HUSQVARNA 701 SUPERMOTO (2015 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Light, punchy, engaging
  • An everyday supermoto
  • Simple but sophisticated design

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.2 out of 5 (4.2/5)
Annual servicing cost: £220
Power: 71 bhp
Seat height: Tall (35.0 in / 890 mm)
Weight: Low (342 lbs / 155 kg)

Prices

New £7,999
Used £8,000

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
5 out of 5 (5/5)

Here's the thing about the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto in 2020: Ten grand looks like an awful lot of money for a bike with just one cylinder. Especially as it’s a supermoto, which is another way of saying it’ll be more focused than the sharpest sportsbike and as practical as jelly shoes.

Husqvarna’s 701 is far more than ‘just’ a single, though. Its 693cc unit is one of the most impressive engines of recent times, combining punch, character and impressive performance at realistic speeds with economy, eerie smoothness and sensible service intervals. And the 701 is way more than just a supermoto too.

While the tall, slim, light chassis readily delivers all the big-lean, foot-out, one-wheel antics inspired by bikes of the breed, the 701 is set up to ensure proper rideability on the road. It’s also a thing of quality: components, fit and finish are extremely pleasing, and despite the bike’s apparent simplicity the latest version has plenty of tech.

Fabulous sub-80mph fun, most of the practicality of a middleweight twin, superb quality, and the air of the exotic – the Husqvarna might not be the obvious choice in today’s capacity-mad world, but the 701 has the potential to revitalise your riding.

During 2016 MCN spent an entire year living with the 701SM in the UK. Here are five things our man Liam Marsden loved about his time with the bike: 

  • 1. That engine

There's something about a big single that I love. They're incredibly simple, no-nonsense, and produce their power in an addictive way. They might run out of puff a little bit at higher speeds, but they're much more fun at lower speeds than most other bikes.

  • 2. The handling

It probably comes as no surprise the Husky handles well. The lightweight of just 145kg and those wide motocross bars make it extremely easy to throw on its ear. More often than not I end up pointing towards the inside kerb on the first corner if I've been riding something else for a little while. 

  • 3. It will fit through almost any gap

The Husky is an excellent commuting tool. Tall and slim, it's able to squeeze through almost any gap in traffic, much to the annoyance of my fellow commuters, no doubt.

  • 4. It's surprisingly economical

I half expected to be stopping for petrol more than once a week, but the 690cc single returns 51mpg, which results in a 130 mile range from the 13 litre tank. Twisting the throttle harder and faster seems to have little effect.

  • 5. It just makes me smile

The Husky is so simple. Yes it's flawed as an everyday motorcycle, but the combination of light weight, that punchy engine and good brakes can't fail to make me smile. Whether it's accelerating hard out of a roundabout, tearing round my favourite roads or commuting home, I'm always guaranteed a smile.

Once you've read this review, and our owners' reviews, you may want to join an online community to meet likeminded people. We'd suggest the Husqvarna 701 owners' group on Facebook.

Husqvarna 701 SM motard corner

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
5 out of 5 (5/5)

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 ribbed 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.

Husqvarna 701 SM static

Engine

Next up: Reliability
5 out of 5 (5/5)

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).

Husqvarna 701 SM right rear quarter

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
5 out of 5 (5/5)

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 lose 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 of oil every couple of thousand miles.

We've got 4 Husqvarna 701 Supermoto owners' reviews on the site, with an overall score of 4.5 stars out of 5. One reader complains of poor quality materials and an overly hot standard exhaust.

Husqvarna 701 SM brake lever

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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.

There are larger, better-equipped and faster bikes for the same sort of new price as the Husqvarna - for similar money you could get a BMW F900XR, Suzuki GSX-S1000 or Triumph Street Triple RS. However, the Husky is 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. It's also a far more authentic supermoto than the Ducati Hypermotard or Aprilia Dorsoduro, and a class above the Yamaha XT660X.

Equipment

3 out of 5 (3/5)

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.

Specs

Engine size 693cc
Engine type liquid-cooled, SOHC, 4v single-cylinder
Frame type Steel trellis frame
Fuel capacity 13 litres
Seat height 890mm
Bike weight 155kg
Front suspension 48mm forks, adjustable preload, rebound, compressions
Rear suspension monoshock, adjustable preload, rebound, compression
Front brake Brembo four piston, radial caliper, brake disc 320mm
Rear brake Brembo single piston, floating caliper, brake disc 240 mm
Front tyre size 120/70 ZR 17
Rear tyre size 160/60 ZR 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 54 mpg
Annual road tax £93
Annual service cost £220
New price £7,999
Used price £8,000
Insurance group 14 of 17
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 71 bhp
Max torque 51 ft-lb
Top speed 121 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 171 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

2016: Launched at the end of 2015, based around the single-cylinder engine and steel trellis frame of KTM’s 690 SMC R. Makes a claimed 67bhp at 7500rpm, weighs 145kg (dry).

2017: New engine from the KTM 690 Duke with wider bore, shorter stroke and 693cc. Twin balance shafts to reduce vibes, ride-by-wire throttle, additional 1000 revs, and a claimed 74bhp at 8000rpm.

2019: Forks are now fully adjustable, Brembo brake calipers and Bosch ABS upgraded.

2020: Stuffed with new tech, with easily switched riding modes, cornering ABS, lean-aware traction control and a quickshifter.

Other versions

There’s a 701 Enduro with trail-ready suspension, different geometry and proper off-road wheel sizes. Model history mirrors the Supermoto. It’s a pukka round-the-globe adventure bike, especially as an Enduro LR (long range) version was introduced for 2020 with a 25-litre fuel capacity – with 60mpg easily achievable, that’s a 330-mile range.

Owners' reviews for the HUSQVARNA 701 SUPERMOTO (2015 - on)

5 owners have reviewed their HUSQVARNA 701 SUPERMOTO (2015 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your HUSQVARNA 701 SUPERMOTO (2015 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.6 out of 5 (4.6/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Engine: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.2 out of 5 (4.2/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.4 out of 5 (4.4/5)
Equipment: 4.4 out of 5 (4.4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £220
5 out of 5 All the bike you'll ever need
24 November 2020 by Roast Chicken

Year: 2018

Annual servicing cost: £250

Motorcycling in it's purest form. All the unnecessary stuff removed just a fantastic engine married to a light, high quality chassis. Tall, precise, comfortable (see detail re seat!), engaging, exciting and FUN.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Yes it's firm, but high quality suspension. Big bumps while cranked over at speed are noted an then dismissed. Up to three figure speeds (and beyond) it's stable and composed. The seat is ok for an hour or so and then you begin to want something softer and plusher. I did a longish run to Devon this year and duck-taped some foldable hiking foam seats in place (I know, I know). It wasn't pretty but it transformed the comfort and proves you can taking the long distance issue if you need to - which I don't. The upright, wide bar, 90 degree knee position is fantastic. Brakes have feel and one-finger stopping power, while the one time the ABS cut in up front was the one time I really needed it to. I even carry a passenger occasionally, and weird as it seems, it's a perfectly satisfactory ride two up.

Engine 5 out of 5

The engine is a wonderful thing. It has the usual characteriscts of a big single - you can feel/hear the power pulses but the vibrations have been tamed to the point where they are not an issue. It really is amazing to ride, especially once your on the pipe (which you will be, most of the time), it seems to rev and pull like a twin. Astonishing. The throttle-to-amygdala connection is direct and you just can't get enough of the twist and grin routine.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Despite being so light, the quality of the vital components is obvious - I'm taking about the Brembos, the WP suspenders and the clever mass centralisation of the package. I had a very slight leak from the gearbox output shaft last year which was due to the drive sprocket having worked loose. Threadlock, 80 Nm and the tab washer fixed that, but it has happened since - again, with the same simple, free fix.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

I do 7,000 a year but I change the oil and filters every 3k (mine's a keeper); I do the valves every 6k. I also changed the final drive at 16k and the fork oil then too. It's a very tightly-packed bike but not too difficult to work on, and doing it myself allows me to really use it without worrying about service cost and allows me to keep an eye on all the safety critical parts. Apparently some are oil-guzzlers but I use about 300 ml per 1k miles. Rear brake pads seem to do about 7k miles, and I changed the fronts at about 15k, although I could have gone another 4k on them.

Equipment 3 out of 5

It's got a speedo, ART, trip, fuel light, and not much else. You don't need it - if TFT dash and leam angle measurement floats your boat buy something else. It does however, have fully adjustable suspension. The OEM horn was pitiful so I upgraded to something with more, erm, presence. Biggest running cost (after E5) is rubber. I've stuck with the OEM ContiAttacks which are without negatives other than 3.5k miles from a rear, twice that from a front.

Buying experience: From an excellent specialist Husqvarna dealer in Cheriton, who I can only describe as a proper motorcycle dealer. A true professional.

3 out of 5 Good motorbike with a lot of annoying issues
30 June 2020 by Tomas

Year: 2017

Annual servicing cost: £200

Good motorbike with a lot of annoying issues.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 2 out of 5

Some smaller parts such as break reservoirs and clutch cylinder are so cheaply made that they basically need to be replaced for aftermarket ones as soon as you buy the bike. Very bad stock exhaust, big and dangerously hot.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Fuel and oil consumption is very low.

Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5 It's the bike you've always wanted
16 July 2016 by Andy pig rider

Year: 2016

This is the bike I have always wanted it accelerates like a rocket it goes around corners like its on rails and makes me smile every time I take it out

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Finding it very comftable riding it for 3 hours at a time the bike doesn't just go it will stop where ever you want it to the brakes are just perfect nice feel and ore inspiring

Engine 4 out of 5

The power is amazing can't keep off the throttle you do really need to kick the gear leaver as if you don't you will get a neutral there all over the box

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Only owned it for a few weeks no problems so far

Value vs rivals 3 out of 5

The intial price is high I am getting 110 miles to 10 litres of fuel, am on the throttle all the time but you ride one and try not too

Equipment 5 out of 5

The best thing about the bike is the throttle if you fit your own yellow flashes on the wheels like I had to use a heatgun to stretch the plastic as your fitting them

5 out of 5
01 May 2016 by Chris Withers

Year: 2016

If you like supermotos, this is a beautiful bike. On first inspection I wasn't sure about the large rear fairings, but now I'm used to them, they fit the style of the 701. The blue yellow and white scheme gives the bike a nice clean look. This is my first big bike after riding around on a 125 (wr125x) and it is confidence inspiring.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

For a SM, the seat is surprisingly comfortable. I've done over three hour stretches with no discomfort on dismounting. The quality of the ride is amazing. The bike is so light that it moves under the slightest shift of weight, but it is perfectly balanced, so it almost feels like it's reading your intentions as you make minute adjustments ready for a corner etc. For a thumper, whilst vibrations are apparent, they are not an issue. Even at motorway speeds and beyond, the vibrations never become an issue.

Engine 5 out of 5

Power delivery is perfect.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

This is a fairly new bike so I can only comment on quality, but the parts are very high end, and even though it's a thin bike, it has presence due to the quality of the individual parts. I have a few concerns about the speedometer. The vibrations from the thumper seem to work loose the LED bulb covers, and I had the misfortune of getting a crack in the speedometer glass from an errant piece of hail. I put the crack down to a weird fluke than a quality issue though.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5
20 November 2015 by LL

Version: 690 Enduro R

Year: 2015

A blue KTM

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5

Buying experience: Have the KTM 690 Enduro R that is basically the same bike. Don't know what all the uniqueness of this bike with it's throttle mapping modes is over the KTM. If tester did their homework, would find that this is also fitted to the 690 Enduro R.

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