HUSQVARNA'S QUARTER-LITRE QUIVER: VITPILEN 250 AND SVARTPILEN 250
xBhp|December 2020 - January 2021
The Husqvarna twins are finally here in India and the first ones are looking to barge through the quarter-litre segment door.
KARAN SINGH BANSATTA
THERE was a time where 250cc was considered to be the performance segment in India. We had the venerable Ninja 250R as the lone wolf in the category with only significant competition from CBR 250R. There were a few more but nothing that could so much ‘define the category. Fast forward to today when 250cc is still kind of a premium segment but the contenders for the category are quite a few. Peculiarly, most of them originate from Pune and 2 of those are our test subjects here. The Husqvarna twins are here and to celebrate, we went out on a little date with the Husqvarna Vitpilen 250 and the Svartpilen 250.

A little background first. Husqvarna is a Swedish brand which may not be a very well recognized brand in India but is immensely respected around the world. Since they started manufacturing motorcycles in 1903, Husqvarna was considerably successful in road racing and resoundingly so in offroad racing. They continue to produce some very popular enduro and off-road models to date.

If you want a little more history lesson, we’ve got some in the box below. If you simply want to know about what the quarter-litre Husqvarna twins are like and be on your way to the showroom to pick one up, you can skip to the review which follows the box.

Husqvarna - Brand History

Husqvarna started manufacturing motorcycles in 1903 but the brand itself is older. Before motorcycles, they manufactured firearms and therefore, the logo which is actually the sight of a gun. Husqvarna made a name for themselves in motorsports. In the 1930s, they were a dominant force in road racing and they have been more than that when it comes to off-road racing.

Around 14 Motocross world championships across various classes and 24 enduro world championships are a testament. In fact, off-road motorcycles are the reason why Husqvarna is a renowned brand all around the world. The Silverpilen, a spiritual predecessor of the Vitpilen and Svartpilen is one of the best motorcycles ever made.

Throughout their history, the ownership of the brand has changed hands a few times. It was first acquired by Cagiva. Post that, BMW group acquired Husqvarna. That was the time when Husqvarna manufactured the Nuda. An immensely capable yet underrated motorcycle, the Nuda was a crossover between a streetfighter and a supermoto.

After BMW, the brand was acquired by KTM and it remains that way to date. After the acquisition by KTM, Husqvarna introduced the prototypes of Vitpilen 401 and the Svartpilen 401 in 2014. The 701s were revealed in 2015. Currently, these 4 along with the 250 Huskys form the White Arrow and Black Arrow range.

Important note: Hooskvarna is how you pronounce it.

Looks

Now, talking from a personal standpoint, we were already fans when the Husqvarna twins were shown off at IBW not too long ago. Though a little off-put as we expected the 401s and we got the 250s. But we were still fans because it was never about the engine now was it? It was the presence, the design, the purpose, the intent… the very character of the Vitpilen 250 and the Svartpilen 250 that got us. It seemed like they almost possessed a soul.

If we are being honest, we like the Vitpilen 250 better than the Svartpilen 250 but that is down to personal preference. Just like our admiration for the Vitpilen 250 and Svartpilen 250 is. But we’d stick our neck out and say that they almost possess a universal appeal. After all, we have experienced it firsthand. Countless people on the roads asked us about the bikes.

As we mentioned earlier, not a lot of them knew the brand, but the bikes… those they really wanted to know more about. We think the magic we see here is down to minimalism and to some extent, nostalgia. The design of the Vitpilen 250 and the Svartpilen 250, the former more so than the latter, reminds one of the days when motorcycling was purer (Being smart. Using relative degrees. Not triggering people).

Cafe racer, retro, or neo-retro. There are many words that can be thrown around to explain the design of these bikes and they work too. But for us, it is about evoking emotions. Emotions stemming that stem from the memories of the days when motorcycles were stripped down to bare essentials and were only meant to go faster. Of course, from one cafe to the other. We weren’t there but we know bragging rights were on stake and there are few things more important than that.

Anyhoo, hopping off the nostalgia train at the reality-check station, let’s talk about the motorcycles at hand. The Vitpilen 250, it sports a cafe-racer approach with its design and the Svartpilen 250 tries to pull off the Scrambler act. We know about cafe-racers, and we know about Hare Scrambles too. Google and you’ll know.

Despite the different approaches, both the motorcycles look quite similar with only a few differentiating factors. The obvious (and not so much) one is the colour. Vitpilen means White Arrow so it sports a silver colour and the Svartpilen means Black arrow so it sports a dark grey shade. Don’t ask.

Continuing with the similarities on the motorcycles, the body is wrapped around a KTM-special trellis frame. Less is more is the theme and that is why one panel covers the tank and extends from there to form the side panel and another one from there to the tail… and that is it. Kiska design has done a fantastic job in designing these motorcycles and also, in differentiating them from the very loud KTMs.

The front of the bikes is dominated by the round headlamps but they are all LED units with beautiful DRLs that represent a seamless mix of modern and retro. The same goes for the round LCD cluster that shows you a whole lot of information which is rarely hard to read. We say rarely because the numbers of the rev-counter are not a part of the display and they are not illuminated either.

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