It’s not often that a bike that comes fully street legal from the dealership can, with only a few minor tweaks and added parts, also be the ideal machine for desert racing, off-road racing, and riding gnarly single tracks. Enter the Husqvarna FE 501. We first tested out the 2018 FE 501 several months back when we compared it side by side to a 2018 KTM 500 EXC-F. From the very first ride, the FE 501 proved to be a comfortable, powerful bike with exceptional handling and performance in stock form. It was the perfect foundation for us to build on.

2018 Husqvarna FE 501

Fast forward 1,200 miles and 55 hours, and we’ve tested the versatility of this bike by progressively adding parts. The result is something that fits a wide variety of terrain and riding styles – virtually creating three bikes in one. Check out the video to see firsthand what we did to this Husky, and read below for the details that went into making this build a success.

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Gearing

The FE 501 comes geared from the factory with a 14-tooth front and a 45-tooth rear sprocket. That combination was much too tall for the different types of serious, off-road riding we wanted to set this bike up for. We switched out the stock sprockets for Primary Drive components, gearing the bike down a little in the front with a 13-tooth sprocket, and changing the rear to a 50-tooth for a reasonably tall sixth gear. We paired the sprockets with a Primary Drive chain as well.

Sprocket and Chain on FE 501

Suspension and Handling

The stock suspension on the 501 was supple and comfortable, but too soft for our intentions with the bike. We needed the suspension to handle big hits, like G-outs and whoops, going full speed in a race. We sent the suspension to Dick’s Racing, where they reworked the valving and added stiffer springs to the forks and shock. The changes were exactly what we needed to control bottoming without sacrificing the initial, supple suspension action.

Suspension and Chassis on FE 501

Though the handling was pretty stable initially, we added a Scotts Steering Stabilizer with the BRP Under Bar Cushioned Mount to help make the bike more confidence inspiring at high speeds. The under bar mount raises the bars about an inch, but we wanted to keep the bars closer to stock height. We switched to the ProTaper Contour Handlebars in the universal low bend, which dropped the bar height down an inch and put the bar location back where they started. We also added a Clean Speed Steering Stabilizer Standard Cable Guide to help prevent the cables from getting caught up or pinched in the steering stabilizer.

Steering Stabilizer on FE 501

Fuel Capacity

Fuel capacity was something we wanted to address. The 501 comes stock with a 2.2 gallon tank, which didn’t provide enough fuel range for how we wanted to use the bike. We upgraded to an Acerbis 3.0 gallon tank to give us the extra miles we’d need to stretch out the ride. Though the new tank has some striking visual differences compared to the stock tank, we never felt like the new tank got in the way or altered the way we moved around the seat while riding.

Gas Tank and Handlebar Set Up

Protection

Protection is a big deal when it comes to trail riding and desert racing. Underneath the bike, we added a P3 carbon fiber skid plate to keep the engine, frame, and other components safe. The P3 carbon fiber skid plate is lightweight, incredibly durable, and stands up to just about any obstacle.

Skid Plate on the FE 501

Another protection component we added to the underside of the bike was the Tusk Linkage Guard. The linkage on the Husqvarna hangs down pretty low and is extra susceptible to getting caught up on roots, rocks, and logs. The Tusk Linkage Guard is constructed of UHMW polyethylene, which enables it to be virtually indestructible as it protects the bike and glides over obstacles on the trail.

To round out the protection features on the bike, we made sure to add the Tusk D-Flex Pro Handguards up on the handlebars. These handguards are the product of a recent update to the original D-Flex handguards in order to offer more protection, be even more durable, and be easier than ever to mount on the bike. As with most of our builds, handguards were a must-have addition for the FE 501.

Street Legal Components

Although the 2018 Husqvarna FE 501 came street legal right from the showroom floor, the durability of some of the street-legal components was a concern for us. We upgraded a few of the components so they’d hold up better during off-road riding and racing. We replaced the front blinkers with the integrated signals on the Tusk D-Flex Pro handguards, and then used the Tusk Mini Flush Mount L.E.D. Turn Signals on the rear.

The stock taillight assembly was much too large and bulky for what we needed, and it would be easily damaged or broken off once we hit a rough trail. So instead, we mounted up the Husqvarna Slim Taillight Kit, which is an OEM taillight piece taken from the smaller TE two-stroke model that offers less bulk and a sleek look. As for the headlight, the stock unit didn’t produce enough light to confidently ride at night. We switched it out for the Baja Designs XL Pro LED Light Kit to give us a better, brighter light when we ride in the dark.

Rear Fender and Taillight on FE 501

The last of the street-legal components that we switched out on the 501 were the mirrors. Instead of the huge mirrors that came on the bike, we opted to try out the Double Take Trail Mirror. Although it is deceptively small (much smaller than the stock mirrors), this mirror is great for the trail and works perfectly for our needs.

Graphics and Seat Cover

Seat Cover on FE 501

Every race bike needs numbers, and since one of the primary purposes of this bike was racing, we hit up Attack Graphics for some sweet looks. They designed us a full graphics kit that included race numbers and really polished off the look of our bike. While we were at it with Attack, we threw on a gripper seat cover from them as well. The seat cover has pleated strips that help the rider grip and stay in place while riding. It looks and fits great on the Husky.

Tires and Motorcycle Wheels

We didn’t want to worry about flat tires while we were out racing, so we decided to go with the Michelin Bib Mousse Foam Tubes on the 501. These are nice to run because you don’t have to worry about sharp rocks, pinch flats, or fixing a tire mid race. We paired the bib mousse tubes up with a set of Tusk Impact Wheels with the black rim and white hub for a custom look, and then mounted Dunlop’s MX3S on the front and rear as well.

Tires on the FE 501

Intake, Exhaust and Fuel Ratios

Since we knew that we would be setting this bike up for several different types of riding, we needed an exhaust versatile enough to be tuned to match the situation. We chose to install the Lexx MXE Slip-On Silencer with available tunable end caps so we could customize the exhaust for wherever we’d ride.

Lexx Exhaust on the FE 501

We also played with a few mods to open up the intake and increase the bike’s performance out on the track. One of the mods we tried out, that is strictly for closed-course racing, was switching out the intake boot. We took the free-breathing intake boot from a FX 450 and put it onto the 501. This mod really opened up the intake and increased the throttle response. The intake and exhaust changes mixed up the stock fuel ratios, so we installed a JD Jetting Power Surge 6X Fuel Injection Tuner so we could change the tune and balance everything out.

Comment

Tell Us What You Think

What do you think about our Husqvarna FE 501 bike build? If this was your bike, what would you add or do differently to help it fit your riding style? Let us know in the comments below, and be on the lookout for other great bike builds like this in the future.

Parts Available at Rocky Mountain ATV/MC

Primary Drive Front Sprocket Primary Drive Rear Alum. Sprocket Primary Drive Chain
primary drive front sprocket Primary Drive Rear Aluminum Sprocket Primary Drive Chain
Scotts Sub Mount Stabilizer Kit Clean Speed Stabilizer Cable Guide ProTaper Contour Handlebar
Scotts Performance SUB Mount Complete Stabilizer Kit Clean Speed Steering Stabilizer Scotts Submount Cable Guide ProTaper Contour 1 1-8 Handlebar
Acerbis Fuel Tank P3 Carbon Skid Plate Tusk Linkage Guard
Acerbis Fuel Tank (NO CA) P3 Carbon Skid Plate Tusk Impact Universal Linkage Guard
Tusk D-Flex Pro Handguards w/Signals Tusk Flush Mount LED Signals Husqvarna Slim Taillight Kit
Tusk D-Flex Pro Handguards with Turn Signals Tusk Mini Flush Mount L.E.D. Turn Signals Husqvarna Slim Taillight Kit
Baja Designs XL Pro LED Light Kit Double Take Trail Mirror Attack Complete Graphics Kit
Baja Designs Squadron Pro LED Light Kit Double Take Trail Mirror Attack Graphics Complete Graphics Kit
Attack Factory Seat Cover Michelin Bib Mousse Dunlop MX3S Geomax Soft/Int. Tire
Attack Graphics Factory Seat Cover Michelin Bib Mousse Foam Tube Dunlop MX3S Geomax Soft-Intermediate Tires
Tusk Impact Complete Wheel Kit Lexx MXe Silencer & Mid-Pipe Lexx Trail Saver Quiet Core Insert
Tusk Impact Complete Front-Rear Wheel Kit Lexx MXe Slip-On Silencer with Mid-Pipe Lexx MXe Trail Saver Quiet Core Insert
JD Jetting Power Surge Tuner
JD Jetting Power Surge 6X Fuel Injection Tuner