Post-war Europe saw Husqvarna’s lightweight single-cylinder bikes popular on the difficult roads and tracks of the time. The new Husqvarna 401 Vitpilen and Svartpilen (White Arrow and Black Arrow) see a mix of the company’s off-road bikes of the 60s and 70s, and the road bikes of the 40s. Details are sparse, and we’re usually fairly sceptical of ‘concept’ bikes, but given the obvious similarities to the KTM 390 platform, (and the fact that Husqvarna Motorcycles GmbH is owned by KTM), the machines could become a reality. The WP suspension is also no surprise, given that it’s another company under KTM’s wing, though production models will have to sport a rather long tail and numberplate carrier for the EU markets.
Both bikes appear to share the KTM frame and swingarm, and the single-cylinder, DOHC engine’s claimed output of 46bhp is very close to the RC390. If they’re launched, it seems likely that the engines will lose a couple of horses to be A2 licence compliant, and while they look to be spec’d-up, stylised 390 Dukes, we reckon the 401s look like a hell of a lot of fun to ride.
Here’s the full press release…
Husqvarna’s lightweight single-cylinder models proved wildly popular in post war Europe, and motorcycle sales climbed steadily right through to the golden age of 60’s and 70’s, when Husqvarna’s legend was truly forged. The eager post-war generation was hungry for something new and crazy to capture their imaginations. Momentum from the fast growing offroad movement in Europe spread to America and struck a chord with a new breed that was fascinated by the thrill of riding wild motorcycles and exploring far off the beaten track. It was new, creative, rebellious, raw and full of excitement. Offroad motorcycling at the time was the embodiment of freedom – a crazy idea whose time had come. Going offroad back then represented breaking boundaries – exploring new terrain, new ideas and having fun. The 60’s offroad movement fast became a pop sub-culture all of its own. For the first time, mainstream audiences were exposed to this new sport, the associated lifestyle and it’s heroes. US motorsport legend Malcolm Smith and silver screen icon Steve McQueen introduced an entire generation to the revolutionary Husqvarna motorcycle in the 1971 film “On Any Sunday “.
Long before the US explosion though, the pioneering spirit was evident in the earliest Husqvarna street bikes. Husqvarna had tested various bulky V-twin configurations in the 20’s and 30’s, before settling on a more compact and lightweight single-cylinder design in the 40’s. This new design concept gave birth to iconic models such as the “Svartkvarna”, “Drombagen” and “Silverpilen”. Whilst the same original concept of a compact, lightweight single-cylinder street motorcycle has been revived with the new 401s, it is now interpreted in a very modern way, utilising the latest design, cutting edge technology, sophisticated construction processes and materials. The result is a pair of motorcycles that pay homage to the original concept, but with performance levels that those pioneering Husqvarna designers almost a century ago, could only have dreamt of.
Husqvarna 401 Vitpilen
Now in 2014, the new Husqvarna 401 concept bike draws on the rebellious spirit that was born in that golden age. The freedom, simplicity and honesty of man and machine united. Compact and agile – expertly crafted to deliver minimalist styling with exceptional performance – reduced to the bare essence of what a motorcycle should be. The Husqvarna 401 VITPILEN (Swedish for ‘White Arrow’) draws on the DNA of the pioneering 1953 Silverpilen street bike. That was an iconic Husqvarna model, which was the brainchild of famous Swedish industrial designer Sixten Sason and started a motorcycling revolution. The new 401 VITPILEN is a groundbreaking design in its own right – interpreting the functional simplicity of the classic Silverpilen (‘Silver Arrow’), combining it with modern technology, cutting-edge design and premium quality hardware to deliver an uncompromised, genuine riding experience for the street.
Man and machine united. Stripped to the bare essence of riding, the simple bodywork provides ease of movement and emphasises the sleek lines of the 401 VITPILEN.
FRONT LIGHT / HANDLEBAR
Components such as the headlight brackets are consolidated to provide multiple functions, reducing parts and simplifying the overall design of the 401 VITPILEN.
Husqvarna 401 Svartpilen
The Husqvarna 401 SVARTPILEN (Swedish for ‘Black Arrow’) concept bike is a golden-age inspired modern street bike that draws its design ethos from past iconic Husqvarnas. Reduced to the bare functional essentials, the 401 SVARTPILEN is the real deal – free of gimmicks, gadgets and extravagant design embellishments. A riding experience that honours the simple idea behind those early pioneering Husqvarnas. With a compact single-cylinder fourstroke engine in a compact chassis, the Husqvarna 401 SVARTPILEN provides a more upright, comfortable and natural riding position – designed to reflect the timeless authenticity evident in the growing revival of the motorcycling scene. The new Husqvarna 401s are very much new and progressive motorcycles, where advanced engineering meets authentic design.
Less is more. Style and function were crucial elements when designing every aspect of the new 401s. Simplicity, ease of use and functionality meet outstanding design and attention to detail. If something does not improve the riding experience, it does not belong on either of the new 401s – as simple as that.
FRONT LIGHT / HANDLEBAR
An upright handlebar provides ample leverage and control when the pavement ends. The powerful LED lamp is encased in an integrated cage, protecting it against anything thrown its way.
EXHAUST / SEAT RACK
True to the minimal styling of the 401 series, the 401 SVARTPILEN’S exhaust is housed directly under the side surface of the seat, providing more offroad clearance and better protection from the elements. A rear rack is integrated into the seat , providing space for additional luggage, tools or anything you might need along a lonely fire road.
The multi-purpose tank rack not only protects the tank from light impacts, but also provides a simple mounting for route maps and tank bags.
On road and off, these subtly styled off road footpegs are sturdy enough to handle anything you might encounter on your 401 SVARTPILEN.
Should you choose to take your 401 SVARTPILEN off the beaten path, it has a lightweight yet robust engine guard to keep the casings protected from any unexpected rocks or debris.
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