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October 4th, 2004, 02:38 AM   #1
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2003 vs 2004 FE650 Reliability

I am contemplating buying a new 2003 FE650 at a bargain price but is the 2004 so much better that it's worth it?

I'm also wondering if the KTMs are really as good as people seem to think or is thier success just a matter of better marketing strategy?

I don't find black and ORANGE to be that attrative though!
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October 4th, 2004, 09:01 PM   #2
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Hi,

I think a 2004 Husaberg would be the better deal, there are some weighty improved details. But at last
and at least it is a question of price.
In my opinion the KTM is not a better bike. KTM know how to sell their product. And
winning a world championship is really the best advertisement you can have.
Here where I come from all the orange colours are almost gone, there are still a lot of KTM´s, but on the MX tracks and on races
only a few riders believe in KTM (4 strokes). 2 years ago the situation was reversed.
And even in my circle of acquaintances there are some people who had really big problems with their bikes.
Some of them changed to Honda.
But don´t misunderstand me: I don´t want to talk too negative about KTM. It´s not a bad bike, but it is as well not superior or the so called 4 stroke revolution. By the way: Honda also not.

best regards

hribman
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October 8th, 2004, 03:10 AM   #3
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Many Thanks

Hi

Thanks for your reply. Being from europe, your opinion is highly valued. Talking more about reliability, I know two people with 1999 FE 600s and one has had no trouble and the other has.

One guy has had experience with Husqvarnas and Husabergs before and stuck strictly to the maintenance schedule. The other tried to experiment but also had some bad luck. A branch or something jagged his radiator hose and lost coolant leading to some problems we suspect.

Back in '92 I wanted a TE 610 but then heard horror stories about con rods through the side of the cases and such. I'm not sure if this is because of any fault of Husqvarna or because Aussie guys are used to XR 600s. You just put petrol in and go! (and put up with the weight)

So in the end I don't mind the 2003 FE 650. It's like a second hand bike with the price, but it's new!

better go

Doug1
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October 9th, 2004, 11:30 AM   #4
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Hi,

This far it seems that the -04 is better than the -03. The largest problem on the 02-03 engines is the electrical system. Main bearings have been an issue too but I don't know if these people with this problem has followed the maintenance schedule. The -02 is better due to the changes of bearings.
I know the FS650 has problem with broken valve springs but I don't know if it is similar with the FE.

Since I started to dig in this a few weeks ago I have noticed that the -04 engine is very similar to the KTM engine. Eg they have changed the rocker arm design to the KTM design since they have less problem. The main differences seem to be the housing, cylinder and the counter balancer. The mechanical parts seem to be similar and probably are but I have not doubled checked this. Only one Husaberg guy have told me that. Pure statistics in my club gives that the KTM bikes have less problem in general and that the owners are more satisfied. The Husaberg -04 model could change this due to the similar design as the KTM. There are only one FC in the club so they aren't popular in Sweden. There are much more FE models but you spend less time in the workshop with a Yamaha or a Honda but then you have a smaller bore. It is also easier to find parts to a KTM and sell the bike. The 525 EXC is a very popular bike and easy to handle.
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October 9th, 2004, 08:20 PM   #5
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Thanks for your input

I didn't know about the electical problems but it is the rocker arm design which is of most concern to me. I believe 03 and earlier models need rollers replaced every 10,000k and if you don't, it can damage other parts of the engine. I would much prefer the 04, but of course its the price. Knowing guys who have experience with the bikes is an advantage in knowing how to avoid problems and I feel confident with an 03.

Also to add in regard to hribman's response
I have read an interesting interview in a magazine with the KTM CEO. He says the rising prices and high maintenance of 4 strokes are losing sales and that some are going back to 2 strokes. I think this would affect all brands.

About ten years ago a lot of people were getting Husqvarna TE610's but I don't see or hear about them much now. I'm sure they have improved them now but people here seem to have a bad experience with a brand and then forever avoid it.

I will always have preference to the Husaberg because of several design features and not many people have them. But I hope from now Husabergs will gain a better reputation. KTM changed peoples minds some years ago and I'm sure it had something to do with that revolutionary 4 stroke motor.

Doug
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October 10th, 2004, 12:50 AM   #6
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Replace the rocker arm bearings is no big deal. You do it by yourself and it doesn't take much time. If you check the forum you will see that the bearings last around 45-100 hours. It depends on your riding condition. Download the manuals and the workshop manuals from the net and read them carefully. You can find the Husqvarna manuals at their web page and compare which bike you believe are the most fragile one.

At http://www.thumpertalk.com/forum/ubbthreads.php you can read about the other bikes. What I saw is that Husqvarna have problem with the valve springs. You shall also change these regular according to the manual.

About the electrical system; Scan this forum and check hirbmans solution.
I don't know if the -04 system works as well as the KTM system due to the heat since KTM run their in an oil bath if I am right informed. If you have the possibility you should ride different bikes to compare them. You will notice that a KTM and a Husaberg doesn't behave similar. Think carefully about what you want of your bike. Power, stability, maintenance, design, spare parts etc. You don't become happy if you need to wait for a part for weeks. Ask people around you about these but consider that they often don't tell the whole truth due to their feeling for their bike. It's similar with women or men; we don't want to see their weakness even if we have noticed them.

Good luck with your selection,
Mikael
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October 10th, 2004, 03:08 AM   #7
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Hi there again,

interesting dicussion, anyway.
From the mechanical point of view there is no doubt that a 03 model has nearly the same reliability than a 04.
Maybe, and that shouldn´t be understand as bad critics that a Husaberg becomes more and more a KTM, the crankshaft is now made by Rotax like the KTM one, and the cylinder head is very similar to the KTM one.
If this is an advantage or disadvantage I don´t want to value.
Surely, the engine has been improved every year to become more reliable, but since
2002 the mechanical side of the engine is very reliable. You can´t compare a sportmotorcycle like a Husaberg to a Honda XR 600. Obviously a XR 600 doesn´t need the care that a Berg needs. You have to maintain your bike carefully and regularily. It´s only allowed to rev high a warm engine, change your oil often, check the valve clearances and always ride with a cleaned airfilter and you will have much fun with your Berg!
From the electrical point of view there are some advantages. The 04 ignition is better. Mikst you´re right, the KTM Kokusan ignition runs in oil and the Husaberg one is running dry.
Some people had probs with the Kokusan when getting hot (me too), the soldering joints were smelted, but you can resolder it very easily. So the stator is repairable and you don´t need to buy a new one. A SEM stator is
not repairable, at least it´s not possible by using normal tools with normal skills.
So, if you get a 03 as bargain, then take it. I think you can buy a lot of SEM stators and Keihin carburettors for the money you saved.
I wish you many many hours of fun with your new bike.

best regards

hribman
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October 10th, 2004, 06:47 AM   #8
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I have to agree with hribman that an 03 should be considered. Resale value is a consideration though, so the 03 should be at quite a discount. I would expect around $1500 to $2000 dollars American difference. That was the difference here. There were only 150 03 models imported to North America according to Peter at HMS, and he sold 90+ of them. We had a reorginazation of the importer here in 03, hence the small numbers. Most people here don't know the details of an 03, and it gets confusing because most bikes sold in 03 were actually 02 models. A true 03 motor is the same as an 04 with the exception of sand cast cases. The accessories are another issue. The 04 has a Keihin Carb, Kokasun ignition, double breathers, bigger battery, and bigger starter. The reliability of the Kokasun ignition has yet to be proven in my eyes, but the bigger battery and starter was a much needed improvement on the bigger motors.
Dan
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October 11th, 2004, 01:21 AM   #9
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In reply to all

Bikes I have had are
1979 125 Elsinor, 1982 CR250, 1985 XR600, 1988 CR500, and 1991 XR250

I had the XR600 and CR500 at the same time XR fiirst and I loved it. Then I got the CR it was too powerful until I got used to it THEN I loved it. But over time I wished I could have the CR with power like the XR.

I test rode TE 610's XR400's EXC520's. None compare to my friend's 1999 FE600. The TE seems big and heavy, The XR is an XR, and the EXC turns sharper than my CR500 did, or so it seems. Also to add, in my opinion, the KTM is an orange Husaberg.

I don't know if it's true but I heard that the motor is copied exactly - but more reliable, okay, KTM I believe have done a good job, but it's just not their motor. I was disapointed that they didn't develop the LC4 to compare to the Husqvarna.

Explaination - in the 90's it was always KTM vs Husqvarna over here and the Husky had the edge over the KTM in power. The magazines always raved about "that amazing motor" The Huaberg is built by the same engineers and now KTM have it.

The 2003 I can get is for $10,000 Aust, About $3000 discount. Yes it seems what I've heard so far the Kokusan is not Bulletproof and you can buy a lot of rocker bearings for $3000 I'm sure. What's wrong with Delorto carbies? I am not racing just fun riding. The '99 has Delorto and it seems fine.

I don't have the internet at home so I have to pay $3 and hour for this. I hope I make sense, I'm in a bit of a hurry!

Thankyou all for your input

Doug1
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October 11th, 2004, 03:47 AM   #10
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Hi doug,

there is a lot of truth in what you said. I can imagine what you felt when
riding a Husaberg compared to other bikes.
KTM copied the (old) Husaberg engine, that´s right, but they should have better been more consequent.
IF you have a look to both engines you´ll see that the Husaberg engine is more cleared up.
There is no doubt, KTM did a good job, their concept works well and most people are happy with their EXC - untill they ride a Berg for the first time (the original one) .
The Swedes have also done a good job, maybe a very good job, but the fact that Husaberg produced traditional a very light and sports orientated motorbike (a long time before the Japanese came) was the result that Husaberg aimed only at totally racers as buyers. It wasn´t a bike for everyday life.
Husaberg changed really quite late their engine into a more reliable object without changing it´s character or their concept.
10 years ago it was Husaberg who was often on top of the world championships but the Husaberg followers who rode their bikes for private use and just for fun were almost died out at the end of the 90´s.
The Husabergs were known as bikes who had the tendency to become damaged too early (mostly after wrong operation) - but the bad reputation was born.
There is nothing wrong with the dellorto carb, but it´s a bit old-fashioned and nowadays everbody wants to have a Keihin carb. It´s an neverending discussion about advantages and disadvantages of both.
We also discussed a lot about the differences between the SEM ignition and the Kokusan ignition here on this site.
You say you would save 3000 dollars, so my recommendation is: Buy the 2003 model. It´s a good one, you cannot do anything wrong with it.

best regards

hribman
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