2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 Review: It’s A Sophisticated 390 Duke

  • Jan 29, 2024
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The Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 turned out to be a hoot to ride, exactly like the 390 Duke, but without being as shouty

The wait is finally over! The 2024 Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 is here. It undercuts the KTM 390 Duke by more than 18,000, packs an incredible engine and looks exotic…ingredients that have made this first ride mad fun! 

Yep…It Looks Stunning

As beautiful as the previous gen Husqvarna 250s were, us Indians didn’t really fancy them. Their USP was their minimalist design and I think that was the problem. They were too minimalistic and hence too cramped for most Indian riders to get on and have fun. With the new Svartpilen 401 though… things are different. It still looks very exotic and minimal, but now there’s a sense of muscle and substance to it. It’ll attract a lot of attention and there’s no mistaking it for anything else…but all of this despite being as shouty or out there as the new 390 Duke. 

 

And when you compare this 401 to the previous-gen Svartpilen 250, it just looks a lot better put together with the way the wires are all tucked in. And given that the bike truly is physically bigger than before, it no longer feels cramped to sit on. The extra room means tall riders can move around and be quite comfortable on it but the lower seat height also means shorter riders no longer have to tiptoe, something that was an issue with the previous gen 250s. 

But 17-inch Spoke Wheels?

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Yeah okay, good time to address the elephant in the room. If the spoke wheels with Pirelli Rally STR tyres made you think off-road…

No, not happening! These are still 17-inch wheels, at the end of the day and the ground clearance is actually 6mm less than the 390 Duke. So while it’s more than capable at handling your daily off-roading (brought to you by our fantastic roads), please don’t go trail hunting. There are other bikes much better suited to fulfill your Dakar rally aspirations. So yes, these Pirelli Scorpions are more of  form over function. That said, I quite like the way they look and they do add an extra touch of subtlety and class to the bike's overall look. 

And for those who are concerned about the tube tyres, Bajaj has told us that the alloy wheels from the Vitpilen 250 can be retrofitted onto the Svartpilen 401 with tubeless tyres. And the equipped Pirelli tyre will works without tubes on alloy wheels. But as of now, the spoke wheels aren’t compatible with tubeless tyres and till that happens, you will have to make do with tubes, meaning repairing punctures can be a major pain point 

New Console Who Dis?

Another new bit is the 5-inch TFT console. It's the same unit as the one on the new 390 Duke but it has a completely different layout. Of the three layouts on offer, I loved the least complicated, minimalistic one. It shows just the speed, revs and the gear position indicator, which are usually three of the most important things you glance at while riding. No over the top details on the screen meant I could focus on the road ahead with nothing to distract me. But if you like your consoles information loaded, you can select the other screen interfaces as well.  

Scroll through the TFT more and you’ll realise that the Svartpilen 401 misses out on the lean-sensitive electronics from the 390 Duke. Sure, extra electronics are always helpful but this new engine isn’t jumpy and if you maintain a reasonably smooth right hand, you should be able to manage without them. You also only get the Street mode on this bike as opposed to Rain, Street and Track on the 390 Duke. So yeah, while costs have obviously been cut with the Svartpilen 401, are these misses dealbreakers? Absolutely not! 

It’s A 390 Duke Underneath!

Apart from these things, this bike is essentially the new 390 Duke underneath and every bit as good. The new, fantastic 399cc engine, the telepathic handling, the sharp brakes, the versatile suspension….it's all the same and this bike is just as incredible to ride. Slow City commutes in higher gears? It'll do it! Triple digit speeds on the highway? No problem! 100kmph, 6th gear it's singing! 120kmph is effortless and 140kmph…the bike will do it but most of our roads aren't really meant for it so let's come back to something between 100-120kmph. But yes, what I meant was that it's incredibly engaging to ride. 

And that very magic continues as you come back to the city too. Apart from the engine, two things really stand out. First…the suspension. You see, my slender build means I am used to getting tossed around on sporty bikes with firmly sprung suspension. This bike sure is sporty but its suspension….it’s beautiful! Sure it’s adjustable but even the stock settings tick all the right boxes. It literally feels almost plush over most of the undulations and even if you start hitting road imperfections at speed, it remains unfazed. So much so that I didn’t feel the need to tinker around with the suspension settings even once! 

The second thing is definitely the quickshifter. I know we’ve already talked about it at length in our 390 Duke first ride video but it’s so good it deserves a second shoutout. Anything above 3000rpm and it shifts without hesitation and as the revs build, it only gets better and better and better. The only problem with it is that it has really spoiled me and now….I want such a quickshifter on every bike that I ride.   

It’s A Sophisticated 390 Duke

Four years ago, even after riding the Husqy 250s, a lot of you guys were left with this one question: who were these exactly for and I think that question is a bit more clear now. The new 390 Duke…it’s like a Golden Retriever. Very energetic, playful and just wants to have fun. But it’ll require attention. The Svartpilen 401 though…it’s more of a German Shepherd. I mean they’re both very playful creatures underneath, mind you, but this one just feels  more mature and sophisticated. 

I loved riding the new 390 Duke a couple of months ago but I did feel that it was a bit too ‘in your face’. In its defence, that's how KTMs are but it was a bit too much for me and I’m sure a lot of you would feel the same. On the Svartpilen though, whether its is more elegant and mature design language, the top notch fit and finish levels, the clean instrument console layout or even the new 399cc engine which is a lot more fun, yet more refined, than before - all these things come together to make it a lot more subtle and elegant, something I quite like. Honestly, I would quite like to bring one of these home….

Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 Video Review

Husqvarna Svartpilen 401
Husqvarna Svartpilen 401
Rs. 2.92 Lakh
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