Generally speaking, finding bikes to pair up for comparison is a bit more direct; throwing the R6 against the CBR600, or building out our adventure bike shootout is mostly a no-brainer, but sometimes bikes that roll through for testing end up revealing unexpectedly similar personalities. Earlier this year I faced exactly that. Both the Honda CB650R and Husqvarna Svartpilen 701 found their way into my driveway from their respective manufacturers at the same time (due to poor scheduling and limited availability of the Svart, more than anything), and I instantly found myself playing a game of spot the similarities.
Yes, it helped that both test bikes showed up in black paint, but there’s way more to the equation than that. Their sticker prices are only a few hundred dollars apart, with the ABS-equipped CB650R at $9,199 and the Svartpilen 701 (with standard ABS) currently priced at $9,499 (thanks to a $2,500 price drop). Their displacement is a modest 43.7cc apart (surprisingly the 701 is actually a 692.9cc Single), however, we can’t look at comparing their horsepower and torque stats directly – Honda presently isn’t listing figures for their inline 4-banger. Of course, the power delivery from Husqvarna’s big thumper is actually very different than that of the Honda mill, but as far as where they stack up in the general performance food chain is once again close enough to make them competitors.
Further to the point, though different in some respects, these two bikes are pointed squarely at the same rider in terms of market position. They’re upright enough to not be abusive when riding more than an hour or two, yet with a distinct lack of wind protection, they’re also very much pointed at the more urban/commuter …read more