Husqvarna Vitpilen 401 test

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A white arrow between history and modernity

Single cylinder, 43 hp, 37 Nm, 6,490 euros

1903! Husqvarna claims its year of birth loud and clear until the Vitpilen 401 which displays it at startup! Beyond the history, it must be said that the Swedish brand is finally truly reborn from its almost ashes with KTM which entrusted it in particular to the claws of the Kiska studio to release a new range of motorcycles, very far from enduro and with a unique style. Style is perhaps the key word for this Vitpilen 401, a minimalist version of the Vitpilen 701, but which takes up the lines and the same principle of variation, based on the KTM 390 and 790. But it is above all the price. which melted with an almost affordable price of 6,490 euros. So, reduced price for reduced services? Test.

LED headlight

Discovery

The concept of the Vitpilen had unleashed passions when it was presented in 2014, so much so that it was believed that it would remain a concept or that the final model would be very distant as is often the case between the exercise of style and reality. But with the Vitpilen, both 701 and 401, this is not the case. A clean, minimalist design brings the model back to the lines of the 1953 Silverpilen. Ah history … it’s important history and this date of 1953, almost halfway between the birth of the brand and today ‘hui. In the meantime, it must be admitted that no other model in current production looks like it. Style and identity therefore. The Kiska design studio, from which KTM models also come, has achieved success, succeeding in placing the brand in new, clean, white territory. The icing on the cake, we owe the lines to the French designer Maxime Thouvenin.

44 horses for the A2 license

What is impressive is the minimalism and respect for design right down to the dashboard, enclosed in a fully digital circle. Even the saddle seems uniquely design, with an almost straight line, claiming and confirming an overall arrow-like line..

Round LED front headlight, rear light in the form of a horizontal LED line again, everything is drawn in line here. Even the widely used white is sometimes matt on the sides, sometimes shiny on the central strip of the tank. A subtle and elegant marriage.

LED tail light

The rear is particularly refined thanks to the absence of a plate, relegated to the bottom of the rear tire.

If the whole is neo-retro, the position is on the other hand cafe racer with low bracelets and the whole seems to soar towards the sky. The height of the saddle also confirms this momentum.

Husqvarna Vitpilen 401 or white arrow

Technical

35 KW is not much, but it is more than enough to have fun, depending on the machine, even if power and torque will be quite high: 9,000 rpm for power, 7,000 rpm min for the couple. This often results in anemic machines at the bottom, but nothing like this here with the Vitpilen – we will see it later – which gives sensations very early, from 3,500 rpm. For the rest, we are on familiar ground, since the 401 borrows the 373 cm3 mono already used on the KTM 390 Duke.

373 cc single cylinder delivering 44 horsepower

In the saddle

Well, let’s talk about the saddle culminating at 835 mm, the height of a good trail. Afterwards, as we know, the saddle height does not mean anything because it can be thwarted by a narrow saddle. Nothing like that here. It’s high and the saddle is wide and square, suddenly, the 1.70 driver will not set foot on the ground, but the 1.80m driver will not either..

Fine line with the tank continuing to the rear

You are a small build and you say to yourself that suddenly, she is not for you with such measurements? Well, in fact, you also have to take into account the featherweight of 148 kilos in running order, placed or felt very low. If it is necessary to step over to get on the motorcycle, this is done easily, including for the passenger who is not comparatively higher than on certain roadsters, the passenger seat being at the same height as the pilot. And the overall balance being excellent, a passenger going up is even easier to accommodate than on some roadsters, including for me, which is only 1.70m. A good general point therefore even if I have only one end of a foot that touches the ground. As for the other, it remains suspended in the air. Oh leg, suspend your flight…

Life style

In front of us, we then have a not-so-large, fully digital round meter that appears minimalist. But it is full of information, more or less readable depending on your age and your eyesight: speed, tachometer, partial double trip, tiny clock, travel time, gear engaged, side stand message unfolded … buttons on the left to chain displays are not always effective. The small mirrors are easily adjusted and are effective regardless of the position of the pilot.

100% digital counter

But the detail that kills are the backlit controls, in white. In the evening and at night, it’s the most beautiful effect.

The saddle is wide, really wide, to such an extent that it makes it necessary to put the jeans too tight in place (under penalty of cracking the seam of the crotch). And we are going to look very far for the handlebars, quite wide, with the bust that falls clearly forward, the wrists broken on the handlebars. And if we do not want to see only the ground, we raise our head by forcing on the neck. I don’t like sportswomen. The Vitpilen has a position close to the worst sports.

Contact

Crutch folded, impulse on the starter, the 373 cm3 single cylinder snorts and the mini-exhaust distils a noticeably loud sound, closer to a 125 than to a 500. First, the gearbox is precise. And we start on a trickle of gas. Acceleration and the initial loud sound becomes more serious while the big mono reveals its true face: a treat! We then go straight from suffering to pleasure and the banana can be read on my face.

Extreme ease in town

In the city

Small, slender, agile, the Vitpilen plays with traffic by slipping into the smallest traffic gap. The first reports are just bluffing by the efficiency they provide by immediately propelling you to shameful speeds in the city. The machine is fun especially as its small size ensures ease of driving. The turning radius is not extraordinary, but it is not indecent either and ultimately average for a roadster, the weight less. And the slightest blow of gas makes it possible to recover a risky situation. This engine! What an engine! One would have thought the single cylinder difficult, bumping too easily. But the reports are particularly well staged and we are not obliged to shift gears one behind the other quickly, even if the shiflight offers you to pass the next report at 7,000 rpm. Admittedly, the mono hits under 3,000 revs, but it still allows you to drive in town on the sixth and last report at 50 km / h. And he resumes right away. In fact, it even accepts 2,500 rpm in second and third without complaining. We can drive well at 20 km / h in third gear and pick up easily. As a result, the second and third gears are ideal, offering the necessary torque and power from 3,500 rpm.

The shock absorbers, on the other hand, are set fairly hard from the outset. The relatively thin saddle does not help to provide comfort or on the contrary to feel the roughness of the road.

Mini weight size riquiqui maxi height

With all this, the original Metzeler M5s provide excellent grip and the ABS only engages in the wet and on really hard braking. So we forget it completely.

And then at a red light, heads turn around, because even for the uninformed, this Vitpilen 401 really has a unique look, very far from the usual productions and everything except goes everywhere.

On the highway

The small 400 cm3 is more than voluntary, accepting to climb at a speed already prohibited on the motorway. One would have thought that fishing at low speed would be compensated by a legal top speed and it is not. The mono purrs at 7,000 rpm at 130 km / h and climbs 20 km / h every additional 1,000 rpm, stabilizing at around 160 km / h. Protection is naturally nonexistent but the original dab position ultimately manages to significantly lighten the wrists unless you choose to lie down on the tank, which is actually quite easy. You will not hold hundreds of kilometers in the position, especially in a duo, but it is doable … provided you do not stay at 155 km / h on the motorway, German of course.

Husqvarna Vitpilen 401 road test

On departmental

The return to departmental confirms the inclinations and possibilities of the Vitpilen and above all an excellent part cycle. The machine is neutral in bends and even goes so far as to accept corrections and improvisations on the angle at the last moment. The chassis is particularly healthy and the front is precise offering precision driving with a scalpel, especially as the weight is clearly resting on the front. Suddenly, the front axle is all the more precise and sticks to the road in all circumstances, including during violent overshoots. And this, even if the road is imperfect. Granted, it then shakes a bit on potholes and other holes or bumps, but the Vitpilen stays in line. And if the mono quietly winds between 3,000 and 5,000 rpm on the intermediates, it really sends from 7,000 rpm to fly without complaining up to 10,000 rpm and with a real potato.

Ease of departmental

Braking

The rear brake of only 230 mm and one piston is particularly effective, being sufficient even in the city, even in most common situations. As for the front brake, with its 320 mm and its four pistons, it offers an excellent feeling and such power that you have to take it with two fingers. ABS is almost invisible and you really have to ride in the rain and do emergency braking to actually see it kick in. In the meantime, it plunges a little during violent braking.

Braking with 320 mm disc, ByBre radially mounted calipers and 4 pistons

Comfort / Duo

The saddle is square; not very thick and the shock absorber firm. Above all, it is really square and requires the thighs to be set aside significantly more than the natural one, not allowing the knees to grip the tank. It is really the inside of the thighs that forces us here. But a board allows you to accept comfort elsewhere. That said, despite everything, the machine absorbs the defects of the road surface better than others, but above all it always remains healthy regardless of the road surface. However, the whole thing improves as a duo, with the weight of the passenger, which then makes it possible to take the backs of donkeys quickly without flying away..

The duo position requires living as a couple, the passenger without any handle having no other choice but to stick to the pilot, or even to put a hand flat on the tank when braking. It’s also a great way to wrap a Geraldine. However, she will have to love you very much to agree to ride far with you in such a position..

Husqvarna Vitpilen 401 saddle

As for the overall position of the pilot, resting on the wrists, it gives the impression of doing push-ups all the time. Then there is only the motorcycle that does not pump. The biscotos do. But that’s good, it saves money by canceling your gym membership.

Consumption

Consumption, even in heavy use, does not rise to more than 4.1 liters per hundred, or even drops to 3.5 liters per hundred if you are careful. That said, it’s hard to pay attention, the engine makes you want to play. Suddenly, with a tank of 9.5 liters, the Vitpilen has a range of about 250 kilometers, even if the manufacturer announces a possible consumption lower than 4 liters per hundred. We just regret the absence of an indicator light on the dashboard when we switch to reserve and just the indication that we no longer have autonomy, even if there is still a little more ” one liter in the tank and 25 kilometers of autonomy.

line Husqvarna Vitpilen 401

Conclusion

The first day makes you want to return the bike, telling yourself it’s not for you. But that’s the advantage of taking motorcycles for testing over several days. Because on the second day, a certain affection is born and gradually turns into a much stronger feeling of deep attachment. The engine is great and just makes you want to open wide to feel the grunt and vibrations while the weight room effect with the position, becomes liveable over the days. You get used to it while the machine forces you to be more flexible and more dynamic to take it as you want, especially since the cycle part is flawless. And then this line and what a line! In fact, I never tire of seeing it before I step over it and I admire it again on the way down. And then, it is accessible to A2 licenses, which have a real machine and not a restricted machine. And finally, at "only" 6,490 euros, it’s still almost four thousand euros less than its big sister 701 for those who have fallen in love with her. But at 6,490 euros, it also competes with more powerful roadsters but without the same look..

Strong points

  • motor
  • cycle part
  • braking
  • design

Weak points

  • price
  • duo
  • driving position

The technical sheet of the Vitpilen 401

Test conditions

  • Itinerary: small varied roads + interurban highways with a bit of town
  • Motorcycle mileage: 300 km
  • Problem encountered: to add urgently to Santa’s list, but with the crisis I’m afraid he will refuse me.

Husqvarna Vitpilen 401 video test

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