Where does one begin with a motorcycle like the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto? For a newbie like yours truly, it’s easy to pigeonhole the 701 (let’s call it that for now, okay?) and confine it to the realms of several resident oddballs in a sea of bikes currently on sale in the Malaysian market.
However, that would be unfair. Unfair to the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto because it is – spoiler alert – such a capable machine that it deserves more than just a mention whenever left-field choices are being discussed. So, where exactly can the 701 be placed? Does it have what it takes to be a strong candidate for the proverbial “If you had one bike to do everything?” question or does it deserve a spot on the list of oddities, recommended only to buyers who want to stand out for the sake of standing out?
At first glance, things aren’t looking too rosy for the Husky (let’s just alternate between 701 and Husky, yes?). An entry price of RM59,500 including GST means that the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto will only appeal to the well-heeled. What exactly do you get on paper for – give or take – RM60k, then? Let’s begin with the heart.
The Husqvarna 701 Supermoto is powered by the same engine found in the KTM 690 SMC. For those unfamiliar with the relationship between KTM and Husqvarna, the latter was sold to a holding company owned by KTM’s CEO, Stefan Pierer in 2013. Later that year, ownership of the company and rights were transferred from said holding company to KTM AG, effectively making the famed Austrian motorcycle manufacturer the proud owner of Husqvarna.
With that short history lesson over, let’s get back on track. The Husqvarna 701 Supermoto gets its motivation from a single-cylinder, 693 cc SOHC engine that’s good for a total of 74 hp at 8,000 rpm and 71 Nm of torque at 6,750 rpm. The transmission is a six-speed unit with an APTC slipper clutch. Also present is a ride-by-wire throttle and 3 fuel maps – standard, soft and advanced. There is also a ‘bad fuel’ map for when the zombie apocalypse does happen (it will, I swear!) and you’re far from decent fuel.
The frame of the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto is a powder-coated, chrome-molybdenum steel trellis unit. Wheelbase is measured at 1,480 mm while ground clearance is an impressive 270 mm. The rear (plastic) subframe is all-new and the 13-litre fuel tank is integrated into the tail of the motorcycle.
As for the suspension setup, the front gets 48 mm WP closed cartridge front fork with 215 mm of travel while the rear gets a WP monoshock with Pro-Lever linkage and 250 mm of travel. Both ends are adjustable for compression and rebound. As for brakes, it is equipped with a single, 320 mm disc clamped by a radially-mounted, four-piston Brembo caliper in front. The rear gets a 240 mm disc clamped by a single-piston Brembo caliper.
The bike comes as standard with Continental ContiAttack SM tyres that measure in at 120/70 in front and 160/60 at the rear. Bosch’s 9.1 MP ABS system also sees an appearance on the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto – hooligans will have the option to disable the system. The clinically-insane, on the other hand, can turn off the rear ABS exclusively via an optional dongle. The whole package weighs just 145 kg sans fluids.
Now, all that might sound fine and dandy on paper but that is exactly what it is – just numbers on a sheet of paper. How does it all translate out in real world? For starters, let us clarify that we had the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto for a pretty short stint so we didn’t get the privilege of having all the time in the world to get under the skin of the machine.
The first thing that might stick out to riders with the 701 is that it can be quite challenging to swing a leg over the 890 mm-high seat. Yes, you read that right. For riders who are vertically-challenged or are a bit at a disadvantage in terms of inseam, this could prove quite intimidating. This particular rider stands at approximately 184 cm so it wasn’t an issue but the same couldn’t be said for shorter riders who tried it on for size.
Key slotted and starter button thumbed, the 701 cleared its throat with a notable aural signature that was boomy at first but settled into a relatively quiet note not too long after. Fortunately, it only took less than a minute to get comfy on the 701’s seat despite its height thanks to a narrow-cut design. Clutch action was also surprisingly light with a very linear feel that made it extremely easy to find the biting point.
With that said, the first flaw presented itself pretty quickly as the transmission isn’t exactly the smoothest unit. The shift quality felt quite rudimentary and what freaked this writer out even more was that the transmission tended to give out a rather audible crunching noise during certain downshifts. A flaw, yes, but most certainly not a deal breaker – more so when a wave of torque negates downshifting often.
Coming to a stop in traffic in the middle of Kuala Lumpur on a scorching day, it should come as no surprise that the amount of engine heat generated by that huge thumper reached unbearable levels within a minute. Since we are banging on about the negatives, it should be said that the instrument cluster on this Husky is very, very basic – a monochrome display with the speed readout, a clock and a trip/odometer.
That’s it. No tachometer, no gear indicator and no fuel gauge. The next gripe to surface was the seat comfort. Now this writer is aware that he mentioned how easy it was to get comfy on the seat earlier but after a half hour ride or so, said writer may have to retract that statement. While the design itself is pleasantly narrow, a tad more padding would be brilliant and whatever material it is made out of, it is annoyingly slippery.
Also the stock mirrors vibrate pretty badly once you hit highway speeds. If this writer would to own the 701, the first thing to go would be the side mirrors. Now with most of the negatives mentioned, let’s move on to the sunny side of things, shall we? As mentioned, the clutch was more than easy to handle in stop-go traffic and on the move, the bike exhibited very good manners.
Vibrations were kept to a minimum thanks to clever engineering moves like mounting the triple clamp with thick rubber and having the grip of the handlebars covered in rubber sleeves. Fueling is also spot on with no abrupt lurching from the bike whenever this author was careless with the throttle – you can thank the Keihin Engine Management System (EMS) for that.
Such is the refinement of the Husky that one would be hard-pressed to notice levels of vibrations that border on irritating even at highway speeds. The combination of tall gearing, refined fuel mapping and the aforementioned rubber grips mean that you have to pushing way above legal speeds to feel like you’re revving the nuts off the thing.
Of course, wind blast is a given on this type of motorcycle – hitting the speed limit on highways meant monumental amounts of it no matter how you try to tuck yourself in. The suspension was also nicely set up from the factory as we saw no need to adjust compression and rebound despite given the option to do so in order to enjoy the ride. Road imperfections were nicely soaked up and despite this writer’s best attempt to upset it by deliberately aiming for rough surfaces and potholes, the Husky never once felt out of place as it shrugged it off. All in all, a very accommodating setup.
Away from the highway and back into the urban crawl, the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto proved to be a fantastic partner as it sliced and diced its way through traffic with the utmost ease. The upright seating position, coupled to nicely stacked gears and the absence of any weight meant that the 701 can (and should) fit the role of a daily rider.
So while it’s a good thing to know that the 701 can act as a fantastic daily runabout and do the occasional highway stint, it should be brilliant as a tool for hooning about, right? Absolutely right you are! The fun well and truly begins when you take it out onto some tight and twisty roads. Deliberately being careless and aggressive with the throttle failed to lure out its nasty side as the low-end torque and broad rev range helped to propel the bike out of one corner and into the next.
That’s not to say that it’s a boring bike – far from it. It’s just that easy to wield, even at the hands of a relatively inexperienced rider. Rapid direction changes throughout the ride were dealt with in an instant as the bike lapped it all up and asked for more. The fantastic Brembo brakes and slipper clutch were more than up to par as hard braking and aggressive downshifting failed to upset the balance into some nasty corners.
Pair that with the aforementioned ease of launching out of corners and you get a bike that can seriously cover ground whilst making you feel like a hero throughout the entire process. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what really sums up the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto. At the core of it, the Husky is still a bike made for fun and fun alone.
Of course, in today’s climate, a bike that is fun and fun alone will not cut it. Consumers today are more enlightened and unforgiving – which is no bad thing – when it comes to spending their hard-earned money on a new motorcycle. Which, of course, in turn pushes engineers to design and produce even more complex, safer, higher-performing and convenient two-wheelers.
In the case of the Husqvarna 701 Supermoto, the engineers have done exactly that. This is a true, do-it-all, everyday motorcycle that is as happy weaving through traffic on a sweltering day as it is canyon carving and riding off into the sunset. Now, where did I put my spare RM60k again?