Husky Gives Us A Saucy Little Scrambler

Husqvarna Motorcycles, long known for its off-road prowess, takes the plunge into the sort-of streetbike market with its new Svartpilen 410. Set up like an urban scrambler, Husky bills the Svartpilen as an entry-level commuter/explorer with an easy-to-ride and fun nature. A 375 cc thumper drives the “Black Arrow” with 43 horsepower waiting to be unleashed under the control of a ride-by-wire throttle and slipper clutch that couples engine power to the six-speed gearbox. Suspension and rolling gear reflect a certain amount of off-road capability, useful for crossing medians and cruising down the beach (check local laws first) or other soft surfaces, the Svartpilen has a certain amount of ’everybike’ in its DNA.

Continue reading for my review of the Husqvarna Svartpilen 401.

  • 2018 Husqvarna Svartpilen 401
  • Year:
    2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    single cylinder
  • Displacement:
    373 cc
  • Price:
    6299
  • Price:

Design

2018 Husqvarna Svartpilen 401
- image 773411
The Svartpilen rocks a classic standard shape with a scrambler bent and just a touch of cafè, all with a modern, progressive vibe that is meant to appeal to the youngest generation of riders

When I look at this ride, I see the classic standard shape with a scrambler bent and just a touch of cafè, all with a modern, progressive vibe that is meant to appeal to the youngest generation of riders, and it probably will. Heck, even I like it, and I’m old enough to be their father. The design takes a turn toward the old homegrown custom-performance practices with a drastically whacked front fender that is right at the minimum of functionality.

Beefy 43 mm usd WP forks support the front end with beefy blackout stanchions that tie in visually with the blackout frame, swingarm, muffler and more, to include the cyclops headlight can that houses a bright LED projector. In fact, LEDs handle all the lighting needs including the taillight and turn signals. I always find that to be a comfort because it’s harder for cage drivers to miss/ignore a laser-like LED stabbing them in their eyes, which of course, translates into greater safety. Additionally, a ring-type DRL gives you a defensive-visibility boost during the day without having to run the headlight all the time.

Short-rise bars put the hands right in line with the steering stem for direct and accurate inputs and feedback with a single gauge that bundles all the important metrics into one round LCD display; all very neat, clean and classy. Rather than trying to keep the tank just as clean looking, and possibly to offset the meager storage opportunities afforded by the minimal pillion area, the factory mounted a cargo rack on the tank that comes complete with handy places to hang your bungees or a net so you can stash some stuff.

Hanging off each side of the tank is an almost fin-like protrusion that serves the same purpose as the flange atop a sportbike’s tank. The flyline dips down to a rather squarish bench seat that has just about an inch of rise at the break of the pillion pad. This results in a gentle segregation between pilot and pillion and will likely offer only minimal containment for the pilot’s butt under hard acceleration.

The subframe, much like the front fender, is just large enough to get the job done and that’s it, and I gotta’ say I like the effect it has on the overall look especially with the hugger that eliminates the subframe-mount mudguard. An upswept exhaust keeps the muffler out of harm’s way well clear of the ground, scrambler style, for a nice finish to the look.

Chassis

2018 Husqvarna Svartpilen 401
- image 773410
In keeping with its intended use in the urban jungle, steering geometry and wheelbase allow for a tight turning radius; just what you want for tight parking lot maneuvers and U-turns.

Chromium-molybdenum-steel tubing forms the members of the well-visible Trellis frame as well as those of the subframe with a bit of flex in all the right places. In keeping with its intended use in the urban jungle, the steering head comes set with 25 degrees of rake for 3.74 inches of trail and a 53.4-inch wheelbase for a tight turning radius; just what you want for tight parking lot maneuvers and U-turns.

The WP usd open-cartridge forks and coil-over monoshock are plain vanilla as far as adjustments are concerned, but they do come with generous travel numbers: 5.59 inches of wheel travel up front and 5.9 inches out back. A ByBre, four-piston caliper bites the 320 mm front discs with another ByBre anchor out back that grabs the 230 mm disc, and a Bosch 9.1 MB Two Channel ABS feature to help you use those powerful brakes safely. This makes the Svartpilen even more new-user friendly.

One thing I’m sure proud to see is the wire wheels. Although this bike could definitely pull off a mag-wheel look, the 17-inch laced rims are a nice finishing touch, and of course, those gnarly tires come with deep notches and generous street flats meant for what the factory calls “challenging urban terrain.”

Frame design: Steel trellis frame, powder coated
Front suspension/ Travel: WP upside-down Ø 43 mm/ 5.59 inch
Rear suspension: WP monoshock
Front brake disc diameter: 320 mm
Rear brake disc diameter: 230 mm
ABS: Bosch 9M+ two-channel ABS (disengageable)
Chain: X-Ring 5/8 x 1/4"
Steering head angle: 65 °

Drivetrain

2018 Husqvarna Svartpilen 401
- image 773408
Not exactly Earth-shattering power and torque numbers, but bear in mind the thing only weighs 330 pounds before you but the fuel in it, so it's enough to have some fun with.

Husky powers its Black Arrow with a liquid-cooled, 375 cc four-cycle one-lunger that uses a counter-balance shaft to combat the often vicious vibrations normally associated with thumpers. Good thing, cause the tingly hands and butt set in pretty quickly on the older, less compassionately designed one-cylinder mills. A DOHC times the four-valve head with a 46 mm throttle body and Bosch EFI to manage the mixture with a ride-by-wire throttle control and Bosch engine management unit. If you think the fancy throttle is a prelude to some electronic engine wizardy such as TC or rider modes, I got some bad news for ya; there are no such systems on the table at this time, but that’s not exactly surprising considering the pressure to keep prices low for the younger buyers this ride is mainly aimed at grabbing.

An 89 mm bore and 60 mm stroke give us the 375 cc displacement with a smokin’ hot 12.6-to-1 compression ratio, and that’s largely from whence the power springs. At 9,000 rpm, the mill cranks out 44 horsepower with 27 pound-feet of torque that develops by 7 grand; not exactly Earth-shattering numbers, but bear in mind the thing only weighs 330 pounds before you but the fuel in it, so that’s enough power to have some fun with. Not sure I’d brave the interstate on it, though.

A slipper clutch provides the anti-hop protection and lightens the clutch-lever pull while the six-speed transmixxer crunches the gear ratios and a chain-type final drive carries the final product to the pavement.

Engine: single cylinder, 4-stroke engine
Displacement: 373.2 cc
Bore x Stroke: 89 mm x 60 mm
Power in KW: 32 kW
Starter: Electric starter
Lubrication: Wet sump
Transmission: 6-speed
Primary drive: 30:80
Secondary gear ratio: 15:45
Cooling: Liquid cooled
Clutch: PASC™ antihopping clutch, mechanically operated

Price

2018 Husqvarna Svartpilen 401
- image 773417
As its name suggests, the Svartpilen comes in black, black, or perhaps black if you prefer, all for just a skosh over $6k.

As its name suggests, the Svartpilen comes in black, black, or perhaps black if you prefer.
MSRP for the U.S. is listed at $6,299, and the factory gives you plenty of opportunities to inflate the final price in the accessories catalog.

Competitor

2018 Husqvarna Svartpilen 401
- image 773419
2016 - 2018 Ducati Scrambler Sixty2
- image 773311
Fairly well matched point for point, but the Ducati takes a hit at the checkout counter.

Though the looks of the Svartpilen 401 are rather unusual, if not unique, I think it still fits with the same kind of buyer that may be interested in something more conventional, like a Ducati Scrambler Sixty2, for instance. Like the 401, the Sixty2 comes cut down to the essentials so as to not waste any power hauling around unnecessary weight, and it starts out with the stylish bobbed front fender and minimal cyclops headlight can that also comes with a DRL ring for safety.

Blackout touches at the fork sliders, headlight, muffler and more give the Duc a custom-heritage tribute feel similar to that of the Husky, just in a more traditional setting. The slightly kicked-up subframes look cool on both, but the Scrambler’s mudguard is conspicuous against the tidy rear end on the 401.

Like the 401, the Sixty2 runs with a vanilla suspension setup and gives up plenty of travel with 5.9 inches front and back. Duc leads with a 320 mm disc and two-pot anchor and relies on a 245 mm disc and single-piston caliper to slow the rear with ABS protection, so we’re looking at similar brakes as well.

Ducati powers its ride with an air-cooled, 399 cc L-twin engine that, as you might expect, leaves off the fancy traction control and such like just like Husky did, but even though it enjoys a bit of a displacement advantage, it can’t quite manage to beat the 401’s numbers. The Sixty2’s mill cranks out 40 horsepower and 25 pound-feet of torque versus 44/27 from Husky’s engine. On the plus side, the lope of an L-twin is so much more pleasing than the lawnmower yammer of a thumper, says I.

The Sixty2 takes another hit at the checkout counter with its $7,995 sticker. If the entry-level is the target, it helps to keep that sticker-shock on the low side, and so the Svartpilen 401’s $6,299 tag should make it even more attractive in a contest between the two.

He Said

“I thought this thing looked cool when it came out as a teaser, and I really like it now. Unusual? Yeah, maybe even quirky, but I bet it’s a conversation starter, and I really like how utilitarian it looks with the tank rack. Need to look at one of those for my zombie apocalypse bike...”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “This was unveiled at EICMA 2016, and it was quite an eye-catcher, but now I’m not as excited as I was before. If I’m not mistaken, this is the engine out of KTM’s 390 Duke and RC 390, yes? And maybe the same frame, too, so I guess I’m less impressed that Husky has a street bike when it’s just a redressed KTM. Now, that said, it is redressed quite nicely and should perform very well if the bones and powerplant are any indication.”

Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: single cylinder, 4-stroke engine
Displacement: 373.2 cc
Bore x Stroke: 89 mm x 60 mm
Power in KW: 32 kW
Starter: Electric starter
Lubrication: Wet sump
Transmission: 6-speed
Primary drive: 30:80
Secondary gear ratio: 15:45
Cooling: Liquid cooled
Clutch: PASC™ antihopping clutch, mechanically operated
EMS: Bosch EMS
Chassis:
Frame design: Steel trellis frame, powder coated
Front suspension/ Travel: WP upside-down Ø 43 mm/ 5.59 inch
Rear suspension: WP monoshock
Front brake disc diameter: 320 mm
Rear brake disc diameter: 230 mm
ABS: Bosch 9M+ two-channel ABS (disengageable)
Chain: X-Ring 5/8 x 1/4"
Steering head angle: 65 °

References

Ducati Scrambler Sixty2

2016 - 2018 Ducati Scrambler Sixty2
- image 773295

See our review of the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Photographer’s Credit—Husqvarna action shots: R. Schedl, Image Source: ducatiusa.com, husqvarna-motorcycles.com

Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Motorcycle Finder: