PROJECT BIKE: 2021 HUSQVARNA FE501S ADV-LITE
Let’s get one thing straight right from the get-go, building a project bike doesn’t mean adding all of the bling parts that you can. In the case of our 2021 Husqvarna FE501 ADV-lite bike build, we wanted to build something focused on extended travel as opposed to a bike built for day rides. We’ve seen many different 500cc dual-sport builds for Round-The-World (RTW) travel, but in our opinion, there are better options out there. Especially now that there are more choices in the middle-weight 700cc+ class segment. A 500cc single-cylinder takes tons of oil maintenance (15 hour oil change intervals work out to less than 1000 miles at a 60mph average speed) and requires a lot of revs out on the open road, which in most cases causes some serious monkey-butt. So rather than build another RTW bike, the goal with this 501 was to improve on an already great dual-sport chassis and make it more suited to a long weekend exploring fire roads and the occasional single-track that does not include any Erzberg enduro-like sections. With this type of riding in mind, we didn’t see a need to weigh the bike down with heavy skid plates or anodized bling on every inch of the bike. Yes, those parts do look cool, and if that’s your thing, go for it.
The suspension on a FE501 is acceptable right out of the box, so we chose to keep the bike’s WP XPLOR 48 front forks and WP XACT in their stock configuration for this build. We’ve built plenty of bikes with revised valving and other suspension wizardry, but the stock setup does the trick for this build. Remember, the goal here is to build something for exploring for a few days at a time – not to go race pace in the desert or to smash into tractor tires and other soft enduro stuff all day long.
The most significant upgrade we made to the 501 is the RADE/GARAGE rally tower. While rally towers are popular these days, they’re not always a good fit for bikes that live on super tight single-track. Yet when you’re traveling at speed and need a better lighting solution, some wind protection, a place for your navigation, phone, and other accessories, we believe a tower is well worth the money.
We chose the RADE/GARAGE FE rally kit primarily because there’s minimal drilling and it’s pretty plug-and-play. Some of the many features included are a GPS Mount, Scott’s Steering Damper mounts, LED Lighting, and turn signals. If you fancy yourself entering a rally anytime soon, it also provides mounting for a complete roadbook rally navigation system. The carbon fiber base allows you to build the cockpit to your needs and contains the supplied plug-in harness to run accessories off the ignition switch.
We have seen our fair share of carbon fiber motorcycle parts, and the RADE/GARAGE quality is next level. The kit comes with extra hardware, which is a welcome inclusion too. RADE/GARAGE does not sell via dealers in the US, but they do ship daily via FedEx and provide both customer satisfaction and part quality guarantees. The instructional video and provided instructions were super easy to follow.
The lights are one of the strongest, road legal and EU certified with 33W input producing 3985 lumens each and the weight of the kit is lighter compared to heavier aluminum kits on the market due to the use of carbon fiber. Our only issue with the install process was that USA FE501s have more wires packed behind the headlight mask compared to the EU FE501 shown in the video. As a result, we had to tuck some of the stock wiring next to the steering stem so that the OEM harness would not interfere with the bike’s steering. Just take your time to route things carefully so that wires are not pulled or pinched anywhere in the bike’s steering range of motion, and you’ll be good to go. During the tower install, we also added a USB adapter to power a phone or other device and an Upshift graphics kit to the side fairings. RADE/GARAGE does include a graphics kit with the tower kit.
Since we knew that this bike would spend plenty of time on high-speed dirt, we needed to eliminate some of the vibrations caused by a 500cc single when it’s being revved. We changed final drive gearing from a 14/48 tooth sprockets to 15/45 tooth sprockets, which helped a bunch and did not take away too much bite in the lower RPM range. Not only does this new final drive gearing reduce revs, it also improves fuel economy which will help with those long weekend or ADV lite style rides.
To improve the 501’s rideability for a spectrum of different riders, a Rekluse RadiusX clutch pack was installed. The RadiusX combines TorqDrive friction disk technology with EXP (auto clutch) disks. This combination provides more clutch disks in less space, delivering high-performance auto clutch function within the framework of the stock clutch. The auto clutch engages smoothly off idle; it never chatters or grabs unpredictably. It makes riding technical sections more manageable, clutch modulation is no longer an issue, stalling is a thing of the past, and it makes ham-fisting the throttle and other forms of sub-par riding technique less likely to result in a failed attempt at an obstacle. The one big drawback that emerged was the lack of the in-gear “parking brake” function of a standard clutch when the engine was off. The ability to lock the rear wheel with the transmission is very helpful any time you’re not parking the bike on perfectly level ground.
To fit the 501’s chassis to our riders, we went with IMS Core Footpegs to keep our boots planted and to provide a larger platform than the stock pegs. These things can take a serious beating should they get introduced to any trail obstacles, and they provide all of the traction your feet could ask for. We used the stock ProTaper bars with the RADE/GARAGE 2 inch riser, which allows for a Scott’s Steering Stabilizer to be sub mounted. Pro Grip foam rally grips were used to add comfort and to help with any vibrations communicated through the bars. To round out the 501’s chassis fitment, we swapped the stock seat out for a Seat Concepts comfort seat.
To extend our fuel range, we went with the Acerbis 3.9 gallon tank. Installation was quick and easy, thanks to OEM quick-release fuel hoses. By adding 1.7 gallons of fuel over the stock tank, we were hoping to get more than 165 to 195 miles out of a full tank depending on the terrain. We also picked up an Acerbis skid plate, X-grip frame protector, X-factory handguards, and a front disk guard. These parts were easy to install and added the level of protection we were seeking.
Since sound matters, we went with the Yoshimura RS-12 Enduro Series complete exhaust system with a USFS approved spark arrester, which provided noticeable gains in power. This means more raw grunt when you need to get up that rock or over that log on the trail. On the street, it provides more get up and go to get to the next trailhead. We chose to grab some Yoshimura turn signals for the rear of the bike to clean things up and are less likely to break versus the bulky stock signals.
To round out this project build we traded the stock tires out for a set of Dunlop D606 tires. These tires were a great option for the intended use of this bike. They provide respectable grip off-road, without feeling like they’re going to kill you when you get on-road. Thanks to the 501’s lighter weight, these tires inspire confidence on hard surfaces, and they will not wear out in an afternoon if you have to grind out a few miles of highway. Off-road, they’ve provided solid traction in all of the soil types and surfaces we’ve ridden them on.
Depending on the type of ride we are taking, we will either run a Mosko Moto Reckless 10 or Reckless 40 luggage system on the 501. Either of these outstanding luggage solutions can quickly be installed or removed from the bike, and the versatility they offer allows us to carry the exact gear loadout we need for any adventure. If we’re going for a big day ride, we will use the Reckless 10, and if we’re kitting up for a few days out, the Reckless 40 carries everything we need with ease.
The 2021 Husqvarna FE501 is a versatile platform, and thanks to a robust aftermarket it can be built into a bike that can fulfill many different roles. This project build did exactly what we intended it to; it’s a great bike for exploring the forest roads, ADV-lite rides, and it’s able to handle the occasional single track with ease. We’re also not pigeon-holed into a corner here; should we want to change the bike’s attributes down the road, we can do so thanks to the fact that we kept this build more mellow instead of going full send in chasing ultimate performance in one type of riding.
Motorcycle: 2021 Husqvarna FE501S www.husqvarna-motorcycles.com
Plastic: Acerbis 3.9 Gallon Fuel Tank, Hand Guards, Skidplate and Frame Guards www.acerbis.com
Rally Tower: RADE/GARAGE Husqvarna FE501s Rally www.radegarage.com
Steering Stabilizer: Scotts www.scottsonline.com
Custom Graphics: Upshift Husqvarna FE501s Kit www.upshiftonline.com
Seat: Seat Concepts Comfort www.seatconcepts.com
Tires: Dunlop 606 Front and Rear www.dunlopmotorcycletires.com
Clutch: Rekluse Radius CX Auto Clutch www.rekluse.com
GPS: Trail Tech Voyager Pro with Buddy Tracking www.trailtech.net
Suspension: Stock WP XPLOR 48 Forks with WP XACT Rear Shock www.wp-suspension.com
Exhaust: Yoshimura RS-12 Stainless Full Exhaust with Aluminum Muffler www.yoshimura-rd.com
Rear Turn Signals: Yoshimura LED www.yoshimura-rd.com
Sprockets: DDC Delaney Drive Components (Gearing 15-45) www.ddcracing.net
Cell Phone Holder/Mount: RAM: Quick Grip XL www.rammount.com