The Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 is one of the latest offerings from the Swedish manufacturer for the Philippine market. Introduced locally earlier this 2021, the Svartpilen 401 took the market by storm with a svelte design, a familiar chassis and engine package, and a fresh new style which crosses between a naked bike style and a scrambler. Motorcycle owners and enthusiasts alike were indeed very excited to have a brand new model enter the market, and so were we when we were given the opportunity to take the Svartpilen 401 out for a ride through the urban jungle of Metro Manila.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve had the opportunity to put the Svartpilen 401 through its paces and find out what this pocket rocket has to offer. On paper, it seems as though the Svartpilen 401 is a standard motorcycle offering in its price range with nothing out of the ordinary. However, the experience of riding one of these motorcycles paints a better picture in terms of capability and enjoyment—and we surely have a lot to say about how the Svartpilen 401 feels a league above the ordinary at this price point. Without further ado, here are our thoughts on the Husqvarna Svartpilen 401.
- Value for money
- Highway legal
- Comfortable ergonomics package
- Bright headlight
- High quality hardware
- Uncomfortable for long tours
- Gauge cluster is very basic
- Front suspension is too soft
- Seat height is intimidating
When compared to most of the other neo-retro themed motorcycles in the market, the Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 dares to stand out. The Svartpilen 401 embodies the Swedish-minimalist design with a strong focus on the whole “less-is-more.” The one-piece side panels on each side have few but very intentful body lines. The front and rear of the motorcycle come with very simple yet striking design elements—a cool and luminous single round headlight, and a bright and deep red square tail light at the rear. The most striking design element of the 401 is the fuel tank which features a flat fuel tank with a luggage rack on top for tank bags and other luggage items.
Apart from the edgy design of the body, the Svartpilen 401 also comes equipped with a pair of Pirelli Rally Scorpion STR tires which are designed to go on and off road. The big block tires paired with the wide handlebar and edgy design gives the 401 a futuristic and post-apocalyptic vibe—built to tackle all kinds of urban adventures no matter the terrain. Overall, we found the Svartpilen 401 to have a very iconic design which definitely sets itself apart from most of the other neo-retro motorcycle options in the market. If you’re looking for a motorcycle to stand out against the crowd, this pocket rocket is worth your consideration.
The Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 shares a very similar chassis, engine, and suspension set up as with the KTM 390 Duke. However, the Svartpilen 401 is definitely no 390 Duke despite the similarities. The 401 has the same 373cc single cylinder engine sending 44 hp and 37 Nm of torque to the ground through a 6-speed manual transmission with a slipper clutch. The clutch feel is predictable and light, and the throttle response is reactive. After riding the 401 and the 390 Duke back to back, you can certainly feel that the 401’s powertrain has a more prominent sense of elegance and refinement when compared to the jerky power delivery of the 390 Duke.
The Svartpilen 401 is suspended on a set of non-adjustable 43mm WP Apex upside down front forks and a preload adjustable WP rear monoshock. The 401’s traction is managed by a set of Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR dual-sport tires which makes it a great motorcycle to ride through all kinds of terrain. On the road, the 401 felt like a very balanced machine for day-to-day commuting. However, aggressive riding tended to bring out the limits of the front suspension which felt a little bit unsure of itself through corners and bottomed out quite a few times through rough terrain. On regular commuting and blasts through the highways, the 401 still felt like a comfortable and nimble machine ready to tackle both long and short rides alike.
Just like any other naked motorcycle in the market, the Svartpilen 401 comes with a rider triangle that’s built to be upright and comfortable. The upward sweeping handlebar with a crossbar complements the mid-to-rear set footpegs for an upright seating position. Seat height comes in at a relatively tall 838 mm or 33 inches, however since the motorcycle comes in at a featherweight 152kg and comes with a narrow seat, managing the heft of the motorcycle with one foot down will often be an easy task to manage. The narrow and slender seat might look a little bit uncomfortable at first, but is actually very pleasant to ride with for 1 to 2 hour stints on the saddle.
Overall, the Svartpilen 401 makes for a very comfortable ride for the task it was built to do—conquer the urban jungle without tiring the rider out. If anything, the only drawbacks to comfort would be the seat, which might be a bit difficult to use for a whole day’s worth of riding or any longer tour. Travelling at three-digit speeds on the highway can also feel tiresome after a few hours of riding. The lack of wind protection at the front means riders will be getting the full blast of wind from the front, and the light weight of the motorcycle also means that riders will feel crosswinds a little bit more than on other motorcycles.
That being said, the 401 makes for a great machine for most if not all urban rides and half-day stints out of town. If you’re thinking of using the 401 as a bonafide adventurer or long-distance tourer, you might be better off with a KTM 390 Adventure or Honda CB500X instead.
Technology and usability
Given the barebones nature of the motorcycle, the Svartpilen 401 also has a very minimalist and basic tech package. While this might be a bit disappointing to some, it seems that Husqvarna focused the development of executing the existing components to a high degree of quality making the 401 feel like a very premium motorcycle to ride. On the tech and safety aspect, the Svartpilen 401 features an up and down quick shifter, a Bosch anti-lock braking system (ABS), and two rider modes: road and supermoto mode which disables rear ABS. The ABS engagement of the 401 is not very intrusive to the braking feel on the levers and adequately stops the motorcycle during emergency braking maneuvers.
The lighting array of the 401 is perhaps one of the best in the price range of the motorcycle. The single LED headlight up front throws a very bright and precise beam of light on the road which can adequately brighten up pitch black road environments. While the round mirrors stick out a little bit higher than we would like, they work great for most if not all riding conditions. The handlebar grips are soft and easy to hold with gloves, and the handlebar switches are backlit and feel very premium to the touch. Overall, the 401 feels like it shoots above it’s price point when it comes to the technology and hardware package and surely elevates the experience of day-to-day riding.
The Husqvarna Svarpilen 401 can be yours for a very affordable price of just P295,000 which, in our opinion, makes this motorcycle one of the best value-for-money models you can purchase in the market today. For less than P300,000, owners will be getting a stunningly designed motorcycle which punches above its league with a very usable technology and hardware package, and punchy engine, solid chassis, and comfortable ergonomics package ready to tackle urban and highway rides. Don’t be fooled though—the Svartpilen 401 is no true scrambler, nor is it a bonafide adventure tourer built for the long haul. However, if you’re looking for a comfortable, stylish, and punchy motorcycle for your everyday commutes, half-day rides, and leisurely strolls, the Svartpilen 401 might just be one of the best motorcycle options in the market for you.