Motorcycles, Travel & Adventure


Motorcycle TourMagazine

First Ride • 2018 Husqvarna VITPILEN 701 & SVARTPILEN 401

Words: Tony Lisanti

HusqVitpilenTonyEarlier this year, Husqvarna Motorcycles launched their highly anticipated and exciting new range of “real street” motorcycles to the North American market. Two of the models, VITPILEN 701, and SVARTPILEN 401 were in NYC and I had an opportunity to sample both. VITPILEN (Swedish for “White Arrow”) and SVARTPILEN (Swedish for “Black Arrow”) were originally introduced as concepts in 2014. These unique models, inspired by the simplicity of classic Swedish design, are the beginning of a concept that they hope will grow further.HusqSvartpilen401action

The SVARPILEN is a more rugged and “tough” looking machine with protective parts incorporated into the design such as an exhaust protector, skid plate and tank rack, which are the basis for a modern-day scrambler. Powered by a single-cylinder 4-stroke engine with roots in the off road world, SVARTPILEN is lightweight, functional and nimble. The riding position on the SVARTPILEN 401 is more upright because of its higher and straighter bars. It is fully-equipped with premium components including LED front and rear lights, WP suspension and a modern fuel-injected motor, throttle by wire among other features.

A short ride on familiar roads just north of NYC let me get a sense of how the package works. The 375cc thumper starts with enthusiasm and revs freely. The mid-size thumper mill is counter balanced so it’s very smooth with only a lightHusqSvartpilen401still amount of vibration at the grips to let you know its there. The riding position is upright but forward. The view from the seat gives the illusion you’re over the front wheel. Once underway the bike performs very well. The light weight and superb WP suspension make for a sporty and aggressive ride. ByBre brakes front and rear provide great stopping power with ABS. The 330 lb claimed dry weight makes this machine very nimble in the turns. It’s not afraid to rev either. Keep the RPM’s up and shift at will. One can make great time on the twisty country roads or tight congested city streets. Keep the revs up, point and shoot.

The VITPILEN 701 is also a single-cylinder street motorcycle designed to deliver a pure, thrilling, honest riding experience. The engine is a bigger bore single-cylinder 4_stroke housed in chrome-moly trellis frame. The VITPILEN 701 was created to reflect the styling of a more modern progressive street roadster. Its minimalistic design is a simple, functional and practical approach to the original concept bike debuted in 2014.

HusqVitpilen701stillThe frame is constructed of hydro-formed, high-grade chromium molybdenum tube steel featuring laser cut tubes robotically welded ensuring precision and rigidity. It’s lightweight results in precise handling, superior torsional rigidity and longitudinal flex, providing detailed feedback for the rider.

The 692.7 cc liquid-cooled, single cylinder engine like its smaller sibling features the latest design and electronics technology such as cam driven counter balancer, throttle by wire, EFI, but adds selectable ABS and traction control which can be switched off. With a peak horsepower of 75hp and 53 lb-ft. of torque at 6750 rpm, there is no doubting this bike’s performance potential. WP suspension and the supreme Brembo brakes, round out the list of premium components.

A second ride on the roads in Harriman was fun to say the least. The riding position is much sportier with more of a lean into the handlebars. Like the SVARTPILEN, the seat places you forward over the gas tank locating your head over the bars. It gives the illusion of an aggressive riding position without being uncomfortably leaned forward. The 75 HP single is very torquey and likes to rev to redline. With a claimed dry weight of only 346 lbs, this bike is a blast. Open the throttle and the forward motion is instant without being jerky or twitchy. Once under way shifts are smooth and effortless. The torque allows for either short shifting or blasting through the gears at redline. If you have an affinity for single cylinder machines, this bike will leave you wanting one.

HusqVitpilen701actionHusqvarna is introducing this line of machines as entry level. The SVARTPILEN is cool enough and docile enough to attract new and dare I say younger riders to the road. It should appeal to urbanites, commuters and weekend warriors alike. The VITPILEN 701 is a bit more upscale and will be priced accordingly. The VITPILEN is also available as a 401 model which should be more attractively priced.

Husqvarna Motorcycles also offers a line of accessories and lifestyle apparel to fit out and customize each machine to the owner’s liking.

For more information point your browser to or to see them in person stop by Town and Country Cycle Center in Hamburg, NJ