Swapping from the Honda to the KTM was a revelation - ‘it feels a generation on’ was the comment I made at the time. Whereas before I blundered along tracks with all the grace of Ann Widdecombe at a salsa lesson, the EXC could really dance.
The front-end felt light, though never as if it was going to wash-out, and the suspension was equally as good on sharp whoopy bumps as it was on greasy hillclimbs. But whilst I could rhapsodize for ages about the slick gearshift, super-light clutch, and effortless handling, it was the power delivery which really shone through.
There’s not a hint of stutter or step in the power, providing fantastic drive no matter how slick the conditions. And when you’re winding between trees, firing up a steep ascent, or scooting along a bumpy wall-lined trail that predictability is very reassuring.
Conversely, riding the Husaberg focuses the mind. It’s firmer and tauter than the other two, and despite being the least powerful of the trio, thanks to the fuel injection propulsion is instantaneous. For wet Welsh going this probably makes the FE450 sound like something of a liability but I absolutely loved riding it. And the reason for that is the way that it handles.
Just tootling along in a straight line and pivoting the bike with your knees you can feel how it wants to turn. And when you do start throwing it at some corners it tips in with such little effort that you’d never think it was a 450 four-stroke. Ridden back-to-back with a ‘conventional’ engined bike you can really feel how the high crank design of the Berg enhances its manoeuvrability.
The closed cartridge forks are clearly set-up for race-pace rather than leisurely trail ride, and required a few clicks less compression damping to aid front-end feel. Once there, or thereabouts, the action was still quite firm though there was none of that ‘skatey’ feeling you can get from firm suspension in slippery conditions, and they really started to come into their own the faster you rode.
So whilst it might not have the all-round user-friendliness of the KTM, when it comes to really attacking an enduro course the Berg is the SOHC 450 for me. Though I reserve the right to opt for the orange bike when energy levels are flagging and the course is as heavy as a WWI battlefield! Barni
Click on this link to read about the pick of the 2011 DOHC bikes available and to find out which, in our opinion is the bike to go for... https://www.rustsports.com/metal/450-shootout-part-2-the-dohc-bikes_4568.html