BY: Words Mark Hargrave, PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Images Damien Ashenhurst
Keeping in mind Husky already has a brilliant 250 two-stroke amongst its ranks, we find out if its new 300 can live up to expectations.
- Cornering and trail stability are the 300s strengths. It doesn’t do any weird stuff and is as confidence inspiring as any other bike we’ve ridden.
- The WR300 differs from its little brother the WR250 by gaining a larger barrel and piston, a modified cylinder head, a new exhaust valve and a revised expansion chamber.
- The handling department is where the Husky really starts to shine and rates as one of the front runners in the 300 race.
- Overall, Husky has produced an excellent handling package that would be just at home in a race setting as it would be cruising around on the trails.
- The engine has huge potential and with the addition of a hydraulic clutch and fixing the jetting issues it will be nipping at the heels of the more seasoned 300s in the near future.
During the early nineties the 250cc two-stroke was the weapon of choice for most riders and racers, delivering excellent performance while still maintaining reliability. However, in more recent times the trend to the 300cc machines has grown dramatically, due to its ability to provide four-stroke-like tractability while also being capable of blowing your visor back when you give the throttle a quick snap, something the new WR300 from Husqvarna is well capable of.
The WR300 was spawn from the proven, and exceedingly fast WR250, differing from its little brother by gaining a larger barrel and piston, a modified cylinder head, a new exhaust valve and a revised expansion chamber. All of these changes are designed to tame the extra horses produced by the larger capacity and make the delivery more tractable and user friendly. However the engine’s bottom end delivery felt a little flat. The big-bore torque was there but some possible jetting issues left it feeling a little weaker than what you come to expect from 300cc machines. But once in the midrange the motor came to life, revving freely and producing a lively but tractable ride. Unfortunately the sweet midrange was short lived and it soon began to sour as you reached a top end that signed off way to early. There was a definite increase of revs but the top end failed to keep pulling as the throttle was twisted harder. The makings for a healthy top end were there but it seemed as if the jetting was also off the mark at this end of the rev range.
Clutch pull on the WR300 was, unfortunately, exceedingly heavy. This was particularly noticeable when ridden back to back with the Gas Gas, which has a sweet clutch feel. Speaking of which, why on earth is the WR300 sporting a cable clutch when the four-stroke range have all gone to a hydraulic unit? On a completely new model this is a real step backwards and should be rectified for next year if Husky are serious about competing with the other brands.
The kickstarter is another facet of the WR300 that requires some more thought. Due to the chain being on the right hand side the kickstarter has been mounted in front of the sprocket. This equates to an extremely awkward position when trying to kick the big bore over. All riders, even the over six foot brigade found the location not only uncomfortable but very hard to get a solid kick.
The handling department is where the Husky really starts to shine and rates as one of the front runners in the 300 race. The flat seat, quality bars and roomy cockpit make getting forward to weight the front wheel an absolute pleasure. The Marzocchi fork and the Sachs shock produce an incredibly stable and predictable package. They allow the 300 to track straight over all terrain, somewhat like a four-stroke does, which gives a confidence not normally felt on a two-stroke. The Sachs shock also warrants a worthy mention as it allowed the WR300 to get the power to the ground effectively with a minimum of fuss.
The WR300 looks virtually the same as the rest of the Husky range, which is pretty damn hot. A new slimline speedo has also been nestled in behind the headlight and provides all the necessary bells and whistles. Up front the Brembo brakes coupled with the newly designed wave disc provide a brilliant stopping package. The front brake is definitely a one finger job and gives awesome initial bite while maintaining a progressive feel as you squeeze harder. The rear also has a nice progressive feel with no premature lock ups and due to its solid disc will provide excellent pad life even in serious mud.
Regrettably, it seems as if Husqvarna have hurried the new model WR300 onto the dealer floors before ironing out a few issues, namely the poor jetting specifications. This is unfortunate as the handling package is top shelf, as is the quality of the running gear. The engine has huge potential though and with the addition of a hydraulic clutch and remedying some jetting issues it will undoubtedly be nipping at the heels of the more seasoned 300s in the near future.
To read in-depth bike reviews, see the latest issue of Motorcycle Trader magazine, on sale now at all good retailers.