For most manufacturers, concept bikes are usually little more than eye-candy to draw punters to their show stands. But whenever Husqvarna shows a concept, a production version will usually be hot on its heels. And the Svartpilen 701 – shown as a concept last year – is no exception.
Here is the near-production prototype undergoing final testing, caught on the road by our trained spy snapper.
The Svartpilen 701 was shown at the EICMA show in November alongside the production version of the Vitpilen 701.
Just as the smaller Svartpilen 401 – yet to be released in Australia – is a scrambler-style derivative of the street-oriented Vitpilen 401, the Svartpilen 701 adds a competition-influenced feel to the larger Vitpilen.
However, it hasn’t taken the straightforward scrambler route. Instead, there’s something of a flat-tracker feel to the design. It wears alloy wheels rather than wires, for instance, and there’s a large number board on the right-hand side only, a headlight fairing that mimics a front number board, and a small flipped-up tail.
Underneath, the specs will match the Vitpilen 701. That means the same 693cc single-cyclinder engine from the KTM 690 Duke. That unit produces 55kW and 72Nm.
The chassis is also pure KTM 690 Duke, although the riding position is different from both the KTM it is derived from and the Vitpilen 701, thanks to higher and wider pulled-back bars.
The Svartpilen 701 will be in Husqvarna’s range in 2019, but you can guarantee we’ll see an official sneak preview in the not-too-distant future.
The rumour mill also suggests that Husvarna is working on something even bigger, and all indicators are it will be a Vitpilen-style machine derived from KTM’s 1290 Super Duke R. We can’t wait for that.
As good as the concept changes from the concept appear minimal in the path to road legal. It has gained indicators, instruments and mirrors, along with a front mudguard and a rear licence plate carrier. The little ducktail has been moulded into a pillion seat and the production prototype bears pillion pegs to suit.
Other changes are harder to spot. The exhaust end can has grown – no doubt for emissions/noise – and the original’s weird seven-exhaust exit arrangement has gone in favour of a conventional, single pipe. The concept’s cone air filter is switched for a normal airbox.
By Ben Purvis