Husqvarna Motorcycles are made in Sweden. The brand is well-established with a reputation for its strong and dependable build throughout the world. It may not get the press that some of the other more prolific brands have in the US, but it's a solid company that builds a worthy product. With this in mind, here are 20 things that you probably didn't know about Husqvarna motorcycles.
1. Their first motorcycle was released in 1903
It's been more than a hundred years since the Husqvarna Motorcycle company produced their first ever motorcycle. Although it looked more like a bulky bicycle at the time, this was what everyone else's looked like. They were in on the ground floor of the motorized bike technology which would soon begin to take a form that more closely resembles the motorcycles we're familiar with today. In case you didn't know, Husqvarna has been at it a lot longer than some of the more popular brands in the industry.
2. By 1933 Their bikes looked a lot more modern and were winning races
Husqvarna had come a long way in their thirty-year dedication to improving the original concept of the motorcycle. They had made numerous changes to the body style, the engine, the transmission, and the suspension, not to mention the seat. It was an entirely different machine, but it still bore the DNA from their original concept of what a motorcycle should be. Only this one was fully capable of taking on the competition on the track and leaving them behind in the dust. Husqvarna motorcycles experienced their first victories during the 1933 and 1934 road race seasons. The bikes started making regular appearances and walked away podium winners on multiple occasions.
3. They were there when Moto was born
This brand was present at the dawn of the now widely celebrated motocross racing. In 1953, the European motorcycle sport that was called moto-cross first emerged in the country of Belgium. Soon all across Europe, these races were being organized. New lightweight single-cylinder road bikes made by the brand were found to be suitable for the sport and Husqvarna threw its hat into the ring as a contender in many of the races in the new then modern sport.
4. The birth of the Silverpilen
Husqvarna was seriously getting into the production of high-performance motorcycles. They were becoming more innovative in their approach to developing the technologies that would improve speed, aerodynamics, and handling of their bikes. The Silverpilen was introduced to the world as a purpose-built bike intended for heavy off-road use. The bike would become an iconic model with its mere 75kg weight, hydraulic dampers, telescopic fork, and frame mounted engine. At the time in which it was released, the bike was revolutionary and it established Husqvarna as one of the world powers in motorcycle technology and innovation.
5. Rolf Tibblin was their first motocross champion
Only history buffs would know this, but most don't. Back in 1959, Famed racer Rolf Tibblin rode a 250cc Husqvarna to with the title in motocross as champion that year. He was up against some stiff competition but he placed at the top of the pack. This was just the beginning for him. He went on with the brand to have a very long and successful career in the sport and it was on a Husqvarna that he won many more world titles along with multiple individual victories. This included the Baja 1000 title and the Motocross des Nations victory.
6. Bill Nilsson won the World Title on a 500cc
Another racing great in motocross was Bill Nilsson. He took the World title in 1960 for the 500cc class on a Husqvarna. This was the beginning of the entry of the brand into big bore motocross that included a whole lot of wins and titles that increased the prestige and standing of the Husqvarna brand among professional racers and enthusiasts alike. Husqvarna had just moved into the premier class of honors.
7. Husqvarna hit a golden age in the '60s and '70s
Off-road motorcycling had become Husqvarna's claim to fame. They were known for their tough and fast off-road bikes. They were far from street cruisers and they were built to take a pounding and scream past the finish line. It was during the decades of the sixties and seventies that the bikes really showed their mettle. This was a glorious age in the history of the brand. They seemed to take motocross by storm and they were indisputably the dominant force that reigned in the arena of World Motocross competition. They took an alarming 14 motocross world titles during this golden age along with 11 Baja 1000 wins and d24 Enduro European Championships. Husqvarna shined as bright as the sun during these years.
8. Husqvarna became a legend in the seventies
It seemed that there was no end to the success of the bikes in off-road competitions during the 1970s. The riders continued to rack up the wins and the titles and although it was great for their careers, it was even better for the brand. The bikes were in hot demand and production flourished. The bikes had become a worldwide sensation and they were being used to rack up the points throughout both Europe and the United States. Everyone stood at attention when there was a Husqvarna in the race.
9. Husqvarna entered a new realm in 1977
Dirtbikes had become a big deal throughout the world by 1977 and there were other manufacturers who caught the bug and wanted in on the action. The legend of Husqvarna had spread excitement about the sport of motocross throughout the world. Corporations were taking an interest in the motorcycle manufacturer and it was in 1977 that one of the biggest corporations in Sweden made the choice to acquire the business. During this year Electrolux purchased Husqvarna Motorcycles.
10. They set a benchmark in 1983
The unveiling of a new bike in 1983 set new standards in the industry. Husqvarna designed a brand new generation of 4-stroke competition motorcycles with their 500cc 4-stroke. It delivered high with a lighter weight and air-cooled engine and a design that gave it a smoother and easier handling. This bike set a precedent that forever changed 4-stroke bike racing and it was a forerunner of yet greater things to come in the near future. With Husqvarna, it was always about going one better and they've consistently done this so well. Once again, they were forging new paths in motorcycle racing tech and innovation.
11. Husqvarna changed hands again in 1987 and got a nickname
The previous changing of hands did the motorcycle manufacturer no harm at all. Under Electrolux, the business continued to evolve and thrive. in 1987, the company was sold to Cagiva, an Italian motorcycle manufacturer. Husqvarna became a division of the MV Agusta Motor S.p.A. The motorcycles that were manufactured at this time in their history earned the nickname "Huskies" or a "Husky."
12. Husqvarna had a big disagreement that led to a split
It was just one year after Caviga bought the company that a huge division grew between the new owners and the Husqvarna team. Caviga had made the decision to move the company completely from Sweden to Italy. The core development team were not having any of it and they refused to relocate and stayed put in Sweden. They broke away from Caviga at this time and in 1988 the launched Husaberg. This was perhaps the most tumultuous period in the history of the brand.
13. BMW takes over
Husqvarna had already changed hands multiple times in its history, and it was about to do it again. In 2007, BMW purchased Husqvarna Motorcycles. They were gung-ho with ambitious plans for the expansion of their current range of motorcycles. What better acquisition than to go with a company with a long list of successes and competition victories. Husqvarna was a hot commodity in the industry and it was too attractive for BMW to pass up.
14. Husqvarna came full circle in 2013
It was like something out of a novel except the players were corporate. In 2013, the Husaberg's owner Pierer Industries AG took a trip down memory lane and purchased Husqvarna Motorcycles. This marked one of the greatest and most historic reunions in motorcycle manufacturing history. Both halves of the once split team of geniuses were reunited. They pooled their resources and their talents just in time to hit the ground running with a new lease on an old tradition. Each side of the team had continued to advance in their pursuits and achievements in technological advancements and refinements. The merging would produce an entirely new range of motocross and Enduro motorcycles that would hurtle the two parts of the whole back towards the top. They were back and bigger and better than ever. With fifty plus years of racing tech under their belts and 82 world titles to their credit, the team was ready to pick up where they left off and continue with the evolution of a legend.
15. A new approach in 2014
Just one year after the reunification of the two Husqvarna camps, business took off and it was the time for the Husqvarna Motorcycle brand to create a new generation of a beast. They were careful to make a thoughtful return to the classic colors featuring yellow bodywork with white and blue colors. The aesthetic definitely had to be there if for no other reason than to prepare the mind. Around the world, Husqvarna bikes were welcomed enthusiastically and the global response was phenomenal resulting in record sales for the year and an exceptional annual turnover. It wouldn't be arrogant of the team to have known that this would be the case so it shouldn't have come as any real surprise. They were back in force and everyone knew it. The anticipation for what would come from the reunion was likely one of the factors that spurred the frenzy of Husqvarna fever.
16. They went back to their roots in 2016
The team at Husqvarna made a decision in 2015 to return to their highly successful roots with the 701 Supermoto bike. This signaled a nostalgic nod to the 1930s single cylinder 4 stroke design of the street bike. The 701 Supermoto was released in 2016 with the DNA gleaned from the past for a high powered engine in a compact size.
17. They confirmed their intentions with the Vitpilen 401
In 2016, any doubts about Husqvarna's intentions to return to the street were eliminated with the release of the Vitpilen 401, and the Svartpilen 401 models. These were both produced and offered to the public and the result was better than anyone could have imagined. 2016 would represent yet another year that broke records not only in sales but in the growth of the company. Husqvarna had taken a bold step forward by venturing back down the old paths but they discovered that there was an open market and their gamble on the new street bikes had paid off in grand style. It had become official that Husqvarna was back on the streets.
18. Husqvarna realized their vision in 2017
The year following the great success of their Vitilen 401 success a new production model was revealed at EICMA 2017. It was the new production model called the Vitpilen 701. At the same time, they revealed their concept for the Svartilen 701 as a prototype, not yet ready for production. It gave enthusiasts an idea of what could be done in the future with a glimpse into their plans to evolve over time.
19. A New Enduro Emerged in 2017
While the return to the streets was welcomed by Husqvarna enthusiasts, their legacy in competition motocross bike production had to be promoted equally. The brand stepped up to the plate in 2017 with a new range of enduro's that featured a 2-stroke fuel injection system and offered greater fuel efficiency with technology that is sensor controlled in compliance with emission management regulations of Euro 4.
20. Husqvarna is one of the most resilient teams on the planet
One thing that you can say about the Husqvarna design team is that through the decades while new ones joined and old ones retired, the team maintained consistency. They continually provided new and better technology with each passing year and they've maintained a prominent position in the motorcycle manufacturing and racing industry through all of the new owners and disagreements. Now, they've finally come full-circle.
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson