away. I eventually got it checked and sure enough it ached because it was busted. Then came time to shoot a video piece on the 390. If you’re ever going to come off a bike it’s on a shoot. I hit my head good and hard and went to fairyland for a little while. Once the magical dancing leprechauns faded away, I rode on a bit longer until I landed off a jump and my wrist crunched like chip packet. I rode on just a little more because my brain had stopped talking to me some time ago.

Why did I keep riding? Because the FE390 is just too good to leave sitting in the garage.

BOLT-ON BIKE BIT

I’ve had some bits and pieces roll in this month and the first thing I bolted on was the Husaberg steering damper. The reason I went for this was that the forks on the ’Berg are excellent and allow me to run a softer than normal setup without any huge downfall except that big hits deflect a bit. Also, I’ve never used a damper before so I was also keen to see just what you get out of one.

The installation process was pretty simple. I’m not much of an instruction reader and this has caught me out many times over the years — my kids’ trampoline, for example, ended up looking like a medieval slingshot. They jumped on it once and I had to go pick them up three streets away. Sure enough, I stuffed the damper install at least three times and then my mate Paul showed up and read the instructions. What should be about a 25-minute process was converted to Ashenhurst time to be much, much longer. It’s actually pretty damn simple to install.

I ran the damper on the lowest setting to begin with. It didn’t make a huge difference, obviously, but it was definitely there. The track we were riding was Ando’s motocross track and the bush around it. It was dry and rough and a good testing ground for any damper. I wound it on further and came to find the third setting as the best. There are seven settings and what impressed me, and this was something I didn’t think of before, was that you just adjust it on the fly to suit the conditions. I don’t know why you would ever go to seven but in a split second you can flick it one way or the other to stay on top of the terrain.

I like the damper. I don’t have a problem with the ’Bergs front-end at all, but this just adds a little extra stability without changing the way the whole bike feels — and that can only be a good thing.

The next mod will be an exhaust system straight from the house of Akropovic. I’ve also got some Husaberg riding gear to test, so I’ll look like a full Swedish dude rockin’ the bright yellow and blue. Lookin’ good!

 

PART 3 – HAULIN’ HUSA

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The past month on the Husaberg FE390 has been as much fun as the previous two. I ride it every chance I get. After he spotted my ute once again carting the ’Berg to the track, motocross guru Craig Anderson asked me if I actually do any work. Well, technically, it is work but let’s keep that a secret.

I installed a Husaberg steering damper and I’ve had some time with it on now to evaluate it. I like it and I’d recommend it to anyone. I prefer to run my fork fairly soft, so when I pick up the pace on an open track the front can get jittery, particularly on big hits. The damper pretty much eliminates that altogether. Also, I’ve found rocky downhills and dodgy landings are way less sphincter-puckering. I’m still running it on the third setting and that gives a good all-round feel to it.

PIVOT POINT

Just recently I received a set of Pivot Pegz and fitted them up straightaway.

I love Pivot Pegz. It wasn’t love at first sight; in fact it was the opposite. When I first tried them I felt as comfortable as a turtle at a plastic bag convention. I just didn’t get how those things made it to production.

Within a week I couldn’t live without them; I finally got it. Plus they’re made by an Aussie company so it doesn’t get much better than that. How good is it that the PowerParts catalogue carries Aussie product? Damn good, we say!

If you aren’t familiar with Pivot Pegz, the idea is that the footpeg actually pivots a degree from front to back, allowing you to shift weight efficiently. They also offer an increase in comfort and stability. I first used them on a Honda CRF450X and I’ll admit that the difference they made on that bike, which runs bee’s feet for pegs, was greater than what I’m feeling on the ’Berg (the Pivots are wider but no longer than the stock ’Berg pegs), but all the same they’re brilliant and I’m stoked to have them on board.

TIRED TYRES

I’ve kept the standard FIM tyres on just to see how long they’d last and I’d say about now, at nine hours, they’re stuffed. They’re actually pretty good rubber and you don’t need to rip them off first thing. Give them a run and spend that cash on something else. You’ll at least get a few pays under your belt before they’ll need to be ditched.

The Akropovic pipe hasn’t arrived yet so I’ll report back on that as soon as it gets here. In the meantime I’ll keep on riding whenever I can and I’m even thinking a couple of Amcross rounds are in my future. How good is it when you have a bike you can’t stop riding?

And if you’ve read our gear pages already you’ll already know I’ve done some riding in a matching Husaberg riding outfit that will certainly be the hit of the summer. I may look like a mixed-flavour Slurpee but, damn it, man, I’m comfortable — and wife is so happy that I managed to make an outfit match, let alone match it with my bike.

 

PART 4 – RACKING UP THE HOURS

Some more kilometres and some more joy aboard our 2012 FE390

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I’ve ridden our Husaberg FE390 a fair bit this past month and finally reached the 11-hour mark on the clock. The bike has been brilliant and beyond an air filter clean and oil change it’s needed nothing.

The suspension has bedded in nicely now and I can get a more accurate setting. I’m not stoked with where I’ve got the rear at the moment as it bucks over logs but I’ll work on that next.

The Pivot Pegz I put on last month don’t seem to have the effect they had when I installed them on a Honda CRF450X that we had some time ago. I think the fact that the ’Berg is a little wider at the ankle and calf point allows less movement and thus negates the Pivots’ movement a little. I’ll still keep them on, though, because I find them comfortable and I like the movement they do give.

The steering damper has been a good thing to have, something I found on a recent ride where we came across some seriously slippery, rocky terrain that I’m just not used to. The tyres I was running on the ride weren’t up to the task and the front end was going everywhere but where I wanted it. I ramped the damper up to five and the front regained some stability; I was super appreciative of that.

The ride we did was somewhere out behind Queanbeyan, near the ACT. This is where 92 per cent of the world’s rocks are found and most of them are on the hills. This is so foreign to me as where I ride, loose rocks are almost never found.

I struggled at some points but most of the issues came from my lack of talent and the shitty tyres I was running, not from the Husaberg. The FE was doing everything it could to help but with slippery shoes and Gumby on its back it was a no-win situation. The benefits of EFI certainly shone through on the ride, though, with the FE’s metered power delivery a huge asset. It gives you so much control in tiny increments.

I’m a big fan of the 390’s stock handguards and I’ve got to say they’re an excellent compromise between the solid guard and a softer brush-guard.

I’m starting to wear earplugs again because the induction noise on the ’Berg is loud when you’re sitting down. Sometimes it’s quite cutting. It diminishes when you stand up but I’m lazy, so that’s a problem.

I haven’t pinned down a definitive fuel range on the 390 but I also haven’t had any reasons to be alarmed. I’ll get you a number ASAP but for now it’s fair to say that it’s all good on that front.

 

PART 5 – GETTING STICKY WITH STEGS

The love affair with the FE390 continues but to be safe, Damo makes sure he uses fresh rubber

There come days for us when we’re drowning in dirtbikes. On a recent test trip we had 12 bikes to test and I have to tell you that never gets old. It can be a pain to organise, but the moment a row of dirtbikes isn’t the best thing you’ve seen all day is the moment you should walk away — anyone working in a dealership excluded.

At this aforementioned 12-bike test extravaganza (no, it wasn’t a stupid shootout) was our FE390 project bike and it was surrounded by a roll call of the latest and greatest machines from the motocross and enduro world as well as at least one cool crossover of both. This struck me as kind of like when you rock up to a barbecue that’s a BYO-steak affair. You went out and chose a steak, prepared the steak and became attached to the steak. It becomes part of your identity that you’re taking to the barbecue. But then you turn up only to find everyone else has been shopping at the Flintstones’ butcher and your steak is the least impressive by far. It hurts a man deep inside.

And so I was worried that the FE390, which to this point has never let me down, would wilt a little under the pressure from these awesome machines all prepped to roll. Maybe I’d like another bike more and go a bit dark on the 390. Maybe my steak just ain’t cuttin’ it at this BBQ.

EXCUSES, EXCUSES

I’d just put on a set of Steg Pegz as well so I was searching for excuses early, such as, “I’m just not used to these things so that’s why the FE feels like poo after I get off the 450SX.” I’d also fitted a set of Kenda Washougal Sticky tyres so I had a couple of excuses in the bitch bag if I needed to pull them out.

While I’m on those two items, Ben Grabham suggested the Steg Pegz last month and I immediately thought, “That’s why I can’t ride as fact as Grabbo. He has Steg Pegz and I don’t.” So I got a set and I must say at first I wasn’t convinced they’d do much. I’m sceptical at the best of times. For example, I’m not convinced that Tasmania is actually part of Australia. If I drop a biscuit and piece breaks off, I throw that piece in the bin. Why do we keep the little bit that broke off the country?

But back to the Steg Pegz: these things don’t really look like much. I thought they’d get in the way but then after I’d installed them I thought they wouldn’t do anything because they don’t really take up much real estate. My first hour or so with them on, I can’t say I was converted to a Steg Pegz fan club member but I wasn’t really thinking about them at all. Once I realised they were actually doing a job without bugging me in any way whatsoever it struck me that this is why they are good things.

We rode a lot on a sand motocross track and I found I could grip the bike much more securely and thus gain more control. And I mean a lot. I could anchor my legs up against the frame and the Steg Pegz and take a tonne of stress off my arms without even really feeling them through my boots. Brilliant, I say, and given Glen Kearney was with us and he also ran them it seems the top pros are all over it. I reckon these will be a permanent fixture on my bikes from here on.

Now to the Kendas. Many of you still think of Kendas tyres as cheap and nasty. I actually asked for these tyres because I think they’re damn fine, not because I have some sort of an agreement with the importer. Kenda tyres are not cheap knock-offs and these Washougal sticky rubbers are very good trail tyres. They last well and they grip well: two important boxes ticked.

I’ve honestly tried one tyre that I like better but heaps I like less. Give the Kendas a go, I say.

BACK TO THE BBQ

You know what I found myself doing after I rode each bike at our test? I found myself getting back on the FE390. And soon I realised I liked it more than any other bike on the test. The machine that came closest to my affection for the FE was the KTM 450EXC but I still came back to the FE. Yeah, baby, my steak was good.

Next month an Akrapovic exhaust will be fitted to my steak … I mean, bike, so come back and we’ll see what that does to the FE and if it’s worth a look in.

And no, the Steg Pegz didn’t make me ride faster than Grabbo and I don’t hate Tassie. However, any complaints can be forwarded to Matt Bernard or Stephen Tuff.

 

PART 6 – COMING AKROPA

Our Husaberg FE390 gets a new pipe that believes in power sharing

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Having logged about 430km over 15 hours of riding, the Husaberg FE390 has been getting a good workout of late.

I’ve been getting my head around the Steg Pegz and how best to get the most from them. I really am impressed by how such a simple idea can work so well and change the way you ride in certain circumstances.

The amount of control you get back on your bike at high speed is something I’ve loved. Given I ride a lot of rough and fast open tracks, I’ve really noticed the Steg Pegz doing their thing there.

New for this month was an Akrapovic pipe and header. I made sure I rode back-to-back days with the stocker and the Akrapovic and I can tell you now it’s without a doubt a better system than stock.

However, don’t expect the 390 to put on another 42hp with this thing on board. Where this pipe kicks goals is in spreading the power wider than the stocker without leaving any dead spots. The FE became smoother and pulled stronger right through to the top end, where it would normally drop off fairly quickly.

The engine note didn’t change much and the Akrapovic is just as quiet as the original pipe, so that’s all good. It does come with a performance insert that I’ll try soon. I’m not too fussed about getting a heap more power. One of the reasons I like the 390 is because it’s not a 450 and it’s less fatiguing to ride because it’s mellow-ish. I like the fact that the Akrapovic is quiet and I still get an improvement.

If the insert gives me a little more snap without being crazy loud then I’ll leave it in. If it doesn’t meet that then I’ll stick with the out-of-the-box Akrapovic setup.

As for maintenance, the ’Berg presented its very first issue in a dirty fuel filter. No great drama there. The chain needs a link removed because it’s too long and although I’m looking to tighten it for the first time there’s nowhere to go. That’s kinda odd but again, no big drama. There isn’t anything else to report here because the FE390 has been reliable and easy to live with.

Just a quick note: I’ve settled on a pretty dead feel from the rear end and I’m liking it. The Husaberg’s shock is more finicky to get right than the fork and is in fact quite sensitive to any changes. I couldn’t lose the kick from the rear for a while but I’ve found a happy place now.

The weather hasn’t been kind, though, and I haven’t been able to give it a good long run in the dry. If the rain and mud take a few days off I’ll get back out there for sure.

WHAT’S ON YOUR ’BERGA?

Not much, actually. It doesn’t need much. Here are all the bolt–on bits you’ll find on our FE390.

* Kenda tyres

* Steg Pegz

* Akrapovic header and pipe

* Husaberg steering damper

* Pivot Pegs

 

PART 7 – ABOARD THE AKRO VOYAGER

We find some more grunt and add some digital pleasure to out Husaberg FE390 project bike

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Last month I was running the Akrapovic pipe with the stock insert and I was pretty happy with it. There were some gains across the board and the noise levels were near identical to the stock exhaust. To me, this was a winner.

This month I swapped the stock Akro insert for the performance piece. The difference was obvious from the get-go. The exhaust note was meatier and much more aggressive. It went from a mellow growl to an angry roar. On the trails the new setup was obviously so much better that I’m bummed it took me this long to get there. Combining the FE390 with the Akrapovic and performance insert was magical. The bike has more grunt from bottom to top and a better response throughout as well. The linear delivery of the Husaberg’s EFI hasn’t been diminished but there’s more mumbo there when you go looking. This is about as far as I’d want to go in looking for more power, as part of the 390’s allure is that it’s not fatiguing or as psycho as a 450F. I reckon it’s a better bike with the Akro on the FE390 and the mix is just right.

TAKE A VOYAGE

I also installed a Trail Tech Voyager Moto-GPS speedo that we got from MX1 Australia and I have to say that this is one impressive unit. I’ve been trying to plot some tracks using software on my phone but a) I have a crap phone and b) the dicking-around-to-benefits ratio is out.

What I now have at my fingertips is a GPS unit, speedo, compass, engine temperature gauge and altitude recorder just to name a few functions. All of this information is recorded while you ride and you can put it together to get a ridiculously accurate picture that can be read in real time, reviewed when you stop or transferred to your computer to overlay on a satellite map.

The build quality of the Voyager is top-notch and installation was fairly easy. It’s one of those things that would be so simple to do the second time but putting it on a ’Berg or Kato is pretty stress-free all the same.

I’ll get into more detail about what this bad boy does in the next issue — for now I’m fiddling around with it to make it work best for me and so far I reckon it’s a mighty impressive tool.

 

ALL WEARING WELL

The FE390 itself is running sweet. I installed a new fuel filter, which is a simple but slightly time-consuming job. Getting the tack off takes some time but it has to be done to access the EFI — it’s not something you’ll want to do in a race situation, as unlikely as that is anyway. Buy yourself a set of Torx keys for working on the ’Berg.

I took my suspension setting back to a pretty plush feel and I’m sure that’s where I’ll stay now.

The plastics are showing some wear but they scrub up OK. The stickers have some rough edges and such, but given I’ve had at least two big falls there are no complaints from me.

 

PART 8 – THE LONG HAUL

It’s been a busy month on our FE390, highlighted by the DIRT ACTION AMTRA High Country ride in Victoria.

With about 14 hours on the FE390 I headed down to Mount Buffalo to take part in the two-day ride. In preparation I did a quick service but the bike was in pretty good shape so there wasn’t anything that needed any attention. The Kenda tyres have lasted really well and even though the AMTRA ride is one of the most punishing on rubber I decided to leave them on. Heavy-duty tubes are an absolute must on this ride though so I was happy they came onboard a couple of months ago.

This was the longest single ride I’d done on the Husaberg, with 180 kilometres on the first day and 120 on the second and elevation changes of around 1000 metres in quick time. It’s the rocks that can trick you though, and I had the steering damper dialled up to five at some points – and that’s the highest I’ve run it so far. It did its job though and I’m stoked to have had it on there as loose rocks at high speeds can lead to big offs and much pain.

UPS AND DOWNS

The bike ate up the big uphills without a problem but the Akrapovic took a little getting used to on the inclines because the FE was hooking up and lifting the front so quickly. In stock trim the bike doesn’t do this but with that exhaust the extra grunt is impossible to ignore. The bottom-end push on the ’Berg makes it a great bike to climb with and the throttle response in the loose rocks was also an asset.

One thing that really did get on my nerves on the long ride was the FE’s engine noise. I’ve said it before but after a five-hour ride it just grated on my nerves and it’s the single biggest problem I have with the bike.

I used the Trail Tech Voyager Moto-GPS on the ride and it gets more impressive the more I get used to it. I’ll do a comprehensive rundown on the Voyager when I’ve done a few more things with it.

The next ride on the FE will be a pre-run for the Finke Desert Race, which is something I can’t wait to get into as it’s been a dream of mine to ride up there ever since I set eyes on it. I have a feeling the FE may be a little undergeared and I may have to do something about that given the high speeds on that track.

Next update will be post Finke and hopefully in one piece.

 

PART 9 – DESERT ’BERGER

Our FE390 hits the red centre and tastes some sand on the Finke race track

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This month me and our project Husaberg FE390 stepped well out of our comfort zones and anything vaguely familiar and travelled to Alice Springs. We left behind the bush tracks and trails we know so well and hit the red centre where there’s a whole new word of things to get used to, avoid and have fun with.

Taking the ’Berg to ride the Finke Desert Race track was something I was keen to do but I had no idea how to set the bike up or prepare for the ride. So, basically, I hit the track with my east-coast trail setup which I learnt in about two seconds was so far off the mark I might as well have been riding a donkey. I like a softer overall feel with a fairly dead back end, but when you hit the mammoth whoop sections at Finke this just doesn’t cut the mustard — besides the fact that I had no idea how to ride this world-famous track and the first 10 minutes I had to learn more about riding than I have in the past two years.

So the first day I learnt that what works for me at home has no business at Finke. I spoke to a few guys but everyone likes a different setup and because the track changes so much you can’t find a happy place that suits everywhere. The general consensus was if your bike is OK in the whoops the rest can take care of itself.

Finally, I spoke to Chris Thomas who was doing his first Finke but is a much better rider than I am. He said he hadn’t changed his setting at all by this stage but, given he was riding an RM-Z450, his stock settings were much stiffer than my trailriding setup.

I went back and slowed the compression on the FE at the rear by six clicks and the front by three. I sped up the rebound by two at both ends as well. This was a straight-up guess at what would work but the difference was pretty big. The bike didn’t wallow in the whoops and putting the power on didn’t make the back squat, so I could get the front up and hit the next whoop without having the rear jump up.

I also started to get more of an idea of how to ride the track better, which helped, but without tweaking the suspension nothing would have worked. The stock stuff performed pretty well and, although it isn’t ideal for Finke, it was doing it better than I was. I’d have to get a lot better at riding this crazy stuff before I justified mucking around with the internals.

The only casualty from the Finke run was the Husaberg steering damper. You have to have one for this track and I had it ratcheted up to five (seven being maximum). It made a big difference but the damper started leaking oil in reasonable amounts.

The chain and sprockets are pretty toasted now and some new brake pads are in order but, that aside, after about 20 hours the FE is running well and no other problems have surfaced.

 

PART 10 – MISSING IN ACTION

We haven’t had the FE390 at DIRT ACTION HQ over the past three weeks and I’ve been nursing a separated shoulder so I haven’t done much riding. The ’Berg’s been in transit back from Alice Springs where I rode it on the World’s Greatest Prerun (the feature appeared in issue 159) and both it and I had fun trying to work out how to handle the Finke race track.

I’ve had some time to think about the whole experience and it was just awesome all round. The bike was set up for trailriding when I got there and it wasn’t going to do the whoops any good that way. I slowed the compression and sped up the rebound, which gave me an overall stiffer feel at the shock, and the FE was night and day better. The front end was pretty good and the steering damper was a huge benefit, but once I made those simple changes to the rear end the ride was more suited to the conditions.

It’s a testament to the modern bike that simple changes to the stock condition can give the average bloke a bike that’ll do whatever he wants. The ’Berg is a versatile bike and I had only one gripe after Finke: it’s too fat around the ankle area, which makes it a little harder to hold tightly with your legs than the 350 EXC-F. The Steg Pegz go a long way to fix that. They’re brilliant and every trailrider should try them once because no bike offers such a solid anchor for your legs and I’m yet to find a downside to them.

The Trail Tech Voyager Moto-GPS has become a preferred gadget of mine, too. I’ve keeping track of all my rides and archiving them on the computer to look back on. The Voyager has so many more functions than just that but it’s one of my favourites.

I haven’t liked not being able to ride but I also don’t like the FE being somewhere else for a couple of weeks. It’s like my best dog has gone missing. It’s certainly one of my favourite bikes of all time and while I don’t think it’s perfect in every way — it can be a pain to work on — I just love riding it. That’s what it’s all about isn’t it?

 

PART 11 – DONE AND HEAVILY DUSTED

It’s time to give the FE390 back and Damo’s in the corner sulking

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I love this bike. Letting it go ain’t easy and, believe me, I have explored the possibility of buying it, but my bank basically told me to get my hand off it.

Time is up on our project Husaberg FE390 and so it returns to whence it came. I’ll just take a moment … to clear the tears. Sorry, just a second and I’ll be alright.

Let’s recap what the FE and I have got up to in the past 12 months.

WHAT TO DO?

When it first arrived the task of modding and adding to it began. Trouble was, I liked it just fine as a stock bike.

So from there on I was pretty conservative, just doing stuff that made the bike better in small ways without changing its overall character. The exception to that was the addition of the Akrapovic system. That made a big difference and changed the bike for the better. I’d go that way again in a heartbeat if I had another ’Berg.

The Pivot Pegz didn’t make a great deal of difference on the FE and, while I loved them any other time I’ve used them, I wouldn’t rush to the PowerParts site and get them first off. The StegPegz however are damn near essential. Not because the bike has a fault that the StegPegz fix but they offer something no stock bike can and I don’t want to ride without them ever again.

I love the Trail Tech Voyager Moto-GPS and I used it a lot. Using my PC, I look back at some of the rides I’ve done from time to time using the data and illustration the Voyager logs. It’s such a great way to remember and appreciate a year of riding, let alone a single trek. I’ve just scratched the surface of what the Voyager can do and I truly dig it.

DUST HAS SETTLED

The bike is what it’s all about, though, and after a year of solid riding you could take all that stuff off and I’d still be having a ball. From riding around in my home trails to a trip to Coonabarabran and the epic two-day AMTRA High Country Ride — plus of course the biggest learning experience for many years at Finke — I’ve had some cool rides on the FE and it’s never let me down. I’ve changed the fuel filter once and that’s all the work that’s been done on it.

I said last month it’s not a perfect bike and that’s true. It can be a bastard to work on because of its unique engine/frame configuration and it’s fat right at your ankles. It’s crazy loud when you’re sitting down, too, and that grates on you after a while. Also, the sticker kit is pretty flimsy. Mine is destroyed and the bike looks pretty crappy now.

My view of the FE390 is that it would be fine with me if it was the last bike I ever owned as long as I could alleviate the engine/induction noise that really shits me.

It’s proved reliable and incredibly versatile. It’s got just the right amount of mumbo and the Akrapovic made sure of that. The front end is stable, aided by a sweet trail suspension package, and overall the bike is comfortable after a long day of riding. I trust it and it makes me want to go riding. What more do you want?

5 OF THE BEST FOR 2012

BEST RIDES

Day two of the AMTRA ride and the Finke pre-run.

BEST CRASH

Home track, 90km/h and a long time till it ended.

BEST MOD

Akrapovic system and StegPegz.

BEST OEM COMPONENT

The engine and the forks.

BEST MEMORY

After riding with Tuffy all day, we stopped to sit on top of a Victorian mountain overlooking a huge valley. Good company and perfect bike choice.

WHO CAME ALONG FOR THE RIDE?

StegPegz

Pivot Pegz

Akrapovic system

Kenda tyres

Trail Tech Voyager MOTO-GPS

Damien Ashenhurst
About Damien Ashenhurst 1579 Articles
Damien is the editor who’s not afraid to get his hands dirty at the track and on the trails.