Flow reviews the Husqvarna Mountain Cross
Husqvarna might be a name that we normally associate with lawn mowers and chainsaws, but the Swedish brand is looking to change that with its range of electric mountain bikes. Having made motorbikes since 1903, Husqvarna decided to dive into the e-MTB market back in 2019. While it may seem like a strange move from the outside, it’s worth noting that alongside GasGas and Felt, Husqvarna is part of the wider PIMAG Group that’s owned by KTM. This bicycle-specific division clearly has big ambitions too, which includes the expansion of its European-based assembly and manufacturing capabilities over the next few years. However, it’s already showing plenty of commitment to its product range with unique frame designs and battery solutions that have been developed in-house.
As part of the PIMAG Group’s broader expansion, the Husqvarna e-MTB range has just landed in Australia for the first time. Curiously these bikes will be available both in Husqvarna motorcycle dealerships as well as independent bicycle shops. Covering a range of riding styles, the Husqvarna e-MTB lineup is split into three distinct platforms;
- Hard Cross (HC) – 180/170mm travel, alloy frame, mullet wheels
- Mountain Cross (MC) – 150/150mm travel, carbon & alloy frames, mullet wheels
- Light Cross (LC) – 130/120mm travel, carbon & alloy frames, mullet wheels
To kick things off with its arrival in the Australian market, Husqvarna sent us the Goldilocks model from its range; the Mountain Cross.
Watch our video review of the Husqvarna Mountain Cross here:
We assumed a big company like Husqvarna would have simply slapped its logo onto an open-mould bike that had been picked straight out of a catalogue. It turns out that couldn’t be further from the truth.
An overview of the 2024 Husqvarna Mountain Cross
Designed for all-round riding, the Husqvarna Mountain Cross features a mullet wheel setup and 150mm of travel front and rear. That puts it into competition with fellow All Mountain e-MTBs such as the Specialized Levo, Trek Rail, Merida eOne-Sixty and Norco Sight VLT.
Available in both alloy and carbon fibre, the Mountain Cross frame utilises a four-bar suspension design with a large yoke driving the shock. The carbon frame is particularly distinctive thanks to the reinforcing side struts that surround the shock, and the Shimano EP801 motor that has been heavily clocked upwards in order to position the 720Wh battery as low as possible.
There’s a charge port on the seat tube, though the battery can be easily removed from the frame for separate charging thanks to a tool-free hinged cover that’s made from injection-moulded carbon. It’s quite sturdy, which is good because this part of the frame sits quite close to the ground.
Husqvarna has gone to some lengths to reduce operating temperatures for the electrical components. While the motor is supported within a carbon fibre cradle, it’s mostly left exposed to maximise heat dissipation and prevent it from throttling the power output on sustained climbs.
Likewise, heat from the battery is encouraged to escape through dedicated vents in the headtube badge. However, this also provides a potential inlet for water to get to the headset bearings, so owners should avoid using a pressure washer when cleaning their bike.
Given its broad target market, geometry on the Husqvarna Mountain Cross aims to strike something of a middle ground.
The 65.5° head angle is on the conservative side for an e-MTB with this amount of travel, though it should prevent the steering from feeling too floppy on flatter gradients. And the 77° seat tube angle aims to put the rider in a good position on steep climbs without pushing too much weight through the hands.
Reach measurements are pretty typical across the four frame sizes, and thanks to the 27.5in rear wheel the rear centre length is relatively short at 445mm.
The seat tube lengths are on the longer side though, and seatpost insertion is somewhat limited due to the frame design and motor position. As a result, the dropper post lengths are shorter than what we’d like to see fitted to a contemporary e-MTB.
2024 Husqvarna Mountain Cross price & specs
There are three Husqvarna Mountain Cross models coming into Australia for 2024.
The cheapest is the Mountain Cross MC3, which sells for $7,999 AUD and features an alloy frame, a Shimano EP6 motor and a 630Wh battery.
Our test bike is the top-end model; the Mountain Cross MC6. It sells for $12,499 AUD and gets the carbon frame, Shimano EP801 motor and 720Wh battery. You can see the detailed specs below, followed by our riding impressions of this Swedish e-MTB.
2024 Husqvarna Mountain Cross MC6
- Frame | Carbon Fibre, Four-Bar Suspension Design, 150mm Travel
- Fork | Fox 36, Factory Series, GRIP2 Damper, 44mm Offset, 150mm Travel
- Shock | Fox Float X, Factory Series, 230×62.5mm
- Motor | Shimano EP801, 85Nm
- Battery | Core S3+, 720Wh
- Wheels | Newmen Evolution SL E.G, Inner Rim Width: 30mm Front & 35mm Rear
- Tyres | Schwalbe Nobby Nic 29×2.4in Front & 27.5×2.6in Rear, Super Trail Casing
- Drivetrain | SRAM X01 Eagle 1×12 w/34T Crankset & GX Eagle 10-50T Cassette
- Brakes | Magura MT5 4-Piston w/203mm Rotors
- Handlebar | Husqvarna Alloy, 18mm Rise, 780mm Width
- Stem | Husqvarna, 50mm Length
- Seatpost | Husqvarna Pro, Travel: 125mm (S), 150mm (M-L), 170mm (XL)
- Saddle | Husqvarna MTB
- Confirmed Weight | 23.52kg
- RRP | $12,499 AUD
The rear suspension is unremarkable, but we mean that in the best way possible.
Husqvarna Mountain Cross fit & sizing
To suit Dan’s height of 183cm, we elected for a Large size in the Husqvarna Mountain Cross MC6.
The bike fits well for the most part with its roomy 475mm reach and generous 646mm stack, and it’s great to see plenty of headset spacers for dialling in the bar height. The result is an upright riding position that isn’t overly stretched out, making the Mountain Cross MC6 a comfortable bike to take on long adventure rides.
Our main criticism in terms of the fit is the 150mm travel dropper post, which is too short for a Large size e-MTB. Most of Husqvarna’s competitors are fitting 170mm droppers, and these days that’s what we’ve come to expect.
Husqvarna Mountain Cross MC6 weight
Our Husqvarna Mountain Cross MC6 came in at a confirmed weight of 23.52kg (without pedals and with the tyres set up tubeless). That’s a pretty decent for a full-powered e-MTB with a 720Wh battery.
The high-end Newmen wheelset helps to keep the weight down, as it’s claimed to weigh less than 1,900g. The Schwalbe Nobby Nic tyres are also on the lighter side due to their Super Trail casing. The tread isn’t particularly aggressive either, and the 2.4in front tyre looks kind of skinny given how big the rest of the bike is. We’d expect to see more aggressive and heavier duty tyres on an e-MTB with this kind of stance and travel.
What do we dig about the Husqvarna Mountain Cross MC6?
True to its intentions, we’ve found the Husqvarna Mountain Cross MC6 to be a great all-rounder. The smooth suspension has impressed, with the Fox 36 offering a supple feel and plenty of control thanks to its high-tech GRIP2 damper.
The rear suspension is unremarkable, but we mean that in the best way possible. Indeed the Float X shock combined with a conventional four-bar design, with its long linkage and yoke, provides a predictable feel throughout the travel. Sensitivity is excellent, allowing the rear wheel to track the terrain closely whether you’re on the brakes or not. There’s still useful support that keeps the back end from feeling too doughy, and it soaks up bigger and harsher hits with ease.
Thanks to the active suspension and intermediate geometry we found it didn’t take long to feel comfortable aboard the Mountain Cross MC6. Weight distribution is excellent thanks to the low battery placement, and we’re big fans of the mullet setup, with the smaller rear wheel providing a great source of enthusiasm for what is a heavy e-MTB. It makes it easier to initiate turns, and it doesn’t take a monumental effort to pop up the front wheel. It gives the Mountain Cross MC6 quite a playful character not unlike the Levo and eOne-Sixty, and overall we’ve found the handling to be intuitive and easy going when riding flowy jump trails.
Shimano EP801 motor
We’ve also got plenty of praise for Shimano’s latest EP801 motor. No, it doesn’t have the same low-end grunt as a Bosch motor, but the power delivery is smoother and more natural. And aside from the usual clacking noise on the descents from the motor’s internal freewheel, it’s impressively quiet on the trail.
We also like that there’s plenty of breathing space around the drive unit to allow it to radiate heat. This is especially important for hot Aussie conditions, where high motor temperatures can lead to reduced power output as the drive unit tries to protect itself from overheating on a sustained climb.
The EN600 colour screen display is crisp and clear, and it can be customised with up to four different metrics on each page. More importantly, it now displays your battery status in 10% increments, making it easier to gauge how much you have left.
The Shimano E-TUBE app gives you a wide range of options for tuning the motor output to best match your riding style and needs. Combined with the 720Wh battery, there’s plenty of range available for smashing out a 2-hour ride in Boost, or a bigger 4-5 hour epic when using the Trail and Eco modes.
What could be improved?
While overall stability is quite good thanks to the active suspension and low centre of mass, when pushing the Husqvarna Mountain Cross MC6 on steeper and rougher descents the front end was a little twitchier than we’d like. The steep head angle is partly to blame here, and given how quickly you can build momentum on this 24kg e-MTB, we reckon it could easily be a degree slacker to help provide more stability on the descents.
It’s worth pointing out that the frame is rated for use with a 160mm travel fork. If this were our bike, we’d be fitting a 160mm air spring to the Fox 36 to provide a little more cushion up front while also slackening the head angle by approximately half a degree.
Also, it doesn’t take much to overwhelm the skinny Schwalbe tyres. They’re fine on hardpack for the most part, but when they let go in loose conditions, they really let go. The Mountain Cross MC6 deserves more grip and stability, so we’d be fitting a pair of Magic Mary tyres with the Super Gravity casing if this were our bike.
Having said all of that, if more suspension and burlier tyres sounds appealing to you, then it may be worth considering the Husqvarna Hard Cross HC5 instead. That bike comes with a Fox 38, Float X2 and Magic Mary tyres as standard, and along with its alloy frame and 180/170mm travel platform, it’ll be the better option for hard-hitting folks.
So while we do think the Mountain Cross could be a really capable e-MTB with a few tweaks, it’s important to recognise that Husqvarna has designed it to be an approachable bike for beginners and intermediate riders. Indeed it’s comfortable and easy to ride, especially on flowier trails and undulating terrain.
Motor & battery issues
Those preferences aside, there were some issues we encountered with the Husqvarna Mountain Cross MC6 that are also important to mention.
After the first ride we discovered that the bike would no longer power up, which was the result of a loose connection between the main battery plug and the motor. Pushing it back into place helped to restore power, though over the course of the next couple of rides the poorly-fitting plug would steadily work its way loose again. This wasn’t a problem when riding smoother trails, but on rough terrain the bike would switch off every 10 minutes, requiring us to stop and open up the battery cover to push the plug back in. Obviously this is not ideal.
Additionally, we noticed a rattle coming from inside the frame that was significantly louder than the Shimano motor’s usual clacking noise. This turned out to be the battery moving around inside the downtube and, somewhat disconcertingly, we could also feel this movement on heavy compressions.
In speaking with Husqvarna, these problems have been identified and solutions are in place. To address the loss of power, there is now a ‘battery protection plug’, which is a supplementary rubber wedge that helps to lock the plug in position when the battery cover is tightened down. We’re told this part will be sent to Husqvarna dealers to install on production Mountain Cross MC5 and MC6 models, as well as the Light Cross LC5. That being the case, consumers shouldn’t encounter the same problem we did.
Husqvarna has also developed a block of foam that’s designed to sit inside the frame just behind the head tube. This is to silence any vibration from the cables and rear brake hose that can otherwise flap around inside the frame. While it should do the trick, we’d prefer if the control lines were properly secured and didn’t route through the headset to begin with.
As for the battery rattle, we’ve been told that not every bike suffers from this noise. For the ones that do, Husqvarna released a tech bulletin that directs users to add a strip of soft velcro tape to sit underneath the rubber sleeves at either end of the battery. This helps to create a tighter fit inside the frame and eliminate the rattle. We don’t think it’s something you should have to do with a $12K bike, but at least the solution is relatively easy and cheap, and it goes to show that the company is being proactive in addressing issues for consumer.
Component highs & lows
Given the full carbon frame and Fox Factory Series suspension, the Husqvarna Mountain Cross MC6 offers an appealing package for the money.
Compared to the competition, you’re getting some nicer parts than the Trek Rail 9.8 XT ($12,499 AUD) and Specialized Levo Comp Carbon ($13,400 AUD), though we’d say the overall package is comparable to the Merida eOne-Sixty 9000 ($11,699 AUD) and Norco Sight VLT C1 ($12,699 AUD).
Aside from the short dropper post and light-duty tyres, we’ve had no complaints from the components on Mountain Cross MC6. The Magura MT5 brakes offer gobs of power with a nicely controllable feel, and the high-end Newmen wheels have been solid. SRAM’s X0 derailleur and one-click shifter work well, though we did manage to break a chain when powering through a shift.
On the note of value for money, for those who are less enamoured by the Kashima gold suspension and SRAM X0 shifting, you’ll want to check out the cheaper Mountain Cross MC5. That bike brings the price down to $10,999 AUD thanks to its Fox Performance Series fork, Float DPS shock, SRAM G2 brakes and GX Eagle drivetrain, while still incorporating the same carbon frame, Shimano EP801 motor and 720Wh battery.
Testing the Husqvarna Mountain Cross MC6 turned out to be quite an eye-opening experience. We assumed a big company like Husqvarna would have simply slapped its logo onto an open-mould bike that had been picked straight out of a catalogue. It turns out that couldn’t be further from the truth.
With its unique and aesthetically-pleasing frame design, the Mountain Cross is full of neat and considered details. The Shimano motor is a terrific performer, the user interface works well, and the 720Wh battery offers plenty of juice to keep most riders from experiencing range anxiety.
The geometry might not be pushing any boundaries, but thanks to the smooth suspension, upright riding position and mullet setup, the Mountain Cross is a thoroughly comfortable and easy bike to ride on flowy, undulating singletrack.
We reckon there’s room for improvement when it comes to the tyres and dropper post, and a slacker head angle wouldn’t go astray either. Of course our experience with the Mountain Cross MC6 was soured due to the power loss and battery rattle issues, though Husqvarna has assured us that the solutions it has developed will ensure that consumers won’t encounter the same problems. We certainly hope that’s the case, because the 150mm travel category is incredibly competitive, and there’s no doubt a lot to like about this well-priced e-MTB.