The wait from the time we first saw the Vitpilen to the time we finally got our hands on one was quite long. It was over three years ago, in November 2014, when Husqvarna revealed the Vitpilen 401 concept at the huge EICMA show in Italy. It marked Husqvarna’s return to the street motorcycle segment, and the feedback it received was surprisingly impressive. People wanted this motorcycle on the street.
It came at a time with almost every manufacturer was focussing on the retro scene. The fresh and futuristic design of the Vitpilen stood apart from its contemporaries and that is what most of us love about this motorcycle.
Even though it’s built around the KTM 690 Duke, it will take a well-informed motorcyclist to tell the similarities.
Husqvarna has kept it very clean and simple with this motorcycle. The production version is very close to the concept they debuted in Italy and you have to see it in flesh to drool over its design. The Swedes have done a remarkable job with the tank and the tail of the motorcycle. It’s so good looking, it almost feels like an expensive aftermarket mod job and not something that rolled out of a factory production line.
The KTM Duke 690 derived single cylinder delivers 75hp at 8,500rpm from its 693cc displacement. Given that the wet weight of the Vitpilen 701 is only 166 kilograms, the power feels more than ample for its dimensions. What I also liked about this motorcycle is the power delivery. Riding a big bore single cylinder was a breath of fresh air for me as well. In simple terms, this motorcycle is fast and very agile. Whack open the throttle and the front doesn’t hesitate to lift off the ground. Traction control is your friend here.
The large displacement single also guarantees 72Nm of torque at 6,750 rpm which is all you will ever need to play around in the city or take on that occasional highway ride. This isn’t a long-distance motorcycle by any means with its 12-litre tank but then again, we’re not short of fuel stations in our region and an occasional trip to the northern emirates around the twisties will guarantee a broad grin on your face.
There is no dearth of equipment too. It gets Brembo brakes, Bosch ABS and traction control. It also has a superb build quality and overall fit and finish is impressive.
This Vitpilen 701 has some worthy competitors, no doubt. There’s a long list of offering from BMW and Ducati with their established street cred. However, if you’re the architect types, the ones that always go for the Saab and not the other mainstream brands, this is the motorcycle you should be riding.