More and more manufacturers are exploring cafe racer-styled bikes. It all started with Hero MotoCorp as well as Royal Enfield entering the fray of affordable cafe racers with the Splendor Classic and Continental GT535 respectively. Both the bikes came with a single seat and had clip-on handlebars that gave their riders an aggressive riding stance. Unfortunately, the Indian audience wasn’t mature enough to understand these bikes at that point but they certainly set the tone for future products. Husqvarna, a new brand to India, has taken the cafe racer route for one of its bikes, the Vitpilen 250. Vitpilen means White Arrow in Sweden whereas this bike’s lock, stock, and barrel cousin is the Svartpilen 250 (Black Arrow). This also means both the bikes come only in colours denoting their names. You will have read our review of the Svartpilen. Scroll down to see if the Vitpilen is the bike for you.
The very reason I chose to go ahead with this very aspect is that is what separates both the bikes – comfort. The Husqvarna Vitpilen is good for attacking corners and holding its line well during swift direction changes. However, the hunkered-down position, the not-so-welcome cushioning of the seat will ensure that the saddle time will be low. After all, cafe racers as the name suggests was for gentlemen to have a quick ride from one cafe to another. During the shoot, for the long tracking shots, we kept switching the bikes only to run for the Vit’s keys for cornering shots.
The Vitpilen 250 is set on the stiffer side and the suspension (WP upside-down forks in front and monoshock at the rear) do let the rider know what’s happening underneath. Traffic is where you feel that the Vitpilen needs a bit more space when it comes to moving around other stationary bikes or cars in traffic. As far as ground clearance is concerned, there were no issues in Delhi-NCR and I am confident that riders will not be leaving a part of the motorcycle on speedbreakers here. Mumbai, well, knowing the rain-ravaged streets the 145mm ground clearance could pose an issue. This will be amplified with two-up riding. Interestingly, with a well-fed rider, there will not be much space left for a pillion.
While both the bikes look very similar, the clip-on, tank rack (lack of it on the Vitpilen), alloys (5-spoke here), single-piece seat with a slight contour are what’s different. At first look, the bikes seem quite small and especially for someone above 5ft 10 inch. The seat height though might end up a bit daunting for some, especially with that ADV-rivalling 843mm above ground level proportion. I like what Husqvarna designers have done with the instrument console. It might seem a bit confusing at the onset but once you get used to it, it all feels quite legible.
There is dual-channel ABS on offer and the discs at both ends are quite sharp as well. I wish though that the feel from the front lever was a tad more communicative. One can also switch off the rear ABS for some slide-out fun.
The Husqvarna Vitpilen 250 uses the same engine as the Svartpilen, which in turn borrows it from the KTM 250 Duke. There is no change in the gearing but the key here is that the Huskies weigh 3kg less than the KTM. Performance from this 30hp/24Nm motor then is good wherein the bike is eager to shoot off the line. I was asked at a few traffic lights as to which bike is this and how is it so quick. However, when pottering through traffic one needs to shift gears a bit as KTMs are known to have high-revving engines. Minimum effort there as the clutch is light and aided with a slipper unit, the chores are reduced. The 6-speed gearbox is also quite smooth to operate.
What I didn’t like as much is the top speed. On the speedo, it nudged around 140kmph. Plus the effort to reach there was un-KTM-like. There were also vibrations that crept in post the ton. The motorcycle is happy cruising at 90-100kmph – the sweet spot as some like to call it. Stability too is good but above 140kmph, the front weaves a bit, robbing you of the confidence to push.
Many are smitten by this delicious looking bike and I wouldn’t blame them. Take a spin and the clamouring only grows. The Husqvarna Vitpilen 250 though cannot be the only bike in the house. It could either be the second or third bike. At most, the household will definitely have the ubiquitous Activa for regular chores. Practicality isn’t this Husky’s forte. At Rs 1.85 lakh, it is more affordable than the KTM 250 Duke. The service support is provided by KTM and I have been hearing only good things about the latter. So, that’s another part taken care of. Go ahead, buy one for those weekend rides or for a quick cup of coffee. After all, it is also the entry point cafe racer that we have right now in India.
Images by Rahul Kapoor
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