We've all drooled over the Husqvarna Vitpilen and Husqvarna Svartpilen concepts when they were unveiled at EICMA in 2014. We've always known that the motorcycles will borrow heavily from the India-made KTMs with the engine, frame and suspension components looking like they came straight off the KTM Dukeand KTM RC series of motorcycles. Now we can confirmthat Husqvarna is preparing to officially launch the production version of these motorcycle in 2017.
The Husqvarna Vitpilen that was showcased at EICMA 2014
According to information contained in KTM group's annual report, the Vitpien and Svartpilen are an intergral part of the company's plan to make Husqvarna Europe's third largest motorcycle maker, behind KTM and BMW. The report further says that 2017 will mark the arrival of two production models of the Vitpilen. KTM's Stefan Pierer had earlier confirmed earlier that Husqvarnas would be made at Bajaj Auto's plant in Chakan.
What will those motorcycles be?
The first motorcycle to hit Europe will be powered by KTM 125 motor. If Husqvarna is to become the third largest motorcycle brand in Europe, they are going to need a cheap motorcycle that can be purchased in large numbers. That is exactly how the 125 Duke brought KTM to its top position in Europe and there's no reason for Husqvarna not to capitalise on the idea of a 125 Vitpilen.A power to weight ratio that is within 130PS/tonne and a peak power that is under 15PS will make the motorcyclelegal for A1 motorcycle license holders to ride only adds to that.
For India, just like with the Duke, it is unlikely that the 125 will besold here.The 125 will be expensive and the Indian market hasn't matured enough to accept a 125 at that price point. That is the reason why despite being made here, neither the KTM RC 125 nor the KTM 125 Duke are sold in India.
The second Vitpilen motorcycle will be interesting. Husqvarna has access to 200cc, 250cc and 375cc engines from KTM, apart from the 125. We suspect that the second Vitpilen, the first one for India will be the Husqvarna 250 Vitpilen. The 250 Duke and the RC 250 are currently exported to specific markets where regulations give that displacement class certain taxation related benefits. For India, the Husqvarna brand will be completely new and entering from a new displacement position that does not directly challenge the KTM motorcycles is smart. It will allow the combination of four KTM branded motorcycles and one Husqvarna to cover a large part of the premium market. Of course, Husqvarna might actually stick to the basics and go with a 200 Vitpilen or a 390 Vitpilen but it doesn't make as much sense as an entry strategy. Expect this motorcycle to arrive towards the end of 2017.
Husqvarna has indicated earlier that it intended to return to its roots - simple, accessible motorcycles. From that perspective, it is possible that the engineering effort for the new motorcycles will aim for a simpler motorcycle in nature. That, to us, means backing off the chassis dynamics as well as the engine's lust for revs and top-end power. The KTM 250, for instance, makes 31PS and 24Nm. A simpler motorcycle in nature and feel might simply mean backing off the power to, say, 26PS and upping the torque to, say 30Nm, which in itself could create a dramatically different ride-feel. How much engineering Husqvarna, KTM and Bajaj Auto put into this, of course, will become clearer in time. But we will say this. If Husqvarna intends to take KTM platforms and offer simpler, more accessible motorcycles, the brand that should worry would be Royal Enfield. We just compared the new Royal Enfield Himalayan to the KTM 200 Duke (and the Mahinda Mojo) and the biggest difference between the KTM and the RE, really, is the feel and accessibility. Expect the Husqvarna to arrive next year and like the KTMs, be made in Chakan and exported to the world. Also expect them to take up positions within the current KTM distribution network in India.