Road Test

Husqvarna VIDEO: 701 Supermoto (2019) review

We spent a day riding (more like hooning) around the Northamptonshire countryside on Husqvarna’s awesome 701 Supermoto. Here’s what we found out…

Details
Manufacturer:
Husqvarna
Category:
Supermoto
Price:
£ 7999
Overall
3.5
Average: 3.5 (1 vote)
the most fun you can have below 100mph
Wheelie good fun, lithe handling, great engine and gearbox combo
hard seat, tiddly tank, limited to just being a toy

SUPERMOTO first burst onto the scene in the late 70s and 80s as a feature on ABC’s Wide World Sports TV show. The format was simple, take a two or four-stroke dirtbike, add some sticky, semi-slick tyres and big brakes, chuck in some of the best motorcycle racers of the day and some televised, competitive rounds and you’re pretty much done.

Husqvarna 701 Supermoto video review

The Supermoto bikes of today are machines designed for one thing and one thing only, to deliver superbike levels of thrill at a fraction of the speed, less of the cost and more of the wheelies. And boy, do they deliver all of that in spades!

Price

At £8,799 the 701 Supermoto is not what you’d call a cheap or cost-effective bike, but if you measure value in smiles per mile they actually work out as very good value. Compared to the other supermotos on the market like KTM’s 690 SMC (£9,599) and Zero’s electric supermoto offering the FXS (£8,995) the slinky looking machine from Husky seems quite good value.

Engine

The 693cc, 74hp thumper in the 701 can trace its roots back to the now superseded KTM 690 Duke. The intake and exhaust tweaks and slightly altered software mean you have a few extra ponies over the KTM, other than that, the engine is basically identical.

The unit’s a peaky wee beasty, with peak power coming in 8,000rpm, and peak torque of 71Nm at 6,750rpm. You get the impression that a Supermoto will wheelie its wheelnuts off at the first whiff of the throttle and in any gear, but it’s less inclined than I thought, needing careful gear selection and a good handful of righthand to get the front going anywhere skyward!

The Keihin fuel injection and ride-by-wire throttle okay, if a little snatchy in the first few degrees of opening, no helped by the throttle grip having a light, short throw. Once up to speed though, the system is ideal for picking out the exact number of revs you need at any given time. The clutch of the 701 Supermoto is hydraulically actuated and light as a feather, despite the Supermoto-spec stubby lever. The system is mated to an APTC slipper clutch and six-speed gearbox. The throw of the lever is short but clean, great for clutchless shifting and with a nice click as you hook the next gear. The slipper clutch is not too intrusive and still allows you to get the back wheel moving about as you downshift into tight corners.

Suspension

The front end is supported by top-spec WP forks with a massive 215mm of travel and split damping circuits for compression and rebound damping. Out the box I found the stock setting a tad hard, and there was very little dive under braking. To get a more natural (to me anyway) setting, I softened them up a couple of clicks. I can’t say the change made a huge difference to my riding, but it made the experience more familiar to me.

The rear shock on the 701 Supermoto is a fully adjustable WP item which features rebound damping as well as a high and low compression damping adjustment and 250mm of travel. If I was to own one of these or have one in my garage for a long period of time, the only change I’d make would be to try and reduce the ride height slightly – 890mm for a short-arse like me was a bit of struggle!

Handling

The Husqvarna 701 Supermoto comes alive on a twisting and undulating road. The forks are set up in such a way that the first inch of travel feels under-damped, with the system firming up as the load increases. It makes for a plush and forgiving ride over bumps and potholes but a more precise front end when chucking it into a corner. The bike is as much fun to play with on the small crests and hills as it is in the corners as power-wheelies are a given – as long as you drop a gear and pin the throttle at the right moment!

Brakes

Front and rear brakes are provided by Brembo, with a four-pot caliper up front with a 320mm disc up front, and a single-piston 240mm set up at the rear.

With the ABS disabled it’s easy to get the 701 Supermoto all of a quiver, either sliding the back end into corners or performing childish stoppies. If you can get on this bike and ride it without messing about, you’re probably missing the point a bit!

The only time I ever felt like the bike was out of its comfort zone was when trail-braking with the front into corners. It could have been the suspension as much as the brakes but, it just never felt natural and seemed nervous every time I tried. It felt much better suited to getting the braking done in a straight line, then allowing the tyres to deal with just the act of cornering and accelerating the bike.

Equipment

Equipment on the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto is thin on the ground, but this is a motorcycle for having a lark on after all, not measuring your average speed or MPG! A couple of trip meters, a speedo, neutral light and indicator light are all you need. The only dash-based button to twiddle is the ABS button, and you’ll definitely want that turned off!

Comfort

As with the above, the 701 Supermoto is short on creature comforts but that’s not a problem. For one, the tank will get you about 50-miles if you ride it like I did, so you’ll have plenty of chances to hop off and have a stretch!

Seriously though, while the ergonomics of the BMX-like machine are great, the seat is unforgiving with all the contour and padding of a surfboard.

We like

  • All the smiles at a fraction of the speed
  • Surprisingly easy to around town
  • Engine and fuel injection are faultless

We don’t like

  • Super-tall seat makes it tricky for shorties
  • Tiddly tank
  • It’d probably still get me into trouble eventually

Verdict

If you are looking for a machine that’ll deliver all the thrills of a 200bhp machine but struggle to get you a speeding ticket on a motorway – a Husqvarna 701 Supermoto should definitely be on your next bike test ride hitlist. It’s a massively enjoyable thing to hoon around on and could even be considered as two bikes in one if you invest in some knobbly tyres and off-road wheels.

That said, as a real-world viable option as a first bike, its use is limited to short blasts due to its lack of weather protection and 13l tank.

The 701 Supermoto does have a premium feel to it though, with smart uses of modern materials like the polyamide rear subframe/fuel-tank and well set up slipper-clutch, it also looks so damn cool finished in white, blue and yellow. If you’re in the market for a big slice of two-wheeled fun and can forgive it for its shortcomings, I’m sure you’ll find the 701 Supermoto a very willing partner.

Wheelie good fun, lithe handling, great engine and gearbox combo
hard seat, tiddly tank, limited to just being a toy

Latest Videos

Feature
Article
Article