What’s going on in Sweden? Hot on the heels of the news that Volvo is re-imagining itself as a combination of Tesla and Ferrari — its Polestar performance division is promising to produce nothing but high-performance electric vehicles — comes news that Husqvarna is expanding beyond purveyor of quirky but hugely competent off-road competition motorcycles to builder of avante garde — but still quirky! — “real street” café racers.

KTM now own Husqvarna

It’s all fueled by Husky’s acquisition by KTM back in 2013. The Austrian bike maker has a handle on the adventure touring segment, so it had to find a space in the all-important street bike market for Husky. It looks like that niche will be catering to the current demand amongst the young and hip for urban retro-rods patterned after the café racers of yore.

KTM-based running gear

In a quest to cut costs the Vitpilen — Swedish for “White Arrow,” inspired by Silver Arrow (Silverpilen) sportsters of the 1950s — and Svartpilen (Black Arrow) 701s, the new Huskys shares the same chassis, running gear and engine as KTM’s 690. That means KTM’s high-performance 693 cc single — now boasting 75 horsepower — rides in a steel trellis frame similar to the 690 Duke and is to be suspended by the same 43 mm upside-down front fork and single rear shock.

Vitpilen is the classic café racer — think of it as a KTM that’s gone to Triumph’s Thruxton school of café racing with just a soupcon of Man Ray thrown in for surrealism — with cast wheels, sport bike tires and clip-on handlebars. The Svartpilen — still a concept, claims Husky, but looking decidedly production ready — swaps in dual sport tires, a higher, motocross-style handlebar and dirt track-influenced spoked wheels for a quasi supermotard-meets-Picasso look.

And we can look for more of these quirky street bikes from Husky. Even though the Austrian-nee-Swedish company still fields a fleet of two-stroke — ingeniously fuel-injected to keep emissions down — dirt bikes, the company has been selling the KTM 390-based Vitpilen and Svartpilen 401s for about a year now. We can expect more quasi café racers and supermotards in Husqvarna’s future, built, cost-effectively, on various KTM platforms. Indeed, it will be interesting to find out what they might manage with the 1090 and 1290 V-twins that are the backbone of KTMs high performance street bikes.

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