Tuned For The Trail, But Husqvarna’s TE300i can run amuck against the clock.
By Kit Palmer | Photography by Jesse Ziegler
You could say that Husqvarna is resting on its laurels with its 2021 TE300i. The company’s flagship enduro bike got a fairly significant update in 2019 for the 2020 model year, and it returns in 2021 just as it was. After all, why mess with a good thing, right?
In 2020, it came fitted with a redesigned steel frame wrapped in all-new bodywork with updated graphics. Suspension got some internal-setting tweaking as well, and the motor was fitted with a beefier exhaust pipe, thanks to that corrugated surface that you can’t resist touching (when it’s cold, of course). Husqvarna felt that its electric-starting system has proven itself reliable enough to do away with the back-up kick-starter lever and the pound or two that went with it. And the Husqvarna’s transfer-port fuel-injection system (aka TPI or simply “i,” as in the Husky’s case) got all of the latest software updates (as did the 2021 TE300i).
With its TE two-stroke range of off-road bikes, Husqvarna takes dead aim at the serious trail rider who occasionally races, (most likely enduros). There are three TEs to choose from: TE150i, TE250i and TE300i. They are, of course, all fuel injected. The TE300i that we rode here features an array of cool stuff from the factory besides EFI, like electric starting, oil injection and an airbox that is integrated with a composite carbon-fiber subframe. The TE also features a two-position handlebar map switch—position “one” for standard and position “two” for a softer power delivery.
Unlike the TE’s cousins—KTM’s XC-Ws—the TE’s single WP rear shock rides on a linkage system. The XC-Ws incorporate KTM’s PDS non-linkage rear suspension system. But, like the KTM W models, the TEs come equipped with a coil-spring WP Xplor 48mm fork. Other hot topics include ProTaper handlebars, D.I.D rims, an 18-inch rear wheel, a kickstand, headlight and Magura brakes and hydraulics (which includes the clutch), all of which are part of the Husky’s ecosphere.
The TE300i has a near identical twin brother in the TX300i, which, unlike the TE, has air forks, no head or taillights, and is tuned more for racing—cross-country, GNCC or even hare & hound-style racing to be specific. This simply means that the TX’s suspension is set up a little stiffer and gearing is slightly changed. Racers tend to like light weight, too, which explains the TX’s “air” forks (no heavy coil springs) and lack of lighting hardware.
In case you’re wondering, the TE300i and TX300i share the same $10,299 price tag.
On the trail, the TE300i is an off-roader’s dream, especially if you’re a fan of two-strokes. The TE300i makes tons of useable power that is delivered in a ridiculously linear manner, which, to some, might make the TE’s motor feel a little, well, “boring;” not underpowered, mind you. But power is indeed delivered in very uninspiring way. However, for an enduro bike with lights, this didn’t bother me one bit; in fact, I welcomed it while riding over loose rocks and anytime I was threading the needle through a tight, sticky situation on the Husky.
The TE300i is fitted with a handlebar map switch, which has, as mentioned, two choices—standard and mellow. The difference is negligible, really. You’ll get more out of adjusting the exhaust power-valve if you want a bit more pop, but you’ll need to purchase a special tool for this, which can be had at your local Husqvarna dealer. Don’t worry, it’s cheap.
But right out of the crate, the TE300i makes plenty of useful power overall—boring powerband or not. You won’t be disappointed with the overall output. I found the TE’s motor to be easy to manage at just about any speeds, especially way down low. The TE is all but impossible to stall, even with the clutch lever fully pulled in at idle, and it would chug itself out of any seemingly dire situation. As long as you are moving, second gear is 99-percent of the time the lowest you’ll need to go. The more technical the condition, the better the TE performs, as should any good enduro, or trail, bike.
At higher speeds, though, the TE has a slightly lean feel. I could detect some minor detonation at times, as well, usually under a load at low rpm. Husqvarna tunes its two-stroke TEs as lean as possible from the factory for emissions reasons, which explains this phenomenon. In the big picture, however, it really doesn’t dampen the fun factor one bit when it comes to riding the TE300i, at least it didn’t for me. It might, however, for some.
Suspension is cushy. I loved it, but, then again, I’m barely pushing 165 pounds dripping wet. So, it feels as though Husky tuned the TE’s suspension especially for me right from the factory. I’m guessing heavier riders will probably think the TE’s suspension is perhaps a little soft for aggressive, or high-speed, riding. But no one should be surprised by this; after all, the “E” in TE stands for enduro which is another word for tight, rooted and slow-going terrain, which this motorcycle is all about (as is the easy-to-control motor). Want something designed for higher speeds on wider-open trails and be able to withstand harder hits and larger whoops without bottoming? Then the TX might be more your style. However, with my weight, I wouldn’t hesitate at all to race the TE in an enduro or even in a more open-desert scrambles-type race, as is. Power is not an issue. Again, it has plenty.
The TE300i also feels very light and agile on the trail. Fully loaded, the TE300i weighs well over 230 pounds, but it feels way lighter.
There are many things about the TE300i that makes living with it that much easier, such as its hassle-free oil injection system. Having lights means not having to hurry back to camp just because the sun sets. Plus, EFI means improved fuel range, and the translucent gas tank means you always know exactly how much fuel is available at a quick glance.
The downside? The list is short. There’s no engine-cooling fan, and the lack of a kickstart lever might make some feel a little nervous while far from home, and the TE300i carries a rather hefty price tag. Yes, $10,299 is a lot of money for a dirt bike, but this bike is oozing with technology, so it’s not like you’re not getting anything for the money.
Overall, the TE300i is a grade-A trail bike that doesn’t get much better. It’s an easy motorcycle to ride that can be ridden at both casual and steamy paces comfortably. And, as we said earlier, the TE300i is chomping at the bit to go racing. The uglier the race, or trail, however, the prettier the TE300i looks. CN
2021 Husqvarna TE300i Specifications
|Bore x Stroke:
||72 x 72mm
||TPI, Dellorto 39mm throttle body
||Electric, push button
||Wet, DDS, Magura hydraulics
||Steel, composite carbon fiber subframe
||WP Xplor 48, fully adjustable
||WP Xplor, single shock, linkage, fully adjustable
||Magura w/GSK wave discs
|Weight (dry, claimed):