Florian Schober is the R&D Venture Supervisor for Husqvarna Bikes’ enduro fashions. Which suggests, working hand in hand with the Product Administration division, he’s chargeable for the whole lot from pre-ideation to design work to optimising the shared platform throughout the Swedish-born Austrian model’s enduro and MX fashions. So, what does Schober determine because the standout parts of those new-generation 2024 fashions? What drove the all-new ‘stiff body design idea’ behind these bikes? And what challenges did Husky’s design staff encounter over the previous 4 years whereas this all-new platform has been in improvement?
In Norway, on the worldwide launch for Husqvarna’s radically completely different 2024 enduro vary, we sat down with the Husqvarna’s Florian Schober for some revealing solutions to those questions and extra…
TM: Clarify the working relationship between Husqvarna’s R&D and Product Administration departments. Who dictates phrases to who in relation to the ultimate design, expertise and componentry discovered on a brand new vary of machines? By the best way, we requested this similar query of your Product Supervisor colleague, Florian Braatz.
FS: Properly, in that case, it is going to be fascinating how related – or completely different – our solutions are [laughs]. It’s a fancy course of. There’s loads of documentation concerning the interplay between Product Administration and R&D – initially round any important actions that Product Administration see within the sport or from our opponents, but additionally involving the enhancements that we imagine we all know we have to make. That will contain bodywork or styling, as an illustration, or a selected part. So, Florian Braatz and his staff could say to R&D, for instance, that we have to have a stronger brake or repair some points with the subframe. Out of that course of, which entails loads of back-and-forth dialogue, we create the ‘crimson line’ … the uncooked specification for the mission.
Previously 5 years, I perceive that the R&D Division on the KTM group’s HQ in Mattighofen, Austria, has grown from round 500 to 650 folks. However how many individuals are in your quick staff?
If you happen to embrace the workshop and check riders, our off-road staff is made up of fifty to 60 folks. These are the off-road ‘moto heads’ within the division [laughs], they usually’re shared throughout the enduro and motocross mannequin platform. However that quantity doesn’t embrace the EMS or Powerpack guys or the folks engaged on electronics, for instance.
“Standardisation is smart from each a business and efficiency standpoint as a result of, for those who cut back variations in componentry, you’ll be able to focus your consideration discovering enhancements in these particular areas.”
So, for those who needed to articulate the important thing design goal (or design idea) of Husqvarna’s new-generation 2024-model enduro machines, what would it not be?
As I learn in the Q&A article you lately did with Florian Braatz, the shift to a a lot stiffer body was on the coronary heart of this new platform of machines. However I’d additionally say one of many key goals for us is summarised by the phrase ‘standardisation’ as a result of our problem was to simplify the 2024 vary’s design parts and make their manufacturing as simple as potential, however solely try this the place it makes complete sense.
A cynic is prone to say that ‘standardisation’ is solely one other method of saving prices by sharing as many elements as potential throughout the enduro and MX mannequin platform, and that it means extra compromises are being made with every capability. How would you reply that?
I can perceive why some folks might imagine that method. However in my thoughts, standardisation is smart from each a business and efficiency standpoint as a result of, for those who cut back variations in componentry, you’ll be able to focus your consideration discovering enhancements in these particular areas. For instance, with this new platform, we now solely have three body variations throughout the seven fashions – one four-stroke and two two-stroke – however that’s solely potential by re-working the engine mounts’ positioning and designs. So, each single engine wanted to be reworked simply to meet this simplification on the body. However the benefit of that is that, after we do our testing, we are able to focus our consideration on maximising the efficiency of those three frames, moderately than many different variations. And this brings a a lot better and extra constant efficiency.
The footpegs are one other good instance of standardisation, proper? There’s not any distinction between the MX and enduro fashions’ pegs. However take us by way of that strategy of finalising the selection of ultimate part spec.
Proper from the start of the event of this new model-generation – and by that, I imply our 2023 motocross fashions and 2024 enduro fashions – we approached this new platform as one mission that would supply an enormous step ahead for motocross and enduro fashions. In different phrases, we tried to maintain the motocross and enduro bikes as similar as potential for so long as potential. And we did this for all elements earlier than asking ourselves whether or not there may be any substantial profit by creating one thing new. So, with the footpegs, we place a motocross rider on an enduro monitor and an enduro rider on a motocross monitor and use their suggestions to double-check. Out of that course of, we realised we didn’t want a distinct footpeg – and even completely different footpeg place – between the motocross and enduro fashions. That very same course of and pondering applies to the body stiffness. The body used on our motocross and enduro fashions is now very related, however we create the flex traits and really feel we’d like for enduro by differentiating different elements – the suspension, for instance, which must be completely different in any case for enduro. There’s additionally an enormous distinction in the best way the enduro bikes ship their energy. Because of variations within the EMS, the ability is extra controllable, which is what’s on the coronary heart of enduro.
“The body used on our motocross and enduro fashions is now very related, however we create the flex traits and really feel we’d like for enduro by differentiating different elements.”
The identical goes with the shared bodywork between enduro and MX fashions, proper?
Sure. Headlight and gasoline tank apart, the enduro bodywork is similar. Similar seat, similar seat profile, similar radiator shrouds. Meaning the rider contact factors are additionally fully the identical. In different phrases, we have now settled on an optimised ergo bundle that we imagine can’t be improved for both motocross or enduro.
Lots of people will battle to get their head round the concept that further flex is not designed into the enduro fashions’ body itself.
Agreed, as a result of this 2024 enduro mannequin vary now makes use of a really completely different design idea. Its body structure, geometry and flex character are all the identical – or not less than very, very related – to what’s used on our MX fashions. However what’s essential to know is that the enduro compliance is now achieved by altering the flex traits of different issues – such because the triple clamps, engine mounts, axles, and so forth. Additionally think about the truth that, as the game has modified, so has the market’s expectations. Previously, enduro meant a tender, traction-searching bike. These days, our buyer suggestions tells us their bikes are predominantly used for cross-country using, for motocross coaching, and for full-gas enduro using – typically in technical and excessive terrain. So, the market’s requirement has modified to wanting a motorbike that could be very secure and may do all these issues in a secure and predictable method. Now we have now a stiff body for that secure platform, and you may create flex in a extra managed method with the suspension and different elements.
So, it’s no coincidence that the all-new WP closed-cartridge fork was launched concurrently with this all-new stiff body design idea?
No, that was very intentional. For stability and chassis stability, the extra inflexible anti-squat chassis depends on the fork holding up very nicely in its compression stroke to make sure there is no such thing as a nervousness within the front-end, and the brand new CC fork gives this. The earlier open-cartridge fork dived an excessive amount of, and couldn’t supply the additional front-end stability we would have liked for this new chassis.
Why the change from the 25mm to 22mm rear axle for the 2024 TE and FE fashions?
That may be a excellent instance of the place it did not make sense to maintain the motocross and enduro bikes the identical. We all know that the 25mm axle creates a direct response and loads of additional rear-end stability, which is required at excessive pace, sandy circumstances, or supercross-type using. However the extra versatile 22mm axle offers you extra traction and luxury, and that extra forgiving trip works quite a bit higher for enduro terrain.
Let’s speak engines, and extra particularly concerning the headline improve for 2024 – the brand new Throttle Physique Injection (TBI) fuel-injection system (and digital power-valve) launched to the two-stroke engines. It’s such as you’ve come full circle from the deceptively quick energy the earlier TPI bikes delivered to the TBI’s carb-like supply. Was the design goal of the transfer to TBI pushed by efficiency good points, or by responding to two-stroke fanatics’ nostalgic want for powerband-style energy?
To be sincere, each, as a result of two-stroke riders’ suggestions is that they’re at all times looking for that acquainted previous two-stroke-style energy. There isn’t any doubt the TBI system, when mixed with the digital power-valve, improves each efficiency and rider really feel. Our testing confirmed we may acquire a torqueier really feel to the ability at decrease RPM with the TBI system, plus extra energy and throttle response at increased revs. In different phrases, extra like a really nicely jetted carb.
“Previously, enduro meant a tender, traction-searching bike. These days, our buyer suggestions tells us their bikes are predominantly used for cross-country using, for MX coaching, and for full-gas enduro using – typically in technical and excessive terrain. So, the market’s requirement has modified to wanting a motorbike that could be very secure and may do all these issues in a secure and predictable method.”
Why the transfer away from the ribbed development for the two-strokes’ enlargement chambers? Didn’t they add power and assist muffle noise emissions?
That’s true, however additionally they had some disadvantages – reminiscent of prospects complaining concerning the added value of eradicating any dents within the enlargement chamber. Principally, with the change from the centrifugal power-valve (mounted on the proper facet) to digital power-valve (mounted on the left facet) for the 2024 fashions, the extra house created on the right-hand facet allowed us to route the enlargement chamber in a a lot slimmer, extra compact method. It’s now nearer to the engine and body and provides extra floor clearance, however it has additionally improved efficiency. In different phrases, there was not any want to bolster the pipe with ribs. Once more, it comes again to simplification – if we don’t want the ribs, then there’s no level in doing it.
In contrast with its orange cousins, the Husqvarnas have at all times been positioned as ‘premium’, for which shoppers pay a premium value. And there’s little question that holds true with issues just like the billet triple clamps and further elements that come normal – such because the map-selector swap, skidplate, etcetera. However not everybody would think about Husky’s hydraulic Braktec brakes and clutch to be extra ‘premium’ than the KTMs’ Brembo equivalents. Do you guys see Braktec as superior to Brembo?
Braktec is a powerful and contemporary model and really motivated to proceed to evolve their merchandise and supply focused options. In our thoughts, Braktec is a really robust companion who we are able to work along with to develop new options. And importantly, they’re open to discovering new options with us and for us.
“For stability and chassis stability, the extra inflexible anti-squat chassis depends on the fork holding up very nicely in its compression stroke to make sure there is no such thing as a nervousness within the front-end, and the brand new CC fork gives this.”
Working example: the Brembo brake and clutch didn’t change on the 2024 KTMs, however for the 2024 Husky’s, Braktec made updates to issues such because the brake calliper, lever form, lever ratios, etcetera.
Precisely. For 2024, we additionally improved many issues within the clutch. On the engine facet, we improved the piston, the seals and the interior spring. On the clutch grasp cylinder, we up to date the lever. On the brake facet, the upgrades we’ve mentioned to nearly all of the elements have now been delivered to manufacturing. This course of with Braktec by no means stops. Tomorrow would be the similar.
As you’re an R&D man, Florian, I can’t not ask you concerning the future – if not particularly what’s within the pipeline for Husqvarna, then what future design developments we’re prone to see? The place is the largest potential to enhance? What’s in your sights?
I see a number of areas. First, ergonomics. That can change as a result of using kinds are consistently evolving, and that can demand completely different design necessities from us. And because of this we consistently problem ourselves about optimising the contact factors between rider and bike. Ergonomics and rider consolation will make the distinction between successful races and never successful races time and time once more. Secondly, expertise that makes the bikes extra user-friendly. By that, I imply options that produce higher connectivity with good units. Providing higher adjustability for the rider can be a part of that. Thirdly, fully new options … the main points of which I can not disclose publicly [laughs].
“The TBI system improves each efficiency and rider really feel. Our testing confirmed we may acquire a torqueier energy at decrease RPM with the TBI system, plus extra energy and throttle response at increased revs. In different phrases, extra like a really nicely jetted carb.”
It’s been a number of years now since KTM and Husky concurrently revealed their all-new good cellphone tuning apps – connectivity that put loads of tuning choices in riders’ fingers. In what looks like little bit of a sensitive topic for you guys, that expertise simply disappeared and we’re but to see it return. In the meantime, Yamaha has cast forward with the performance of their PowerTuner App. What are you able to inform us concerning the 2.0 model of your good cellphone connectivity tech?
I can not offer you a timetable for it, however I can say we’re engaged on bringing new options with out copying current options. For positive, you’ll be able to count on one thing new. What that’s and when, I can not but say.
Thanks in your time and candour, Florian.
My pleasure, Andy. It’s been actually fascinating for us to be at this media launch, and really satisfying that the suggestions about this new platform of bikes has been so constructive.