The Husqvarna Vitpilen is a strange — and strangely appealing — mix of elements.
On the one hand, it’s designed to look and feel like a basic, fundamental, unornamented motorcycle. It features that most basic of motors, the single cylinder. (Is there a more pleasing sound than a big single winding up? Not for me, anyway.)
The 701, by the way, features the biggest single-cylinder motor in production at 692.7 cc. (The 401 has 373.2ccs.)
On the other hand, it’s aimed pretty squarely at fashion-conscious millenials. The styling, while restrained, is pointedly different and its aesthetic has been carefully considered. And despite the naked appeal of the machines, there’s all sorts of sophistication hidden from the eye.
Thanks to a pair of counter-balancers, the engine actually gets smoother when you rev it. It has ride-by-wire and fuel injection. It has on-off ABS powering Brembo brakes. And there’s a slipper clutch to control rear-wheel chatter when you get off the gas. Plus LED lights inside that traditional round headlight.
The stripped-down bikes are extremely light — the 701 weighs just 362 lbs wet (164 kilos.) A dry Vitpilen 401 weighs 326 lbs (148 kgs.) That lack of mass gives the 75 hp (or 43 hp in the 401) more punch than you’d get in a heavier bike.
What you end up with is a highly maneuverable, quick-accelerating, fashionable-looking bike that must be a hoot to ride.
For a longer look at the Vitpilen, that famed maven of vintage automobiles, Jay Leno, drags a couple of Husqvarna representatives into his garage to go over the two bikes (and their racier sibling, the Svartpilen.)
And then he hits the road on the 701.
The bikes look and sound great. I really enjoyed this video. I hope you do too.