Over the past few days, we’ve had a chance to take the all-new Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 out on a few rides to understand what all the fuss is all about. Many different reviews have already compared this motorcycle to the KTM 390 Duke, being similar in ergonomics and having nearly identical engines and suspension set ups. However, the Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 is definitely no KTM and the riding experience speaks for itself. If you’re curious to know more about how this motorcycle performs, here’s our first ride review on the new Husqvarna Svartpilen 401.
Without a doubt, the Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 is quite the looker. The Svartpilen 401 is designed by KISKA, who coincidentally designs motorcycles for KTM and CFMoto. The 401 rocks a modern, edgy, and classic design style which is definitely a good execution of what a cyberpunk-themed motorcycle might look like. The color tones are muted yet stark, featuring a variety of black, grey, and silver shades, and is complemented by the cool white beams of the headlight, and the warm red tones of the taillight. Despite the extensive attention to design detail, aesthetic design cues didn't get in the way of the riding experience, and actually worked very well for the rider.
The protruding portions of the tank sit well above the knees and thighs of the rider, and provide added surface area above the tank for large capacity tank bags. The slim side fairing design keeps the 401 feeling thin and agile which aids greatly for city commuting, and the rear mudguard does its job very well while keeping the taillight section of the bike looking very clean. Fit and finish on the 401 is well put together for the aesthetic components, and the lovable trellis frame adds to the rugged look of this machine. Needless to say, the aesthetic component of this motorcycle ranks very high in its class.
The Svartpilen 401 is also relatively well-equipped when it comes to the various components on the bike. Up front, the 401 is fitted with a standard digital gauge which displays all of the most important information to the rider. The clear acrylic cover of the display produced a bit of glare under the harsh noon sun, but the backlighting of the gauge made the information relatively easy to read despite these conditions. The display also has a red shift light which blinks when the RPMs go above 7000, and two buttons which can set trip meters or change ABS settings. The Svartpilen 401’s LED headlights were also incredibly bright when it came to low-light environments, and the pass light definitely helped signal cars when filtering through traffic was necessary.
The handlebar switches of the Svartpilen 401 was perhaps the most impressive component of the motorcycle. The turn signal switch felt smooth yet sure of itself with every click, and the same story is true for the starter button, engine kill switch, and headlight switches. The high beam pass light was probably the most usable component in the group, which felt incredibly smooth when operated and allowed for fast and effortless flicks on the high beam during critical moments in traffic.
While it is true that the Husqvarna 401 motorcycles share many components with the KTM 390 series of bikes, the 401 engine and suspension performed quite differently when compared to the orange siblings. The 373cc single-cylinder engine was generally more refined. Vibrations to the handlebar and footpeg were minimal and the power delivery was smoother and less jerky when compared to the 390's.
The Svartpilen 401 makes use of a new non-adjustable WP Apex front fork set up which is coincidentally shared with the KTM 390 Adventure and 790 Adventure S. These new forks feel a lot more plush and soft when compared to the stiffer WP forks of the KTM 390 Duke. While cornering agility and stability is set up to be more aggressive on the KTM motorcycles, the softer WP Apex forks created a comfortable and relaxed riding experience which was very pleasant for city commutes and highway blasts.
Overall, the more refined engine, power delivery, and softer suspension makes the Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 a pleasant motorcycle to ride with. It definitely makes for a nice contrast to the more aggressive riding characteristics of the KTM 390 motorcycles thanks to the more refined engine and softer suspension—just watch out for nasty potholes in order to avoid bottoming out.
Despite all the comparisons out there with the KTM 390 Duke, the Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 sets itself apart when it comes to the aesthetic package and overall performance. The components and riding experience speaks for itself: it’s designed to provide riders with a more simple and elegant riding experience which is a much needed contrast from the aggressive nature of the KTM 390 motorcycles. If anything, the only improvements that can be done to the motorcycle would probably be a better eye on quality control as we’ve found a few nuts and bolts that seemed to sit a bit loose. It may be best to have these items double checked at your dealership before taking a unit home.
For P295,000, future owners will be getting a very well designed and well put together motorcycle for a bargain. If you’re looking for an eye-catching motorcycle that can easily commute through city traffic, blast through highways at three-digit speeds, and take on a whole day out riding, the Svartpilen 401 might just be your best option in this class.