Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Nothing comes close to the phrase as these two new Swedes that have just entered the cramped sub-300cc segment in India. Design is clearly their talking point so let us not waste time figuring out how to pronounce Husqvarna or Svartpilen or Vitpilen or what they mean, and get straight to business.
Launched under the KTM brand, the Husqvarna have a more contemporary and elegant design and one that is sure to broaden KTMs portfolio and clientele. Believe it or not, not everyone likes the idea of a shouty, bright orange KTM piercing through traffic. Some prefer a more relaxed and easy on the eyes design and one that stays timeless. The Svartpilen and Vitpilen have that in abundance.
The exterior of both is in typical Swedish fashion- minimalistic. There aren’t any aggressive lines and cuts and is all very smooth and svelt. The round LED headlamp, the single plastic panel that extends through the length of the bike and the minimalistic rear give the bikes an old-school cafe-racer vibe.
Look closer though, and you’ll notice a fully-digital circular instrument cluster that shows some KTM traits and gets riding modes as well. Then you have the main difference with the two; the handlebars. On the Svartpilen, which is more on the lines of the Duke, you have a conventional handlebar that is set high up and offers a relaxed and more of a commuter-style riding posture. The Vitpilen though is the sportier one with clip-on bars that are set lower and make for an aggressive and racy riding style. The footpegs too are placed accordingly, and it is only when you get onto them, that you notice how much of a difference it is. The seat height at 842mm isn’t suited for shorter riders, but the single-piece seat is comfy and well-cushioned.
Get on the Svartpilen, and you notice the similarities with the Duke 250. The handlebar height, the seating position and the overall ergonomics that are aimed at more relaxed and everyday riding. The Vitpilen however, is the more committed of the two with racy low-set clip-on handlebars.
Now Husqvarna could have plonked in the manic engine from the 390 Duke, but instead have opted for the more modest 250cc engine from the Duke 250. Now in KTM terms, even modest means full of punch and grunt and the Husqvarnas are no different. The 29.5bhp engine has a good amount of punch in the mid-range, and as you climb higher, they are quite playful as well. Where it lacks is at slow speeds and city traffic. The weak bottom-end means you struggle in stop-go traffic, and will find yourself shifting cogs quite often. That said, the 6-speed gearbox, same as the one on the Duke 250 is smooth and slick. The clutch is light, and it is quite easy to manoeuvre around too. The Vitpilen, on the other hand, is the more committed of the two. The low-set clip-on handlebars require you to arch a bit and crouch down. Now while that means it is great on a winding road or on a track, but it is far from comfortable in the city.
It is far too committed and makes even small mundane rides a bit exhausting. However, you will appreciate the compact dimensions and that tractable engine. There is nothing on the market currently that looks like them, and that is their biggest draw.
What is even better is that with prices starting from Rs 1.84 lakh, the Husqvarna undercuts their sibling, the KTM Duke 250 by Rs 25,000. So if you are in the market for a daily commuter that looks fantastic and has enough punch on offer, the Husqvarna Svartpilen and Vitpilen should be worth serious consideration.