Enduro21 takes a closer look at Billy Bolt’s 2020 SuperEnduro World Championship winning Husqvarna FE 350.
Little did we know when we caught up with the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Enduro Team at the penultimate SuperEnduro round in Budapest, Hungary that we were witnessing the final race of the 2020 World Championship.
Events sure took a turn following that trip and since the final round was cancelled, effectively it meant that we were looking at the championship winning machine right there and then.
This is the Husqvarna FE 350 Billy Bolt took to three of the four 2020 GP victories. Apart from a glitch (by his own admission) in Germany, Billy’s form from the opening moto was something else and so it proved as he had the measure of the very best of the rest this season.
To get the low-down on Billy’s bike, we spoke to his right-hand spanner man, Lee Edmondson who talked us through the details and some of the special aspects on this factory bike.
Like all the factory machines raced at the highest level indoors in SuperEnduro, the base machine is Husqvarna’s FE, enduro model but with a healthy dose of motocross bike thrown at it.
Billy’s indoor bike is an FE 350 with the frame straight from the stock bike and the WP Suspension also ‘off the shelf’ though obviously the Cone Valve forks and X-ACT Pro shock absorber. What’s different is the Husqvarna factory-built motocross engine and five-speed gearbox.
Lee Edmondson: “The motocross engine is a bit more responsive and obviously five-speed gearbox means the ratios are closer together but we still run the enduro flywheel, stator and the electrics.
“We run those parts from the enduro bike to avoid stalling – if you ran an MX bike on the tight SuperEnduro tracks it would be a problem. But, we want the motor aggressive and overall it is built more towards a motocross bike than enduro.
“It’s something the factory works on,” continues Lee. “We test different engines in different tracks and we just swap between the engines when we’re testing, we’re not allowed to go into them, they come straight from the factory.
“When we test we’ll have a low-end power option, a high-end power engine, that kind of thing. Billy uses the high compression engine which is a bit more comfy and has more power, Billy is a big lad so the extra power comes handy for him!
“The airbox and everything inside the intake is stock but on the outside the exhausts system is an FMF Factory part sent to suit the indoor set-up. FMF have been working with the team for a good few years now with Colton before obviously so they have good exhaust to suit indoors.”
Five-speed gearbox but who needs gears?
The motocross engine brings with it the five, not six-speed gearbox as fitted to the enduro model. Pre-season testing included sorting the optimal gearing to run for the tight indoor tracks, Edmondson explains: “The gearing on the bike is 12-50, obviously with the tougher Supersprox sprockets (gearing is 13-52 on the standard FE 350). We did a lot of testing with the 12-49 gearing but when we came to the first round we changed to 12-50 in first practice and have stuck with that ever since.”
“I just took the gear lever off and he did the whole thing in one gear and no gear lever” – Lee Edmondson
“Having said that, at most of the tracks this year he hasn’t been out of second gear. In fact in Poland he hit the gear lever in final qualifying just before Superpole and he rode it back to the pits, I worked on the bike, put it in neutral oiled the chain and found he’d bent the selector shaft.
“It was too close to Superpole to change it so I put it in second gear just to rode off and couldn’t change gears. The first race followed on pretty quickly so it was stuck in second gear for that too – I just took the gear lever off and he did the whole thing in one gear and no gear lever. That track suited it luckily but it just shows you.”
Bending his own clutch lever – with a spanner
Billy likes a higher seat, “we have an extra 20mm in this one.” Says Edmondson. “One thing he likes is a stretched grip on the left side. The grip is standard but I have to stretch it – I think it is just to match the feeling from the trials bike (Billy competed at British and World Junior level trials before switching to enduro).
“The Pro Taper grip glue is so good I just put a bit of in the end of the grip, slide it on to a mark on the bars, stretch it and let it settle. When I first got with Billy it was strange and took a little bit of practice to get right but I do it pretty quick now. The grip after is 140mm long so it’s quite a bit longer.
“He also gets a spanner out and bends his clutch leaver up a bit, he does this himself. He has little bits like this, it’s what he’s used to so we don’t argue about it, I just let him crack on with it.”
Billy runs the five millimetre lower and further back Raptor Titanium footpegs. “On some occasions we might run a ten millimetre lower and further back footpegs,” says Lee, “if there’s a big rock garden or anywhere where you need to be on the back a bit more they help and we use them on the outdoor two-stroke bike but we haven’t use them indoors this year.”
Mixing enduro and motocross clutch parts
Factory race teams often play with the standard clutch bore size at the lever, the master cylinder. Billy’s FE 350 is different: “The clutch is the standard 10mm bore master cylinder, I think the two-strokes come with a nine millimetre bore at the lever. Maybe it’s surprising he sticks with standard parts because not many riders do.
“None of the parts on the bike are really special. This year we have swapped to use the Power Parts products more on the factory bikes – like the 22mm off-set triple clamps and the powerful Brembo brake caliper for example that are available through any Husqvarna dealer.”
It’s not all stock though as Lee explains: “When we were testing it was getting hot sometimes and faded so we changed the outer spring for a bit heavier one which is standard on the motocross bike. It’s not a special part, it just comes from the motocross bike. The team also run the Rekluese cover which is harder and has more oil capacity”
Importance of testing pre-season
Edmondson mentions the pre-season testing several times while we run around the bike and it becomes clear one difference for Bolt this season was arriving with a bike set-up and ready. In the pre-season Billy and Lee went to a test track near Girona, Spain for two weeks to suspension test with WP and basically get the bike nailed.
It was key to arriving at the start of 2020 season ready with the bike (and rider) ready. “Two years ago, we literally started testing the first ever day he rode a SuperEnduro track and we kind of went round in a big circle because he didn’t know what to expect. Also, then through the season he was getting faster and getting to know what he was doing so the bike was changing.
“This season he is riding well, knows what he wants and we had the bike set up pretty good. We did a lot of testing in Spain and Billy has also been riding his practice bike a lot which is pretty much the same as the race bike – we had the set-up pretty dialled before the season. In some ways the testing never stops – he’ll try something on the practice bike and if it works he’ll tell me and I’ll put it in the race bike.”
Michelin mousse options
“We run Michelin tyres with the supersoft tyre in the back always and in the front we change between the big one (100) or the 90/90 front depending on the race.” Explains Lee about tyre choices but it is the mousse options which they play with: “Nine out of 10 times we go with a ‘used’ 140 Michelin mousse in the back and sometimes, like in Germany where it was quite slippery, we go for the 120 mousse. We do drill the mousses sometimes so they’re a little bit softer still.”
They also run a second security bolt in rear wheel too which is better when running a soft or smaller mousse Lee explains and extend that to three security bolts on the outdoor, two-stroke bike they use in the WESS events “just to keep a strong grip on the rear in those conditions like Romaniacs or Erzberg.”
Details that matter
Further details around the factory Husqvarna include the two start buttons like all factory Husqvarna and KTM teams in enduro, motocross and supercross are run indoors and out these days – one on the bars and another on the frame under the seat.
Stronger CNC aluminium throttle housing is basically stronger and as described on our recent look at Taddy Blazusiak’s SuperEnduro EXC-F 350 KTM, “almost unbreakable”.
Pro Taper handlebars are close to a common 999 bend (Renthal) which is common across many pro riders. The Excel rims front and rear are stronger, distinguished by the yellow writing.
Protection is mixed across the bike with the saucy carbon fibre P3 skid plate, with linkage protector. The TM Designworks chain guide and rear sprocket guard also has the extra metal protector up top, basically blanking out the gaps between the mount points.
Brake disc/rotor protection is as found across the factory Husqvarna Enduro team with Acerbis fully enclosing the front and a solid ZipTy mounted on the rear brake caliper out back.
The rear rear brake lever has a titanium tip and also they use the two-stroke enduro model lever which sits closer to the engine and out the way more from the rocks.
Another motocross model part is the clear (6.5litre) fuel tank which runs “no more than four litres – I’ve got a mark I fill it up to and no more.” Edmondson tells us.
There are no lights on the factory bikes these days, just a sticker basically inside the headlight lens. “It’s just the motocross wiring loom under there too because we really we don’t need all the enduro lights and wiring, it’s just something else to smash.” Lee concludes.
Indeed, Billy did smash it in 2020.
Photo Credit: Enduro21/Andrea BelluschiJon PearsonEnduro21 Editor and Bike Testerjon.firstname.lastname@example.org