PHOTOS | Husqvarna
When the adaptation of fuel injection to four-stroke off-road motorcycles came in the past decade, many wondered what the technology could do when paired with a two-stroke engine. With the electronic parts in use, the dreaded sensation of hesitation or bog disappeared on four-stroke machines, and riders were able to fully experience all that the powerful engines had to offer. After years of pleading and some pressure to meet European emission regulations, KTM and Husqvarna have implemented direct injection technology on select motorcycles in their respective lines, including Husqvarna's TE 250i.
The direct injection system used is quite elaborate, as it relies on sensors placed in key areas, but when the details are laid out it's easy to understand why this was the best design for the bike. The most important thing to note is that traditional premix fuel is not used with the TE 250i. Instead, nearly a liter of oil is stored inside the upper tube of the steel frame, fed through the 39 mm throttle body and into the crankcase by an electronic oil pump, and the oil is then pushed through a channel in the cylinder to a pair of fuel injectors that are placed at the transfer ports. It's here that the gas and oil are finally mixed, pushed into the cylinder, and combusted by the spark plug. A series of sensors are placed at key areas of the engine, specifically the oil pump, throttle position, and fuel injector. Together, they completely monitor the levels and consumption of the three key elements—air, oil, and fuel—so that the mixture is perfectly measured at all times.
There are other stark differences between the off-road TE 250i and the motocross TC 250, including an electric starter for the engine. A traditional mechanical kickstarter is still in place as backup. Additionally, a map select switch allows users to adjust the power characteristics. Unlike standard two-strokes, a two-cable throttle assembly is necessary for direct injection throttle body. A side stand, accessory lights, a larger capacity fuel tank, and WP's Xplor 48 mechanical fork meet the needs of off-road riding. The added parts make the weight of the TE 250i 231.92 pounds sans fuel. It's roughly a 20-pound increase compared to the TC 250 motocrosser.
On The Trail
We were very eager to try out the TE 250i. After riding various two-stroke bikes over the years, from full-factory Supercross builds to simple stock machines, we knew that the engine's performance could be tailored to suit any situation. The decision to host the first ride at a beautiful mountain resort in British Columbia by Husqvarna was a wise move because we were able to experience a variety of terrains and thousands of feet of altitude in a close area.
Hitting the handlebar-mounted button brought the engine to life with ease, and with no need to tinker with a carburetor, we took off down the trail. Within moments, it became clear how much the direct injection had impacted the power delivery. The bike chugged along at low speeds, and we were able to idle around without a worry of the bike falling on its face or stalling. This came in handy as we traversed sections of rocks and tight woods, when throttle control and technique was far more important than speed. As the area opened up, we were able to turn the throttle more and got deeper into the powerband. It's at this point with a traditional two-stroke engine that we often experience a sudden snap that brings the true power to light, yet with the TE 250i, there was no really difference in sensation than what we felt from the low-end. Sure, the speeds were higher and we could feel a definite increase in power, yet it continued at a predictable pace. That's not to say the engine is sluggish—it's peppy and builds up to a seemingly endless top-end—but it's much easier to control and enjoy the bike when you don't have to wonder when the engine is going to "come on."
The engine control unit does an incredible job of rationing the air-oil-fuel mixture, no matter the environment. From our starting point to the summit of the mountain, we climbed 3,000 feet and never once stopped to reset the unit, a feat that's impossible to accomplish with a carbureted engine. The automatic injection of oil into the engine greatly aids this feature, and because the frame has a high capacity, you don't need to carry a bottle with you on every trip. We've heard that you can burn through five tanks of fuel before the low oil warning light comes on, but we'd rather be safe and check it sooner.
The other performance attributes of the TE 250i are what we've come to expect from Husqvarna. Magura's braking components are hard to top because they are powerful and bring the bike to a controlled stop without fading. The hydraulic clutch from Magura is just as remarkable, as it takes plenty of abuse but perfectly engages the six-speed transmission. WP Xplor 48 fork features a separate function design with compression adjustment in the left tube and rebound adjustment on the right. The fork is a part that you know will work as intended over the terrain and can be altered with ease. Now, the settings of the fork are far too soft to take on a motocross track, but there's no need for stiff suspension when hours are spent in the saddle at moderate speeds.
Let us make one thing very clear about the 2018 Husqvarna TE 250i, this is an off-road oriented bike. In stock trim, it's not intended to take over the motocross world. The engine and suspension, while incredibly pleasant and a joy to ride on the trail, are not enough to best a field of 450cc four-strokes on a jump-filled track. Both areas are a little too soft to properly take on the challenge, but with some further development, the gap could close. If a predictable pull from the engine, flawless action of the fuel injection system, and supple suspension are what Husqvarna comes up with in their first attempt, we know that things can only get better.
2018 Husqvarna TE 250i
Engine type: 249cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder two-stroke
Induction: Synerject Engine Management System (EMS), 39 mm throttle body
Final drive: X-ring chain
Front suspension: 48mm WP Xplor fork
Rear suspension: WP shock
Front brake: Magura dual-piston hydraulic disc
Rear brake: Magura single-piston hydraulic disc
Starter: Electric and kickstarter
Clutch: Magura hydraulic
Seat height: 37.8 inches
Fuel capacity: 2.44 gallons
Curb weight: 231.92 pounds (without fuel)