KTM Duke 390-based Husqvarna Vitpilen & Svartpilen: What the world thinks of these India-bound motorcycles

Husqvarna will officially enter the Indian market later this year with two new offerings – the Vitpilen 401 cafe racer & the Svartpilen 401 scrambler. Both bikes are entry-level motorcycles from the Swedish manufacturer and are based on the KTM 390 Duke. Both motorcycles get the same chassis and engine as the 390 Duke but the retro-modern styling is what makes the Husqvarna twins different. International motoring journalists have already ridden the upcoming bikes and have shared their thoughts through videos and text reviews. We bring you five such reviews to give you an idea of what the world thinks about the upcoming Husqvarna motorcycles.

Road Show

Road Show’s reviewer Kyle Hyatt says that both bikes are extremely lightweight, and that this makes them very flickable, fun and super easy to ride on the road. The tester also says that between both the bikes, the Svartpilen has a more relaxed riding position and even though it gets dual purpose tyres, it is more suited for daily riding than the Svartpilen.

Excerpts from the review:

The Svartpilen, with its much more upright and relaxed riding position, is my personal favorite of the two bikes. The wider, upright handlebars allow you to really push the bike around with ease and makes corner-to-corner transitions an absolute pleasure.

For everyday riding or commuting, the Svartpilen is the one to have. And don’t let its knobby Pirelli tires fool you into thinking it’s a dirtbike. The Svartpilen would be super fun on a dusty fire-road or a bit of gravel track, but you’d quickly run out of suspension travel on anything more challenging.


Bike Exif

Bike Exif says that both the new bikes look like factory-custom options and they attract a lot of attention on the road. The review adds that both bikes get a very clean design and even in the flesh, they do not disappoint onlookers. Both motorcycles get identical looks including the tank, subframe, wheels etc but a few parts set them apart from each other. Bike Exif explains that both the bikes offer an exquisite LED headlamp and a tail lamp that make them look extremely good. However, they did not like the buttons to control the round digital console.

Excerpt from the review:

We’ve ogled photos of the Vitpilen 401 (above) and Svartpilen 401 (below) since day one, and seeing them in the flesh doesn’t disappoint. The lines are clean, the stance of both bikes is flawless, and the finishes are on point.

There are a couple of other things to nitpick. I dig the digital speedo’s layout and design, and it packs in way more info than you’d expect for a little bike. But the buttons (located on the side of the dial) are really fussy to use. The mirrors look like cheap replacement parts—but my money’s on those being replaced within hours of purchase.


Carole Nash

Carole Nash says that the 373-cc engine feels more than adequate on both the bikes and both of them pack a good punch. However, the Vitpilen feels a little compromised due to its aggressive riding position. The engine feels well connected to the chassis and it gives a real feel whenever the throttle is used. Carole Nash adds that the seats lack enough padding to make the rider comfortable. Apart from the seats, the reviewer does not find any other shortcomings in both the bikes.

Excerpt from the review:

Considering they share so many components with the 390 Duke, it should come as no surprise the Husqvarnas ride well. The 375cc single cylinder motor has bags of punch with an excellent throttle connection and real feeling of drive while the chassis is also very accomplished. The Svartpilen with its high bars and chunky tyres is the more relaxed bike and is wonderfully suited to urban riding thanks to its more upright riding position. The Vitpilen is a little bit compromised by its lower bars, which are pretty uncomfortable in town, but get it on the open road and it is better in bends thanks to that focused riding position and road tyres. However both bikes suffer from a seat unit that is woefully lacking in padding, making distance work a right pain in the bum. Maybe fashionable people have more padded bums than me, I suspect not due to skinny lattes being their preferred drink over a full-fat coke, so this is one area Husqvarna really need to address on their new bikes. And sales is another…


Bloomberg Quint

Hannah Elliot from Bloomberg Quint rode the Svartpilen 401 and says that it could be her first love. The bike is perfect for first-time riders and the low weight and the perfect seat height is a bonus. She says that the Svartpilen will be perfect for people who want something stylish and fun to ride and that it looks uber cool too.

Excerpt from the review:

For the urban rider who appreciates uber-cool style and who can afford it, the Svartpilen bike is an unexpectedly great option. (Its name comes from the Swedish for “black arrow,” after all.) Seventeen-inch spoked wheels and grip-happy Pirelli tires complete a stylized look that is minimalistic, aggressive, and dark, without being clunky or morose.



Click on video to play!

This reviewer from the UK echoes the thoughts of the others, reinforcing the point that the Svartpilen is much more comfortable to ride than the Vitpilen. He says that the bikes have enough power to pull wheelies even in the second gear and the video shows a few wheelies being pulled by the other reviewers. He also says that the bike feels much different than the Duke and is much sportier with the heavier front-end. However, he adds that the seat comfort is not great at all. He also says that the gearbox feels smoother than the 390 Duke. He says that smaller riders may struggle due to the high seating posture.