2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 First Ride Review - More fun than the KTM?
- More versatile than the KTM 390 Duke. Allows for a comfier ride
- Shorter seat height will be more inviting for riders, along with larger proportions
- One of the well-designed motorcycles in the sub-500 cc segment
- Not as feature-rich as the KTM 390 Duke
- Multiple riding modes are missed and would've added a wider safety net
- The tube tyres may be a hindrance for long rides
- Is the new and updated 2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 finally a motorcycle fit for Indian enthusiasts? Read on to find out.
Swedish bike maker Husqvarna made its India debut in 2020 with the Svartpilen 250 and Vitpilen 250, and these were visually stunning motorcycles, they weren't the most brisk sellers. First, Husqvarna brought the rather bland 250 cc bikes, which were either too tall or too compact. The brand is on a course correction now and we finally get the new generation Svartpilen 401, alongside the new Vitpilen 250. The 2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 is the manufacturer's iteration of what should be a scrambler and we recently rode in and around Pune. Is the new Svartpilen 401 finally the motorcycle fit for Indian enthusiasts? Let’s find out.
2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 - Design
Husqvarna, KTM and Gas Gas, all belong to the same parent company, Pierer Mobility Group. So don’t be surprised that Husqvarna and KTM share a lot of components between their newer motorcycles. The Svartpilen 401 shares a tonne of its underpinnings with the third-generation KTM 390 Duke. Both motorcycles are made in India by Bajaj Auto. Visually, this is a completely different motorcycle and the riding experience too is very different. More importantly, It solves one big problem that a lot of buyers had with the predecessor. This is a substantially larger motorcycle, which wasn’t the case with the Svartpilen 250, and wasn’t exactly practical in the Indian sense.
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Addressing the issue, The new Svartpilen 401 is 20 per cent larger than the older version. The fuel tank is now 13.5 litres and 33 per cent wider in size. The wheelbase is longer at 1,354 mm over the older model and the seat is now 20 per cent longer than before. The seat design has changed and it’s now comfier for the rider and pillion. The motorcycle now has better visual mass and is more attention-grabbing in the overall sense.
Svartpilen translates to Black Arrow in Swedish, so the all-black colour scheme shouldn’t come as a surprise. The motorcycle offers better road presence this time with signature elements like the circular LED headlamp and LED taillight adding a dash of modernity. The higher, off-road-style handlebar, flyscreen, and tank-mounted rack further complete the scrambler look.
2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 - Instrumentation
The new scrambler-styled offering gets a 5-inch TFT screen carried over from the KTM 390 Duke replacing the circular display on the older model. The console is loaded with information and gets a different UI than the Austrian brand. The unit is easy to read under direct sunlight and also gets different visual interface options for better personalisation. Bluetooth connectivity though is not standard and will be offered as an accessory instead.
2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 - Ergonomics
The other big correction that Husqvarna has made with the Svartpilen 401 is its seat height. It’s now 820 mm, 22 mm less than the older version that stood at 842 mm, which was extremely tall for Indian riders and not exactly inviting. This one should be more accommodating. The ground clearance too has gone up at 177 mm, which may seem marginally lower than the KTM 390 Duke but that’s because the Svartpilen 401 also gets a bash plate.
The riding triangle on the Husky is more upright with the wide and slightly higher handlebar positioned closer to the rider. The footpegs remain slightly rear-biased but the motorcycle certainly feels a lot more comfortable than before. The less-aggressive riding posture will also find more appreciation given the relaxed ergonomics over long rides. Moreover, it further adds to the “big bike" feel that was otherwise missing on the Svartpilen.
2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 - Performance
The Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 uses the same mechanical setup as the KTM 390 Duke. The trellis frame has been carried over but the aluminium subframe has been replaced with a tubular unit. The new 399 cc single-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine makes 45.3 bhp at 8,500 rpm and 39 Nm of peak torque at 6,500 rpm, the same as the 390 Duke. The 6-speed gearbox and sprocketing also stay the same here. The Svartpilen though is 3 kg heavier than the KTM, mostly due to the spoked wheels and few other components.
The riding experience is extremely different on the KTM 390 Duke vs the Husky. What changes on the Svartpilen 401 is the fact this is a far more relaxed motorcycle overall. It’s still fast and as inviting as the KTM but not as aggressive. With the 390 Duke, you have to be constantly on the throttle, staying alert and ensuring you don’t make mistakes. In comparison, the Svartpilen allows a lot more leeway enabling you to soak in the sights from time to time.
When we first rode the new KTM 390 Duke, the motor’s tractability turned out to be impressive and a big need over the older models. The KTM is designed to go fast and you end up constantly trying to push it farther and farther. In contrast, we managed to feel some of that tractability on the Husqvarna when opting to go slow.
The Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 still likes to be revved like the 390 Duke and the meatier performance is on the north side of the 6,000 rpm mark. Interestingly, India does not get riding modes, although the console will show you the “Street" mode on the screen. You have fewer settings to toggle around and more of opening the throttle. The motor is responsive and quick with a strong surge throughout the rev band. Speeds climb quickly and doing triple-digit speeds is easy. This is a thoroughly enjoyable machine without feeling intimidating, which makes it fundamentally different from the KTM, despite sharing a major chunk of the components.
2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 - Handling and Ride Quality
The WP-sourced front and rear suspension is adjustable for rebound and compression. The unit can be adjusted for five clicks and that allows a more precise riding experience, based on personal preferences. The Svartpilen 401 is predictable and the bike feels easy to corner. It’s extremely flick-able in the city and manoeuvring through traffic is fairly convenient. The motorcycle feels compact despite the longer wheelbase and dives into a bend fuss-free.
The suspension travel on the Svartpilen 401 is the same as the 390 Duke at 150 mm in front and 161 mm at the back. However, the Husky feels more pliant with comfier overall. Despite the same setup, the big change on the 401 is the addition of spoked wheels with dual-purpose tyres. The thicker side wall adds an extra layer of cushioning and the bike feels more capable of taking on bad roads. We were gliding over rumble strips and small speed breakers, while bad patches of tarmac are easy to navigate without having to slow down.
2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 - Off-road Ready?
Husqvarna has gone all in and offered The Scorpion Rally STR tyres on the Svartpilen 401. The tyres are great both on the tarmac and off-road sections and provide great grip. The motorcycle’s setup though makes it work best over light trails and muddy roads rather than a full-blown off-road excursion. Also, do note that the tyres are tube-type, so they will be more susceptible to punctures. The Svartpilen 401 also does not allow you to stand and ride, something that could be fixed with handlebar risers. We are also curious to know how much would a replacement set of the Scorpion Rally STRs cost after a year or 10,000 km of usage given the tyres are full imports.
2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 - Braking
The braking performance on the Svartpilen 401 is strong and the manufacturer uses sintered brake pads for effective stopping power. The front lever offers good bite and the ABS module intervenes mostly only under heavy braking. You do get the Supermoto mode to turn off the rear ABS, which is most enjoyable on trails. You also get switchable traction control that further offers a layer of safety on the scrambler. Unlike the KTM though, you do not get launch control or an IMU device allowing lean sensitivity for ABS and Traction Control systems.
2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 - Price and Verdict
The Svartpilen 401 should’ve always been the motorcycle Husqvarna brought to India in the first place. Nevertheless, this is finally here and with all of these upgrades, it’s finally the motorcycle you should be looking out for. It’s substantially larger, the visual mass is great, the engine is great, and so is the riding experience that’s very different from the KTM 390 Duke. What sweetens the deal is that this is ₹18,000 more affordable carrying a price tag of ₹2.92 lakh (ex-showroom).
Of course, you are skimping out on quite a few features including the riding modes, IMU, and even Bluetooth connectivity. But the Svartpilen 401 allows more freedom to learn and grow without feeling intimidated. You can take it on trails or tarmac and look good while riding it. The Svartpilen 401 is a much easier motorcycle to recommend for those looking to get their first big motorcycle without wanting to be intimidated. In that sense, you should be considering one if you weren’t before. Take a test ride, you’ll like it.