Bajaj Auto umbrella seems to be swelling over more and more motorcycle segments which is great but do we really need three motorcycles that share the same engine in the same category? Does Bajaj Auto imply that there are in fact not two but three types of people – one who picks a Bajaj Dominar, the other who gets a KTM Duke, and now the one who’ll like the Husqvarnas? Having ridden them back to back, it does seem apparent that they may be right. After the Dominar 250, two new Swedish cadets have been introduced in the quarter-litre infantry – Husqvarna Svartpilen 250 and Husqvarna Vitpilen 250 and they promise a whole new world.
Although it is difficult not to mention its cafe racer brother to be able to explain better, we’ll focus this article on the Svartpilen 250 alone. This is the scrambler version of KTM’s 250cc single-cylinder engine and it looks convincing that it is one. There is rather a neo-retro appeal to the design that uses simplistic lines and curves and is devoid of any unnecessary stickers. That’s Swedish sensibility for you right there. They are after all the brains behind Volvo cars and IKEA furniture that has come to be very popular around the world.
The headlamp is round for a touch of classic and the instrument cluster is digital for the whiff of modern. Quality of the fit and finish satisfies and it shares its switchgear with the KTM 250 Duke which has already been accepted well. You do, however, see quite a lot of wiring peeping through its split trellis frame.
It isn’t just the switchgear that the Svartpilen 250 shares with the KTM, it is pretty much the same motorcycle with a few relevant changes that actually make it some three kilograms lighter than the Austrian and a lot of it is because of its new and lighter eight-spoke wheels. So, with a 166 kg kerb weight, the Svartpilen 250 is super lightweight – a fact that comes in very handy for riders below 5.6 feet since the seat height is the highest in the segment at 843 mm.
The riding stance is similar to the KTM 250 but the footpegs aren’t as rearset which means you could stand on them if you must. The Svartpilen definitely offers more comfort than the Vitpilen since the rider sits upright and the dual-purpose tyres make taking on bad sections on the road a tad easier. The suspension setup, however, is the same as the cafe racer with the same tuning and travel as well. This makes the Svartpilen nippy to handle but if it is a bad road, you’ll know it.
The engine too is the same 250cc from the KTM which means you get the same 30 hp on tap and it is a high-revving and sprightly powertrain. But that also means that the gearbox has to be worked constantly in city traffic which is no problem if you’re used to the riding style. It does 0-60 km/h in under 4 seconds and a top speed of about 150 km/h but by the time, the engine does feel like its undergoing immense stress. And that is what brings us to the ‘hindrance’.
Husqvarna Svatpilen 250 specifications
o LED lighting
o LCD instrument cluster (speedo, tacho, fuel gauge, fuel range, gear-position indicator, ABS modes – Road & Supermoto)
o Seat height – 842 mm, o Kerb weight – 166 kg, o Fuel tank – 9.5 litres
o Engine – 248.8cc 4V DOHC liquid-cooled single-cylinder
o Power – 29.6 hp at 9,000 rpm, o Torque – 24 Nm at 7,500 rpm
o Suspension – 43 mm Upside down forks, Monoshock (rear),
o Ground clearance – 149 mm
o Brakes – 320 mm disc, 230 mm disc (rear), Dual-channel ABS
o Tyres – Dual-purpose MRF Revz FD on 8-spoke alloys (110/70, 150/60)
o Price – Rs 1,84,768 (ex-showroom, Delhi)
The Svartpilen is delightfully quick but it’s at around 80-90 km/h where it sits peacefully. Past 7,000-8,000 rpm, there are plenty of vibrations transferred to you through the handlebar and footpegs. They’re comparatively a little less evident on the Svartpilen than the Vitpilen, perhaps owing to the simple fact that the Vitpilen has clip-on handlebars that are lower down.
Creeping towards the top speeds, the Svartpilen suffers from substantial weaving which was more noticeable on the Vitpilen. Speaking of comparisons, the overall fitting and damping all around the motorcycle come across better on the KTM 250 than they are on the little Huskies and so, squeaks and rattles could arrive sooner on them in the long run.
House Mill’s Black Arrow
Husqvarna (literally translated to House Mill) always described the Svartpilen as a scrambler-style motorcycle and ’tis true – that suspension set up does not encourage going fully off the road. If only Husqvarna gave it the KTM’s larger fuel tank and its higher ground clearance as well, along with more power in the RPMs lower down and a little extra travel in the suspension, there’s a potentially brilliant entry-level scrambler in there.
But then, the Svartpilen 250 essentially prefers the tarmac of the urban environment and it’s really good at that too. The throttle response and the way it handles is what you expect from a single-cylinder 250 to ride around in the city. Combine that with its edgy looks, a very inviting price tag smaller than the KTM, and the fact that you get to say that you own a Husky, make it all the worthwhile.
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