Road Test

Husqvarna Svartpilen 701 Road Test

Visordown has been riding some of the best motorcycle B-roads the UK has to offer to try out Husqvarna’s ultra-cool Svartpilen 701

Details
Manufacturer:
Husqvarna
Category:
Naked
Price:
£ 8899
Overall
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)
If Batman did bike design
Stealth looks, fantastic B-Road adrenalin fix, awesome brakes
Hard to read dash, comfort not the greatest,

BEAUTY is in the eye of the beholder, so goes the saying. Literally translated as there is no beauty until it is seen. Well, I’m pretty sure if Husqvarna’s new Svartpilen 701 was sat on its own in a room, it’d still be drop-dead stunning.

Husqvarna 701 Supermoto (2019) video review

For those that don’t know, here’s your 101 of the 701!

Svartpilen stands for Black Arrow, Husqvarna also make the Vitpilen meaning White Arrow. Both bikes are stylised versions of KTM’s ubiquitous 690 Duke, albeit with revised intake and exhaust gubbins and an extra bit of poke to boot. The styling is bang-up-to-date and makes good use of funky matt-paint finishes and clean lines, they really do look like nothing else on the road.

Price

The Svartpilen comes in at £8,899, a representative PCP example on a £1200 deposit would see you paying £139 p/m over 36-months at 5.09% APR.

At that money the minimalist Husqvarna does sound like a fair chunk of change when compared to its peers - MT07 £6,349, KTM 790 Duke £8,499 and Kawasaki’s awesome little Z650 which is just £6,199 - and means for most it’ll be a second or third bike for the well-heeled motorcyclist.

Engine

As mentioned, the engine’s basic architecture is a Husqvarna branded version of the KTM Duke 690 thumper, it was a great engine to begin with but now Husky have unleased a few extra ponies from within the crankcases, it’s even better!

It puts out 74bhp (four up on the 690 Duke) that comes in at 6750rpm and peak torque is 72Nm. If you don’t have any experience in this unit, it’s sure to surprise you on your first ride. It doesn’t rev like a lazy 700cc single should, instead it fizzes its way to the redline and bangs off the rev-limiter as if to remind you it wants another gear.

It’s a properly involving ride, that has enough poke to excite an old hand, yet is still easy-going and accessible for newer riders.

Suspension

As a bike with bright orange DNA, it’s no surprise that the suspension is taken care of by WP, with adjustable forks and 150mm of travel at the front, and a WP shock at the rear. It’s a perfect match for the 158kg machine and makes for a lithe and exciting bike to flick around the road. Ride quality is also good, with the suspension only feeling flustered when hitting potholes and bumps mid-corner. Other than that, it rides the rough stuff with the composure of a much bigger bike.

Brakes

Italian friction maestros Brembo are providing the stopping power, with a 320mm disc and 4-pot caliper at the front and a single 240mm twin-piston caliper at the rear. ABS is provided by Bosch and is a two-channel system that is fairly unobtrusive in its operation.

For a slow-slung bike, with just one brake disc the Svartpilen 701 has eye-bulging amounts of stopping power. Even the most emergency of emergency-stops will require no more than two fingers, with bite, feedback and feel being on a par with any of the top-flight sportsbikes. If anything, the ABS spoils the party by cutting in before any stoppies can be had – boooo!

Handling

The Svartpilen thrives on fast, flowing back roads, where it’s surprisingly good at hooking into a turn and staying there. It’s a little lively under braking but other than a gentle head wobble, seems nicely composed when you fling it on its side. The Pirelli MT60RS hoops are more capable than they appear, heating up quickly and offering more grip than a pseudo-flat-track tyre should. If one thing hampered my day slightly it’s the profile of the seat – it’s wide and ironing board flat – it’s a long way from one side to the other and requires a lift out of the seat to move over into the next corner. A rounder smoother seat might help, but I’m pretty sure the design team would have kittens at the thought of something so uncouth!

We like:

  • WP suspension
  • Great scratching potential
  • Tractable engine

We don’t like:

  • 12l tank
  • Wide flat seat
  • Fussy dash

Verdict

So, the big question, is the Husqvarna Svartpilen 701 worth buying over a 690 Duke and some matt black paint? Yes, in my eyes there is enough that divides the two models to make it a viable contest. Putting the power increase aside (it’s only about 4bhp anyway) the riding position, dynamics and the styling are all very different and if somebody had no idea about the link and was plonked on each bike, they’d probably not recognise the shared bloodline.

For me the Husqvarna is a tough sell in terms of its limited use, outside of just been a B-road adrenalin fix or piece of motorcycle jewellery to park in your living room. It’s not like you could viably tour on it, and I wouldn’t want to commute on something so pretty. Would I have in my garage? Well, yes, but it wouldn’t get many miles put on it for the reasons mentioned above, and that’s not really the point of a motorcycle is it?

2019 Husqvarna Svartpilen 701 Specs

Capacity:

693cc

Bore x Stroke:

105.0mm x 80.0mm

Engine layout:

single cylinder

Engine details:

8v sohc, l/c

Power:

75bhp @ 8500rpm

Torque:

63 lb.ft @ 6750rpm

Top speed:

122mph

Tank size:

12 litres

Rider aids:

traction control, ABS, slipper clutch, up/down quickshifter

Frame:

steel tube trellis

Front suspension:

43mm WP usd forks

Front suspension adjustment:

fully adjustable

Rear suspension:

WP monoshock

Rear suspension adjustment:

fully adjustable

Front brake:

320mm disc, four-pot radial caliper, ABS

Rear brake:

240mm disc, one-pot caliper, ABS

Front tyre:

110/80-18

Rear tyre:

160/60-17

Rake/Trail:

25°/119mm

Wheelbase:

1436mm

Seat height:

835mm

Kerb weight:

170kg

Warranty:

unlimited miles/2 years

husqvarna-motorcycles.com

Stealth looks, fantastic B-Road adrenalin fix, awesome brakes
Hard to read dash, comfort not the greatest,

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