Home News Husqvarna Svartpilen 401: Road test review

Husqvarna Svartpilen 401: Road test review

by caradmin
Husqvarna Svartpilen 401: Road test review
GalleryIntroductionStyling and Quality Ergonomics and ComfortPerformance and HandlingFeatures and TechnologyFuel Efficiency Should you buy it?

Introduction

The beauty of platform sharing is the numerous possibilities that it presents. You could use the same base but come up with two different motorcycles, both in the way they look and the way they ride. The Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 is, essentially, a KTM 390 Duke in a sharp-looking Swedish suit. And yet, the kind of riding experience that it offers is vastly dissimilar. What makes it so different and should you consider it?

Styling and Quality

Call me biased if you will but I’ve a thing for motorcycles that look unique and have a personality. The Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 is one such example of a motorcycle that looks great without even trying. Perhaps, it is the simplicity of its design that made me gravitate towards it.

You’ve got a nice, round LED headlight, the fuel tank panel that extends to form the side panel as one piece, and a tail panel that emerges from the center of the bike. That’s it. A few panels, clean lines and that’s all it has taken to make this motorcycle stand out from a sea of bikes, some of which are frankly just over the top.

This Husky is the polar opposite of the brash and loud-looking KTM 390 Duke. I think the Husqvarna looks classy and the fact that there aren’t many on our roads makes people notice it a lot more than you’d expect. And then there will be some who will enquire about the make of the bike. At this point, I’d like to wish you good luck and patience in getting people to understand and pronounce the words” Husqvarna Svartpilen 401.” Tongue twisters can be fun, no?

Anyways, the beautiful design of the bike extends to the quality of the components on the bike. The colour of our test bike looked good. I particularly liked the contrasting bronze colour of the engine casings, the 401 badge with the fluorescent yellow edge and the tactility of the switchgear. Overall, the Svartpilen looks and feels premium.

If there’s one thing I’d do is remove the saree guard and the excessively large splatter guard at the rear for a neater look.

Ergonomics and Comfort

By transitioning to the new chassis, the Husqvarna’s seat height at 820mm is accessible to a wider audience than the previous Svartpilen 250. The seat is long and comfortable enough for both the rider and the pillion while the foam density is also firm enough to offer support over long trips.

The rider’s triangle, meanwhile, is sporty with the rear-set footpegs and a slightly forward reach to the handlebar. The position feels natural while being seated and riding but isn’t ideal for standing up on the pegs and riding off-road.

Performance and Handling

The Svartpilen 401 uses the same, manic engine that you get in the KTM 390 Duke. And boy is this engine a treat. The 399cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder unit makes about 46bhp and 39Nm, and is paired with a close-ratio six-speed gearbox. What gets you instantly hooked is the acceleration, the turn of speed and the feeling that this engine doesn’t mind getting trashed. It is a little buzzy but you end up having such a good time that the little tingling sensation in the hands and feet feels more like a welcome accompaniment rather than an irritating bug.

The engaging performance of this engine aside, it is also pretty tractable in the city. This means fewer gearshifts and less effort to trundle around town. The engine’s heat management is also very good and clever techniques like placing a small deflector at the back of the radiator fan to keep hot air from being thrown on the rider’s legs help.

Moving to the ride and handling of the Svartpilen 401, the bike has an adjustable WP fork and a preload adjustable monoshock. The suspension, even in stock settings works wonderfully to absorb small bumps, undulations as well as potholes exceedingly well. Since the bike rides on 17-inch wire-spoke wheels, the chances of bent rims are also drastically reduced when you hit a crater. That said, alloy wheels these days are strong enough to withstand hard hits to quite an extent as long as the tyres are properly inflated. Which begs the question. Why suffer the chance of being stranded on the road in case the tube-type tyres catch a puncture? A set of alloy wheels with tubeless tyres would’ve been great and enough to tackle whatever little rough road riding that owners are likely to subject this bike to. The justification of wire-spoke wheels adding to the aesthetic of this supposed “Scrambler” doesn’t sit well with me.

Speaking of tyres, the test bike we rode was shod with Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR rubber. These tyres are quite grippy both on and off-road and offer plenty of confidence to the rider, even while cornering. The issue I felt was with braking on Mumbai’s poor concrete and mastic asphalt surfaces. On a couple of occasions, the ABS kicked it while braking hard and that felt unnerving. The tyres and the slippery road surface are largely part of the problem and it’ll be wise to exercise caution in such situations. That said, the brakes are by and large very effective and do a good job of hauling the bike to a stop.

All said, at the time of filing this report, we got to know that Husqvarna is now dispatching customer bikes with Apollo Tramplr XR tyres instead of the Pirellis due to issues with importing them in the country. How well those tyres behave is something we can comment about if and when we get a chance to test them.

Features and Technology

The Svartpilen has a decent amount of kit for the price that it sells. There’s ride-by-wire, traction control, switchable ABS and an up-and-down quickshifter. The traction control system works very well and intervenes smoothly. The switchable ABS is handy while riding off-road as it allows you to lock the rear wheel and tighten a turn. As for the quickshifter, it was clunky, especially while downshifting and I preferred the old-school way of pressing the clutch lever to move up and down the gearbox.

There’s a neat, 5-inch TFT display as well and I loved the graphics and attention to detail on the screen. It adds to the sense of premiumness about the Svartpilen. The cluster also features Bluetooth connectivity that’s quite handy in today’s times.

Fuel Efficiency

Like its Austrian counterpart, the KTM 390 Duke, we subjected the Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 to the BikeWale city fuel efficiency test. While the conditions were not the usual with slightly more traffic than anticipated, the bike returned 24.6kmpl. That’s only marginally lower than what the Duke managed.

Should you buy it?

The Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 is priced much below the KTM 390 Duke while retaining a lot of the good bits from the orange machine. The performance, ride and handling are the bits that make this Husky quite endearing. And before I forget, I prefer the Swedish looks of this bike over the KTM’s in-your-face design.

The only thing holding me back from wholeheartedly putting the money down on the bike is the headache of dealing with tube-type tyres. I’d slap on a set of alloy wheels or a set of gripper, tubeless tyres on the Svartpilen 401 and ride it without much of a bother. Or, I’d wait for the Husqvarna Vitpilen 401 to be launched in India.

All said, the Svartpilen 401 is a genuinely likeable bike and is for those who don’t want to associate with the overtly loud KTM 390 Duke or want a bike that stands out without a care about resale value.

Photography by Kapil Angane

Gallery

Husqvarna Svartpilen 401
160 Kmph|391 Km|171.2 kg|42.9 bhp @ 9000 rpm
₹ 2,92,099Onwards
Avg. Ex-Showroom price

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