Husq­varna 701 En­duro


Motorcycle Monthly - - New Rider -

Husq­varna is one of motorcycling’s old­est man­u­fac­tur­ers. Founded in Swe­den in 1903, the same year as Har­ley-David­son, the tra­di­tion­ally off-road-ori­ented brand is now owned by KTM, with pro­duc­tion un­der­taken at its fac­tory in Aus­tria.

Be­neath the paint­work of the 701 En­duro, much is shared with KTM’s 690 En­duro R, in­clud­ing its bril­liant new liq­uid-cooled, 690cc sin­gle­cylin­der en­gine. In fact, KTM boss Ste­fan Pierer sees the Husky as KTM’s less ag­gres­sive cousin; with its white, yel­low and blue ma­chines, a more rounded, man­age­able al­ter­na­tive to the race-ori­ented orange KTMs.

Ad­mit­tedly, lit­tle has changed from the out­go­ing 2016 Husq­varna 701 En­duro – with much of its chas­sis still shared with its KTM coun­ter­part. The one ma­jor up­date comes in the form of its new Euro 4 com­pli­ant en­gine which has added more horse­power, more peak torque and a higher rev ceil­ing too. In short, they’ve cre­ated a more pow­er­ful sin­gle cylin­der en­gine, de­spite tighter emis­sions rules. It’s an im­pres­sive achieve­ment, es­pe­cially in a cat­e­gory that most other man­u­fac­tur­ers have all but given up on.

The Husq­varna does use dif­fer­ent sus­pen­sion to its donor, with top­spec WP USD front forks and rear shocks with 275mm of travel – and other changes in­clude a new fuel map in­tended to of­fer smoother power de­liv­ery, and a slightly larger, 13-litre fuel tank. Like most se­ri­ous dual-pur­pose ma­chines, the 701 En­duro doesn’t have much in the way of in­stru­ments – there’s an LCD screen and a few warn­ing lights, for fuel, oil and in­di­ca­tors, but that’s pretty much it.

Stand be­side the Husky 701 En­duro and the first thing you’re go­ing to no­tice is the seat height. At 910mm tall, shorter rid­ers will in­evitably strug­gle – and even at 6ft 1in, I have to con­fess, I didn’t al­ways find it straight­for­ward to swing my leg over the ma­chine. But, once you’ve clam­bered aboard, the long-travel sus­pen­sion should com­press enough to al­low you to at least get one foot on the ground. Thank­fully, it’s slim enough and light enough (at 145kg) to be fairly easy to man­age with one foot – just en­sure you kick the side stand up be­fore you get on.

Out on the road, the Husky’s per­for­mance is good. Of course, it’s al­ways go­ing to be lim­ited by its un­de­ni­able off-road bias – but the rid­ing po­si­tion is up­right and roomy, of­fer­ing an au­thor­i­ta­tive view of the road, while its wide bars and light weight al­low you to flick the bike eas­ily – de­spite the long­travel sus­pen­sion and slim, dirt-friendly Con­ti­nen­tal TKC80 50/50 tyres of­fer­ing a slightly vague feel in faster cor­ners. It took a few hours of rid­ing in the sun­shine on some dry roads be­fore I gained real con­fi­dence in their grip.

The re­stricted 40.2bhp en­gine of­fers de­cent ac­cel­er­a­tion up to a top speed of around 100mph – but you’ll have to work it quite hard to get there, as the en­gine’s short gear­ing means you’re revving hard by 70mph. At higher speeds the vi­bra­tion through the fairly wooden seat and metal footrests is no­table, though not prob­lem­atic – while the small screen does lit­tle to de­flect wind. But if you’re us­ing this bike as it’s in­tended, the com­fort of the seat won’t mat­ter a great deal. Stand up on the pegs, hit the dirt and ev­ery­thing be­gins to make sense, as the 701 En­duro comes into its own. Off-road, its light weight and smooth power de­liv­ery are per­fect – and there’s no need to worry about reach­ing the ground when you’ve got loads of low-down torque and a 21in front wheel which helps the bike glide ef­fort­lessly over pretty much any ter­rain. The sus­pen­sion is in­cred­i­bly re­fined, with com­pres­sion and damp­ing ad­just­ment supreme con­trol, al­low­ing Husky to soak up the bumps with ease. Its tyres are more than ca­pa­ble of fi­fifind­ing grip on the most chewed-up, rut­ted trails you could imag­ine too – and even the disc brakes’ ABS sys­tem sur­pris­ingly well off-road, be use­ful to all but the con­fi­dent of off-road rid­ers.

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