New Vit­pilen fam­ily im­mi­nent as 125, 401 and 701 con­firmed

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Andy Downes

The re­birth of the his­toric Husq­varna brand will reach a huge mile­stone in a mat­ter of a few months with the launch of a three-model fam­ily of mod­ern road­sters later this year.

MCN was granted ex­clu­sive ac­cess to the lat­est stages of the Husq­varna project at the head­quar­ters of Kiska De­sign in Aus­tria, the com­pany that has been be­hind the de­sign of ev­ery KTM for the past 20 years and is now tasked with bring­ing back Husq­varna un­der the bold am­bi­tion of mak­ing it Europe’s third best-sell­ing brand.

The first pro­duc­tion bikes into pro­duc­tion will be the Vit­pilen 401 and 125 mod­els. Both share en­gines with par­ent com­pany KTM with the 401 us­ing the KTM 390 Duke mo­tor, the 125 en­gine lifted from the 125 Duke. This duo will then be fol­lowed shortly af­ter by the stun­ning Vit­pilen 701, which th­ese new images show to have seem­ingly suc­ceeded in the dif­fi­cult task of tak­ing a stun­ning mo­tor­cy­cle show con­cept and man­ag­ing to get it through to pro­duc­tion with min­i­mal changes to the over­all de­sign. The nor­mal pro­cess typ­i­cally sees the di­lu­tion of the con­cept to the point where the pro­duc­tion model is barely iden­ti­fi­able as the same bike.

The Vit­pilen 701 will use the sin­gle­cylin­der mo­tor from the KTM 690 Duke and will fol­low a year af­ter the 401 and 125 mod­els. Th­ese stu­dio images show the bike in al­most fin­ished trim, and MCN sat down with lead de­signer Maxime Thou­venin to talk about how the project has been pro­gress­ing and how tough it has been to try and keep the pro­duc­tion bike as close as pos­si­ble to the orig­i­nal 2013 con­cept bike.

He said: “What we have tried to do is re­duce the ar­chi­tec­ture to the min­i­mum to leave just a fuel tank, tailpiece, wheels and the en­gine. The line built into the 701 is called ‘The Split’ and we are keep­ing that for pro­duc­tion. In terms of the stance and the pro­por­tions, the con­cept you see here is what the bike will look like. Clearly we are go­ing to have some of the le­gal items like a li­cence plate and in­di­ca­tors but ev­ery­thing else is about there.

“We want the 401 to look clean and pro­gres­sive but the 701 will look more me­chan­i­cal and more of a ma­chine. Th­ese bikes are just the be­gin­ning of the line-up and we are just go­ing to keep go­ing with new mod­els.”

Surely that in­ter­nally fluted ex­haust or that open air fil­ter can’t be stay­ing through to pro­duc­tion? “The ex­haust is some­thing we are work­ing on very hard right now,” ad­mits Thou­venin.

“We all re­ally want this to be avail­able on the pro­duc­tion bike but if that’s not pos­si­ble then per­haps we can of­fer it as an ac­ces­sory. This is the same for the air fil­ter which will only be avail­able as an op­tion as it can­not pass leg­is­la­tion like this when it’s open to the air.”

The mod­ern retro scene is huge. Ev­ery­one wants a piece of the ac­tion with BMW, Tri­umph, Moto Guzzi, Yamaha and Honda all clam­our­ing for sales suc­cess. With the 112-year his­tory of Husq­varna this, surely, would have been the eas­i­est route to have fol­lowed to re­launch Husq­varna’s road range?

“The Vit­pilen and Svart­pilen are not retro,” says Thou­venin. “We un­der­stand why the café racer and clas­sic scene is here but we wanted to of­fer some­thing that was sim­pler and that doesn’t of­fer some­thing so ag­gres­sive. An ag­gres­sive de­sign leads to pres­sure to ride fast. We see Vit­pilen as the only al­ter­na­tive in this ‘retro’ cat­e­gory.”

Even­tu­ally Husq­varna will of­fer a com­plete range of bikes from 125 to 1301cc, all shar­ing en­gines and main chas­sis plat­form with KTM to keep costs down. The 1301cc bike has been seen in very early and rough pro­to­type stages but we know this bike is still an­other three years away from a show­room. That bike will use the 1301cc 185bhp V-twin from the KTM 1290 Su­per Duke R and will sit at the very top of the Husq­varna range. Be­low that will be a 390cc sin­gle cylin­der and 800cc par­al­lel twin cur­rently un­der de­vel­op­ment as a com­pletely new en­gine.

‘In terms of stance the con­cept you see here is what the bike will look like’


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