With BMW money now behind them and their financial future assured, Husqvarna are keen to blow away the bad memories of the past
Click to read: Husqvarna 510SMR owners reviews, Husqvarna 510SMR specs and to see the Husqvarna 510SMR image gallery.
FIFTEEN YEARS AGO Husky was at the sharp end of exotic off-road machinery. Very expensive, very fast and equipped with top-range equipment, they were dirt bikes you aspired to. Then in the late ‘90s, it all went a bit pear-shaped. Huskies started breaking down, their reliability became questionable and spare parts were elusive. Husqvarna got a bad reputation as a result.
Then in October of 2007, they were put up for sale by then-owners MV Agusta, so BMW stepped in and suddenly Husky have got a whole new lease of life. Supermoto is a tiny market in the UK but accounts for 40% of Husqvarna’s production, so if you’re going to do something niche, then you may as well be the best. And this is the thinking behind the new 510SMR and 610SM supermotos.
The 510SMR is an electric whippet just to look at. Gone is the stodgy yellow/blue paint schemes of old Husky, and in its place is a sexy new red/white livery that exudes quality. From the plastics to the components and the depth of the welding, there are no corners cut and while the 510SMR may only be a tiny supermoto, there’s craftsmanship on this bike that would shame any Japanese superbike. The massive 50mm Marzocchi forks look strong enough to support a Humvee, and neat touches like the red cylinder head cover and powder-coated wheels really set off the engine. The 510 is a proper weapon, and that’s before you even ride it.
The fuel-injected 55bhp motor spits into life on the starter. No danger of left-handed, forward facing kickstarts anymore. The SMR spins up sharply at the throttle and makes you smile in that dangerous, slightly lop-sided way. You’re about to have fun. If you’re not used to modern four-stroke singles it’s shocking how quickly they rev, grab a handful and the 510 stutters ferociously into the rev-limiter. The steel muffler gives the Husky a metallic bark, but it’s heavy and blocks up the engine. Bolt on a carbon race exhaust, blank the Lambda sensor and the SMR immediately switches itself into noisy race mode. The ride position is pitched forward, the tapered handlebars high and wide, and you’re locked into a motocross stance, elbows out, ready for action.
We rode the 510 round a brutally tight, slippery kart track just outside of Benidorm in Spain and it was an assault on the senses. Blast up to corner, dump two gears, weight over the front, tyres wriggling around all over the place, lean it as hard as you dare, pick it up and fire out. Power goes through the 170-section tyre in a burst of revs and you can wring the SMR right out down the straights, far higher than you’d expect. Being a stripped-down supermoto there’s nothing as complicated or cumbersome as a rev-counter, and so you’re plugged into the bike, feeling for when you’ve passed peak power and it’s time to plug in the next gear. You don’t have to be polite with dirtbike gearboxes, just bang them mercilessly up and down without blipping the throttle, and the harder you ride the more the 510 loves it.
What’s clever about the SMR is that it’s not in the least bit intimidating. The bike is so light, so well-balanced and packs such sharp brakes that you’d have to ride off a cliff to get yourself into trouble. And if you’ve only ever regarded supermotos as a queer oddity with pointless 80mph top speeds as you roar past on your sportsbike, only to have the cursed things looming large in your mirrors at the first sign of linked corners, you need to sling a leg over this Husqvarna. It’s motorcycling boiled down to its purest elements, and feeling for available grip and winding the throttle on far earlier than you dare is all part of the SMR experience. If the rear breaks away, don’t panic. The long-travel suspension will soak it up like a sponge. Your own limits will be so far inside what the 510 is capable of doing that you can push yourself all day long and still with a considerable safety barrier.
Only 150 of these high-octane singles are expected to sell in the UK this year, and with a heady price of £6,000 the SMR is a weekend toy for the very rich or the very committed. But its razor-sharp character, thrilling ride and sky-high build quality mean those lucky few will be an elite group indeed.
Click here to read the Husky 610 SM review.
Price: £6,249Engine: 510cc singlePower: 60bhp@ 8,000rpmTorque: 48lb.ft@ 6,500rpmFront suspension: 50mm Marzocchi, fully adjustableRear suspension: Monoshock, fully adjustableFront brake: 310mm disc, four-piston calipersRear brake: 265mm disc, two-piston caliperDry weight: 152kg Seat height: 900mmFuel capacity: 9lTop speed: 118mph (est)Colours: White, black, red
Become a fan of Visordown
Follow us on twitter
Other Immediate Media Sites
Our eCommerce Platform
© Immediate Media Company Ltd 2012. This website is owned and published by Immediate Media Company Limited. www.immediatemedia.co.uk