Despite a venerable off-road tradition, Husqvarna is now turning its focus to road-going motorcycles. The Vitpilen 701 concept bike was unveiled at EICMA as a sign of things to come, with the company having already announced that two smaller Vitpilen versions are headed for production.
It all started exactly one year ago at the same venue, EICMA, when Husqvarna introduced two concept models, the Vitpilen 401 and the Svartpilen 401. Their Swedish names translate to White Arrow and Black Arrow respectively, as a tribute to the Silverpilen (Silver Arrow) off-roader of the mid-fifties.
In early 2015 KTM's CEO, Stefan Pierer, declared that both the 401 concept models and a 125 cc version are scheduled to go into production in 2017. These will be built on the running gear of the equivalent KTM Duke models, 390 and 125. Bajaj's Rune factory in India will produce the frame and engine before shipping them to Austria where final assembly will take place.
According to Pierer, Husqvarna is going to invest heavily in a "New Classic" image and in the following years we should expect to see a wide range of road-going Huskies – like the Vitpilen – based on the Duke model family, reaching all the way up to the 1290 cc at the top.
So although the Vitpilen 701 may have just been unveiled as a concept model, judging from what KTM's boss has revealed, a future production model is more or less a safe bet – perhaps as soon as 2018.
The Vitpilen 701, just like the Husqvarna Supermoto and Enduro 701, is based on the KTM 690 cc liquid-cooled single that produces 67 hp (50 kW). Adorned with the typical gear, such as a suspension package from KTM's subsidiary WP and radial Brembo brakes, the Husky concept turns heads with its design.
One of its most prominent features is the yellow line that its designer, Maxime Thouvenin, calls "the split" and describes as the visual connection between the front and the rear of the motorcycle.
Its styling is out of the ordinary, with aluminum plates at the sides of the squared-off fuel tank and a carbon composite monocoque that integrates the tail section with the rear subframe. On the right-hand side of the motorcycle, the open airbox houses a conical filter element, as a demonstration of how simple doesn't necessarily mean boring.
We can only hope that, when the time comes for Husqvarna to produce this bike, the final design will not veer far from this unique design.