By: Jason Giacchino
May 2010 - Off The Pegs
Is it Time for a
Dear ATV Source:
Now that KTM makes ATVs (and good ones at
that), what are they odds that Husaberg will
follow suit with a quad version of that new
crazy engine of theirs?
Indeed considering the fact that KTM actually
owns the Swedish off-road performance company Husaberg (and has since 1995), there would most
certainly be a market here in the States for an
ATV making use of that fuel injected 450cc
engine that’s been dazzling the media since its
introduction last year.
So what makes that engine so you unique in the
first place you wonder? The answer is that
it technically sits upside down in the frame.
Well, not exactly upside down but rather with
its cylinder lying down at a 70-degree angle,
the gearbox underneath the cylinder (rather than
behind it), and the crankshaft up 100mm and back
some 160mm. The name of the game for this
radical departure from the configuration we
typically associate with a single-cylinder
layout is “centralization of mass”; a catch
phrase that has been floating around the
industry for several years now.
Not surprisingly, Husaberg’s Jens Elmwall
designed single cam, 4-valve engine can be at
least partially credited with inspiring Yamaha’s
own new backward-facing cylindered power plant
found in the 2010 YZF450. The end results
are similar even if how the manufacturers
accomplish the goals quite differently.
Yamaha went about moving the most reciprocating
mass of the engine’s moving parts toward the
lower middle of the machine’s center of gravity
(where it would have the least affect on
handling) by flipping the cylinder around then
actually tilting it backward even further.
Husaberg actually goes as far as to flip the
engine upward (onto its side). In either
case, the goal is to place as much of the
engine’s rotating mass, which works against a
machine’s natural balance, as close as possible
to the frame’s center of gravity.
In simple English, when compared to a
traditional laid-out engine design of the exact
same specs, the machine more effectively
centralizing its mass should feel much lighter
and handle more naturally.
So why then, if this logic is sound, don’t we
have these designs on all of our ATVs? The
answer is that while the theories have been
around for some time, we’re only just now
witnessing them being put into practice.
Like all things, there is a good deal of
technological crossover that takes place between
any manufacturer’s product line. In other
words, if the design proves truly beneficial in
the Husaberg bikes, odds are good that it will
begin to appear on KTM’s bikes shortly
thereafter then perhaps in KTM’s ATVs after
that. A similar process might well take
place with future Yamaha YFZ quads depending on
how the yet-unproven bike variation shakes out.
Additionally, quads will likely receive these
types of innovations a little later than their
two-wheeled counterparts simply on account of
the fact that bikes are more sensitive to slight
handling disruptions. Make no mistake-
ATVs would benefit from centralization of mass
practices as well, but they aren’t quite as
crucial in terms of railing a corner or staying
level over a triple.
Finally, and this will likely come as a surprise
to many diehard ATV enthusiasts, should Husaberg
decide to enter the ATV industry with a
performance quad all their own, it wouldn’t be
for the first time! Considered by many to
be the rarest production quad ever built,
Husaberg designed and marketed a
competition-ready ATV called The Enforcer from
2000 to 2003.
With styling slightly reminiscent of a Yamaha
Banshee, the Enforcer, like all Husabergs,
sported high-tech liquid cooled four-stroke
engines long before they became all the rage.
Information on the Enforcers is virtually
nonexistent these days although Husaberg
confirms that they sold only about 40 units
worldwide in that three-year production span.
That’s only an average of 13.3 ATVs per year!
Though harder to confirm, it is rumored that
much of fabrication/ manufacture of the machines
was performed by a Laurent Ferrari in France
(with Husaberg providing the engines and
hardware). It is estimated that of the 40 units
produced, roughly 20 of them made it to the