Motocross / Off-Road Motocross / Off-Road Motorcycle Reviews 2020 Husqvarna TE 150i Review: Single-Track Test (17 Fast Facts)

2020 Husqvarna TE 150i Review: Single-Track Test (17 Fast Facts)

Fuel injection comes to the tiddler enduro class with the 2020 Husqvarna TE 150i. EFI is only the beginning of the story on this all-new motorcycle.

We didn’t have anywhere to race it, so we did what any self-respecting two-stroke enduro fan would do, and took it out for some hard-riding on winter-scarred single-track trails to prove its mettle. We survived, and so did the TE 150i, and here’s what we found out.

1. The 2020 Husqvarna TE 150i is about as user-friendly as it gets. In addition to EFI, it also has oil injection and electric starting. No more fiddling with jets, forget about mixing the gas and two-stroke oil, and all it takes is a push of a button to fire it up. These features take an inherently fun platform, and up the ante with a mega-dose of convenience.

2. Husqvarna went with a new chassis this year, and the TE 150i gets it. Instead of the 150i being an entry-level enduro motorcycle, it has all the goodies that the 250i and 300i get. The new frame has an updated rigidity and flex package that Husqvarna says adds stability, isolates the rider from hits, and improves feel. The carbon-fiber-reinforced resin subframe is now two-piece and almost nine ounces lighter. Also, the WP suspension gets new internals and settings. Taking the shock linkage from the motocrossers, the 150i rear end also sits lower.

3. Slim and trim, the ergonomics are flawless on the 2020 Husqvarna TE 150i. Nothing gets in the way, and it’s easy to move around as necessary on the motorcycle. The seat is comfortable enough for long single-track excursions. Every control is where you expect it to be, and easily actuated.

4. The 150i engine is the latest Husqvarna two-stroke design, and it’s sophisticated. Fuel is injected into the transfer ports via two injectors at the rear of the cylinder. The fuel joins the air-oil mixture as it moves to the combustion chamber. The air and oil are mixed at the 39mm Dell’Orto throttle body. The delivery of the oil is controlled by the Continental EMS, using engine speed and load to determine the amount of oil needed. The oil tank holds almost 24 ounces, and is good for several tanks of fuel. There are low-level warning lights for the fuel and oil tanks. The engine will shut off if the oil tank goes dry to prevent damage. A lot is going on there, but it’s all transparent for the user.

5. The motor is magic on the trails. Everyone is going to have his favorite displacement, and they all have advantages and drawbacks. On the upside, the TE 150i has an extremely smooth power delivery. It is so good at putting power to the ground, at times it feels like it has traction control (it doesn’t). On the right dirt roads, you can get the back end to step out if desired. The rest of the time, the rear tire hooks up and propels you forward. You can fall off the pipe if you let the revs get too low, but instead of the two-downshift you used to need on the 125, it usually requires dropping just a single gear to get back into the meat of the powerband.

6. There are two power modes—I and II—but unless it’s muddy and very slippery, you will only need one. Mode II kills the bottom end power, ostensibly to make the TE 150i more tractable in ultra-slick conditions. That’s fine, but it also induces a midrange hit that makes the 150i challenging to ride smoothly—you definitely don’t want to use it when there’s even marginal traction available. Pretty much all the time, Mode I is the way to go. It offers a smooth powerband from idle to maximum rpm, making it easy to go fast, or slow. I suppose if you’re a big thrill of the ‘hit’, you could go with Mode II, but it will just slow you down.

7. The new chassis on the 2020 Husqvarna TE 150i is fantastic. The geometry and weight placement are spot-on. Certainly, the wet weight of 233 pounds with the 2.2-gallon fuel tank full helps, as does the manageably smooth power. The TE 150i leans toward agility over stability, though it only starts to get nervous when you tap it out in 6th gear. On single-track trails, the TE 150i is absolute magic. You can put the motorcycle wherever it needs to be, and with just a minimum amount of effort. If you see a line you want to take, you are encouraged to go for it because the TE 150i will do whatever it takes to get you there without drama. You have to make a serious error to upset the chassis.

8. The WP suspension is quite good, but not quite great. Every year we want the WP suspension to be better than it is, and 2020 is no exception. While we don’t expect premium Öhlins performance from an $8899 motorcycle, we would like to see something that matches the Showas on the Yamaha YZ250FX, for instance. The main issue is a lack of plushness, and that translates to a bit less forgiveness—the fork is more guilty than the shock. It’s not like the WPs are harsh or uncomfortable—they just haven’t made that step toward suspension nirvana that we would like.

9. The WP Xplor fork uses a split damping design, which we aren’t sold on. There is compression damping in the left leg and rebound damping in the right. There are obvious tuning advantages, and it’s fine when it works. However, should you get a seal leak on one of the legs, you lose all of the type of damping that leg offers. That is not a recipe for a good ride. Having said that, we haven’t had issues with leaking seals on WP forks, so maybe we are worrying about an unlikely problem. The fork is easy to tune, and doesn’t require tools. The three-position spring-preload adjustment is great, and we are glad it doesn’t have the complexities introduced by air forks.

10. We give plenty of credit for the Husqvarna TE 150i’s excellent traction to the WP Xact shock. The shock received a new main piston and linkage, and the result is impressive. There aren’t any issues with kicking or packing—the shock just gobbles up the terrain without calling attention to itself. While you don’t need tools to adjust the WP Xplor fork, the shock does require a flathead screwdriver for adjustment, and the spring preload will require the usual amount of attention to change. If WP can get the Xplor fork to work as well as the Xact shock, we’re going to be even happier than we are with the 150i.

11. The 2020 Husqvarna TE 150i loves rocky terrain. With much testing done on local trails following heavy rains that washed away the dirt on many trails, leaving more rocks exposed, the TE 150i showed how well it will do. Two-strokes traditionally will deflect in rocks; while the 150i is not immune to that, its light weight means that you can easily correct any misbehavior and charge forward. On a couple of trails that were rockier than normal, I was able to blaze through a gear higher and much faster than on any other motorcycle I’ve ridden. Confidence was given by the chassis, suspension, and motor, and this made it possible for me to turn my riding up a notch. That’s all you can ask of any motorcycle. I was glad I never dropped it in the rocks, as that beautiful expansion chamber is highly vulnerable.

12. You might expect hills to be kryptonite to a 144cc off-road motorcycle, but the Husqvarna TE 150i didn’t get the memo. Sure, if it’s a huge sandy hillclimb, you’re going to want more power than the TE 150i makes available. However, in the real world of trails with hillclimbs, the Husqvarna makes things happen. With fuel- and oil-injection upping the performance level, and adding in the unmatched traction on tap, the TE 150i makes molehills out of mountains. Again, you can place the motorcycle where it needs to be for optimum results, and then just dial in the power as required. Downhills are equally impressive, with the TE 150i’s nimble chassis and light weight giving the rider the self-assurance to push just that much harder without feeling threatened. When you can place the motorcycle where you want it to be, great things happen.

13. Magura does the hydraulics, and they work great. The braking is progressive and predictable, with the rear brake deserving special credit. It’s easy to lock-up the rear wheel and stall a small-bore motor with the rear disc, yet the TE 150i resisted—EFI probably helps a bit, too. The front brake always responds as asked, and is flawless. In technical terrain, the single pressure-plate diaphragm steel clutch can be one-fingered. That allows holding onto the left grip better, improving control of the motorcycle. Most of the time, two fingers make more sense. The clutch refused to misbehave or complain about slipping on highly technical uphills. Clutching is a significant part of riding a 144cc motorcycle, and the components are up to the task.

14. The Pankl six-speed transmission is flawless. It has just the right gaps between gears, and we never missed a shift in either direction. The top speed of the TE 150i is somewhere north of 60 mph—we never took it to the desert to find out the terminal velocity. Given its displacement, the 150i is much happier in tight quarters than the wide-open California deserts.

15. If you think you aren’t a whoop-skipper, the 2020 Husqvarna TE 150i might change your mind. While I wasn’t taking on supercross-deep whoops, on the smaller whoops found on the trails, I was able to skip across them better than I have on any other motorcycle. I know it’s repetitive, but the light weight is a huge advantage, and the controllable power makes me willing to be more aggressive, as I knows it won’t bite back. The WP suspension was up to the task, staying high in the stroke without pogoing.

16. There are all sorts of high-quality details on the TE 150i. In addition to the Magura hydraulics, you get a ProTaper handlebar, DID DirtStar rims, and usable handguards. The air filter can be changed without tools, and is a good design. Handgrips at the rear fender make it easy to lift the light back end when needed. We had high-quality Dunlop Geomax AT81 tires installed, rather than the FIM-approved eco-friendly, traction-challenged Metzeler 6 Days Extreme tires. We would pull the Metzelers off before starting the bike, and save them for resale time. With the California heat and drought, we needed a spark arrester, and the FMF Turbine Core 2 unit replaced the stock aluminum muffler. We never thought about it while riding, as the EFI made any adjustments that might have been necessary. The gas cap is locking, though sometimes fiddly to remove.

17. Although it’s easy to think you need a 250 or 300, the 2020 Husqvarna TE 150i makes a compelling argument for a small-bore enduro motorcycle. Due to its light weight and the friendly, yet insistent, power delivery, the TE 150i urges you to use your skill to go fast, rather than lazily relying on gobs of power. The TE 150i is an engaging enduro package that is also incredibly convenient to operate. Having grown up on small-bore off-road two-strokes, the 150i redefines the genre is an impressively positive way. If you ride single-track most of the time, the 2020 Husqvarna TE 150i demands your consideration.

Location photography by Don Williams

Studio photography by Kiska

RIDING STYLE

2020 Husqvarna TE 150i Specs

ENGINE

  • Type: Single-cylinder 2-stroke
  • Displacement: 144cc
  • Bore x stroke: 58 x 54.5mm
  • Induction: Transfer port injection
  • Fueling: EFI w/ 39mm Dell’Orto throttle body
  • Exhaust: Power valve w/ expansion chamber
  • Cooling: Liquid
  • Muffler: Aluminum (FMF Turbine Core 2 w/ USFS spark arrester, as tested)
  • Starting: Electric (kickstart backup)
  • Lubrication: Electronic oil injection
  • Transmission: 6-speed
  • Clutch: Diaphragm steel wet multiplate w/ Magura hydraulics
  • Final drive: X-ring chain

CHASSIS

  • Frame: Double-cradle chromoly steel w/ carbon-fiber-reinforced polyamide
  • Handlebar: ProTaper aluminum
  • Front suspension; travel: Fully adjustable 48mm inverted WP Xplor fork; 11.6 inches
  • Rear suspension; travel: Linkage assisted fully adjustable WP Xact piggyback-reservoir shock; 11.4 inches
  • Wheels: DID DirtStar
  • Front wheel: 21 x 1.60
  • Rear wheel: 18 x 2.15
  • Tires: Metzeler 6 Days Extreme (Dunlop Geomax AT81, as tested)
  • Front tire: 90/90 x 21
  • Rear tire: 110/100 x 18
  • Front brake: 260mm rotor w/ Magura caliper
  • Rear brake: 240mm rotor w/ Magura caliper

DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES

  • Wheelbase: 58.5 inches
  • Rake: 26.5 degrees
  • Triple clamp offset: 22mm
  • Seat height: 37.4 inches
  • Ground clearance: 14.2 inches
  • Fuel tank capacity: 2.2 gallons
  • Two-stroke oil tank capacity: 23.7 ounces
  • Wet weight (full tank): 233 pounds

2020 Husqvarna TE 150i Price:

  • $8899 MSRP

2020 Husqvarna TE 150i Photo Gallery

Don Williams
Don Williamshttp://www.ultimatemotorcycling.com
With 50 years of riding experience, Don Williams is a fan of all kinds of motorcycles. He enjoys sport bikes, cruisers, dirt bikes, touring bikes, adventure bikes, dual sport bikes, and rideable customs. Ask Don what his favorite bike is and he will tell you, "Whatever bike I'm on."

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