KTM Confirms new Parallel Twin Platform on the Way

KTM has published its annual financial report today for the 2015 year, and among the various bits of financial information (which shows that KTM is in a very healthy position) is some minor news on upcoming product releases for what it describes as a ‘revolutionary 2-cylinder engine design’.

We know that at a minimum, this new parallel twin will feature in the upcoming 800 Duke which has been spotted testing at various times over the past few months. KTM states that this new platform will ‘make a substantial contribution toward opening up new market segments’. That might possibly mean that we’ll see more than one new bike featuring the new engine – such as both smaller and larger displacement bikes.

Also in the report was confirmation that the wonderful Husqvarna Svartpilen and Vitpilen concepts are heading into production – though that was pretty much a given anyway. Unfortunately, they’re still some time off and won’t be on the market until 2017. Hopefully we’ll see production versions at the end of the year at least at the various motorcycle shows.

The report further elaborates that, “The upcoming segment-redefining Vitpilen and Svartpilen production models will set Husqvarna Motorcycles on a blazing trajectory to become Europe’s third-largest motorcycle producer – with the aim of doing so by 2020”.

The Husqvarna 401 Svartpilen And Vitpilen Concepts Will Be Made… in 2017

Just a few months ago we opined that the fantastic looking concepts Husqvarna showed at the EICMA motor show, the 401 Svartpilen and 401 Vitpilen (Black Arrow and White Arrow respectively) needed to be made. They were extremely good looking, they tapped into the growing desire for cafe racers and they weren’t 1300cc weapons that were armed to the teeth with the latest in technology. They were just attractive, simple motorcycles – a Ducati Scrambler light, if you will.

Now, in an interview published by Swedish magazine Bike, managing director of Husvarna motorcycles, Reinhold Zens, has stated that the two concepts will be released to the market but not until 2017. We’re not experts on the production of motorcycles from concept to point of sale, but this is unfortunately a decision that reeks of bean counter influence.

The Svartpilen and Vitpilen are based on the same platform as used by the KTM Duke 390 and RC 390. Same frame, same engine. We’re pretty sure that it doesn’t take two to three years to tool up the production line to produce custom fairings and lights. What in all likelihood is happening is that Husqvarna has got it’s business plan set in stone for the next few years and the accountants don’t see the desire to change things.

That’s a huge shame because as we’ve mentioned previously, the Ducati Scrambler is going to make big waves in the industry this year. Not only is it likely to outsell all other Ducati models combined, it will also attract a lot of new riders to the sport. The two biggest drawbacks with the Ducati Scrambler however are it’s price (cheap by Ducati standards, still expensive in comparison to other entry model bikes) and the fact that at 800 cc, it won’t meet the licensing requirements for new riders in much of the western world.

The Svartpilen and Vitpilen would solve those two problems instantly and given it’s gorgeous looks would not only be the choice for new riders in many markets, it would probably still a few sales away from Ducati, too.

So unfortunately, financial conservatism wins out for now. Let’s just hope and pray that by the time they are released in 2017, nothing too much has changed from the beautiful concepts that we can only drool at for now.



Husqvarna 401 Svartpilen And Vitpilen – Two Concepts That Must Be Built

EICMA 2014 has been finished for a few weeks now and despite all the hype behind the Yamaha R1, Ninja H2 and Honda RC213V-S, perhaps the most important bikes shown were the Husqvarna 401 Svartpilen and Vitpilen concepts. But why would two bikes that only have a 373 cc thumper and pump out a pedestrian 43 hp nearly become the talk of EICMA? Because non-motorcyclists fell in love with it.

The story on the Husqvarna 401 Vitpilen (White Arrow) and Svartpilen (Black Arrow) first broke on Bike EXIF and quickly spread to the front page of Reddit followed by the rest of social media. And the one thing that stood out was so many people making the comment that this is a machine that would get them into motorcycle riding. That’s huge and is the current holy grail for motorcycle manufacturers around the world when it comes to western markets.

As it stands, the biggest growth areas for bike manufacturers isn’t in the saturated western world but in the developing nations; India, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and so on. But they’re volume plays. A bike like the Husqvarna 401’s is something that could lead to real growth in the western world. But what’s so special about these two bikes?

From a purely unscientific perspective, they look gorgeous. There was universal praise for their ‘retro-futuristic’ looks that takes the best of cafe racers and dials it up a few notches. Being a concept, a production version would no doubt lose some of the uniqueness and become a little more mainstream, but that’s then and this is now. People loved it.

The second reason it captured people’s attention is that it wasn’t intimidating. If you were trying to get some interested in motorcycles the the Kawasaki Ninja H2R, you’re probably not going to get very far. Sure, it’s technologically impressive, but people wary of bikes aren’t going to change their mind for a machine that would probably kill them within five minutes or riding.

The Husqvarna 401 Svartpilen and Vitpilen on the other hand use the same engine as found in the KTM RC390 – a bike designed for learners. The concept bikes only weigh 297 lb though which means while it won’t be superbike quick, it’ll still beat 95 per cent of cars off the traffic lights in the real world.

And this is what so many people, even die hard motorcyclists have been crying out for. A super sexy machine that’s actually practical for everyday use. Owning a BMW S1000 R may seem like the best thing in the world, but if you’re riding in heavy traffic every Monday through Friday, it’s not really ever going to get used for what it is ultimately best at. The Husqvarna 401 concepts exude street cred and purpose. And anything that can get more riders on the saddle is a good thing in our opinion.

As licensing requirements in Europe and Australia continue to become more onerous for new riders, machines like this will become more mainstream than they are now. And if that means more lightweight, practical and attractive motorcycles then bring it on.