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First Times ride: Husqvarna TE310R, a street legal dirt bike

March 20, 2013|By Charles Fleming
  • Husqvarna's 2013 TE310 is a serious dirt bike, and it's street legal, too.
Husqvarna's 2013 TE310 is a serious dirt bike, and it's street… (Husqvarna Motorcycles )

The dual sport motorcycle sector is one of the fastest-growing segments in the two-wheeled motorsports world.

But anyone who's ridden more than a couple of dual sport bikes is confronted by a blunt truth: There's really no such thing as a true, two-sport bike.

They're all really one thing or another -- street bikes that you can take off-road, in a limited way, or dirt bikes that you can take onto the street, with limited success. As far as I can tell, there is no dual sport bike that is really ideal for both surfaces or that doesn't sacrifice performance or comfort on one surface in order to acquire performance or comfort on the other.

PHOTO GALLERY: The 2012 Progressive Motorcycle Show

Some time back I wrote that Husqvarna's new TE650 Terra was either a very appealing street bike for the dirt or the other way around. But I lamented that, while it was great fun to ride on the road, it wasn't more effective off-road.

The Husqvarna folks, quite sensibly, told me to try their TE310R.

Now, that's a dirt bike -- a street legal dirt bike.

The TE310R -- part of a Husky "enduro" collection that includes the 250, 449 and 510cc versions -- comes standard with big, knobby tires and extreme suspension with great ground clearance. It's sleek and slender, and weighs a lean 247 pounds. It has a fairly tight six-speed gearbox, which makes it fast off the line and provides plenty of acceleration out of the company's new fuel-injected "redhead" engine.

On the trail, it's a really fine dirt bike, a worthy successor to the great Husqvarna legacy of competitive motocross machines. Putting it through its paces, I found it cornered well, jumped like a show horse and was an effective hill climber, clambering up some rocky, rutty, uneven trails that would have defeated a lesser machine.

Mind you, it's still a dirt bike. On the street, the knobby tires make the smoothest surface as bumpy as desert washboard. Even with the six-speed gearbox, anything above 50 mph feels unstable. And while the 37.4-inch seat height gives the bike great ergonomics and maneuverability in the dirt, it makes running errands around town somewhat impractical.

Such a bike has great advantages. Because it's street legal, there's none of the green sticker/red sticker difficulty of knowing where and when you can ride off-road. A network of unpaved roadways, and the trails that intersect them, are yours to explore. But unless you live near the dirt, you might be hauling that TE310R in a truck to get there.

Local retailers list the TE310R at $8,399. For comparison's sake, the TR650 Terra lists at $6,999.

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