By John Burns Editor Score: 92.0%
2019 Husqvarna Svartpilen 701
Editor Score: 92.0%
Husqvarna‘s US media guy, Andy Jefferson, is a little worried about Husqvarna’s name recognition in the States, though worried is probably not the right word. More like “interested in” or “amused by.” Husqvarna’s been selling bikes in the US for decades (Andy raced them in the early ’80s), but it still seems like the few Americans who do recognize the name Husqvarna associate it with chainsaws and sewing machines. Dirtbike people have no excuse since Husky’s won a couple of US championships lately. But you do have to give streetbike people a break. I mean, Husky’s only been back in the streetbike market in the US, since, uh, 2018.
Last year we slagged off the Vitpilen 401 a little, but only in order to heap more praise on the highly contrasting sister-ship Svartpilen 401, mostly because of its much friendlier ergonomic triangle. Then we gave reasonably high marks to Vitpilen 701. Well now, here’s Svartpilen 701, and there’s roughly twice as much to love: Svartpilen 401 is a tarted-up KTM Duke 390, and Svartpilen 701 is, correct, a tarted-up – but visually toned down – Duke 690.
What happened was, in case you haven’t been paying attention, KTM bought Husqvarna from BMW in 2013, and ever since then the Austrians have been on the gas with the storied old Swedish marque in a way the staid BMW never was. In 2013, sceptics said Husqvarna would be lucky to move 20,000 bikes a year. In 2018, Husky’s marketing people tell us, they moved 48,000-some bikes. Very healthy numbers in a stagnant market.
Count me among the …read more