Husqvarna Motorcycles and I go back a long way. I recall back in the early 80s, revving the bolts off one, and enjoying that distinct two-stroke aroma as it chewed its way through a large beech tree.
Husqvarna – Grand Prix to Baja 1000
In case you’re not familiar with this Swedish brand, they’ve been around since 1903 and have been winning Grand Prix since 1931.
At about that time, they also got into off-road competition. And impressively in the ensuing decades clocked up an incredible 80+ world championships from Motocross to the Baja 1000.
Prior to the release of the Svartpilen 401 and Vitpilen 401, MY-2018, Husqvarna hadn’t produced street bikes for over 4 years. Its last street bike was the Nuda 900 which ceased production in 2013.
The lack of a distinct street bike strategy, despite its heritage, may have been in part to due the numerous changes of ownership in the last three decades. Corporate shuffling, which included stints under the Cagiva, MV Agusta and BMW banners,
Enough of the history lesson, what about now? The company has now firmly part of the Austrian-owned KTM Group.
Husqvarna – Taking it to the Street
This latter move makes perfect sense, especially considering Husky’s relatively recent assault on the street bike market. Launched in July 2018, the Vitpilen 701 (White Arrow) took three years to create from the EICMA Show concept to a fully formed street bike.
Hot on its heels, and due on the showroom floor in spring 2019, is the blacked-out Svartpilen (Black Arrow), but how does it compare to the original Svartpilen 701 concept?
Both bikes use the same power plant and steel tube trellis frame as the 690 Duke. To give the Husky its distinct flavour though, the OHV liquid-cooled engine has been opened out by 3mm and the stroke reduced by 4.5mm.
Along with some tweaks to the engine
management software and the 50mm Keihin EFI, the power plant is revvy,
powerful, and surprisingly smooth.
The rev-happy single that doesn’t turn mirrors into Monets due to its two counter-balancers, has kept the same engine finish as the concept 701. The bodywork is a different story though.
Svartpilen 701 Embraces its Dark Side
The concept Svartpilen’s distinctive right-side race plate, gas tank airbox, and sub-frame, all featured brushed steel highlights. The production model, however, is blacked-in and although the gloss/satin contrast looks understated, for me, the brushed steel look is a lot edgier.
While still on the right side of the bike, the concept exhaust, usually one of the first casualties of the street-bound version, has become longer and narrower.
A single-sided satin black license plate/hugger coming off the swing arm is also part of the road-legal compliance. While the exposed cone air filter now lives behind a curvaceous one-piece side panel.
SVARTPILEN 701 SPECIFICATION HIGHLIGHTS:
692.7 cc liquid-cooled, single-cylinder engine
55 kW (75 hp)
72 Nm of torque at 6750 rpm
Chromium-molybdenum steel trellis frame
The most advanced single-cylinder engine on the market
High-quality components & technology as standard
Svartpilen Launches After Vitpilen 701 Success
Since its launch in July 2018, the world’s motorcycle press has waxed lyrical about the Vitpilen 701. The rev-hungry torque-laden engine impressed and the 25-degree rake, tubular chassis, and WP suspension make it a real elbow scratcher.
Despite some reservations about its neo-retro looks, overall the Husky got a big thumbs-up from me.
With ride-by-wire and a slipper clutch, the Vitpilen 701’s got just the right amount of practical gadgetry. As to the reaction to the one-sided bodywork with its techno-flat-racker vibe, it’s anyone’s guess.
Currently within the street tracker/scrambler segment offerings from Ducati and Triumph top the bill. The Ducati Scrambler 800 [£9,595] and Triumph Street Scrambler [£9,300] should be the natural opposition.
Yet, so unique a bike is the Svartpilen 701 [£8899], that it’s difficult to think of those two bikes as competitors. With that in mind, the nearest competitor can be found in the CCM Spitfire [£9,995] – another unique 600cc single.
Will the Aero 701 Concept Launch?
With the Svartpilen destined to hit
showrooms in the spring of 2019, Husqvarna has dangled yet another concept
model to whet the appetite, namely the Vitpilen Aero 701.
The big single is decked out in bodywork
that successfully blends ultra-modern design with a retro vibe, and the result
Arguably, Vitpilen 701 AERO may be the Husqvarna that makes the most sense for most people including me. So if any of you big wigs at the factory are reading this, do me a favour, and pull the trigger on the Aero.