Husqvarna 701 Enduro
SINGLE CYLINDER SAVIOUR? HUSKY’S NEW 701 ENDURO
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.