Husq­varna 701 En­duro

RIDE goes for an en­joy­able on- and off-road­ing ex­cur­sion on the Husq­varna 701

RiDE (UK) - - Contents - Words Chris Moss Pic­tures Mark Man­ning, Chippy Wood

THERE’S LIT­TLE MORE en­joy­able than head­ing out at the start of an epic ride, made all the more sat­is­fy­ing if the ad­ven­tures ahead in­clude the odd test­ing chal­lenge or two. And in the case of this ad­ven­ture, Sal­is­bury Plain was the ini­tial desti­na­tion, with the first part of the out­ing in­volv­ing a road ride to the area fol­lowed by a chance to ex­plore a se­lec­tion of its net­work of off-road trails. Much would be asked of me and my tool of choice, a Husky 701 En­duro. It’s no easy job for one sin­gle bike to cope with the very dif­fer­ent de­mands of both the pub­lic high­way and green lanes on the same day. As usual with any ‘dual-pur­pose’ ma­chine, the 701’s de­sign com­pro­mises its com­plete suit­abil­ity to each en­vi­ron­ment.

The Husky’s ar­guably more adept at deal­ing with rougher to­pog­ra­phy and as such, you have to be pre­pared to make a few sac­ri­fices when clock­ing up road mileage. Hav­ing rid­den many miles on the ma­chine on which the 701 is based, the now-de­funct KTM 690 En­duro, it was sim­ply a ques­tion of get­ting reac­quainted with what it does and doesn’t of­fer. Al­most ev­ery­thing proved straight­for­ward, though one thing some might never feel con­tent with, es­pe­cially if you’re a shortie like me, is the lofty

950mm seat height. The nose­bleed-in­duc­ing perch can ini­tially test your tech­nique and pa­tience. It can be a real job just get­ting on board, and with ground con­tact too dis­tant for my feet at times, sta­tion­ary top­ples were the oc­ca­sional em­bar­rass­ing re­sult. Luck­ily, the 701 is a solid bit of kit.

The tall seat it­self isn’t ex­actly plush, and with a lack of any sub­stan­tial wind pro­tec­tion, longer road runs aren’t lux­u­ri­ous. But thanks to a very roomy rid­ing po­si­tion, a punchy, keen-revving mo­tor al­low­ing 70-80mph cruis­ing with enough econ­omy to cover up to 160-180 miles per tank, and sus­pen­sion sup­ple enough to eas­ily deal with even

“It’s no easy job for one sin­gle bike”

the worst pot-holed roads, length­ier trips don’t feel like pur­ga­tory. Ad­just ex­pec­ta­tions and route, and tour­ing can be ac­com­mo­dated. Three years ago I rode a 690 KTM En­duro down through France to the Ital­ian Alps to ride the area’s moun­tain trails. Liv­ing with the bike for the highly en­joy­able 10-day all-ter­rain ad­ven­ture rarely felt stren­u­ous.

My shorter stint around Sal­is­bury Plain gen­er­ated just as much smil­ing, even if the grins were put on hold oc­ca­sion­ally. Re­cent wet weather had made the area’s by­ways a lot more chal­leng­ing than nor­mal in places. At times the Husky had to be man­han­dled though deeper muck, though most of the time the more-than-am­ple en­gine power would help it plough through. Light and ag­ile, the 701 feels at home on the dirt with the long-travel WP sus­pen­sion con­stantly un­der­lin­ing its qual­ity by giv­ing ex­cel­lent wheel con­trol over rougher sec­tions. Its switch­able ABS brake sys­tem is more of an ally than you might think, too. True it’s a big­ger, heav­ier and more cum­ber­some ma­chine than a pukka en­duro bike, but it’s also way eas­ier to man­age than some­thing like a Tri­umph Tiger, BMW GS or Honda Africa Twin, feel­ing much more con­tent away from the road, par­tic­u­larly if the ter­rain be­comes ex­tra chal­leng­ing.

The 170-mile ad­ven­ture around the

“The 701 feels right at home on the dirt”

Sal­is­bury Plain area high­lighted the Husq­varna’s ver­sa­til­ity well enough to en­cour­age me to set off for Wales for more of the same just two days later. Once again, its abil­i­ties were ob­vi­ous. With a more pa­tient mind­set, my gen­tle 130-mile run from Glouces­ter­shire out to Sweet Lamb in Powys proved to be very ther­a­peu­tic. Ide­ally suited to qui­eter, more twist­ing routes, the 701 covered ground more than ca­pa­bly. It’s su­perb through towns, tall seat not­with­stand­ing. The remapped sin­gle cylin­der 74bhp en­gine feels smoother than ever, and though use­fully flex­i­ble at lower rpm, does de­liver ex­tra pulling power when revved harder. With its im­pres­sively taut, lithe and re­spon­sive han­dling, what the Husky might lack in ci­vil­ity it more than makes up for with its fun fac­tor. That rises still fur­ther when you swap black routes for greener ones, though as I was to later dis­cover when I did some trail rid­ing back nearer home in Wilt­shire, tyre choice ul­ti­mately lim­its the 701’s off-road abil­ity. The stan­dard-fit Conti TKC 80 tyres cope ad­mirably with roads and dirt up to a point. But, just like the ad­ven­ture bikes they’re fit­ted to, can’t man­age both ter­rains per­fectly. Show them some deep mud and they strug­gle for grip, sim­ply be­cause they can’t self-clean well enough. Ide­ally you’ll need some street-le­gal en­duro tyres for that sort of work, though their short­com­ing is an in­abil­ity to of­fer the grip and sta­bil­ity on tar­mac of more road-based rub­ber. If the Husky 701 was mine, and I wish it was, I’d have it low­ered slightly and buy a set of spare wheels to give the best choice of grip to suit a greater va­ri­ety of routes. That way, the bike would be more dual-pur­pose and ad­ven­ture ready than it al­ready is.

RID­ING PO­SI­TION Roomy for sur­pris­ingly comfy road tour­ing but a 950mm seat height makes it tricky for shorter rid­ers

Things are just as much fun on the loose

De­spite its ob­vi­ous off-road cre­den­tials, the 701 works well on sealed sur­faces

Fac­tory-fit Conti TKC 80 tyres do okay but don’t ex­cel ei­ther on- or off-road

WP front sus­pen­sion is eas­ily ad­justable in both com­pres­sion and re­bound

The Husky copes as well off-road as it does on and gen­er­ates smiles all round

The bare ne­ces­si­ties of life. Life on the road that is. Ba­sic dash to keep it all le­gal

High-level ex­haust can is a long way from the ground but still fries mud for that de­li­cious off-road odour

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