When the Vitpilen concept was unveiled at EICMA in 2015, many doubted it would ever see production. The styling was so sleek, modern, and refined—it was almost too good. We figured it would be thwarted by naysayers in focus groups and pillaged by penny pinchers at the KTM Group—robbed of the unique aesthetic that many found so attractive. But, much to our delight, the Vitpilen made it to production while maintaining the look we fell in love with at its initial unveil. Sharing similarities with Husqvarna's utilitarian duo, the 701 Enduro and 701 Supermoto, the Vitpilen brings a similar level of performance in a hipster-friendly package.

I had been lusting after the Vitpilen since I first saw the concept in 2015, now more than three years later, I finally get to ride one. The bike fires to life with a loud, deep, and crisp clap, snapping shut as I whip the throttle back to zero. I had to twitch the throttle a few more times just to enjoy how sharp that rev is.

701 engine
Perfect for aggressive canyon riding or jamming around town, the 701 engine does not lend itself to mellow cruisingMonti Smith

As I threw a leg over, it was instantly clear that the taller, upright ergonomics of the other 701 models have been replaced with more aggressive rearsets and low handlebars. The unique subframe sits high, putting the rider forward on the bike, heading face-first into the turns. The seat is slim but surprisingly comfortable. While this position was great for hitting tight turns and aggressive riding, after an hour cruise down the highway my neck and shoulders felt like I was being stabbed with a knife. Given, at 6-foot-4, I am a bit taller than the average rider and this undoubtedly had an adverse affect on my comfort, but shorter riders I asked had similar complaints to a lesser degree.

When taking off from every red light, it’s almost a challenge to keep the front wheel on the ground. The 693cc single-cylinder engine puts out 51 pound-feet of torque and 71 hp. Weighing in at 362 pounds wet, it has one of the most extreme weight-to-power ratios we’ve ever tested here at Cruiser, which is ironic as this is very obviously not a cruiser. If you’re used to riding single-cylinder bikes, this one will surprise you with its range. The gearing is spaced just about perfectly, revving up with strong power all the way to fifth gear, and sixth as sort of an overdrive—lugging at anything under fast highway speeds. But being able to cruise at highway speeds doesn’t necessarily mean that you will want to for long.

Vitpilen
Use of matte black, glosse black, brushed aluminum and neon contrast each other and highlight the attractive lines of the VitpilenMonti Smith

Coming into the twisties is where this bike felt really at home. Its 25-degree rake and 4.3 inches of trail drop into a turn with little resistance and the chassis is stiff and strong through the lean of the turn. The quick response of the throttle stands you up as you exit the turn and reposition yourself for the next one. Brembo brakes, front and rear, are sharp, stopping the bike quickly and with sensitive lever-feel. The suspension is firm, not bouncy or springy in the slightest—you’ll feel the bumps here, but that comes with the aggressive nature of the bike—and it is aggressive.

Husqvarna Vitpilen 701's muffler
Every bit of that rear tire is getting used as we heat up the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701's mufflerMonti Smith

I would classify the Vitpilen as a sportbike in the truest sense of the word. This bike makes riding a sport; it makes me want to practice and get better. It makes me want to start doing trackdays and get my rear off the seat and my knee on the ground. It does not make me want to go ride down the highway for a couple hundred miles, but that’s not really what it was designed to do. It is less comfortable and less purpose-driven than both the 701 Supermoto and 701 Enduro, but it’s aimed at a different rider. Many a hipster is going to be pleasantly surprised when they go to ride this beautiful machine for the looks and find a real-deal high-performance motorcycle. The price tag of $12,000 is a little lofty, but it’s only $100 higher than the Enduro 701, so at least you know you’re not paying for the fashion alone. The price point pits it against bikes like the BMW R nineT Pure and a little above the Ducati Desert Sled, both of which offer a little more bike for the price tag, but neither of which will really get the blood pumping like this one. So, yes, it is expensive, but it’s also the best combination of high performance and attractive modern styling that we’ve had the pleasure of bringing in-house, even if that performance is only really intended for aggressive riding.

tail section of the Vitpilen tapers
The tail section of the Vitpilen tapers off neatly, letting the eye finish the aesthetic line without bulky blinkers or a license plate as a distractionMonti Smith
Vitpilen moniker
The Vitpilen moniker on the triple tree's of Husqvarna's stylish naked sport bikeMonti Smith
twisting the throttle
In a tuck twisting the throttle and letting the 701 screamMonti Smith
Vitpilen 701
Editor Morgan Gales at 6-foot 4-inches on the Vitpilen 701Monti Smith

Tech Spec

PRICE $11,999
ENGINE 693cc liquid-cooled single
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE 6-speed/chain
MEASURED HORSEPOWER 71.0 hp @ 8,200 rpm
MEASURED TORQUE 51.0 lb.-ft. @ 6,750 rpm
FRAME Tubular-steel trellis
FRONT SUSPENSION WP 43mm fork adjustable for compression and rebound damping; 5.3-in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION WP shock adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping; 5.3-in. travel
FRONT BRAKE Brembo four-piston caliper, 320mm disc w/ ABS
REAR BRAKE Brembo one-piston caliper, 240mm disc w/ ABS
RAKE/TRAIL 25.0°/4.3 in.
WHEELBASE 56.5 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 32.7 in.
FUEL CAPACITY 3.2 gal.
MEASURED WEIGHT 362 lb. (wet)
1/4-MILE 12.1 sec. @ 112.6 mph
0-60 MPH 3.6 sec.
CONTACT husqvarna-motorcycles.com