Is the updated Svartpilen 401 from Husqvarna the ultimate urban explorer? That’s the question I hope to answer in this in-depth review on my new motorcycle ride! Read on.
Motorcycles can add a touch of exhilaration to the most mundane of journeys, and are becoming increasingly popular among those seeking to eke the most out of their day-to-day commute.
Not every motorcycle is created equal, however, and each will offer both pros and cons. Modern scrambler motorcycles offer an appealing blend of on-road competence with light off-road ability and rugged styling, their pleasing and fashionable aesthetics becoming a major selling point in recent times. There are several scramblers available in the market & Husqvarna’s Svartpilen 401 is one of the hottest entry-level motorcycles available.
Today we will take an in-depth look at this Swedish two-wheeler.
Heritage of Husqvarna (More Than Just Dirt Bikes)
Some may not be familiar with the Husqvarna brand (pronounced as Husk – Vaarna), or perhaps you associate the name with their excellent range of power tools such as chainsaws and lawnmowers, however, they are actually one of the worlds oldest motorcycling brands.
Founded in 1689 (in the southern Swedish village of its namesake), Husqvarna originally began as a metal-working company producing muskets for the Swedish Army, which is why the Husqvarna logo to this day depicts a gun sight. In 1903 Husqvarna began production of its first motorcycle and has not stopped since, placing it among the oldest motorcycle manufacturers still in business alongside Harley Davidson and Royal Enfield.
Contrary to common perception, the pioneer of motocross sport – Husqvarna Motorcycles – does more than just manufacture dirt bikes for motocross. Now under the ownership of Austrian Motorcycling powerhouse KTM, Husqvarna has the resources and mandate to apply their championship-winning off-road technology to an ever-expanding range of road-going motorcycles.
This certainly doesn’t mean that Husqvarna has forgotten its roots, and the Svartpilen 401 is somewhat of a hybrid between a dirt bike and an on-road naked street bike. This dual personality works well and delivers a motorcycle that is at home on all different kinds of surfaces. Moreover, the unique DNA and design language of Svartpilen 401 makes it a stunning machine and a head-turner out on the roads. The bike boasts retro looks with a touch of modernity and the integration of modern features with a sleek body design makes it a fun daily ride.
Different Strokes, for Different Folks
I have had my motorcycle license since 2018 and my very first motorcycle was a red Honda CBR250R. Considered a safe and beginner-friendly bike, the Honda offered a good value platform to learn on and was a sensible purchasing decision for a novice rider such as myself.
With that said, I did find it dull to ride and I’m ashamed to admit it had limited use during the 2 years under my ownership. Why? The riding position, power delivery, and general aesthetic of the Honda simply didn’t suit or excite me enough to ride it. With that in mind, the Honda was sold to a more enthusiastic owner in 2020, because now I am the proud owner of a brand-new Husqvarna Svartpilen 401!
After months of researching this model, I am elated to finally have it in my possession and just in time before the unfortunate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic restricted the supply of new vehicles even further. Now, there is a lengthy backlog on ordering the Husqvarna Svartpilen 401, with many dealerships not even having demo stock on the floor to show you!
For those who are weighing up whether the Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 is for them, or are finding themselves in the unfortunate scenario of waiting for floor stock – hopefully, my in-depth review will keep you interested in this game-changing motorcycle, because it’s well worth the wait, and in my opinion, exceeds expectations.
My Brand-New Husqvarna Svartpilan 401
As someone who works in marketing, I should know better… but I’m a sucker for great branding and a good marketing spiel. Sell me a story, a vision and a lifestyle – and I’ll envision it.
The marketing team at Husqvarna do an excellent job of luring you into the urban-exploring lifestyle that this motorcycle can offer you, describing the Svartpilen 401 as:
Real-world usability in casting an iconic silhouette, but housing a contemporary engine and electronics package, the Svartpilen range pays homage to dirt track heroes with modern-day technology. It makes no excuses about its heritage, but keeps its sights firmly on the future.
At home on the broken roads which fringe its metropolitan playground, the Svartpilen 401 inspires confidence to explore. Using a simple yet proven recipe, which blends a commanding seating position with a torquey engines the Svartpilen 401 goes where others fear to tread.
Need I say more? You have my full attention now, Husqvarna.
Putting aside their marketing, there are many things that attracted me to purchasing the Svartpilan 401 after researching it, with its rugged appeal, classic silhouette, contemporary engine, and electronics package to name some. I particularly love its defined, dark demeanor and rugged protective parts, high handlebars with a relaxed bend, and robust spoked wheels. The impressive 44 horsepower (and 37Nm of torque) doesn’t hurt either.
Here are some of my favourite notes on the Svartpilen 401 (2020 model):
- Incredible Design & Style – It’s got this sleek, industrial-chic look to it, with a naked scrambler, aesthetic. Its iconic silhouette is a hybrid of rugged appeal that meets bespoke cosmopolitan.
- Affordable Price Point – As of 2020, these can be had brand new for under $7,500 ride away, which is a great deal by any standard but especially so given they were over $10,000 when first released in 2018.
- It’s Origins – It’s designed in Sweden, and assembled in India (which makes the price point even better value).
- A Fun Ride – I love how ‘nifty ‘, ‘nimble’ and ‘flickable‘ it feels under you, with its lightweight (under 150Kgs) and punchy, torquey engine making for a fun ride, not to mention the telepathic handling.
- Cheap as Chips – Extremely low fuel consumption and low overall running costs. This thing runs on fumes, under 4 litres of fuel per 100 Kms!
- Did I Mention Its Looks? – Okay, okay. I’m a typical female in that I’m all about colour, design and style, and yes, that’s what initially attracted me to the Svartpilan 401. However, it packs a substance of epic proportions…
- Impressive Specs – Powered by a modern 373cc single-cylinder with 37Nm of torque and a 6-speed gearbox, this ‘slick rick’ runs on a KTM Engine with a 390 range. With a peak horsepower of 32 kW (44 hp), it’s got an awesome power-to-weight ratio to excite all rider experiences.
As a newcomer to the Perth motorcycle scene, I thoroughly enjoyed taking my brand-new Husqvarna Svartpilan 401 motorcycle to various ‘moto meets’ in Perth to show it off, mingle with like-minded motorcyclist enthusiasts, as well as have fun and generally build my confidence. You can read about one of my favourite Perth Moto Meets (“2 Wheels, 1 Love” by Rogue Motorcycles) on my other blog here.
So, what’s a girl to do with a brand-new motorcycle that she saved up for and is immensely proud of? Show it off!
Photo credit for the above photos goes to Ben from Rogue Motorcycles. Thanks, Ben!
The Nitty Gritty
The ergonomics of the Svartpilen 401 provide optimal comfort to the rider and easy maneuverability in tight spaces. The handlebar is wide and tall, but at the same time does not require the rider to stretch across the fuel tank and provides a comfortable upright riding posture and a tight turning circle, perfect for maneuvering through urban environments. All the controls are nicely laid within the reach and the adjustable levers provide a firm grasp to riders of any age group. One nice touch is that all controls are backlit, a feature not always present even on motorcycles costing twice as much. The seat height is 835mm and while this sounds tall, the seat is very narrow and allows good contact with the ground even for shorter riders.
The engine and transmission are more than sufficient to keep the Svartpilen 401 moving along nicely. The 373cc double overhead cam, single-cylinder engine might not sound like a powerhouse, however, coupled with the 401’s very lightweight of 152Kg it has enough grunt to amaze even an experienced rider. With 32 kilowatts (44hp) of power and 37Nm of torque on offer through a six-speed gearbox supported by a quick-shifter (clutchless shifting) system Husqvarna calls “Easy-Shift”, this powertrain exceeds expectations in this capacity class. The 373cc motor delivers good torque at low engine speeds with the 37Nm peak delivered at 7000rpm and provides uniform power up to the 9000rpm power peak before the redline cuts in at 10,000rpm.
The only downsides of this engine are common to single-cylinder arrangements, meaning slight vibrations at higher RPMs and an agricultural soundtrack particularly at idle. The water-cooled engine does develop significant heat at low speeds and warm weather, however the large cooling fan kicks in early to keep this under control, although the whooshing fan noise does not add to the low-speed ambiance.
The suspension is provided by KTM group subsidiary WP and has been tuned to provide good handling and reasonable shock absorption over bumps and potholes. The front upside-down forks and a mono-shock mounted on the swingarm have sufficient damping ability to soak even some of the major imperfections on the road. This suspension arrangement is a premium feature in a segment dominated by budget conventional forks and underdamped shocks. The blocky Pirelli STR Rally tyres work well with the overall suspension geometry and provide surprisingly good performance on paved surfaces, with little to no tyre noise.
The braking system is supplied by Brembo’s Indian subsidiary ByBre (“By Brembo”) and again is a premium feature in an otherwise budget-conscious market segment. Front braking is handled by an opposed 4 piston caliper clamping a 320mm brake disk, while the rear has a floating single-piston caliper and 230mm disc, both backed by dual-channel Bosch ABS. The motorcycle has a dry weight of mere 152kgs which is exceptional for a bike of this category. The lightweight gives it an excellent power to weight ratio of 0.289hp for every kg and a great fuel economy of nearly 28km/l (3.5l/100km), though the fuel average also depends on your riding style.
Some notable key features on the Svartpilen 401 (2020) are:
- Striking new graphics highlight the unique SVARTPILEN heritage
- Optimised bolt-on subframe, extended by 40 mm for increased pillion comfort
- Upright riding position for a commanding, confidence- inspiring, accessible yet exciting riding experience
- Refined fuelling for exceptional throttle response throughout entire rev-range 44 hp, 37 Nm, 373 cc, single cylinder engine
- Chromoly steel trellis frame
- Spoked wheels enhance the rugged and modern look
- Back-lit buttons on handlebar
- Adjustable front brake and clutch levers
- LED headlight and tail light
- High quality fit and finish
- Extremely low fuel consumption and low overall running costs
|Weight (without fuel): 152 kg
|Cooling: Liquid Cooled
|Tank Capacity: 9.5 l
|Power in KW: 32kW
|ABS: two channel Bosch 10.1MB
|Starter: Electric Starter
|Front Brake Disc Diameter: 300mm
|Rear Brake Disc Diameter: 230mm
|Front Brake: Four-piston radial fixed calliper
|Clutch: PASC™ antihopping clutch, mechanically operated
|Rear Brake: Single-piston radial floating calliper
|CO2 Emissions: 77 g/km
|Chain: X-Ring 5/8 x 1×4″ / Steering Head Angle: 65°
|Displacement: 373 cm³
|Frame Design: Chrome-moly tubular space frame, powder-coated
|EMS: Bosch EMS
|Front Suspension: WP APEX 43
|Design: 1-cylinder, 4-stroke engine
|Ground Clearance: 145mm / Seat Height: 835mm
|Fuel Consumption: 3.6 l/100 km
|Rear Suspension: WP APEX – Monoshock
|Lubrication: Forced oil lubrication with 2 oil pumps
|Suspension Travel (Front & Rear): 142mm
Overall, the Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 is an excellent motorcycle that is even capable of fulfilling light off-roading needs in addition to routine urban commutes. Husqvarna has drawn upon the decades of their motocross expertise into this entry-level machine which makes for an excellent offering with a sharp price point and range of premium features.
And my personal thoughts? This is the best motorcycle purchase decision I have made yet.
Thanks to the playful character and stunning good looks of the Husqvarna Svartpilen 401, I now enjoy riding. You can’t beat that. I rate this bike 10/10 for its ease of use and getting a novice like me confidentially back into the game.
The Svartpilen 401 re-ignited my interest in riding again, and for that alone, it has a special place in my heart. And I think it will for you too.
Now watch me pose at Perth City’s Kings Park below 😉
Agree or disagree with my review? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Contact Husqvarna Motorcycles
Learn more about the Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 on its official product webpage, where you will be able to read more on its technical specs, and extra information such as complimentary technical accessories. Click here for Svartpilen-model brochures. To find a dealer in Australia, click here.
Disclaimer: For full transparency, this article was NOT sponsored by Husqvarna Motorcycles, and I did not receive any payment for writing this review. I just really like their Svartpilen 401 and decided to write a review on the bike so to inspire and inform others. With that being said, I welcome their marketing department to call me… I am available for future test rides of next-generation models 😉