Every once in a while, we talk about race bikes we see for sale: Superbikes, rally bikes, whatever. Not long ago, we had a glimpse of a cool BMW rally bike from the days when full-size 650s were allowed. Vintage machinery like that is cool and all, but this week, we’re looking at a bike that could be competitive at Dakar today. In fact, it raced the 2020 event, and would be at the 2021 event, if COVID-19 hadn’t interfered. Thanks to that bad luck, you now have your own change to buy this race-prepped 2019 Husqvarna FE450. And, the asking price (15,900 Euros) isn’t as crazy as you might think.
At its core, this is an enduro bike. Top-tier competitors are mostly on factory-built rally raid machines, like the KTM 450 Rally Replica, or its Yamaha equivalent (built by, and available through, a European subsidiary). Towards the back of the pack, privateers are on converted woods bikes, mostly. There’s nothing wrong with that; plenty of respectable riders go that route. RADE/Garage put this machine together for Jan Vesely to race in the 2020 rally.
The 2019 Husqvarna FE450 is one of the latest-generation Huskies, which is to say it’s really a KTM engine in a revised chassis. The 2019 model had a four-stroke single-cylinder engine, with SOHC four-valve head. As you’d expect, it’s a high-compression engine (11.8:1) with a six-speed gearbox, electric start and EFI. All very modern, and closely related to KTM’s 450 MX engine. Husqvarna seemed coy on claimed engine output figures upon original release, but Dirt Rider put one on the dyno and got just over 35 horsepower at 8,230 rpm, and 25.48 pound-feet of torque at 6,070 rpm. Those are rear-wheel numbers, not crank numbers.
The exhaust system was built by RP Tuning, designed specifically for this bike and its racer’s preference. The airbox is also a one-off, a custom-built arrangement under the seat, situated as high as possible to avoid problems at water crossings, similar to the Rally Replica design. The electrical system and alternator are original, with no modifications. The Dakar organization’s navigation system has its own battery system, so there was no need to beef up the charging system to handle an extra load.
As for the navigation tower, that’s RADE’s commercially-available carbon-fibre design, without the side panels that the commercial units come with. RADE added a custom mounting system for the safety and navigation electronics system.
The FE450 has a chromoly frame, with linkage arrangement for the rear shock, instead of KTM’s direct attachment setup. This was why the builders chose the Husky to start with, instead of a KTM. The rear auxiliary fuel tank wouldn’t fit with the KTM shock setup. The rest of the bike has an orangey, KTM-ish look, and that’s because the front tank (a KTM Powerparts 12-litre unit) and bodywork have KTM colours, as they couldn’t fit Husqvarna parts when they put it all together. Let’s face it, they’re basically the same thing anyway.
When this bike raced Dakar, it has a cone valve suspension setup. Now, it has brand-new WP suspension, returning to the stock setup for the FE450. That might not be as trick as the race suspension, but at least it’s all new and ready to go.
As per Dakar requirements, the swingarm was modified to carry an emergency water supply.
The auxiliary fuel tank also required the builders to modify the rear subframe, to secure them. RADE says the auxiliary tank has a “self-supporting” design, similar to what’s on a Husqvarna 701. There’s a fuel pump in the rear tank that functions as the main pump. The fuel normally flows from the front of the bike to the back using a gravity feed. There’s also an extra fuel pump in the bike’s front tank that isn’t normally used. If the rear pump breaks down, the rider can connect the front pump instead, to finish the stage. This is an area where redundancy can save your race, or maybe even your life.
In total, the bike can carry 28.5 litres of fuel.
The seat’s a custom jobbie as well, with added foam and improved ergos. RADE says the top is made from a tougher material that can handle abrasion better than the stocker. RADE also says “There is also a small pocket for extra condoms. They are not used for a pleasure, but rather to protect items from dust and sand. Just ask any Dakar racer about them.” We’ll take their word on that one.
Interested in buying?
RADE/Garage has this bike listed on its website, after building it for Jan Vesely to race in 2020. Now, Vesely is selling the bike, as he can’t race in the 2021 event. He’s willing to deliver the bike within Europe for an extra fee (it’s currently registered in Germany) and would work with a buyer to ship to USA as well (after full payment received and cleared). If you want a bike that’s prepped to current Dakar standards, in good running condition (everything’s supposedly new, except the frame and the fuel tanks), it’s hard to imagine you could get into the game for less money than 15,900 Euros (plus all taxes and fees). It might be too late to enter the 2021 Dakar now, but maybe you could start prepping for 2022? And maybe tackle some other races while you wait?
If you want it and you have the money, the ad says “If you are interested, please contact Jan directly, he speaks good German: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: +420 606 553 313 … The motorcycle is in R / G near Prague, viewing is possible by appointment.”