The Swedes are known for being reserved, but when it comes to motoring, they love standing out. They like to be the best at what they do, as seen with Koenigsegg, who creates the craziest, most innovative and fastest hypercars, and Volvo, who produces the safest cars in the world. However, Husqvarna, a Swedish motorcycle brand, has not been able to make a mark in India since its introduction in 2020. The brand is eager to prove a point with the new-generation Husqvarna Svartpilen 401, which caters to a much larger demographic. But is it enough to take the limelight away from the top dogs in the segment?
The new Svartpilen 401 is built on the underpinnings of the new generation of KTM Duke motorcycles, the chassis, engine and suspension are shared with the Duke 390, making this motorcycle 20% longer than its predecessor, in terms of width, the Huskies are now fitted with a larger 13.5-litre tank not only adding some muscle to the front profile but also increasing the range of the motorcycle. The new length has improved the pillion seat comfort and has also allowed the design team to stretch the visual elements further towards the centre, making the bike seem larger than it is. The rear sub-frame is redesigned and completely different to the 390 Duke’s, giving the motorcycle a completely different look from the back.
The new trellis frame and offset rear monoshock set-up have allowed for a drop in the seat height from 842mm to 820mm, making the motorcycle more accessible to shorter riders. Additionally, the increase in overall length has allowed the handlebars to move further away from the rider’s body, providing more leverage during riding. The rider’s triangle is fairly neutral, and the footpegs are placed in a similar position to the Duke 390, but the flatter seat allows for easier rider adjustment. As a scrambler, it would be expected for the Svartpilen to have higher handlebars, but this can be resolved with handlebar risers. Overall, the Svartpilen 401 is a comfortable bike, and the abundance of space to move around the saddle could make it an ideal option for touring.
The KTM-derived LC4c 399cc engine shares the same intake and exhaust set-up. Pushing out 46 ps and 39nm of torque, however, peak power and torque are achieved 500 rpm later than the KTM, which could be slightly noticed on the fly, the Svartpilen 401 delivers its powerless frantically, the top-end is smooth, predictable, the mid-range is linear, but the bottom end is a little lacklustre, the sweet-spot was between 3000-7000 rpm, making this a proper hoon in the city. After speaking to the engineers present at the first ride, they assured me that the husky’s power delivery was the same as the Duke’s. However, according to their inputs, the spoked wheels are heavier than the Duke’s alloy wheels, creating more rolling resistance, and the bike’s overall weight distribution and higher center of gravity also make the LC4c feel like a different beast. So while the engine’s state of tune isn’t different, the Husky’s engine sure does feel different.
The Svartpilen 401 motorcycle is agile and sharp, but it doesn’t match the Duke 390’s performance on tarmac. This is mainly because the Husqvarna is heavier overall and has more weight in the form of heavier spoked wheels and bulkier Pirelli Scorpion STR tires. These factors make it harder to push the bike from corner to corner. However, the Svartpilen 401 is still capable of providing enough confidence to put your knee down even with these off-road tires. Credit should be given where it’s due.
If you’re looking for a bike that fits everywhere, something that isn’t single-minded, something premium and classy, the Svartpilen 401 fits the bill. While the Duke 390 is flashy and bright, the Svartpilen 401 is more sophisticated. This bike is for the rider who wants it to fit everywhere but still stand out. You can take it to dinner with a pillion, ride it to the office, or go for a Sunday morning blast. It’s good for all, making it a great option for a single-bike garage