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Offline alanB

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Choosing a 610 Discussion
« on: January 13, 2012, 07:23:44 am »
Great discussion reproduced from http://www.motoiq.com/magazine_articles/id/2283/project-husqvarna-te610-part-1-dual-sport-adventure-bike-options.aspx

I didnt bother the images, so if you want pretty pictures follow the link above.

Project Husqvarna TE610 Part 1: Dual Sport Adventure Bike Options

By Dan Barnes

Buying a semi-obscure Italian motorcycle and riding it out to the middle of nowhere may not seem to be a well-thought-out plan, but really, there was some thought. I swear. An off-road bike is ridiculous fun, but it's also kind of like having a track car that needs a trailer. The goal of this project is a bike that can be ridden out of the driveway, cruise on the freeway to get to the mountains, then hit dirt roads, jeep trails and singletrack, stringing them together with a patch of pavement here or there if needed. A go anywhere, do anything bike.

I am a big guy and usually get the call when a friend has something heavy to move. This bike needed to be big, with plenty of power, but not heavy. I wanted it to look like a motorcycle, not a garden tractor or, worse, a garden tractor wrapped in Tupperware®. And it needed to be good enough off-road to climb obstacles and thread through trees on singletrack. Not a low-buck touring bike with sorta-long-travel suspension. A dirt bike. And it needed to have benefitted from a few years of depreciation. The list gets short really quickly.

Honda's XR650R was built from 2000 to 2007, originally with one purpose: to win Baja. And it did win, every time it was fielded in a factory effort. Photo courtesy American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

The XR650R is a great bike: lightweight for a thumper over 600cc, powerful and fast. It looks right. The fact that it's kick-start only doesn't bother me, but some people strongly prefer a "magic button". One could still buy new XR650Rs several years after their model years, but their hanging around in dealerships may have been due to the lack of electric start and the impossibility of registering one for street use in California after January 2004.

Because it was conceived as a race bike, Honda never made the XRR meet federal emissions requirements for road use, and California is one of a growing number of states that choose to enforce those rules. There are 2002-and-older XR650Rs in California with valid license plates, but if you didn't own the bike before the cutoff to convert it to road use in 2004, even buying one with a current plate seems to leave you liable to eventually receive a nastygram from Sacramento, inviting you to trade your now-useless piece of stamped aluminum for an OHV sticker.

It can be debated whether there are strategies for getting around this, but after reading everything I could find about the issue, I decided not to take the risk. In spite of that reality, it seems that most XRRs have had the equipment installed to make them street-legal where that's possible: lighting, horn, etc. If you are strong enough to not worry about kick-starting a big thumper and live in a state that will give you a plate for pretty much anything with two wheels, lights and a horn, an XRR is a solid choice.


KTM's EXC series is among the best options for a dirt bike-with-a-plate, but its high-performance focus leads to compromises that make it less suited for long distance adventures. Photo courtesy Mathis P. and KTM

KTM has both the 530 EXC, which is a fairly conventional dirt bike, and the 690 Enduro R, which is shifted a little more toward dual-purpose work as well as being reorganized from standard motorcycle architecture, with the fuel tank under the seat. New or nearly so, they both cost more than I was prepared to spend for a toy.

The older 525 EXC is another good bike, but neither it nor the 530 have the long legs and ranginess I wanted for the highway parts of longer rides. A tiny engine oil capacity causes the oil to run hot, necessitating frequent changes. Valves need to be checked frequently, though they at least have threaded adjusters instead of shims.

Photo courtesy American Suzuki   Photo courtesy Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A.

The Suzuki DR650SE and Kawasaki KLR 650 make good long-distance touring bikes for dirt roads, but are just too heavy for the dirt I plan to ride. Kawasaki also made the much more dirt-oriented KLX650 from 1993-1996 in kick- and electric-start versions, but sold about 12 of them and then stopped. People who have them say they are great bikes, but the newest one is now 15 years old and there is virtually no aftermarket support.

The Honda XR650L is lighter and more off-road oriented. It differs from the DR650 and KLR650 in the range of aftermarket support available to put it on a diet and make more power, but I didn't really want to take on that magnitude of re-engineering. Photo courtesy American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

Also, motorcycles are as much about emotion as function and none of the last three bikes are really sexy to look at. Generally reliable and affordable, certainly, but when you get up close, you don't think high performance machinery.


The Suzuki DR-Z400S is extremely popular and lighter than the other bikes mentioned. However, it still weighs as much as some machines with larger engines, without making the power. Photo courtesy American Suzuki

Aprilias, Husabergs and other exotics have ardent if microscopic followings, but they just feel too far removed from the KISS principle.

That process of elimination leaves just one choice: the Husqvarna TE610. In case you know the Husqvarna brand only by its chain saws or sewing machines, add "On Any Sunday" to your Netflix queue ASAP. After a ten-year-old Jeff Ward wheelies through the opening, much of the movie consists of Malcolm Smith kicking butt in the dirt on Husqvarnas. His friend Steve McQueen often tags along and puts in a not-too-shabby showing of his own.

The Swedish company sold its motorcycle business to Cagiva in 1987, which in turn sold it to BMW in 2007, which opened a new headquarters for Husqvarna in Varese in 2009. At this year's motorcycle shows, BMW management has declared its plan to do with Husky what it did with MINI: make it cool.


Project Husky hasn't seen much dirt yet, because it still doesn't have armor installed and is just too clean to beat up without it. Even though it's five years old, we've been shaking it down and finishing break-in miles.

Though the design roots of the TE610's engine and tubular chromoly backbone frame go back well into the 1990s, for most purposes, TE610 production can be considered to start in 2006. That's when the TE and its supermotard sister, the SM610, were launched in the U.S. market with a substantial makeover, including fresh styling and a catalytic converter to meet emissions requirements. The 2006 TE610 is officially 308 lb, ready to ride but without fuel, which is close to what an XR650R would likely weigh with electric start and dual-sport equipment.

The Husky 610 engine was designed before the Yamaha YZ400F started winning races and every product team entrusted with a new four-stroke dirt bike decided that just because they can compete with two-strokes, they should. Comparing their specific outputs to that of, say, an AP1 S2000, it's not just the power per cc that challenges the new-generation four strokes. I believe it's a combination of typically much greater duty cycle and the lightening required to achieve the power to weight ratio of the engine itself that makes them maintenance pigs.

In contrast, the Husky is big and understressed, and carries plenty of oil. It's 576cc and about 52hp stock – as a four-cylinder, it would be a 208-hp 2.3L. As a result, it can travel a useful distance between oil changes and valve adjustments.

The TE610's fuel tank holds a little less than 3.5 gallons, which is better than most dirt bikes even with aftermarket "desert tanks", if less than most touring bikes. There are aftermarket options for 5 and 6.6 gallons. The Husky has a wide-ratio, six-speed transmission that lets it go slow enough for careful trail riding in first, but also cruise comfortably at 80mph and easily top 100. It has a Brembo-supplied brake system that feels a lot better than some other dirt bike brakes. The forks are modern, 45mm upside-down units from Marzocchi giving 300mm of travel, and the shock is from Sachs, with 320mm wheel travel.

The TE610 has legit passenger accommodation (if you want it - our passenger foot pegs were already removed in the photo above) and a more solid outline of a luggage rack than either of the big Hondas. Its electrical system is rated for 230W, which will run upgraded lighting, an iPod and GPS or two, plus some electrically heated gear if that matters. Getting parts isn't as simple as for a mainstream brand, but it doesn't take any more commitment than doing things right on most car projects.

Here's a basic rundown of significant changes to the TE610 by year:

2006 – model launched with blue and yellow plastics
2007 – changed to red and white plastics with BNG – "Bold New Graphics"
2008 – added EFI, eliminated compression adjusters in forks
2009 – rims changed from silver to black
2010 – no production

A new model, the TE630, was launched in 2011 and is similar mechanically to the TE610. The chassis itself is little changed, but the plastics were redesigned and the engine has a few more cc and a new cylinder head. It doesn't seem clear to anyone outside the company whether the exhaust system with dual silencers was necessary to meet noise and emissions regulations, or if some executive just thought its resemblance to BMW's rotund touring bikes looked good. The TE630 was discontinued in the U.S. for 2012, but remains available in other markets.

The later TE610 forks can be easily upgraded to adjustable compression damping by installing the valves from earlier models, so the only meaningful difference between TE610 years is whether the bike has a carburetor or fuel injection. One Husky expert I spoke with insists that the EFI bikes are less troublesome than carbed models. However, the failure modes of a carb can be addressed with simple tools in the outback, so I'm more comfortable with it.

That's not just me channeling your grandfather –EFI on these and many other dirt bikes still has a lot more issues than we're used to in cars. The carburetor is a Keihin FCR, almost universally used on four-stroke dirt bikes, so jets and parts are competitively priced and available pretty much anywhere dirt bikes and dirt bike accessories are sold. Gravity is a very reliable and inexpensive fuel pump, and a carbed TE610 can be bump started with a totally failed battery.

The TE610 was never a really expensive bike to begin with. Lots of owners regard the bikes as special enough to command a premium, but there are definitely deals out there. If you prefer to buy new with a warranty, there may still be some new 610s or 630s hanging around dealerships – and if you find one, it's a buyer's market.

The hardest part of buying used seems to be actually finding one close to you in decent condition. A few TE610s were bought new and then hardly ridden (common with almost all dirt bikes), but a lot of them were used the same way I plan to: riding to the dirty end of heck and back. When their owners are finally ready to move on, the bikes are thrashed.

The pavement-oriented SM610 is fundamentally the same bike, except it has different colored plastics and pavement-oriented suspension, brakes, wheels and tires. Depending where you live, it may be easier to find an SM610, but the consensus is that it's easier to make a TE610 work on pavement than to make an SM610 work off-road. The SM610 can be an awesome motorcycle, but its peer group is completely different than the bikes surveyed here.


A nationwide Craigslist search, cashing in some frequent flier miles and experiencing my first ever Whitecastle sliders (In-N-Out kills them) led to a bike in the back of this U-Haul.

I found a garage-lurking 2006 TE610 with ridiculously low miles - not even to the end of the manual's recommended break-in. Ridden mostly on farm roads and fields without rocks, there were no scratches on the engine cradle part of the frame. Some Husky fans say blue and yellow is faster than red and white, which would be a bonus. That may not actually be true, but I still dig the traditional Swedish colors. Next time, we'll start on the checks and fixes that should be done to get the bike ready to ride off into the boonies.


Husqvarna '09 610TE - Great Bike!

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Offline letsgofishing

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Re: Choosing a 610 Discussion
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2012, 08:29:38 am »
Interesting reading - thanks for posting
There is nothing you can do about the past and you can't predict the future...all you have is the now...live it to the fullest.


Offline S - 4 - B

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Re: Choosing a 610 Discussion
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2012, 09:12:36 am »
Thanx Al

I find it interesting , I bought a 06 SM610 during December....because of the carb :mwink:  Seems it is an old school thing :imaposer:

After riding my carbed Te510 I just could not help myself.

IMHO they are awesome bikes :thumleft:
Don't blame me for the name ....I was bullied into into it by J-Dog.....
"Change your name or ride a KTM"  he said , I changed my name !!!!

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Offline sidetrack

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Re: Choosing a 610 Discussion
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2012, 03:29:58 pm »
Compared to TE510 and 690

One of the British bike mags dynoed the SM610 (identical motor and just about identical bike) at 50 rwhp.

When you look at the 610, the weight resides in a number of areas, including a cat exhaust, the rear subframe / luggage rack (I doubt the TE510 is nearly as robust here) the passenger pegs / brackets, cooling fan and so on.
The bike is intended to carry a passenger (how you fit two real-sized people on I don't know...), so all those subsystems have to be beefed up as well.
IIRC, there is also a bigger gas tank: 3.4 gallons to empty.
I also believe the 610 has a higher-output alternator: all the above will add significant weight.

However, it is an older design that was morphed into the road-only SM610 and then dual-sported to create the TE610, so loss of weight was not as much of an issue.
The wide-ratio gearbox is good for 75+ mph on the freeway at max break-in revs (5500 rpm).

The TE510 is more of a race-bike design, which is the other part of the weight difference.

I'm pretty happy with my 610, works great as a backroad / dirt road blaster, light adventure tourer (Tecate HID headlight and Renazco saddle for starters), and trail-riding machine. It's not a dedicated woods or enduro or motoX bike though.

FWIW, IMHO, DAMHIK, and all the other acronyms apply...


if you don't need a hard core dirt bike than the TE610 is awsome, took mine to Baja on a fun ride with the Hendgavelds, you know Steve and Joe and Dad Gary, anyway the 610 is flat out amaizing, ran with factory Hondas power wise, only if I were a better rider  I now have a 650 Husaberg for my super dirt rides and use the 610 as a dual sport that can out do any other Dual Sport bike out there IMHO

I rode mine as a hard core dirt bike for about 6 months before I could get my Hussy , the bike is just amaising!! Even took it on some knarly single track, here is a pic of me farten around back yard

I own an 06 TE610 and have ridden the KTM 690r on a couple of ocassions. My thoughts are this:
KTM 690r- very nice machine overall, not wanting at all in the power dept. Could use better gear spacing (like the 610), good stock suspension, handles well, great brakes, overall it just "feels" a bit bigger to me than the Husky and the seat is ok. Turns like a truck and it's orange,,,very, very orange  Great dualsport bike if you have the coin.

Husky 610: Italian styling (gotta like that), great motor (torque/linear power) and tranny (6 speed is about perfect), feels a little more like a dirtbike, handles well but like the KTM it turns like a truck. The stock suspension is on the stiff side and will need adjusted or revalved to your liking. Once I uncorked the exhaust and rejetted the bike properly it now runs very well, I can almost keep behind my buddies KTM 690r up to about 50mph but then he's gone. I have no problems cruising comfortably at highway speed with the stock gearing 65mph=4200rpm on the tach which leaves me plenty of passing power up to about 85mph.
I also had the stock seat rebuilt as it was the most draconian torture device I've ever perched my arse on, after about 50mi in the saddle I felt like someone had shoved a flaming porcupine up my bum... not cool at all..
The headlight is a joke and unless you feel like an ocassional candlelight ride, an upgrade is mandatory IMO, I went with the Baja Designs halogen setup. The maintenence is about average and the bike is easy to work on for those inclined. Overall I've been very happy with my Husky and with the exception of a couple things (seat & headlight) I love it for what I like to do. Like the KTM I feel it's a great dualsport machine and it's not orange 


My main riding buddy has a 690 and I ride the 610.

He's faster - I have better low end power.

The bikes are very similar. We even get with in a couple of miles distance out of the stock tanks.

Both bike stock exhaust pipes run too hot!!

Suspension is very similar - both seats suck.

KTM has the better headlight.

He bitches about the close range tranny alot.

He is geared so low that I can leave him on the highway - I can go over 100 MPH (GPS)

The Husky is prettier.
I'm happy with my carbed TE 610 with the exception of things probably already mentioned. I can't compare to the KTM, but hope to ride one someday.

TE 610 weaknesses:
-The kickstand is way too short.
-Seat is way too hard, even with a sheepskin cover.
-Fork springs too stiff for a 180 pound guy.
-Side airbox design is junk.
-Headlight is weak, but puts out enough to get home in the dark. I put in a 45 watt bulb, which is slightly better, but am noticing that the extra heat is bubbling the headlight lense.
- My only tipover resulted in a dimple in the case from the shifter. Although stock pegs are ok, larger footpegs may protect the shifter better.

The TE 610 strengths.....
- Great power (after mods), great tranny - offroad 1st gear is perfect for crawling, onroad 6th is perfect for highway speeds. Not lacking anything in gears.
- Very capable in the dirt. I have a TE 250 and the 610 can almost go everywhere the 250 does, just not quite as fast.
- Cruises nicely on the highway. The subframe seems to be strong enough for light touring.
- Reasonable maintenance intervals. Checking valves isn't as easy as I'd like, but it could be worse.
- High fun factor, good lookin' ride, and less than a KTM.
I only rode a 610 briefly back-to-back with my 690, and I *think* there are a couple of differences that explain the perceived power difference. The 610 is more like a traditional thumper. Tractor-like torque and you can lug it up hills like what you would expect on any of the 450 dirtbikes.

The 690, on the other hand, has a higher idle and lower flywheel mass, and to be honest is touchy off-idle next to the carbed TE (what I rode.) All of that means on delicate uphills you can't exploit that power as easily as on the 610. Adding a pipe/re-map really helped the bike lug a gear without stalling, but I still find that I stall at low RPM more than with other bikes.

Anyway, when people say that the Husky is better on the low end I think that these are the reasons. I'd still take the 690 over the husky after riding both, and that's all that matters to me.

« Last Edit: April 11, 2012, 03:42:56 pm by sidetrack »
Little by little, one travels far

J.R.R Tolkien
Ride reports :
http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=134175.0 Penge's pass and the Old Forest http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=9421.0 - Orange Atlantic adventure http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=7514.0 - 805 km day trip http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=20260.0 - East Cape Bash http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=70199.0 - Two KTM thumpers head north

Offline sidetrack

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Re: Choosing a 610 Discussion
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2012, 03:57:44 pm »
My own take on the 610 after owning for some time :

Even if it looks mint you will need to do the footpeg bolts, change sidestand (too short) and have a good look at the cam chain as it seems to wear out early. About a days work and R700 to do yourself. The motor mounts will be loose. The airbox design is crappy period. On mine the rear disc shat it's bushings or whatever and clatters like crazy. The headlight is ok as I do not ride at night and it's way better than my KTM's. The wheelbase is very long, ground clearance seems low and the centre stand mounting points do not help. Power is ok but I expected more from a 576 cc, but it seems the motor is an old design so not fair to compare to a modern 690 (which has more cc's anyway). You need a 46 rear sprocket, it helps alot. Needs a proper "on off reserve" fuel tap, fuel warning wire looks like an afterthought, sealed with pratley putty come on !

I like the minimal plastics, seat quick release is cool. Bike looks great, pure Italian styling. Suspension is good, weight ok but it's not that light but way better than the Jap 650's. Ride is smooth but engine has lots of mechanical noise. FCR carb is a big plus. Excel rims as stock thumbs up ! The altenator provides plenty of power. Awesome to tell people you have a Husqvarna  :biggrin: Easy to work on excpet when setting the valves which is a bit fiddly, I'm going to loose the overflow tank which will help. Overall they seem to be very reliable.

I reckon a 690 is a better bike but when you can buy a 610 for 35k there is no contest, not even from the Japanese bikes.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2012, 03:59:17 pm by sidetrack »
Little by little, one travels far

J.R.R Tolkien
Ride reports :
http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=134175.0 Penge's pass and the Old Forest http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=9421.0 - Orange Atlantic adventure http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=7514.0 - 805 km day trip http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=20260.0 - East Cape Bash http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=70199.0 - Two KTM thumpers head north

Offline axehead

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Re: Choosing a 610 Discussion
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2012, 04:41:49 pm »
Not sure if anyone had noticed, but parts II and III of the article are published now. Interesting reading.

Project Husqvarna TE610 Part 2: Dual Sport Adventure Bike Fundamental Fixes:

Project Husqvarna TE610 Part 3: Dual Sport Adventure Bike Nut and Bolt: