Husqvarna Svartpilen 401/701

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by The Virginian, Jan 27, 2019.

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  1. The Virginian

    The Virginian YouTube n00b Supporter

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    So what’s the deal with Husqvarna? Here’s a brief history of this fabled company.

    Husqvarna was founded near the town of Huskvarna in Sweden in 1689. The company started out as a maker of muskets, and the Husqvarna logo still depicts a gun sight viewed from the end of the barrel.
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    Pioneering since 1903 is their company motto and has been continuously been producing motorcycles since 1903. The speedo proudly depicts this when you first turn the bike on and the gauge spools up.
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    Husqvarna’s new street range references the classic Silverpilen (Silver Arrow), but that’s more about ideology than looks.
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    Rather than create a ‘modern retro,’ the now-Austrian marque has made a conscious effort to build a different type of contemporary motorcycle. These two bikes are Husqvarna’s attempt to reintroduce a street based bike into the market which they haven’t done in over 50 years.
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    Folks either love them or hate them from the minute you see one and I suspect most of you reading this have already made your mind up on this front. I am of Swedish heritage and Husqvarna’s have been a part of my life since the 70s.

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    The bikes feel significantly different to ride. I was surprised that the Vitpilen’s (White Arrow) café racer riding position didn’t put my body into knots; it did put a little strain on my wrists and back, but it was far less strenuous than I thought it would be.

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    So here's my latest bad decision... The Svartpilen (Black Arrow) hands down is my favorite by a country mile. Its upright, street tracker riding position is not only more comfortable than the Vitpilen, but it makes the bike easier to manhandle too. It could be that I just prefer that style of riding, but to me the Svartpilen 401 feels like a BMX with a motor, kind of a pint sized motard!

    The Pirelli Scorpion Rally STRs do a good job of sticking to both slab and gravel, but I won’t be spending too much time on the latter. I’ll take Svartpilen on short jaunts on well-graded fire roads, but the overall package is still far too street biased for serious off-roading.
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    Both 401s are pure hooliganism in two-wheeled form. I slip through twisties and congested inner city traffic, took shortcuts, hopped curbs and just generally misbehaved all day long. Grab a handful of clutch and throttle and you’ll loft the front wheel in a hurry even with my 200 lbs. on board.

    I have a few ideas of what I’ll do to my Svartpilen 401 in my garage, but most of it’s centered around performance upgrades. I will document my journey, build, success and failures in this thread. My only wish is to maybe open your eyes to a very small company that’s been making bikes for 116 years.

    I have been feverishly churning out CL scoots and bikes in disrepair to to foot the bill for this one, 6 to be exact. I was able to convert the fruits of my labor into this. Let the games begin!

    The specs:

    ENGINE

    Type: Single cylinder
    Displacement: 373cc
    Bore x stroke: 89 x 60mm
    Maximum power: 43 horsepower @ 9000 rpm
    Maximum torque: 27.3 ft/lbs @ 7000 rpm
    Compression ratio: 12.6:1
    Valve train: DOCH, 4 valves
    Fueling: Bosch EFI w/ 46mm throttle body
    Cooling: Liquid
    Transmission: 6 gears
    Clutch: Multi-disc slipper clutch
    Final drive: X-Ring chain

    CHASSIS

    Frame: Chromoly trellis
    Handlebar: Aluminum forged
    Front suspension; travel: Non-adjustable inverted 43mm WP fork; 5.6 inches
    Rear suspension; travel: Non-adjustable WP shock; 5.9 inches
    Wheels: Wire-spoked w/ aluminum rims
    Front wheel: 3.00 x 17
    Rear wheel: 4.00 x 17
    Tires: Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR
    Front tire: 110/70 x 17
    Rear tire: 150/60 x 17
    Front brake: 300mm disc w/ 4-piston Bybre caliper
    Rear brake: 230mm disc w/ single-piston floating Bybre caliper
    ABS: Bosch 9.1MB Two Channel

    DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES

    Wheelbase: 53.4 inches
    Rake: 25 degrees
    Triple clamp offset: 1.3 inches
    Trail: 3.7 inches
    Steering head angle: 25°
    Trail: 95 mm
    Seat height: 32.9 inches
    Tank capacity: 2.5 gallons
    Curb weight: 330 pounds (dry)
    #1
  2. cabanza

    cabanza Smooth is Fast

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    Very, very cool bike. Can’t wait to read more.
    #2
  3. panzer

    panzer The Mountains Are Calling And I Must Go

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    And all these years I thought that the "gun site" was an old crown, Thanks!
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  4. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    Dammit, my keyboard is going to short out from me drooling on it!
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  5. MYUMPH

    MYUMPH 'Ol Timer

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    You just became Advrider's most popular man Eric! Congrats on such an amazing looking machine.:clap
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  6. The Virginian

    The Virginian YouTube n00b Supporter

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    Thanks Carbanza! Try not to get banned when I post about it. lol

    Thanks for stopping by and reading!

    I'm going to try and ride down to your neck of the woods and ride with you Win and @Clampett too. I'll be in touch in 3 or 4 months to check with you fellows. Have a go on her!

    Ummm, I don't know about that. Most ADVers will be laughing at me I think.
    #6
  7. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    I'll take you up on that. When you come this way I have a spare bedroom and space in my garage for your bike.

    I hope to head up in your direction this spring or summer as well, probably on my Like.
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  8. ChairmanMaose

    ChairmanMaose OneLessCar

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    I love them both. The Svartpilens foot pegs are set back for a scrambler.
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  9. Clampett

    Clampett Uncle Jed

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    Uh, ummm, I mean, uh, I'm speechless........3 to 4 months eh? I should have the ratchet in my jaw repaired by then....
    Ok, looks can be deceiving....it looks like it would be uncomfy for a tour.....
    Gotta go search and read up on what this thang is....I neva seed one b4.
    #9
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  10. The Virginian

    The Virginian YouTube n00b Supporter

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    Husqvarna set the interwebs on fire when they announced their Vitpilen and Svartpilen 401 concepts over three years ago. Then the good news came: these bikes would actually go into production. But would the factory machines be as cool as the concepts? The answer came last year at EICMA, when Husqvarna revealed the production ready 401s (and 701). I never before have seen a production motorcycle stay so true to the original designs.

    It appears that Husqvarna had their gun-sites set on me. After years of anticipation and waiting for the initial bikes to appear I purchased one from my local dealer; Wayne's Cycle Shop in Waynesboro, VA, about 70 miles away from home. Wayne's Cycle Shop is family owned and have been in business since the '70s. If you're passing through the Old Dominion stop by for a visit to these good folks. I cannot say enough good things about this shop. The sales folks are not commission and are low pressure and they all ride. I dealt with all 3 of their sales staff, Zing, Jennifer and Greg. They are conveniently located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive. Check them out here.

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    Why didn't I purchase the 701 variant? The older I get the more minimalist I have become so I have to ask myself a question, "how much is enough?" Believe it or not the 701 Svart' and Vit' only weigh 20 lbs. more than the little brother 401. I'm a huge fan of the 'motard' robust black spoked rims over the 701s cast wheels and I just didn't want to drop 12k on a new bike. I really enjoy wringing the neck of all the power-band vs. using only a small portion of it 90% of the time.
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    In summery:

    - Minimalist
    - Ascetics
    - I'm cheap
    - Polarizing looks

    Svart and Vit share the same bodywork; a four-piece design that hides the fuel tank and subframe, creating an almost monocoque-like effect. In fact, the two bikes are virtually identical, save for their color schemes and a handful of parts which I will point out.

    The biggest difference is their individual riding positions, and that’s really just down to the handlebars. The Vitpilen has clip-ons mounted directly to its top triple clamp, while the Svartpilen gets higher scrambler-style bars. As for their foot control positions and seat heights (35 inches), those are identical. This bike is tiny! I mean scooter tiny yet the seating position at 35" means vertically challenged riders will have issues flat footing this bike. It's very difficult for me to share in words how bizarre the geometry is on this bike, but it works nicely. Small, tiny, and tall, kind of oxymoronic no?

    Price:

    The price of admission is $6,299. About the price of a new Vespa 300 these days. I have heard many friends say crikey that's expensive! I guess my answer would be how much is a Ducati Scrambler? 10, 11 maybe a skosh under 12 thousand. Heck, when I was in the store walking around the showroom there was a Honda Monkey for $3,999 +++ the normal fertilizer fees. There are a plethora of really good bikes out there that you can purchase for quite a bit less than the Svartpilen that will serve you well. Pick your poison and don't look back!

    I have also read a comment that Husqvarna is the Lexus and KTM is the Toyota in the Austrian marque. This bike is a revamped Superduke 390 and is priced $1,000 more, at $5,449, throw in a year or two older leftover and you can get a hella deal on one of these bikes. This begs the question is the 'Pilen worth the extra doubloons? I won't answer that but maybe when I get through with this thread you will be more prepared to answer that question yourself.

    I think the driving force for the price point and horsepower of the SD390 and the 401s falls clearly on how the licensing structure works in the UK and other parts of the world. This particular bike requires an A2 licence.

    Here's a brief summary: You can read about it here.
    Age 19-20 - 47 bhp max: the A2 licence. This is where the rules become slightly complex. From the age of 19, you are permitted to take an A2 test (which must be taken on a bike of at least 395cc, with a power output of between 25kW/33bhp and 35kW/47bhp). If you don't already hold an A1 licence you will need to do a CBT beforehand, as always, and pass a theory test, before you take the practical test.

    Upon passing, the rider is restricted to bikes with a limit of 35kW/47bhp and a power-to-weight ratio of no more than 0.2kW/0.26bhp per kg, for two years. The power-to-weight ratio is an important qualification because it makes drawing a distinction between 'can ride' and 'can't ride' more nuanced than a simple bhp cap. In real terms, it imposes a minimum weight of 175kg for any bike using the full 47bhp, dashing hopes of super-lightweight 250s making a mockery of the bhp limit.

    It's relatively straightforward to restrict a bike, meaning you are not necessarily ruled out of riding the bike of your dreams - unless you are dreaming of anything 'more than twice' as powerful. Any bike originally making more than 94 bhp is still out of reach of the A2 licence.

    You will need to hold the A2 licence for two years before you can move on to a full A licence. Examples of A2 permissable bikes include: Honda NC700, Kawasaki Z800e, BMW G650GS.

    Take my Vespa 946 that came to North America with a 155cc engine (thankfully) and the UK got a 125cc engine to conform to A1 licensing. You get the idea... The point is there are many factors that drive the HP, engine size at a price point that will sell.

    That's it for this installment, I have loads to share on my perspective of this bike while I patiently wait for the weather to get a little warmer. I hope it was worth a read on a cold January day for folks this winter.

    Life is short, enjoy the ride.

    Eric
    #10
  11. NZSpokes

    NZSpokes Been here awhile

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    Im thinking about one of these for the wife for gravel. No demo bikes here so no way to check sadly.

    She does gravel roads and flat beaches with me. Cant help but think this is a good option over here very slow XT225,
    #11
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  12. The Virginian

    The Virginian YouTube n00b Supporter

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    Thanks for stopping by and reading my dribble. It's darn cold and nasty here so I'll be digging into the weeds of this bike and post my thoughts here. Hopefully I'll give you and the Mrs. Spokes something to think about in your decision on what bike she might enjoy. For what it's worth the 'pilen clan will do a solid 160 kph and cruise at 112 to 128 kph all day long. If you need any specific pics or info post your questions here and I'll do my best to answer them.

    Eric
    #12
  13. NZSpokes

    NZSpokes Been here awhile

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    Hey Eric

    I only just found these this morning when looking around the shops. Just read this, shows it will do what I thought it could. https://vitpilenforum.com/forums/topic/rider-report/

    Her XT225 tops out just over 100kph. We will go let her sit on it on Saturday. Tape measure says its 20mm lower than her XT which is a good start. Guess need to work out fuel range.

    Its 38c here currently. Just came inside for a cold one.

    Rob
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  14. John Ashman

    John Ashman Adventurer Wannabe

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    The Svartpilin is sweet in theory, a potentially ass kicking scrambler. Except it is just a KTM Duke styling exercise in all reality, with no real advantages.
    #14
  15. NZSpokes

    NZSpokes Been here awhile

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    Same frame and motor. But for a start a flat seat which means my wife can get on the thing. Duke with the hump back seat she cant.

    Not sure but I think the Duke has a low mounted oil cooler which the Svartpilin doesnt. If the Duke has that it would get nailed by gravel.
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  16. conchscooter

    conchscooter Long timer

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    "Just a KTM styling exercise..." Interesting use of the word "just."
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  17. ChairmanMaose

    ChairmanMaose OneLessCar

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    The Duke looks like it was designed by a 12 year old boy. Is that an advantage? Not owning a street bike that's black and orange is worth an extra $1000.00. The Husky is the direction KTM should of took the Duke line.
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  18. The Virginian

    The Virginian YouTube n00b Supporter

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    Rob,

    My threads are wide open to any discussion about the bike on topic. Please share yours and your wife's thoughts and pictures on the Svartpilen when you go see it this Saturday! The whole point of this thread is to get the news out on a bike that is way off the beaten path. Damn shame I don't live in your neck of the woods so your wife could go put some kilometers on her and see if it works for her.

    Also I should mention that there's a lowering kit for this bike which may help your wife some more, I think it lowers it 25 mm.

    https://www.metisse.de/ride-hight-r...en/lowering-kit-husqvarna-svartpilen-401.html

    Eric
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  19. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    Eric, just wondering if you are planning to take some trips on this bike and how you will carry your gear. One of the issues I have with many of these modern bikes is that the practically nonexistent tail section make mounting luggage difficult.
    #19
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  20. The Virginian

    The Virginian YouTube n00b Supporter

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    I have a tank bag that attaches the to rack on the gas tank and the rear pinion seat pops off with the key and is replaced with this rack. I'll either just Rokstrap a dry bag top it or stack a couple Kriega bags to it. If I still need more space I'll use a backpack. I'm researching options for side bags but it's highly unlikely that I will need any as I'm a very light traveler.

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    #20