EXTENDED REVIEW: 2018 Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 & Vitpilen 701
These bikes are divisive. You’ll either think they’re the best looking motos on the market or you’re just plain wrong. But what are they like to ride?
These bikes are nothing if not divisive. You’ll either think they’re the best looking motorcycles on the market or you’re just plain wrong. To my eyes they’re so damn striking I can’t help but love them. But you’ve probably already made your mind up about their looks. And as distinctive as they are, they’re also bloody strange beasts that sit in weird, confused end of the market. Not just because of their looks. They’re oddities. They’re both singles. They’re both based on KTM engines. And they’re both unlike anything I’ve ever ridden.
First up is the flagship, the Vitpilen 701. Of the pair it leads the way in terms of horsepower, displacement and above all, price. But we’ll talk about the money later. In the meantime, here’s the basic concept.
The Vitpilen 701 is a modern cafe racer. It’s a lightweight, stripped-back single with very few bells and whistles. You’ve an engine, a throttle and virtually no fancy shit hanging off it. It’s designed to be a light, punchy bike to fling around corners. And be damn gorgeous.
And they’ve knocked that brief out of the park. It’s bodywork is carefully crafted, the lines are gorgeous, the colour pallette near perfect and virtually every single inch of the thing looks to be the product of deliberate consideration. I say ‘virtually’ because the view from the cockpit shows the most head scratching warning message I’ve ever seen flash up on a motorcycle gauge.