Unlike its Austrian opposition, there's no pronounced step in the TR's power delivery to catch you out. And that's certainly welcome in sub-zero conditions. Wending our way between snow covered fields; along frozen mud tracks; down stony trails and not least through a slushy ford that's lethally slippery at the best of times, I’m very thankful for the Husky’s predictable power. Provoke the bike into a slide, or even get caught out by a sudden loss of traction mid-turn, and it's all too easy to catch it with a dash of opposite lock and ride it out without worrying about the back-end overtaking the front. And, as we've said of this engine many times before, it feels as though it'll claw it's way up almost any slope. It may not be high-tech, it may not have the cache of competition variants (not currently, anyway) and it may seem a bit of an old thudder (not that the vibes are particularly intrusive), but it's still a fantastically versatile motor.
Complementing the motor is a braking set-up - single front disc with twin-pot Brembo caliper, and a matching rear - which proved to be just about perfect in the conditions. In fact, the only time it didn't inspire the confidence to grab the lever was when confronted by a river of ice, flowing down the rut I'd chosen, and that's not really a criticism that can be levelled at the brakes! Steady as she goes, and a quick prayer, got me through that.
Whether it will prove to be quite so impressive slowing the bike on a fast, deserted Moroccan piste or on a congested autoroute I couldn't say. But in such treacherous conditions I was more than happy with the way that I could tell exactly when it was going to lock-up, and just how much harder I could squeeze the lever. Whether you'd agree may well depend upon how much dirt you see aboard the TR. There's always a compromise in dual-sport brakes, and that invariably favours off-road feel for on-road stopping power. Monster brakes, long travel suspension and skinny trail tyres rarely make happy bedfellows...
As Cold As Ice
Taking to the tarmac, the 650 is reminiscent of the old F650GS (or its latter day G-GS equivalent, anyhow) only with a fitter engine. The weight rarely becomes an issue, and instead you enjoy threading through one set of flowing turns into the other, maintaining a smooth riding style...
Just as well really, as with the countryside painted a glistening shade of Wintery White and the roads daubed with spots of black ice, this was never going to be a flat-out backroad blast. There's certainly some laughs to be had on the TR, especially if you do get around to lowering the gearing for some added corner-exit punch, but not on this day.
Even running mismatched dirt rubber (our specification, not standard), the Terra was as surefooted as it had been on the trails. The supple springing gave great feedback from the tyres, and with all that weight pushing it into the ground it felt rock-solid on the slick country lanes.