HUSQVARNA VITPILEN 701 (2018 - on) Review
- One of the best singles we've ridden
- Proven KTM engine with Husky tweaks
- Nimble and easy to ride
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£240|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
The Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 isn’t meant to be a sporty bike, but it still does a pretty good impression of being one. It’s light and flickable, allowing you to change lines with easen and it darts from one side to the other like a toy and turns so quickly it took me by surprise on more than one occasion.
But the overall beauty of the Vitpilen underneath that radical bodywork is how easy it is to ride and how much fun it is – and all without the need to be doing double the speed limit! The 701 has much wider abilities than many expected and will appeal to everyone from fashionable commuters to new bikers – but it's a massive shame about the high price.
Once you've read this review and our owners' review, you may want to join the community at Vitpilen Forum.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
That riding position feels natural and not too upright, but the Husky’s seat is quite hard, meaning that the chance to stretch my legs when the fuel light came on at between 75 and 85 miles was very welcome. The plush suspension is soft enough to take on the harsh city environment, bouncing over speed humps and not jolting over huge potholes.
EngineNext up: Reliability
Husky's trellis chassis houses the most powerful single-cylinder motor on the market. Husqvarna are claiming 75bhp from the KTM unit and it’s identical to the engine found in KTM’s 690 Duke and Husqvarna’s own Supermoto 701. But thanks to revised fuelling and a different exhaust and airbox it produces one vital more bhp than the Duke... Husky have also improved the gearbox to give a more positive change between second and third and added ‘Easy-shift’, which is their name for an up-and-down quickshifter.
Around town, the single is responsive and surprisingly smooth above 3000rpm – so much so you would be forgiven for mistakenly thinking you’re riding a twin. Below that, of course, the delivery’s a little lumpy, as you’d expect from a big single. Get it above 3000rpm and it’s faultless with impeccable fuelling.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
The single-cylinder engine has been powering the 690 Duke since 2012 (although it has been updated) and is a reliable unit.
We've got two Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 owners' reviews on the MCN site, and with 4.5 stars out of 5 overall, it's a good showing. The only minor niggles were a slow-reacting fuel gauge and the quickshifter jumping out of gear in higher gears.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
At nearly £9000, it’s pricier than Yamaha’s brilliant XSR900, Triumph’s outstanding Street Triple S and even £900 more than Ducati’s base Monster 797. These multi-cylinder bikes are more versatile and offer more ‘real-world’ performance than Husky's single cylinder.
The WP suspension is near identical to that on the 690 Duke. The front 43mm USD forks don't have preload adjustment while the shock, which operates through a linkage, is adjustable for rebound and preload only. The brakes are the same as those on the 690 Duke while ABS is standard as is basic traction control, although it isn’t angle-sensitive.
Thankfully, you can de-activate the traction control while on the move and even turn off the ABS at a standstill. Husky's ‘Easy-shift’ is a joy to use and once moving it negates the need for a clutch. Unlike some quick-shifters, it’ll even downshift on part throttle and doesn’t require the throttle to be fully closed. There’s even a fun little ‘pop’ from the fruity exhaust between up-shifts, which is lovely...
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled, 4v, single|
|Frame type||Tubular steel trellis|
|Fuel capacity||12 litres|
|Front suspension||43mm inverted WP forks fully-adjustable|
|Rear suspension||Single rear WP shock, adjustable pre-load and rebound|
|Front brake||320mm discs with four-piston Brembo radial caliper|
|Rear brake||240mm single disc with single piston Brembo caliper|
|Front tyre size||120/70 x 17|
|Rear tyre size||160/60 x 17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||-|
|Annual road tax||£96|
|Annual service cost||£240|
11 of 17
How much to insure?
Top speed & performance
|Max power||75 bhp|
|Max torque||53.1 ft-lb|
|Top speed||115 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
Model history & versions
New model for 2018
Owners' reviews for the HUSQVARNA VITPILEN 701 (2018 - on)
3 owners have reviewed their HUSQVARNA VITPILEN 701 (2018 - 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:||£240|
Annual servicing cost: £300
The recall has been inconvenient. I found the stock gearing touch too tall for the riding I do. The stock mirrors look a horrible. All fixable without great expense.It was $18k when released in Aus which was too high considering alternaties. I got mine at $10.5k once they'd finished skimming the market.Great bike. I love riding it.
Piece if p*ss to ride. Effortless.
I like thumpers. Stock pipe sounds shit but.
Difficult to work on. But okay if I just allow a little more time.
300 AUD for the first service then they are far between. The Duke motor is a good one.
Quickshift on a tourqey lightweight is fun. Makes it a bit of a dart. Hauls up easily.
Buying experience: Bought new from a dealer after they'd finished skimming the market.
Annual servicing cost: £180
Amazing fun, but at a cost. I test rode a lot of bikes for my second "toy bike" as I already had a Tiger 800 as my work horse and all weather commuter. It really is a looker and gets a lot of attention wherever I go. If you fancy spending half an hour chatting to strangers every time you refuel, this is the bike for you. Very easy to flick about and versatile in the hills and urban riding. The vibration from the lumpy engine at low revs is noticeable and a 90 minute ride is long enough without a break. I have had this bike since new in 2018 and it still brings a huge smile to my face the whole time I'm riding it. Once you find the suspension set up that suits, it is a fabulous summer bike and an all day companion for me. The dash isn't as nice as the KTM, it scratches easily and I would have preferred a premium finish for the premium price Husky asked for the bike.
The Vitpilen loves to be moving around the 5k rev counter. Exceptionally smooth and on a country road or forest ride out, I wouldn't trade this for anything. It feels to me always what I imagine motorcycling should feel like. Responsive and feel on the road, connected to the chassis and engine and not over-powering on acceleration. It gets you where you want to go fast enough but keeps you honest at the same time. The brakes are very good and trail-braking into corners is a doddle. The suspension and forks stay stable and comfortable and will not dive like a premiership footballer if you need to squeeze them a bit harder. I bought the premium seat for comfort, and the maximum saddle time I've had in one go was 2 and a half hours before a break. Would not recommend this as a pillion bike as there is very little room on the back and little to grip. The seat is pretty slippery too. I have had my young son (7yrs) on the back for 15 minute cheeky stints to the duck pond and back, but a full grown adult twosome would be impractical.
As with all singles, the lower revs can be lumpy and pretty brutal jumping the bike at low speeds. When in it's normal range however, it is extremely smooth. The power is constant, not sluggish, it feels like a straight curve and acceleration is constant and manageable for most people. i'm not a sports bike rider so this is more than enough for me to be able to get my head down and get on. Easy riding and stable in corners keeps the bike moving well and encourages you to use all the grip in the tyres.
Mechanically i cannot really fault this bike, there are a couple of minor embuggerances however - 1 - The fuel gauge is as reliable as can be expected from a chainsaw manufacturer. Shows the tank at empty a lot of the time on initial start up and can take a few miles to sort itself out. 2 - The easy shift is an amazing bit of kit and very fluid, but can be known to kick out of gear during changes, normally between 5th and 6th at higher revs. Will go over the stated 115mph if you want to, up to approx 124mph (clocked).
I normally pay the Husky dealer to service my bike every spring and a winter service too. It's relatively cheap by comparison to previous bikes I've owned. Mileage -wise, it is surprisingly economical.
The overall look of the bike is what originally sold it to me. The ride is great. The stock mirrors vibrate to the point that they are less than useless. I bought the premium mirrors and these have no vibration, however they aren't much better. I get a very good view of my own forearms, unless I'm in a racing position, then I can see what is behind me. Would go for the bar end mirrors every time with his bike. The premium seat is a good, if slightly expensive, option to go for. As the bike was new on the market when I bought it, it took nearly 6 months for all of my extras to be available from Austria and fitted. I also bought the soft panniers for the bike, purely out of curiosity. These are an expensive option and pretty much pointless. The bike is not really set up for distance or touring and the bag size themselves are tiny. Great if you're heading to a big city and you want to pack a sandwich, water bottle and bike chain. You may just about fit a spare shoe in each bag and that's about it. The pannier brackets don;t even work well as a handle for a pillion due to the solid plate in the centre of them. Save your 360 quid and buy a set of cheap throw-overs if you want panniers. Don't bother getting the Akro exhaust. The standard Husky one is nice enough and goes better with the overall look of the bike.
The way I can hustle the 701 from apex to apex is almost zen like and have 100% confidence in the way it feels planted. The tractin control only chimes in when I get a bit silly or when the tyre breaks traction due to debris on the road surface such as gravel etc.
The ride quality is fantastic due the the WP suspension and I have not tinkered with any of the adjusters, I just have'nt needed to, which I found suprising. The brakes are very good with delicate feel and real power. The ABS works and only chimes in when I am riding in a "spirited" manner, opening the throttle at full lean etc. or when the tyre breaks traction due to debris on the road such as gravel.
The engine is like a bucket of lump hammers being thrown around a tumble dryer under 3000rpm but once it is singing above that it is as smooth as a slugs foot and just keeps pulling like a cart horse as long as you keep feeding it gears through the quick shifter. Between fifth and sixth it sometimes finds a false neutral if I am not firm enough with the gear leaver but I think that is more due to me than the bike. The dealer tells me that they will check and adjust it at the next service.
Only minor things such as the clutch leaver span adjuster looking a little cheap and the switch gear looking slightly bargain basement let the bike down but they all function well and I really am being picky.
The bike is expensive for a single but I got a great trade in price that softened the blow. What price can you put on beautiful design? I absolutly love the look of the machine and as an ex-racer I love the feel and expeience of the ride. From hooning around like a brain out goon to just having a gentle ride around North Wales it never dissapoints or fails to deliver.
The bike has more electrical magic tricks than I will ever use but the gear indicator and fuel gauge are good. The quick shifter is a great feature on this kind of bike and really suits my "enthusiastic" riding. The only issue is the false neutral between fifth and sixth but as I mentioned earlier, it's probably more me than the bike at fault.
Buying experience: The buying experience was dead easy. The guys at D&K in Newcastle -Under-Lyme were really helpful and made the purchase very simple and painless, apart from handing over the money, I would recommend them from my experience.