2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 801 Review: Scrambler Style Meets Sporty Smiles

Husqvarna Svartpilen 801 - riding

The new Svartpilen 801 fuses nods to Husqvarna’s heritage with a thoroughly modern, high-tech ride

Way back in January 1955, Husqvarna released a lightweight 175cc two-stroke called the Silverpilen. Meaning ‘silver arrow’ in Swedish, the name was pinched from the moniker given to Mercedes’ race cars – Husky’s sales director, who drove a Mercedes, was a fan. The Silverpilen proved enormously popular with teenagers, selling well over 10,000 bikes in its first few years. Though it was a street bike, modified versions would go on to spearhead Husqvarna’s early motocross success.

The Silverpilen has such a fond place in Husky history that when KTM relaunched the brand back in 2014, two of their early concepts took inspiration from its name: the Svartpilen (‘black arrow’) scrambler and Vitpilen (‘white arrow’) café racer. In the years since Husky has released multiple ’pilens in 125, 250, 401 and 701 capacities – but all of them single-cylinder bikes, just like the original Silverpilen.

Now, for the first time, the Svartpilen branches out with a multi-cylinder engine. This new 801 is powered by a 799cc parallel twin which, as with several other elements of the bike, we first met on KTM’s 790 Duke back in 2017. So is this really a brand-new, range-expanding reimagining of a modern scrambler/roadster, or just a seven-year-old bike dressed up in a trendy new suit? We headed to the world launch in the south of France to find out.

Svartpilen 801 price and availability

The Svartpilen 801 is due to arrive in UK dealers in June and will be priced at £10,499 on the road. It’s available in just the one colour; clue’s in the name really.

It’s by no means a cheap bike – that’s £2500 more expensive than a KTM 790 Duke – but for the first few weeks, it’ll be made slightly more affordable thanks to some ultra-low-rate finance deals. Put down an initial deposit of £2132.75 and you can ride one on a three-year PCP scheme for an impressively meagre £89 per month. If you prefer traditional HP finance, a £2140 deposit leaves 36 monthly payments of £239. Both these sample plans work out to an extremely low APR of just 1.9 per cent.

Engine, chassis and tech

Many of the 801’s fundamentals are either taken straight from or related to KTM’s 790 Duke – so if the spec you read in this section sounds familiar, don’t be too surprised.

The engine is the same 799cc parallel twin, the biggest change here being to make it Euro 5+ compliant. In the Svartpilen it packs a claimed 103bhp, which at first glance seems a decent improvement on UK-market 790 Dukes making 94bhp. However, that’s not down to any special tuning for the Husky – this is how much power the motor normally makes, it’s just KTM choose to bring only the A2-restrictable version of the Duke into the UK. The Svartpilen is instead being launched with the full-power motor, so it can’t (yet) be ridden on an A2 licence.

The engine itself is built by CFMoto in China (who make complete 790 Dukes for KTM), but assembly of the Svartpilen is done in Austria. 

The main frame uses a tubular steel design, which looks identical to the Duke, but has a slightly more relaxed headstock angle. The swingarm is cast aluminium, as is the Svartpilen’s unique exposed rear subframe which serves as both the airbox housing, as well the bike’s tail unit.

Suspension at both ends is made by WP, unsurprisingly (it’s KTM’s in-house brand). The 43mm forks have separate rebound and compression adjustments, while the shock offers preload and rebound. Travel is 140mm front and 150mm back, so there’s a smidge more length than a pure street bike, but it’s a long way short (ahem) of adventure bike territory. It’s certainly not a tall bike, with a seat height of 820mm. Cast wheels (no wire-spoked option yet, but they’re in development) are 17-inchers at both ends, and wear Pirelli MT 60 RS tyres with a flat-track style tread pattern.

J.Juan brake calipers look identical the Duke’s, other than wearing Husqvarna logos, and are overseen by a lean-sensitive cornering ABS system. This can also be set to a ‘Supermoto’ mode, which lets you lock the rear wheel if you like that kinda thing.

The presence of an IMU means that the traction control system is also lean-sensitive, and there’s an anti-wheelie function that’s disabled when you’re in Sport mode. As standard, this is the lairiest of the three riding modes (the other two being Rain and Street), though if you shell out an extra £361.51 for the Dynamic Pack, a fourth riding mode is unlocked which then offers even more precise control over exactly how much slide angle and wheelie height you want, so the bike can be precisely as safe or as loose as you like.

Speaking of paid-for extras, two features which are optional accessories on the 790 Duke come as standard on the Svartpilen. One is a two-way quickshifter; the other is Bluetooth connectivity, so you can pair the bike to Husqvarna’s smartphone app, which then lets you control calls and music from the new backlit switchgear, and also project turn-by-turn navigation instructions onto the bike’s five-inch colour TFT dash. Cruise control is a £252.79 option, which requires a new left-hand switchgear unit.

What's it like to ride?

For a bike with a pretty out-there look, based on a model with a deserved reputation for nutty naughtiness, it’s a genuine surprise that the Svartpilen 801 feels so warm, welcoming and well-mannered. That starts with the riding position, which is pleasingly spacious, with its braced handlebar putting hands high and wide, and giving an upright, relaxed upper body stance. Right from the off everything is manageable and obedient – the ride-by-wire throttle response is mapped faultlessly even in its snarliest Dynamic mode, steering is measured rather than instant, and there are no unwelcome surprises anywhere to be found.

A pair of balance shafts keep engine vibration in check all the way through the rev range. Power is delivered smoothly and linearly through the bottom-end and midrange before it finds a higher level of fruitiness above 7000rpm. Technically and mechanically it doesn’t seem like KTM (or, cough, CFMoto) has changed anything about the 790’s engine on paper, but in use, it seems far less frantic in the Svartpilen. That’s not to say it can’t still boogie when you ask – the front wheel clutches skywards with little provocation in second gear. And with over 100bhp on offer, it’s still plenty fast enough to make you grin big. The only fly in the entire powertrain ointment is a gearbox that can seem a bit stiff and clunky on upshifts.

The chassis is unexpectedly calm and courteous too. Brakes are strong, but bite gently at first. Suspension is set for a plush, compliant ride, which occasionally borders on a touch too bouncy from the shock. The wide bars offer loads of leverage to throw the bike into corners – not that it needs much effort, with its fully fuelled weight of just 191kg – and the pegs are set high enough that there’s never a problem with ground clearance. No lack of grip from the chunky-treaded Pirellis either.

In fact, despite the Svartpilen’s scramblery looks, there isn’t really a hint of any off-road influence in how it rides. Instead, it feels every bit the friendly, easygoing roadster, a bike that’s equally rewarding whether you’re riding it fast or slow.

The only element that isn’t quite so hospitable is the seat comfort – it’s fine for a few hours but starts to feel a bit thin after a hundred miles or so. But you’ll probably need to stop for fuel by then anyway. The tank holds 13.7 litres, and with a real-world fuel consumption of around 50mpg, that gives a maximum range of 150 miles until you’re waiting for a recovery truck.

Should you buy a Husqvarna Svartpilen 801?

To ride, there’s very little to dislike about the Svartpilen. It’s incredibly easy to get on with straight away, proves accommodating across a broad range of riding speeds and scenarios, and feels pleasingly substantial and well-built. It has a more chilled, more considered charisma than the 790 Duke, which in turn makes it feel more versatile, more usable, and less focused on permanently chasing the next adrenaline rush. It’s somehow classier too, less like riding a fluoro orange shellsuit. Or perhaps that’s just the self-conscious ramblings of a bald bloke in his 40s.

But the elephant in the room has to be the Svartpilen’s price: £10,499 is a seriously sizeable sum, and that’s before you think about adding the Dynamic Pack, or any other extras. And for that kind of money, there’s a wealth of extremely tempting super-middleweight roadsters to choose from. Yamaha’s MT-09 is an absolute riot, comes with all the Svartpilen’s tech (and more, actually), yet costs less. Triumph’s Street Triple 765 has a stiffer, sportier, speedier setup and prices start at less than £10k. Ducati offers both a water-cooled Monster and an air-cooled Scrambler Full Throttle for around the £11k mark.

Now, clearly, none of these are direct rivals for the Svartpilen. None offer an identical match for the 801’s blend of distinctive modern-retro design, relaxed roadster charm and gadget-laden sporty side. And in that regard, being different to everything else will perhaps do it no harm at all. So, should you buy a Svartpilen 801? If you like its unique attitude and approach, then you won’t find another bike on the market that does the same thing.


UK Price

From £10,495


799cc parallel-twin 8-valve, DOHC, liquid-cooled

Bore x Stroke

88mm x 65.7mm


103bhp (77KW) @ 9,250rpm


64lb-ft (87Nm) @ 8,000rpm


6-speed, chain final drive, up/down quickshifter, assist/slipper clutch

Claimed Fuel Economy

62.8mpg claimed

Tank Size


Max range to empty

Circa 200-miles

Rider aids

Cornering ABS, Cornering Traction Control


Chrome-molybdenum steel tube chassis

Front Suspension

43mm WP Apex USD forks

Front Suspension Adjustment

Compression and rebound adjustable

Rear Suspension

WP Apex monoshock

Rear Suspension Adjustment

Preload and rebound adjustable

Front Brake

2 x 300mm discs, four-piston J.Juan radial calipers. Cornering ABS with Supermoto mode

Rear Brake

240mm disc, two-piston J.Juan caliper. Cornering ABS with Supermoto mode

Front-wheel / tyre

120/70-17 Pirelli MT60 RS

Rear-wheel / tyre

180/55-17 Pirelli MT60 RS



Seat Height



181kg (without fuel)