QUIKSPIN: Husaberg FE 501 – Berger With The Lot

17 April 2013
Since the inception of Husaberg dirtbikes in 1988, the brand has been the leader in innovative technology and big-capacity machines. However, the 2013 range of Husaberg enduro machines have fallen far from the tree. With motorcycle manufacturers all around the world feeling the financial pinch, KTM-owned Husaberg is no different with tight purse strings being the reason for the entire 2013 Husaberg range running the same engine and frame as its Austrian counterpart.
The pinnacle of this range is now known as the FE 501. The major differences between KTM and Husaberg can be found in the fork, subframe, shock and bodywork. This is the same for the rest of the range as well. The rest of the bike is identical to KTM including the EFI refinements made to the engine and the slimmer frame that KTM machines received for 2013. However, I wanted to put all the hype about blue KTMs behind me and test them without any pretense. To do this, I headed to Spain for the world launch held in hot, dry and dusty conditions.
The FE 501 is the apex of the Husaberg range and while on paper looks designed for the desert, it’s actually a more-than-competent trail machine as well. Being the biggest machine in the enduro range, this bike is all about power and the way it is distributed. But despite the large cubic capacity, I found the FE 501 easier to ride than the FE 450 and less work than the FE 250 (yes, they also increased the enduro range to accommodate an E1-class bike).
Despite using the same engine platform as the FE 450, the FE 501’s rear 140-section Michelin Enduro Comp tyres turned a hillclimb into something easy, even in the dust. The longer bore and stroke meant the bike was more user-friendly and created mammoth amounts of torque in the bottom of the rev range allowing lazy, tired riders to leave it in third and just power out of corners in the wrong gear without any clutch work. This extra torque is very manageable and providing you ride a gear tall, you won’t be pulling backflips better than Mathew Mitcham at the London Olympics when ascending snotty, rocky hills.
The entire range of 2013 ’Bergs also run the new WP 4CS closed cartridge fork with its unique four-chamber system. The idea is simple; it works similar to the Separate Function Fork (SFF) with damping in one leg and compression in the other. I was a huge fan of the new fork that didn’t skate over the loose stuff like I found the original WP system did. It felt planted and predictable while also refusing to bottom out on flat landings. There was also a handy set of hand clickers on top of the fork legs to make adjusting damping and compression easy.
As for the rest of the refinements, the glass-fibre subframe and longer WP PDS shock did a better job at absorbing the square-edge bumps at high speed, especially over hidden tree roots.
Devout FE 570 fans, I urge you not to turn your nose up at the new big-bore ’Berg. While it may not possess the massive displacement or innovative technology we are used to, it does have a place in the Aussie bush, in-particular those fast desert blats or lazy trail rides. Of the entire ’Berg range, the FE 501 was definitely one of my favourites.
Configuration Single cylinder
Cylinder head SOHC, four valves per cylinder
Capacity 510.4cc
Bore/stroke 95 x 72mm
Compression ratio 11.8:1
Cooling Liquid
Fueling EFI, 42mm Keihin throttle body
Power Not given
Torque Not given
Type Six-speed
Clutch Wet, multi-disc
Final drive Chain
Frame material Chrome-moly/glass-fibre
Frame layout Double Cradle
Rake 63.5?
Trail Not given
Front: 48mm fork, fully adjustable,
300mm travel
Rear: Monoshock, fully adjustable,
335mm travel
Wheels Wire-spoke aluminium
Front: 21 x 1.6 Rear: 18 x 2.15
Tyres Michelin Enduro Comp
Front: 90/90-21
Rear: 140/80-18
Front: 260mm disc, two-piston calipers
Rear: 220mm disc, two-piston caliper
Weight 112.5kg (claimed)
Seat height 970mm
Max width Not given
Max height Not given
Wheelbase 1482mm
Fuel capacity 9.5L
Big manageable torque
Smooth predictable fork
Quality ergos
Reduced capacity over last year
Heaviest of the range
It’s no longer unique