Husqvarna has always had that elusive cool factor. Bikes sporting the classic “gun sight” logo have traditionally been fast and good-looking—just like famous owner Steve McQueen, whose weapon of choice in the 1970s was a Husky 400.
Today, that cool factor has just ramped up a couple of notches. Husqvarna has thrown the wraps off two stunning new ‘401’ concepts at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan.
Created by the industrial design company Kiska, they’re designed to gauge public reaction before possible production.
There are two machines: the Vit Pilen (“White Arrow” in Swedish) and the Svart Pilen (Black Arrow). They take their inspiration from the famed Silver Pilen of 1955—a machine that was lighter, smaller and faster than its competitors.
The 401 concepts are anything but antiquated, though. They’re sporting upside-down WP forks, lightweight trellis frames, and 17-inch wheels with modern rubber. Power comes from a state-of-the-art 400cc water-cooled single. Output is 43hp and the bikes weigh a mere 135 kg (297 pounds).
Kiska’s senior designer Björn Shuster explains the thinking: “The 401s are not recollections of the past. They’re about purity, simplicity of form, and economy of line. Those are the fundamentals of the Husqvarna design language. It doesn’t matter if it was 60 years ago or now, the same mentality remains.”
“A lot of modern machinery has become so hyper-focused, it’s difficult for the customer to inject his or her own style into the bike. So we wanted to create a platform that offers more freedom,” says Björn.
“Maybe you want to run tall bars and a high pipe for some fire-road fun. Or install clip-ons, for more weight over the front end at your next track day. Or perhaps you just prefer one stance to another. It’s up to you.”
401 Svart Pilen (above) The Svart pays homage to the rich off-road heritage of Husqvarna. It’s still very much a road bike, but the ancillary components will make your life easier when the pavement ends.
The muffler is mounted high, out of the way of rocks and debris. The headlamp has an integrated cage that fully encloses the bowl: it’s the old headlamp grill reinterpreted in a modern way.
The solo seat has a grippy texture and makes room for a small utility rack at the back.
There’s a matching rack on the tank, giving the rider multiple storage options for longer off-road trips.
The riding position is upright, with wide bars and grippy pegs. A skidplate protects the crankcase and the tires are aggressive but street-legal knobbies.
401 Vit Pilen (above) “This model is meant to show how simple and pure a roadbike can be,” says Björn. The rearsets give maximum clearance in the corners, and clip-ons are mounted to stout triple clamps. A neat detail: the clamp bolts are installed from the front, allowing the surfaces to be as clean as possible. Even the headlight holder is integrated into the clamps, which also support the digital display.
From the engine cradles to the fenders, each part has been constructed with the Husqvarna ideals of simplicity, honesty, and cleaniness. The muffler is not your typical trapezoidal ray gun sticking out of the back: it’s just a clean oval section, and all the better for it.
“The Vit Pilen is what a stripped down street bike should look like,” says Björn. “Reduced to the minimum and lightweight. The stance and proportions let you know what it’s waiting to do.”
If the reaction to the 401 concepts is good, we’re told that Husqvarna will put them into production.
If the price was right, would you buy one?