The Husqvarna Svartpilen 250 is bit of a conundrum. On one end, it’s a very desirable motorcycle that looks absolutely mesmerising and packs an engaging motor that is directly taken from the KTM 250 Duke. But in contrast, it isn’t the most practical motorcycle that’s out in the quarter-litre segment of the Indian market. Before we give a detailed take on the Swedish scrambler-style motorcycle, let us tell you where it fits in the market.
Bajaj Auto and KTM see potential in the relatively untapped, entry-level neo-classic performance motorcycle segment of the Indian market. The retro-style Husqvarna Svartpilen 250 and the Vitpilen 250 tick all the right boxes to create a buzz in the aforementioned segment of the Indian market. We test rode the quarter-litre products from the Swedish brand for a first ride review, and here are our thoughts on the scrambler-style Husqvarna Svartpilen 250.
It’s safe to say that the Svartpilen 250 is among the most handsome products in its segment. Its compact dimensions are complemented by its unique styling that grabs attention wherever it goes and the premium hardware components. The Husqvarna Svartpilen 250, as mentioned before, aims to compete in the neo-classic performance motorcycle segment. Thus, the quarter-litre motorcycle packs a retro-styling that is complemented by a circular headlight, round design for the instrument cluster and spherical rear-view mirrors.
Adding a splash of modern-ness to the retro-styling are features such as LED headlight with LED DRLs, LED blinkers and taillight and a compact digital instrument cluster. The LED headlight has a respectable spread and it efficiently illuminates the path after dark.
The fuel tank is lean, and it boasts of a bolted rack that can be used to mount a tank bag conveniently. Furthermore, unlike the Vitpilen 250 café-racer, the Svartpilen comes with a split-style seat that looks sporty and is easy to remove. The rear-tyre hugger mounted number plate gives the rear of the motorcycle a clean and a premium look. Enhancing the rugged persona of the motorcycle are the eight-spoke alloy wheels that are wrapped in dual-purpose, MRF Revz FD tyres and an exhaust shield (not available on the Vitpilen 250).
The retro-styling with premium hardware make the Husqvarna Svartpilen 250 look admirable while standing still or on the move.
The Svartpilen borrows the trellis frame, engine, suspension setup and the braking hardware from the KTM 250 Duke. Mechanical specifications are identical to the KTM 250 Duke, and even the sprockets have been taken directly from the Austrian roadster. Thus, the 248.8cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, four-valve, DOHC engine produces 29.6bhp of maximum power at 9,000rpm and 24Nm of peak torque at 7,500rpm.
The split-style chassis, as mentioned before, comes from the KTM 250 Duke, although the sub-frame is a new unit for the scrambler-style Swedish motorcycle. The suspension setup comprises of WP-sourced upside-down forks at the front and a preload-adjustable mono-shock at the back. Anchoring setup comprises of a 320mm disc at the front and a 230mm rotor at the back while the safety net includes dual-channel ABS with Supermoto mode.
The dual-purpose tyres are sourced from MRF, although the 17-inch setup on both ends means that the off-roading prowess of the motorcycle is limited. The alloy wheels are wrapped in 110/70-17 front and 150/60-17 rear tyres. The company claims that the wheels are stronger than the units on the KTM 250 Duke. So, we threw everything at the motorcycle that Mumbai (during monsoons) had to offer, and it came out unscathed.
Attention to detail is commendable, be it in the form of the texture around the headlight housing, the premium looking fuel tank lid, the 3D branding on the tank, the textured seat with Husqvarna logo stamped or the bronze colour to the engine casing. The build quality is laudable too, and we didn’t come across any unpleasant rattling sounds during the ride.
On the downside, though, the switchgear from the KTM looks and feels average, and it isn’t something to write home about. Moreover, while the information-rich instrument cluster is ideal and it displays sufficient data, the tachometer markings aren’t backlit, and they aren’t clearly visible at night. These, however, are small compromises on an otherwise very neat package.
The classic approach ends on the styling, and everything else on the Svartpilen 250 is designed to be fun and engaging. Push the one-touch starter button, and the grunt from the engine makes the motorcycle’s intentions very clear.
The motor, which is borrowed directly from its Austrian cousin, is rev-friendly, and it enjoys staying north of 4,000rpm. The 4,000rpm to 6,000rpm range is ideal to putter around town but it really starts to get in the groove once you cross 6,000rpm. The motorcycle builds speed at a commendable rate between 6,000rpm and the redline. It can easily cruise at highway speeds or sit at 100kmph all day long with sufficient reserves of power available for quick overtakes.
There’s a noticeable buzz from the motor right from the start, but it’s gets slightly discomforting in the higher rev-band.
The six-speed gearbox is crisp and precise while the clutch feels light and comfortable. The light clutch action comes handy while riding in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The motor also packs a slipper clutch mechanism that lets you go aggressive on the downshifts.
The braking setup complements the sporty persona of the Svartpilen 250. The ByBre-setup offers a strong bite and good feedback while the safety net of ABS ensures that the motorcycle comes to a standstill without much drama once the anchor is dropped. The ABS can be deactivated on the rear wheel for some sliding action.
The ride quality is on the sporty side, and suspension setup feels stiff. Thus, you would feel most of the undulations on the road. The stiff suspension, however, does enhance the handling characteristic of the motorcycle, and the Svartpilen 250 feels agile and comfortable with quick direction changes.
The tall-set handlebar offers upright ergonomics while the relatively rear-set footpegs add a hint of sportiness to the rider’s triangle. While the handlebar is relatively tall, you still have to put in efforts to reach it while standing on the footpegs. If you’re someone who is going to go off the beaten path, a handlebar raiser should be among the top items in your shopping cart.
The seat height of 842mm is on the taller side, although the narrow saddle makes terra firma easily approachable. At 5’10, I couldn’t place both my feet flat on the ground, but it was manageable. The saddle is comfortable although the pillion seat is compact and it should be used for short distances only.
The rear-view mirrors complement the styling, but they don’t offer the best view of the traffic behind, and you’d be staring at your elbows most of the time.
The turning radius is sufficiently short to filter through bumper-to-bumper traffic. The one concern, though, is the short ground clearance of 149mm. The Svartpilen 250 scrapped the bottom over a couple of speedbumps during the test ride. There is, however, a sturdy metal guard that protects the catalytic convertor from getting damaged over an obstruction.
The Husqvarna Svartpilen 250 is just as hooligan as its Austrian cousin, but with a better wardrobe. Its styling is instantly desirable while the performance, build quality and the feature list is equally appealing.
On the downside, it isn’t very practical if you’re someone who likes to travel with a pillion, or for short riders due to the 842mm seat height. The ground clearance of 149mm, too, is going to be a concern in many situations. Moreover, a 9.5-litre fuel tank is smaller than all its rivals. With an ARAI certified fuel economy of approximately 32kmpl, the Svartpilen 250 can travel a little over 300kms between fuel stops.
In terms of pricing, the Svartpilien 250, which retails at Rs 1,84,768, is more expensive than almost all 250cc motorcycles in the Indian market, including the new Bajaj Dominar 250. So, if practicality tops your buying criteria and you’re looking for an everyday motorcycle, check out the Bajaj Dominar 400 that retails at about Rs 10,000 more, or the equally fun KTM 250 Duke that’s available for Rs 2,09,280. But if it’s style and character that you’re looking for, the Svartpilen 250 is the most appealing choice in its segment (All prices are ex-showroom Delhi)
Photography by Kapil Angane