Category Archives: Husqvarna Rally Bike Build

Bill Talking About His Bike and Such.

Watch til the end!

Thanks Ian!

Better Late Than Never!

Thanks to Curt and for sponsoring BC2Dakar! You can click on our sponsors page and click on his logo to check out his page or just click below!

Rally Bike Shakedown

Navigation tower and fairing

With the clock ticking, the best thing to do was locate a kit. The closest kit I could find that would require minimal modifications is the Touratech nav tower and fairing designed for the G450X. The fairing is designed to line up with the Safari tank I’m using but lining it all up was a bit tricky as the nav tower did not bolt up to the Husqvarna frame. We needed to cut the BMW bracket, modify it and weld it to the steering head.

The bike at Scott Schriver’s shop. Scott is a Hendrick Motorsports fabricator/expert welder. He’s welding the modified bracket in the background.

Welding the modified bracket to the steering head.

Now that’s some good looking welds.

The nav tower and lights mounted to the bike.

Fairing mounted.

Michelin Bib Mousse, my favorite thing to do…

Michelin Bib Mousse are great for preventing flats but a pain to install. I was happy to learn there is a tire service to mount these things during the rally. The first two we installed were rears, one on the suggested 2.5″ rim, the other on a 2.15 rim. The smaller rim combined with a rim lock was not easy, made me want to never have to do it again. Rob and I mounted a front the other day, with plenty of lube and no beed lock it was surprisingly easy.

Rob having a little to much fun with the lube.

Inserting the mousse into the tire.

Keeping it cool, part 2.

There are two parts to keeping the engine cool, oil and water. The oil cooler was addressed in part one, now the water. Running in sand dunes really makes the engine work hard. High rpm churning the rear tire through the loose sand and not much ground speed forcing air through the radiators. Opening up the radiator exposure to the air helps get as much air through as possible. Ordinary radiator vents aren’t really needed as usually the competitors aren’t riding in large packs having to deal with roost throwing rocks and mud at the radiators. Often the louvered vents are replaced with a flat wire screen. The down side to flat screens is they can easily be blocked restricting air to the radiators. I took the screen method one step further and created louvers in the screen. The louvers allows max air flow while minimizing the chance of blockage.

Screens mounted on radiators.

Louvers allow airflow even if something blocks the outer portion of the screens.

Maximizing surface are in front allows the most air to pass when the bike is at speed but if it’s slow going, which can easily happen in the dunes, the fan will need to pull air through. The bike comes with one fan, we added a second to give maximum cooling when it will need it the most.

Left side stock fan

Added right side fan.

Keeping it cool!

Most new 450cc engines have a small oil capacity, the Husqvarna 449 is no exception. The long stages and high speeds can heat up the engine oil temps resulting in oil break down and possible engine failure. I decided an oil cooler would not only help keep the oil and engine tamps cooler but also increase the oil capacity.

Here’s the plan. Create a bypass where the oil filter is located, run a line to an external filter, through a cooler and then back to the engine through the bypass. Of course there is no bolt on kit…

First was getting the bypass made. I designed the part but my friend Clint and his associate, Bobby, from METCO took care of the most important part of machining the piece. First was making the insert, then clocking it to the three engine blocks before welding the port fittings.

Ports tapped and welded.

Mounted on the bike.

The external filter is a canister that opens up holding a reusable stainless steel filter good to 45 microns.

Filter bracket fabricated and filter mounted.

Oil lines made and plumbed at Brown & Miller Racing solutions.

Lines go to a Setrab oil cooler.

The oil bypass, lines and cooler increased capacity by 70% to  a total of 1.7 liters.


Tires, tires, and more tires!

Thanks to Ross Shields of Michelin I now have the best tires available to the privateer, the Michelin Desert Race. The Desert Race was developed for the lighter 450cc rally bikes and only available to the factory backed teams last year. I’m looking forward to running these  tires!

Michelin supplied the rear tires and Bobby Wooldridge of BMW Husqvarna of Atlanta helped me obtain the front tires and bib mousse through Parts Unlimited.

For those not familiar to rally racing, flat tires are bad news. Bib Mousse are foam inserts that simulate approximately 12 psi of air in the tire and are not susceptible to punctures and pinch flats.

Custom tank requires a custom seat

The stock seat needed to be modified to fit the new gas tank. The seat needed to be shortened 5 inches and narrowed up to fit into the gas tank channel.

There is considerably more rise in the seat with this gas tank, the stock seat is basically flat. We took a heat gun to the plastic seat pan then pressed the seat into position until it cooled to gain the shape we needed. It was important to gain the proper shape in order to keep the seat cover from bunching if it were flexed the seat to fit. Now the seat is the proper shape.

Next was a secure way to fasten the seat. The stock location for the fastener is covered by the gas tank and now the shorter seat would not reach it anyway. A fabricated bracket and it will now securely fasten.


The seat is now getting the magic touch of James Renazco at Renazco Dual Sport Seats.

Build continued… the gas tank

The rules require the rally bike have a 250 km range plus 20% or approximately 186 miles. The stock 2.5 gallon tank will come up a little short. Once again there are no bolt on kit tanks for the Husqvarna TE 449. Safari Tanks provided a 3.2 gallon tank designed for the BMW G450X.

I have seen pictures of the tank adapted to the 449 but no detail on how it was accomplished. The Safari tank fits over the airbox and that’s about it. So once again we had to fabricate custom mounts.

The tank only made contact with about a quarter inch of the airbox leaving the weight to be carried by the mounts we still needed to fabricate. The tank is about 5/8th’s of an inch above the frame rails, we thought it would be best if the weight sat on the frame and the mounts only kept it in place. No easy way to measure the gap so we got a little creative.  A trip to the toy store, some Play-doh and we’re in businees.

Sandwich it between the tank and frame rails, take some measurements and time for some machining.

The results is a nicely machined Delrin spacer. Thanks Joey!

Next the mounting brackets. The kit brackets mount to the top subframe bolts and the lower frame rail of the BMW. We were able to use the kit bracket with some reshaping, mounting it to the TE subframe pickups required machining new spacers a the Husky frame is considerably more narrow at this point than the BMW frame.

With no frame rail close to the front pickup point we decided to make arms coming up off the bracket that will connect to a cross brace clamped to the internal frame spars. Back to the mill…

The bracket needed to be clearanced for servicing the air filter. There is minimal clearance between the bracket and airbox.

New spars connect the bracket to the kit bracket.

The weight of the gas tank now sits on the frame mounted block and attaches at two points on each side. The tank will need to be removed daily for air filter servicing. To remove all that is necessary is to remove two bolts on each side and the tank lifts right off.