HUSQVARNA SVARTPILEN 701 (2019 - on) Review
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£170|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
Stripped-down café racers offer the purist of all riding experiences, but few entertain like the flattrack-styled Husqvarna Svartpilen 701.
Weighing just 158.5kg dry it’s BMX-light, has flawless low speed manners and acres of knee-friendly legroom, but get it out of town and it’ll display the kind of tough playfulness in the corners and mono-wheeled lunacy down the straights, that would make a supermoto proud.
- Related: Husqvarna Svartpilen 701 recalled
If you enjoy the slightly unhinged side of biking from time to time, you’ll love the Husky. It’s up there with the Ducati Hypermotard, Yamaha MT-07 and Bimota DB6 (how’s that for an obscure reference?) in the fun stakes and is as insane as a Yamaha MT-10, or Aprilia Tuono, but all the madness happens at lower speeds.
It’s crisp, capable and exhilarating with a pounding single cylinder motor that’s more powerful and refined than it has any right to be. It’s not cheap, but what it lacks in metal, plastic and pistons, it makes up for in refinement, purity and sheer excitement. It’s brilliantly bonkers.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
With its spacious peg position, tall seat and high bars, which are gently angled back towards your chest, flattrack-style towards you, few bikes have more natural ergonomics, but shorter riders could struggle with the Husky’s tall stance.
Understandably wind protection is minimal at motorway speeds and although the seat looks firm it’s not uncomfortable. In fact, although it’s not a touring bike by any stretch and its 12-litre fuel tank won’t get you far between fill-ups, you could strap on a tank bag and it would be roomy, smooth and long-legged enough for long weekends away.
Supple and friendly around town, the Svartpilen comes alive when you grab it by the horns. It’s not as short and flappy as a highly-strung supermoto, but steers with similar razor-like accuracy and rolls into corners with confidence, despite its flattrack-inspired 18-inch front wheel and Pirelli MT60RS knobblies.
But of course, a 17-inch front would open the door to stickier, more road based rubber. A single front disc keeps unsprung weight down, but the Brembo four piston radial caliper has superbike levels of feel and power.
EngineNext up: Reliability
Like the Vitpilen (Swedish for white arrow) 701 launched early last year the Svartpilen (black arrow, hence the stealth black paintjob) 701 is heavily based on the KTM 690 Duke’s rolling tubular steel chassis and 692.7cc single cylinder motor.
With exhaust, airbox and mapping tweaks, the bike now makes 74bhp - up two ponies on the donor engine. That makes the Svartpilen 701 the most powerful production single cylinder money can buy.
It’s hard not to be impressed by the Husqvarna's thumping motor - behaving more like a racy, free-revving twin than what you’d expect a ploddy single to be.
There’s just the right amount of hard-edged, motocrossy character when you twist the light action throttle tube and it’s enough to remind you of the Husky’s off-road roots, but vibes are minimal, the fuel injection doesn’t know the meaning of glitchy and it oozes clean power and torque.
Whether you rev the satsumas off it, or ride it like you didn’t steal it, the Svartpilen 701 is happy. The quickshifter and autoblipper is impressively slick for a single and although it comes with traction control, an unmarked button on the dash (let’s call it the wheelie button) turns it off.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
Husqvarna/KTM build quality can be inconsistent, but it’s something they’re working hard to fix. Like many owners, MCN has experienced problems with it long-term test bikes over the years, but you’ll equally find lots of happy customers enjoying miles of trouble-free fun.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
It’s not cheap for such a minimalist machine, but it comes with lots of tasty chassis parts and the most impressive single-cylinder motor ever made.
One of the joys of the Svartpilen is its simplicity, from its uncluttered switchgear and simple single clock to its minimalist styling.
It may appear pricey and it is a little, but dig beneath the surface and you’ll find an array of tasty equipment: WP suspension, Brembos, Pirellis, ABS and traction control. What appears to be a single seat hump is actually a foam perch for a pillion (like the KTM RC390), although they’ll need to be committed to hang on.
A single LCD display contains lots of handy information, including gear position and a fuel gauge and is adjusted with buttons on the clocks themselves, leaving the switchgear clean and simple.
Clicker switches on top of the Husky’s 43mm WP forks let you adjust rebound and compression damping by hand and even when you’re riding, if the mood takes you.
An 18-inch front wheel mimics the flattrack style and is shod with knobbly Pirelli MT60RS rubber. A single disc set-up gives you has incredible stopping power and would stoppie with ease if it wasn’t for the fun-sucking ABS.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled, 4v single|
|Frame type||Steel trellis|
|Fuel capacity||12 litres|
|Front suspension||WP fully adjustable 43mm forks|
|Rear suspension||WP fully adjustable single shock|
|Front brake||320mm disc with four-piston radial Brembo caliper. Cornering ABS|
|Rear brake||240mm rear disc with single-piston caliper. Cornering ABS|
|Front tyre size||110/80 x 18|
|Rear tyre size||160/60 x 17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||-|
|Annual road tax||£96|
|Annual service cost||£170|
|Used price||£6,000 - £7,000|
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||74 bhp|
|Max torque||53 ft-lb|
|Top speed||120 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
Model history & versions
- 2019: Svartpilen 701 introduced, based on KTM 690 Duke engine and chassis, with different styling, bodywork, seat, bars, riding position, wheels, WP suspension set-up, dash, lights and moody satin black paintjob.
- Svartpilen 401: A2 licence friendly version
- Vitpilen 701: A more roadster-like version of the Svartpilen with different bodywork, design and ergonomics, seat and riding position, handlebars, 17" front wheel, road-based tyres, WP suspension set-up, dash and lights.
- Vitpilen 401: A2 licence friendly version.
Owners' reviews for the HUSQVARNA SVARTPILEN 701 (2019 - on)
6 owners have reviewed their HUSQVARNA SVARTPILEN 701 (2019 - 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.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£170|
Annual servicing cost: £148
This bike does it all, perhaps the ideal first big bike, so easy to ride with wide bars, tall seating position, and light weight. It takes commuting in its stride, can tackle some light off roading and green laning or hit the track where it punches above its weight, long distance touring is not its forte but add a windshield and it makes longer motorway trips bearable. You can sample all elements of biking on the svartpilen and see which ones you like and want to take further.
The svartpilen handles and rides brilliantly. Proper suspension pays for itself and the svartpilens adjustable shocks and fork are high spec espcially when compared to its rivals. I've been off road in mine on Salisbury plains and was surprised by how well it stood up the trails and woods. It natural habitat is bumpy B roads which it takes in it's stride and was loads of fun on track. The single front brake is more than up to the job, power is good and feel is nice. The rear brake is nice and responsive too.
A brilliant engine whose only downside is that it's not the most tuneful. My bike had the O2 sensor deleted, the air box lid removed and is one tooth down on the front sprocket. The changes this makes to the engines smoothness is tangible and I'd recommend any owners to do the same. I've ridden twins that are buzzier through the pegs and handlebars than mine and although chuggy under 3k revs, dropping a tooth on the sprocket means you rarely drop in to that range. This engine is all about the torque and is the defining feature of the bike in my eyes. You can be in any gear at any speed, open the throttle and the response is instant. No waiting for the bike to be in the power band. This is what makes the bike such a good commuter, getting in to gaps on the road is effortless as is heading traffic off at the lights. Revving the engine out still has its rewards though, I often hit the rev limiter as power doesn't fall away to tell you change up. After having owned the bike for a year I have test ridden more powerful bikes (100-120 bhp) and any speed advantage is only really felt when revving them out.
Build quality seems high and the bike feels premium. I think the design is first class, modern with retro hints without being a pastiche, it gets admiration from passersby and I had some creatives in Clerkenwell stop and takes pics of the bike. Electrical faults seem the main problem, my dash was replaced under warranty due to the trip reset button failing, and I get an intermittent fault where an ABS error flashes on and off rapidly, which is still trying to be diagnosed. The fuel tank recall resulted in the tank losing about 2 litres of capacity which is definitley its worst feature, range is realistically 100 miles now.
The manufacturers RRP was high, but second hand values in my mind make the bike a bit of a bargain. Cheap insurance makes it a good option whilst you build up NCB, I'd say I'm averaging 60mpg
For this class of bike it has everything you want as standard. The quickshifter/blipper is the best feature for me. Although perhaps not the very smoothest it always works up or down at any revs, where some bikes I've tested have just refused to work without the clutch at certain revs. As a new rider traction control is welcome and switchable, ABS is unobtrusive and the brakes work well. Gear indicator and fuel gauge are small things but some rivals do with out
Buying experience: KTM dealer has been fine although they're usually booked a long time in advance
The bike is an absolute blast to ride, whether in town or up and out through the twisties. Its extremely light chassis makes it very easy to maneuver through corners, tight spaces, and the garage. To top it all off is the unique and beautiful styling.
As an around-town/backroad complement to my aging R1200RT tourer, this bike pushed all of my buttons. The lightness and and responsiveness is intoxicating. The riding position and overall comfort is really surprising, given the hard, sharp-edged seat. If it was my only bike, I'd be pining for some wind protection, maybe some storage and perhaps a few bells and whistles like heated grips or a decent instrument panel. The supplied speedo/tach/instrument panel is embarrassingly bad, but for the way I use this bike, it doesn't really matter much.
Suspension is really well sorted and fully/easily adjustable. Firm ride, but far from harsh, thanks to that extra bit of wheel travel. Single front disc has great bite and is easy to modulate. Rear brake is a bit soft/mushy.
Love this motor! It's been 40+ years since I've owned a single. Vibes are to be expected, being a thumper, but absolutely no harshness or buzziness. This lump loves to rev and the fuel injection is really well sorted. Like most singles, though, it doesn't like being lugged below 3000 rpm.
Brand new bike, so I'm hopeful that good maintenance will mean problem-free riding. I think it's beautifully built overall, but disappointed by misalignment of the panels shrouding the gas tank.
I purchased it new after the price dropped about 20% in Canada (to CDN$10,399 - or roughly 6000 quid). Service interval, at 10k km, is reasonable.
The whole idea is simplicity. So no bells or baubles, and that's just fine by me. Quick shifter is a nice touch, though jerky if you use it on the 1-2 shift.
Amazing ride. So light and nimble yet powerful. Made for twisty roads.
Annual servicing cost: £200
Great Fun Bike, light, loads of character, corners really well, try it you will be surprised
WP suspension is pretty good, soaks up worst of bumps and gives good control on a B road. Brembo are perfect, even though one disc more than enough stopping power
Still vibes and lumpy around town but great on a back lane loads of power and character and my other bike is a 1260 multistrada.
Seems nicely put together, more quality finish than KTM equivalent
Seems ok but check where your dealers are as they are few and far between
Standard equipment pretty good. Don’t bother with the Akrapovic costs £800 and makes no difference to noise or power. Tyres ok.
Buying experience: Big discounts available I paid £6499 for an 80 mile demo bike so shop around. So much more interest than a KTM
Best - Light, light, light. Super capable chassis. Flies around corners. Worst - Still vibey, absolutely no way to fasten a bag. Recommend - Absolutely Yes! Especially with the newly announced pricing.
7/10 ths all-round bike. A blast to ride one tank full at a time. It does tire you out with somewhat stiff suspension, motor vibes and wind blast. A perfect machine though for caffeinated Sunday morning hi jinks.
5 out of 5 as a big high performance thumper. Power everywhere. Well matched 6 speed ratios. Perfect fueling. Never hiccup's or boggs.
Top Equipment specs for its price point. Only 900 km so far, no quality or mechanical concerns.
10,000 km service intervals, more than 250 kms per tank, very reasonable insurance class.
5 out of 5 as equipped and intended. Fine braking and suspension performance. A better motorcycle choice for me than the Husky 701 Enduro and SM both, as well as the new KTM 690's. So much better on roadways, and still capable - with relatively high limits, on gravel and poorly maintained roads. The light weight makes it very useable off the hard.
Buying experience: From a dealer. Husky is now repricing the whole street line, and I grabbed one when I saw the rebate!