2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 801 Review | First Ride

Black Arrow

2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 801 Review
Replacing the Svartpilen 701, the 2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 801 has a larger, twin-cylinder engine, new electronics, fresh styling, and more. (Photos by Marco Campelli & Sebas Romero)

Known for decades as a dirtbike brand, Husqvarna expanded its lineup to include streetbikes following its acquisition by KTM in 2013. Its most visually striking models are the Svartpilen (“Black Arrow” in Swedish) and Vitpilen (“White Arrow”), which were available in 401 and 701 versions and used single-cylinder engines adapted from the KTM 390 Duke (373cc) and 690 Duke (693cc). Vitpilens had modern cafe racer styling, while the Svartpilens leaned into the street tracker look.

Husqvarna Svartpilen 801 | Bigger is Better

For 2024, the lineup has been pared down to three models: Svartpilen 401, Svartpilen 801, and Vitpilen 401. The evolution of the Svartpilen 701 to 801 comes with a new engine platform – the 799cc LC8c parallel-Twin that’s also found in the KTM 790 Duke and 790 Adventure.

2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 801 Review
Look familiar? The Svartpilen 801’s 799cc parallel-Twin is also found in the KTM 790 Duke and 790 Adventure.

Though it doesn’t have as strong of a scrambler aesthetic as the Svartpilen 401, which has spoked wheels shod with knobby tires, the 801 nonetheless looks ready for a bare-knuckled brawl. It has a dark color palette: blacked-out engine, chassis, and wheels and a matte-black tank cover, which has sharp edges and flat sides – a common design element on all ’Pilens. There are a few bright spots of silver, such as the sharply upswept exhaust pipe, vestigial skid plate, and brushed-aluminum radiator shrouds, but no pops of color.

One of the most visually and functionally interesting parts of the 801 is the subframe. Rather than a tubular-steel trellis or some other framework covered with plastic bodywork, the Svartpilen’s tailsection is a cast-aluminum monocoque with integrated air intakes, and the airbox is housed inside.

2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 801 Review
The Svartpilen 801’s cast-aluminum subframe is a work of art.

We had a chance to give the Svartpilen 801 a good flog at a press launch Husqvarna hosted in Provence, a region in southern France known for its wine, lavender, and olives. The region’s topography is like a scrunched-up carpet, with craggy mountains crisscrossed with narrow, ridiculously twisty roads. Part of the Tour de France goes through Provence, so it was a common occurrence to rip around a blind corner and come upon a mini-peloton of cyclists hogging the road. Excusez-moi, mes amis!

2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 801 Review
Beep! Beep! Coming through!

Riding a new motorcycle on some of the best roads in Europe is always fun, and it helps make up for the dismal pay here in the motojournalism salt mines. But our test ride on the Svartpilen 801 really hit the redline on the old Fun-o-meter because we were a small, tight-knit group of American guys who knew each other well. It was like being on a hair-on-fire Sunday ride with a few mates – a fast-moving pack, like a school of barracuda. We were all there to do our jobs, but it didn’t feel like work.

Anyway, back to the bike.

I love it! The End. j/k

2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 801 Review
A fun bike on fun roads.

Husqvarna Svartpilen 801 | More Power, Less Filling

Adding an extra cylinder has transformed the larger Svartpilen. Claimed horsepower has increased from 75 to 105 (at 9,250 rpm), and torque has gone up from 53.1 lb-ft to 64.2 (at 8,000 rpm). Wet weight has gone up too, from 355 lb to 421, but the pounds each horsepower needs to push around has dropped from 4.73 to 4.0. The 801’s Twin spins up eagerly, its exhaust note is spicy, and its throttle-by-wire delivers immediate response.

2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 801 Review
Not surprisingly, the Black Arrow has a dark color palette.

Ye Olde Blacke Arrowe has an upright motocross-style tapered aluminum handlebar with a cross-brace and a seating position that’s part supermoto, part sport standard, and all fun, just right for attacking corners as if they were a hot plate of French fries. The footpegs are positioned high enough to offer good cornering clearance but low enough for reasonable all-day comfort. Same goes for the wide, flat seat, which is perched at an agreeable 32.3 inches and covered with a grippy material that includes ribs for your pleasure (or, according to Husqvarna, “heat-stamped ribs providing additional comfort and improved traction in wet conditions”).

2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 801 Review
The Svartpilen 801’s round headlight and flat-sided gas tank are common design elements on other ‘Pilens.

Above the Svartpilen’s big, round LED headlight – a design element also found on other ’Pilens as well as the Norden 901 adventure models – is a wee windscreen that’s more stylish than functional. Behind the screen is a de rigueur 5-inch color TFT with vivid graphics, easy-to-use menus for customizing the bike’s electronics, and smartphone connectivity (navigation, calls, and music). Take your pick from several ride modes (Sport, Street, and Rain), and cornering ABS with rear-off Supermoto mode, lean-sensitive traction control, and an up/down quickshifter are all part of the deal. For an extra $419.99, you can add Dynamic mode, which includes an on-the-fly rear-wheel slip adjuster, wheelie control, and motor slip regulation. Cruise control will set you back another $288.99.

Related: Husqvarna Norden 901 Expedition Review

2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 801 Review
Ribbed for your pleasure.

Husqvarna Svartpilen 801 | Riding Impressions

Our test ride started on a cold, damp morning, and I was a little hesitant to push the Svartpilen, especially with its semi-knobby Pirelli MT 60 RS tires. The front wheel is now 17 inches in diameter, which gives the 801 a nimbler feel than with the 18-incher on the 701. At our jackrabbit pace through hairpins, quick back-and-forth transitions, and varying camber and road surface, the Svartpilen was unflappable, its steering damper quelling any twitchiness and the Pirellis holding firm to the tarmac.

2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 801 Review
The Svartpilen 801 is an agile machine that loves to lean.

Contributing to the Svarpilen’s coolness under pressure is WP Apex suspension, which has impressed us on other Husqvarna and KTM models. The 43mm inverted fork is adjustable for compression and rebound via fork-top five-position clickers, the single shock is adjustable for rebound and spring preload, and there’s 5.5/5.9 inches of front/rear travel. Damping is well-controlled and strikes a balance between sportiness and comfort like an El Camino strikes a balance between a car and a pickup.  

2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 801 Review
Look, wildflowers! Wait – don’t look – it’s a long way down.

Rounding hundreds of curves while going up and down mountains and around lakes, all while dodging les cyclistes en spandex, we were constantly on and off the gas, on and off the brakes. Our bikes weren’t equipped with cruise control, but even if they were, we wouldn’t have had an opportunity to use it. The Svartpilen’s J.Juan brakes, with a pair of 4-piston radial front calipers squeezing 300mm discs, a 2-piston rear caliper pinching a 240mm discs, and steel-braided hydraulic lines, performed admirably, scrubbing off speed in fine increments and delivering as much stopping power as I needed when I needed it.

2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 801 Review
Happiness is a road full of curves but empty of traffic.

Husqvarna Svartpilen 801 | Final Thoughts

Husqvarna has carved out an interesting niche in the streetbike world. Its Svartpilen and Vitpilen naked bikes and Norden adventure bikes have unique styling that stands well apart from the competition, they’re powered by proven KTM engines, and they’re equipped with high-quality components and features.

2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 801 Review
Testing Dynamic mode.

All that’s well and good, but it’s the magic mix of 11 herbs and spices that really matters. We don’t ride spec sheets, and we can’t look at a bike when we’re riding it. How does it make us feel? Excited? Heroic? Twenty years younger?

The Svartpilen 801 is fun to ride. It quickened my pulse, tingled my nerves, and made me wish I could just keep riding it rather than fly home, sit at my desk, and write 1,200 words about it. It may be called the Black Arrow, but it warmed my heart.

Check out more new bikes in Rider’s 2024 Motorcycle Buyers Guide

2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 801 Review
The 2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 801 delivers the goods for $10,899.

2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 801 Specs

  • Base Price: $10,899
  • Price as Tested: $11,319 (Dynamic mode)
  • Website: Husqvarna-Motorcycles.com
  • Warranty: 2 yrs., unltd. miles
  • Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse parallel-Twin, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl.
  • Displacement: 799cc
  • Bore x Stroke: 88.0 x 65.7mm
  • Horsepower: 105 hp @ 9,250 rpm (factory claim)
  • Torque: 64.2 lb-ft @ 8,000 rpm (factory claim)
  • Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated slip/assist wet clutch
  • Final Drive: Chain
  • Wheelbase: 54.6 in.
  • Rake/Trail: 24.5 degrees/3.9 in.
  • Seat Height: 32.3 in.
  • Wet Weight: 421 lb
  • Fuel Capacity: 3.7 gal.

2 COMMENTS

  1. If that’s the case, it’s not a bad thing. My new CFMOTO CL-X 700 is an amazingly high quality, beautifully finished motorcycle. It’s much better than I’d hoped for. Smooth and quick, good brakes, cruise control, fully adjustable suspension, with a five year factory warranty, and with at least as many cycle dealers as Triumph, I’ll happily take my chances. So far, so good.

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