The first question you might ask is, why is legendary dirt-bike manufacturer Husqvarna making a street bike? Right after that you might wonder who the bike is aimed at? And perhaps your third question might by, Vit-what? — how do you pronounce that?
In order, then. KTM, the most recent owner of the Husqvarna motorcycle brand, is expanding its presence by adding street bikes. The new line of machines is aimed at millennials, which explains its design — more on that below. And finally, it’s pronounced Vitt-pillen, which is Swedish for white arrow and draws its inspiration from the 1955 dual-purpose Silverpilen (yes, that’s silver arrow!)
In essence, KTM, who have done a sterling job of reviving Husqvarna’s sales since buying the brand from BMW in 2013, have created a hybrid supermoto and cafe racer. The stripped down, lightweight, bare-essentials look that’s in vogue with the millennial generation houses a single-cylinder, ultra-torquey engine combined with a forward lean position that’s more in keeping with a faired machine. The result is a ride that excels in the city. At just 362 lbs wet (164 kilos) the Vitpilen is nimble, quick off the mark, happy to wheelie in first or second and a lot of fun. It’s just as capable in the twisties and the 701 has enough power to handle freeway cruising speeds.
The larger engine is a 692.7 cc, fuel–injected single, with peak horsepower of 55kW (75hp) and 72Nm of torque at 6750 rpm. It’s basically a tweaked version of the motor that’s in KTM’s 690. The smaller engine is a 373.2cc single that will look familiar to owners of a KTM 390 Duke or RC390. It makes 43 hp / 32 kW @ 9,000 rpm and 27.3 lb-ft (37Nm) at 7,000 rpm.
At $11,999 for the 701, the Vitpilen is in direct competition with BMW’s R nineT. The 401 sports much more of an entry-level price, $6,299.