Concept vehicles are, for the most part, mirages. They're tall drinks of water, to be sure, but have as much chance of materializing as a mountains-are-blue Coors Light can in Death Valley.
Fulfilling that one-in-a-million chance: Husqvarna’s Vitpilen 701.
The Swedish company first unveiled a concept version of this street bike in 2014 at Milan’s annual motorcycle show EICMA, alongside the Svartpilen (translating to “black arrow”; the Vitpilen is “white arrow”), and moto enthusiasts have been salivating ever since.
Four years later, it’s here — and almost identical to the concept, it bears noting.
So what is it? A cafe racer? A roadster? Husqvarna isn’t putting any labels on it (besides “street bike”), which is appropriate, since the bike — along with the Vitpilen 401 and Svartpilen 401 — marks their reentry into the field.
Suffice to say, they're doing things a little bit differently this time around.
Vitpilen 701 (3 images)
Just take a look at the specs: the engine is a 692.7cc liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, four-stroke oddity (the same as in KTM 690 Duke, which makes sense considering Husky is now owned by KTM AG) that puts out 75 HP and 53 lb.-ft. of torque. It's also got Brembo brakes with Bosch ABS that can be flipped off, a 0-60 MPH time of 3.6 seconds and a dry weight of just 346 pounds, thanks to a noticeably pared-down body.
While the engine doesn’t invoke that certain joie de vivre from numbers alone, the spate of test-drive reviews seem to disagree — and come to a curiously similar conclusion.
“I imagine this is what the hawk … feels when soaring through the mountain updrafts,” writes the Manual.
Cool Hunting says “the bike disappears below you.”
The Drive’s correspondent goes so far as to say “the machine was an extension of [his] neural network.”
Suffice it to say, the Vitpilen 701 seems to have that can’t-quite-put-a-finger-on-it quality that bikers search for. Because in the end, if you only wanted practical, numbers-driven performance, you’d drive a car.
The price is on the higher end at $11,999, but Motorcyclist’s On Two Wheels series says, as a complete package, it’s comparable to BMW’s R nineT ($15,495) and Triumph’s Thruxton R ($15,000).
In the end, it doesn’t matter if you think it’s a fair price or not. They’re selling like hotcakes.
Main image: Schedl R., Inline images: Husqvarna