Ride Quality & Brakes
Suspension is on the sporty side of comfortable, meaning you notice larger imperfections at lower speed, though with plenty of wheel travel and luxurious damping the ride is never harsh.
There’s no questioning the quality of WP’s components. Full adjustment is offered, with the ability to alter preload, rebound damping and compression damping front and rear (the forks have compression damping in the left fork leg, rebound in the right), but the factory set-up is so good you probably won’t meddle.
There’s touchy-feely feedback from the 701 in the middle of a corner, with a fluid suspension action and grip-enhancing weight transfer – you feel the front tyre biting the road under braking, and the rear digs in accelerating out of turns while banked over. Being tall, slender and light, the Husky doesn’t need to lean as far as lower, heavier bikes for a given speed, so always tends to have lean and grip in reserve. It’s real fun in the wet.
The single disc front brake needs a good tug on the classy lever for serious effect, but there’s no shortage of power. From 2020 onwards the 701 has cornering ABS, for panicky grabs mid-turn. Earlier versions got run-of-the-mill Bosch anti-lock (which of course you can turn off for skids), which goes unnoticed unless you stamp on the rear pedal or encounter a loose surface while pinning the front down, at which point it does what it needs to.
With its considerable 890mm seat height the Supermoto can be imposing for those who are less gangly. The ridded seat is very slippery in textiles, though gives plenty of space to move about and get comfortable. Body position does affect handling, however; sit too far back and the steering becomes vague, and you need to shuffle near the headstock and grip the wraparound seat with your legs to pin the front down accurately.
Sitting in the over-the-nose supermoto stance gives a strange sensation, as there’s nothing around you. It’s like flying… well, sort of. Windblast is obviously a consideration, though the Husky is no worse than any other naked bike.
It’s not 701cc but 693cc: the model name is to differentiate the Husky from the KTM 690s that use the same engine. And the single-cylinder motor is very cunning. The oversquare unit (105 x 80mm) has a single overhead cam with roller rockers for the exhaust valves, twin spark plugs with individual ignition maps, forced lubrication from two oil pumps, plus a pair of balance shafts – one conventionally located by the crank, and a second in the cylinder head which also separates oil from the air passing to the breather. A huge 50mm throttle body is controlled by ride-by-wire.
It’s potent. The rev limit is a heady 9000rpm, and it makes 51.2 lb.ft of torque and 71bhp (against a claim of 74). In such a tall, light package it’ll wheelie off the throttle in first and second gear, bound eagerly out of mid-speed corners and hit a datalogged 121mph. On-the-road performance is identical to Yamaha’s twin-cylinder MT-07 – remarkable for a bike with one piston.
Yet it’s friendly too. Roll-on overtakes in a tall gear are easy, fuelling is super-smooth, the hydraulic clutch is light, and it’ll slip through 30mph limits in fourth gear without snatch. Sit at 70mph on a motorway and the 701 is as smooth as a four-cylinder bike such as, say, a Kawasaki Z1000SX.
Honestly – you’re aware of the combustion process and power pulses, yet the big single stays amazingly smooth and never numbs fingers. The six-speed gearbox can occasionally be a little notchy, though. Bikes from 2020 onwards have a quickshifter.
Servicing is every 6200 miles, which is impressive for such a high-performance single. Unfortunately, it needs a valve clearance check each time (budget around £300).
Build Quality & Reliability
Component quality is high, and the level of finish is impressive. The Husky is a premium product and should have no reliability issues as long as the engine is serviced as per the schedule. It’s essential for longevity of the eager thumper.
On a used example expect the white plastics and seat to carry subtle marks from leathers and stray boots – and expect to use significant elbow grease to shift them. The soft handlebar grips wear quite swiftly too. Exhausts discolour with use, and the coloured stick-on flashes on the wheels like to peel off.
Check the indicators work as the switch can fail unless greased periodically, and the speedo can mist up. And make sure the speedo actually works – it’s tied-in with the ABS, and if the ABS switch fails you the speed readout as well as the anti-lock. The aluminium swingarm needs smothering in anti-corrosion potion to prevent winter fur, and the engine might want about a cupful every couple of thousand miles.
Insurance, running costs & value
Getting a favourable insurance quote can be a struggle, as the bike’s nature means it might be popular with people who borrow without asking. It’s also group 14 insurance – the same as a Triumph Street Triple RS.
The fuel tank is within the self-supporting plastic subframe, with the filler located at the back of the seat. Fuel capacity is just 13 litres, but thankfully even when ridden as briskly as it encourages you to the 701 averages 54mpg. So the fuel light doesn’t come on until 130 miles and it’ll cover almost 155 miles before spluttering to a halt. With less enthusiastic use the super-smart motor happily returns figure in the 60s or even 70s.
For similar money to the Husqvarna you could opt for a BMW F900XR, Suzuki GSX-S1000 or Triumph Street Triple RS. Other thoroughbred supermotos include the Ducati Hypermotard, Aprilia Dorsoduro or Yamaha XT660X.
While there are larger, better-equipped and faster bikes for the same sort of new price as the Husqvarna, it’s good value. You get classy parts and the feel of a premium device, and residual values are high too – used 701s don’t lose much money.
Insurance group: 14 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.
There’s a simple compact display with speed, odometer, trip, plus a couple of idiot lights. That’s your lot. A supermoto wouldn’t be right with a huge TV-like dash, and the obvious feel of the engine means you never miss a rev counter.
Hand levers are fine quality with neat span adjusters, the tiny headlight is way better than you expect, the mirrors give a decent indication of what’s behind, and the sidestand can be a pig if you’re not overly endowed in the leg department.
Most dealers supply pillion footpegs and grab handles separately; pegs mount instead of the heel plates, but the handles require the bodywork to be drilled. Strapping on luggage isn’t easy, as there are no bungee points and there’s nowhere suitable for a tankbag (Husky will happily flog you some neat tubular frames to carry their accessory tailpacks and panniers, though).
Earlier 701s had straightforward Bosch anti-lock brakes. For 2020 the 701 Supermoto was upgraded to cornering ABS, and also sprouted lean-sensitive traction control, riding modes and a quickshifter.