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April 13th, 2009, 04:44 PM   #1
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New Guy to the place - and a ride report on my new FE 450

I found this site via Thumper Talk.

Figured I'd share my first experience w/my new FE with this place since it's Berg friendly. (I've cheated and cut/pasted my write up from TT)

Before I cut/paste, I thought I'd share my current and past riding experience a little bit. Been riding for the past 30 (egad!) years. Dirt has always been my passion. Started out on an ancient Yamaha Enduro 80. Played on all four of the Japanese brands, have been eaten fairly badly by Suzuki - friends don't let friends ride those yellow beasts - they put titanium rods in your legs and break other things too.

Most recently I come from the Ride Red world - been on them for the past four years (and have had many over the years). I'm upgrading (that's not a fair assessment) from an '05 CRF 450X w/this new FE for the off road world and I ride an '08 CRF 450R on the track and in the dunes.

I've been interested in the Husabergs for the past four years or so. Every time I head out to Phoenix I stop in and gawk at the beautiful Bergs. After reading Dirt Rider's latest off road shoot out, well I decided to drop the dime on an FE and all I can say is that I can't wipe the smile off my silly face.

So, off to that report I wrote. Please feel free to comment on my thoughts. I'd prefer constructive criticism, as it's much nicer than being slammed to the dirt, but hey, I've hit the dirt hard many times, so I can take the negative bashing if anyone reading this feels the need.
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Okay, plain and simple - WOW!!!

I went out to Happy Hollow Dirt Park, in South Eastern Ohio today with my new FE 450. The bike now has about 2 hours on it.

I softened the compression four clicks and rebound two clicks on the front end, stiffened the rebound on the shock by two clicks. Still stock everywhere else.

Let me get the bad parts out of the way first, it's a very short list:

1) Head shake. I've been riding an 05 Honda 450 CRF450X (along with the R and now an 08 R) and they don't have head shake. Yea, sure on occasion you get a bit of a bar wobble out of them, but it's never anything serious or attention grabbing. I'd forgotten what real head shake is like.

The 'Berg gave me one really good 1996 RM250 style shake the living snot out of the bars while on the gas (4th gear, middle/upper rev range), over some rough stuff (smallish whooped out chatter). Two lock to lock slaps and I'm glad I was able to keep my hands on the bars. Quick twist of the throttle, lean back a bit more and it was no longer an issue. Snapped straight and didn't do it again, but it scared the crap out of me.

Steering damper will be installed. - first I'll crank down the preload on the steering stem bearings just a tad. The front end's steering is smooth as silk and will drop from lock to lock when on a stand too easily. I actually wonder if there's a way to install one of the Honda steering dampers and will look into that.

B) I'm spoiled and want a set of Fasst Flexx bars on it. My 44 year old wrists really miss having them on the bike. Been using them on my stuff since the 05 CRF R & X and won't have a bike w/o them anymore. My Flexx bars are already on (back) order. I'll put the bars in the far forward position too. Right now the stockers are located in the farthest back of four positions available.

Like many have said - funky how heavy this thing is to pick up to put on a stand. Weird. I think part of it is that it has a fairly narrow frame rail/fender area where you grab the bike and the smaller surface area, than say on a CRF, makes it feel heavier. I didn't notice pushing it being an issue, but then again, I've not pushed it but on flat ground.

There. I believe that covers the "bad" things. That really is it.

This machine is just unbelievable.

Good things! (Long list).

Let see, where to start??

A) Engine - Push button, it starts, push other button it stops. It doesn't get any more simple. The thing fires right up, drops to a nice, smooth purr and waits to be fed throttle.

At first I thought that the machine seemed to lack for power. I was wrong. It's delivery is just so silky smooth and totally responsive to the twist of the wrist that it's deceptive. I kept waiting for the CRF style hit.

It's a goat. I was able to lug it down to the point that I kept expecting it to stall and all it would do was quietly (beautifully quiet!) grunt away and keep climbing up the hills. It never did that funky cha-chug-cha-chug rough low end like it was being overloaded. Just smooth, totally tractable power. See a root in front of you and need the front end light? Quick throttle twist, weight back, front end light and over the root. Sweet!

2) Clutch - I thought that I'd want to put a Rekluse clutch in this, as I love it in my X bike. This bike doesn't need it. Hydro clutch is buttery smooth and has a great, light pull. Great feeling of engagement and modulation. I don't abuse the clutch by any stretch, but with the little required slipping that I needed, there were no signs of the clutch complaining at all.

III) Gearbox - just right. I never got over 60 anywhere, but down low - crawling technical stuff (where I love the Rekluse), first gear was perfect. There were gears for everything required. Third was what I used the most, as the power spread is just fantastic and you don't need anything else.

d) Brakes - Front one's perfect. Nice, strong, not much power required for input (single finger is more than enough), but very easy to modulate.

Rear brake is touchy. I believe that most of my problem with it is that the pedal was positioned about a quarter inch higher than I'm used to, so it felt a tad funky. Coming down hills it had a good, solid feel to it, but when I was running on some of the faster, more chattered trails it tended to be more light switch like and it locked up a bit more than I'm used to. Like I said above, moving the pedal down a hair will probably solve my issues with it.

5) Suspension - Can someone please make my CRF's work like this? The forks and shock are still in the break in period and I can't get over how supple and smooth they are. The bottoming resistance is excellent (was playing on a motocross track - 60' table top was fun). I could feel the suspension bottom out on the face of the take off, but it was smooth and progressive. Landing was exactly the same thing. I could feel it work it's way to being bottomed out, but it never gave me any jolt or harsh response.

The fork's mid stroke smoothness kicks the CRF's square in the balls. They are more supple over the small, chattery stuff and the bottoming resistance is probably about the best I've ever felt on a bike. Being that everything's new, the front end felt a tad stiff at first, so I backed off the compression by four clicks and the rebound by two. Big change. I'm sure as the suspension breaks in I'll probably add some comp and rebound back in. I'll play with it as I get more time on the bike.

Rear shock feels good. I did feel that it was kicking a tad on smaller peaked jumps, but I'm also thinking that it's a result of just how perfect the engine response is.

I slowed down the rebound damping on the shock by two clicks and it seemed to help the kick quite a bit. I'm still running the stock sag - not even measured it yet. I'm 175 in my gear, so I'm right in the target area for the suspension as it comes from the factory.

There's a good chance that I'm shutting down just a tad more than needed to get my nose low. I like landing a little nose down and this machine does it beautifully - the front end just sticks to the ground and starts going where ever you point it.

I noticed that the rear end felt really good and the bike settles beautifully when it's under power. Over the chatter stuff (where I had the head shake), if I'd just roll on as I'd weight back, the bike got smooth and quit fighting the chatter bumps.

VI) Handling - I believe that the 'Berg's stuck to the ground via Velcro. It NEVER tried to push through the corners, I had to work to get the back end to break out and slide. It goes right where you point it, it does it exactly like you tell it to and it acts like it's glued to the ground.

It's extremely flickable on the trails (especially compared to the 450X) and it's amazing how light it feels. It can be first gear crawled around objects w/o having to dab a foot like I tend to have to do on the X. To put it simple, it just works.

It has a slightly dead feeling in the air - CRF seems easier to whip - but it's not Robby Knievel Dead Body feel. It always felt very solid and stable in the air and there was never a landing that made me nervous.

Overall the handling is probably better than any bike I've been on. It gives you incredible confidence in corners. You know the front end is going to stick right where you put it and the back end is going to follow suit. Other than the one scare my ass head shake issue, I'm just blown away. I actually want to do some timed laps at the motocross track on my CRF and this and I get the feeling I'm going to be faster on the 'Berg.

g) Little things - Seat foam. It's not Honda, but it's not bad. I didn't feel even a tad of Monkey Butt from it. It's firm, but good. Longer rides as the season allows will tell.

- Foot pegs are nice. I've been running Fastway pegs on my bikes, but I think I'll keep the stockers on this one, at least for a little while.

- Sound level is great. The Mighty Berg is quiet. I like quiet. It makes my ears happy!

- Looks. Uh, have you stopped and gawked at one of these things? They're the Audi R8 of the off road world.
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April 13th, 2009, 06:41 PM   #2
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RE: New Guy to the place - and a ride report on my new FE 45

Music to my ears, I pick up my new FE570 in a couple of days.(Long Days)
Thanks Steve.
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April 14th, 2009, 09:19 AM   #3
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RE: New Guy to the place - and a ride report on my new FE 45

k-fab, welcome to the site.
fyi i have a set of used flexx bars for sale. give me a pm. and please put in your location, and put your year, model bike in your signature.
and by the way, from a person who used to do a lot of southeastern ohio racing, happy valley is not se ohio.
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April 14th, 2009, 09:38 AM   #4
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Heck of a fine, detailed write-up K-fab!
Welcome to the site and congrats on your new bike.

log
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April 14th, 2009, 09:41 AM   #5
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Re: RE: New Guy to the place - and a ride report on my new F

Originally Posted by ned37
and by the way, from a person who used to do a lot of southeastern ohio racing, happy valley is not se ohio.
I believe K-fab said Happy Hollow not Happy Valley young man. Try to keep your happys straight okay?
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April 14th, 2009, 02:09 PM   #6
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RE: Re: RE: New Guy to the place - and a ride report on my n

Yea, Happy Hollow. That's in Ohio, where I've been stuck for the past almost 20 years...

Happy Valley is my favorite area in Northern Phoenix (just south of Care Free Highway, west of I-17).

Five more years and I'm outta Ohio and living in Scottsdale! I come out to Phoenix often during the year - I desert race a car and occasionally navigate in a Trophy Truck.

BRING ON THE HEAT AND SCREW THE SNOW!

I've tried to add my signature - not happening at the moment...
Argh. It's frustrating getting set up on a new site. Oh well, I'll keep working at it.
----------
edit addendum - signature's working now.
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April 15th, 2009, 09:33 AM   #7
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I believe K-fab said Happy Hollow not Happy Valley young man. Try to keep your happys straight okay?
that's one fer you, log. must be making too many trips to phoenix

what i meant was happy hollow is too close to cincy to be considered southeast oh.
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April 18th, 2009, 11:57 AM   #8
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Just got back from riding in the woods again. Man I love this machine!

The suspension's freeing up. It's even more supple and smooth than it was last weekend. I'm either going a bit faster (more aggressively?) and/or the break in of the fork and shocks is staring to make a difference.

I found that I was bottoming it a tad more than last weekend - nothing bad about it, as that means I'm using it all and it's only a couple spots, so all is good. It bottoms out so plushly that it's not an issue anyhow.

I did stiffen the shock rebound by two more clicks. Made a huge difference on the back end kicking up. The track had been worked on a bit and they'd peaked the lips so the change in rebound really helped. First couple laps were ass end high at times and I could feel the chassis "bouncing" off the lip of the jumps. It's nice that the clickers make that much difference. Been on some machines that 10 clicks didn't do squat and that's frustrating.

Head shake - just sit on the back fender and keep rolling into the throttle. Not once did it scare me this time.

Got behind a couple of guys that are obviously woods riders (as opposed to MX). They were on a YZF and a KX and were quick and good. Smooth lines, flowed really well through the trees and weren't afraid of any up hills. I enjoyed trailing them as long as I could stay close enough to keep above the dust (actually quite minimal). Once I made a mistake or two, they'd start getting away from me and I'd end up in the dust - and then have to drop back farther to see the ground. I'd come across them on occasion and drop right in behind them for a quick adrenaline rush.

I really like the way the Berg works in this stuff. I was watching the guy on the KX250 spin the rear wheel, fight the really tight corners and such and I'd just tractor along behind him (riding @ 90% - like I said, they were quick) and not spend near as much energy.

I think I made one damn fine purchase in this FE 450!
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April 18th, 2009, 12:23 PM   #9
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"k-fab" i have to agree with "I think I made one darn fine purchase in this FE 450!" I myself have owned suzuki's RM's & RMZ's for the last 20 years cos' "nothing turns like a suzuki" well i test rode the 450fe for a whole day with 2 mates, 2 days later i had sold my 4 month old RMZ450 & brought a berg. The other 2 guys had husky510's less than 6 months old & they both traded them on the new fe450. Berg has lifted the benchmark and unless you have rode one you cannot imagine how high it is set!
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April 18th, 2009, 01:15 PM   #10
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so why did you join with that nik?

most un-australian!

oh and welcome to UHE!

regards

Taffy
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