SWM is back in the dual-sport market with a former Husky
THE FIRST BIKE out of revamped Italian brand SWM is a modernised version of the Husqvarna TE630, a bike cut down in its prime when BMW bought the company. Reviving the Husky meant there were no hassles getting ADR approval plus there are already some aftermarket parts made here.
Certainly, looking at the new RS650R, the build quality looks very high and the red, white and yellow paint scheme is a fitting tribute to the colours of the old SWM enduro range. The switchgear appears to be Japanese, the brakes and hydraulic clutch are Brembo, the handlebar looks like a Tommaselli tapered unit and the grips are by Domino.
The Marzocchi fork is a 45mm USD unit, the shock is Sachs while the engine castings are beautifully pressure cast and bolted together with quality fasteners. There are lots of nice touches, like the removeable grabrails and pillion peg brackets if you decide to go adventure riding.
The only glaring oversights are the cheap-looking gearlever and the absence of any engine protection, not even a skidplate to match those on the RS300R and 500R. That red frame is a definite rock magnet if you go off-road.
The SWM is a surprisingly tractable companion. The relatively light dry weight of 145kg is assisted by a wheelbase of 1505mm to make this bike a lot easier to flick around than you might expect.
There’s a good spread of power and a gear for every occasion. The low handlebar won’t suit some taller riders but it does put you in the attack position, driving that front wheel into the ground with your body weight.
To be honest, we were expecting the RS to be a bit of a pain on sealed roads. The rubber-mounted handlebar and rubber footpeg inserts had us expecting lots of vibration. The bike cruises happily at 110km/h without appearing to need those soft, black additions.
The six-speed gearbox is a definite help here, with both fifth and sixth gears being overdrive ratios. The RS650 adds to its street cred by having the grabrails for your pillion plus seat and fuel cap locks.
Another good point is the side-mounted air cleaner, a traditional Husky feature which lets you clean out all the gunk from your filter without removing the seat.
With the arrival of the SM650R motard it might appear that SWM is just resurrecting old models but there are already a string of new ones on the way, including the Superdual adventure bike, which appears to use the underpinnings of the RS650 but comes standard with a large steel tank, windscreen, crashbars, large wave disc brakes and hard panniers.
Difficult hot starting
Wide fuel tank
Lack of bashplate
TEST WOLTER KUIPER PHOTO MITCH LEES