HUSQVARNA VITPILEN 401
Tinkering with carb’ settings, chasing oil leaks, fault finding electrical gremlins. To some of us, that’s a great weekend at the Kommune. To others it’s the stuff of nightmares.
While we all want that old-school bike with stripped back aesthetics and charm, we don’t all want the headache that can come with actually owning it – hence the popularity of Triumph’s Modern Classics and BMW’s Heritage range. Now Husqvarna have thrown their hat in the ring, albeit with a twist and we recently got a look at it.
Husqvarna, now owned by KTM, have been teasing us with concept versions of their Vitpilen (701 and 401) since 2014 and the production bike has been worth the wait. It’s not a typical retro, but it does take the best bits of yesteryear and combine it with modern tech, making a mouth-watering package.
Swedish for ‘white arrow’ (impress your mates at the pub with that fact) the Vitpilen 401 harks back to bikes of old by being a stripped back, no nonsense single cylinder, but includes modern tech and materials like a ride-by-wire throttle body, LED lighting and ABS.
Using KTM’s 373cc single, the Vitpilen 401 produces 32kW and 37Nm – unchanged from KTM’s application of the motor. Power is fed through an anti hopping clutch and 6-speed gearbox, while the powertrain sits in the same trellis frame as KTM’s 390 Duke. Fortunately though, this isn’t just a case of new badges on an old bike.
The Vitpilen uses premium quality bits all over like back-lit switch blocks, a NABUK leather seat and trick one push start. Suspension is by WP Racing and consists of 43mm forks and a monoshock rear-end. BYBRE, BREMBO’s small bike arm, supplies the brakes front and rear, which are hooked up to a switchable two-way Bosch ABS system.
Weighing in at just 148kg, the Vitpilen 401 will be accessible for new riders looking for a premium first bike. Some not so great news is the colossal seat height of 835mm – only 15mm lower than BMW’s R1200GS! The big seat height does make what is a very small bike feel a little more substantial, which is great for taller folk.
The Vitpilen range has been made in a similar fashion to Ducati’s Scrambler, with easy bolt-on customisation available from Husqvarna. The three-piece bodywork can be swapped out with around eight bolts and even the beautiful bronze wire wheels can be substituted for lightweight aluminum units. Also similar to Ducati is the $11,500 price, which level pegs it with the 400cc Scrambler 62.
While the price won’t be for everyone, we think Husqvarna have nailed it with the styling of the Vitpilen 401. It manages to be both futuristic and retro, while offering the performance and reliability of new bike. While there won’t be much to maintain, there’s plenty to modify and we can’t wait to see these Husqvarna’s popping up at the Kommune soon.