– Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

2022 Husqvarna Svartpilen 401: MD Ride Review

Small, lightweight and inexpensive motorcycles used to mean drastically underpowered for highway or commuting use. An example would be Kawasaki’s Ninja 250, which had its virtues … but power wasn’t one of them.

Now, of course, we have choices that include KTM’s 390 Duke and Kawasaki’s Z400/Ninja 400 models. These bikes make decent power and easily handle highway cruising speeds. They are also relatively inexpensive.

Husqvarna is a sister brand to KTM, and it has the uniquely styled Svartpilen 401 powered by the same 373cc single found in the 390 Duke. We found the 390 Duke loads of fun when we tested it, so we had high expectations for the Svartpilen 401.

With close to 45 horsepower, the little 401 weighs less than 350 pounds wet (with 2.5 gallons of fuel). It features a six-speed transmission, an adjustable fork (both compression and rebound) and a big front disc brake (320mm) squeezed by a radially-mounted caliper. ABS is standard.

Some of the spec is pretty basic. The instrument face is not a colorful TFT, but an older-style LCD with poor contrast, and there are no selectable rider modes.

17″ wheels are shod with quality Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires. In addition to the light weight, this is just a small motorcycle. The wheelbase is just 53.4″ and the seat height 32.9″. The bike is extremely narrow between the rider’s legs. With the wide bars and dirt bike-style ergonomics, riding the 401 on the street is a blast. The bike is almost comically nimble, requiring experienced riders to recalibrate their effort to turn-in the motorcycle.

Once you get used to riding the Svartpilen 401, you appreciate its turning ability. Stability is never an issue, and the stock Pirelli tires actually grip quite well on the tarmac.

The brakes do a good job of hauling the bike to a stop, and the suspension soaks up the bumps for a smooth ride. The spring rates on the fork and the shock are pretty light, so heavier or faster riders might need stiffer springs.

The ergonomics, as expected, are comfortable and upright for riders up to 6 feet tall, or so. The bike can be a little cramped for taller riders. Also, the thin seat can start to feel too hard even on moderately long trips.

The transmission shifts well for the most part, but neutral can require a deft touch to find. The gearbox also has a quick shifter function allowing clutchless shifts. The LED lights provide good night time visibility.

The engine is tuned for a broad spread of torque , and the power comes on smoothly with the well-tuned fuel injection system. The bike is plenty powerful to have a fun time in the twisties, or on the open highway where top speed is roughly 100 mph.

There’s no doubt in our minds that the Svartpilen 401 is both fun and practical. It has enough performance for a lightweight single to entertain both beginners and experienced riders looking to enjoy the nimble nature only available in a machine like this.

The Scandinavian styling of the bike is clearly controversial, so that is something you will have to evaluate for yourselves. Husqvarna has lowered the price of the Svartpilen 401 over the years, with the 2022 model coming in at $5,399. Take a look at Husqvarna’s website for additional details and specifications.


  1. Thad Stelly says:

    While a bit more expensive than the 401 Svartpilen, the 701 version of this bike is simply fantastic. Roughly the same 350 Lb. weight with 75hp. Super easy to live with and ride everywhere. That single cylinder 692.7cc engine is a jewel which reminds me of why I started riding in the first place.

  2. Joe W says:

    After 40+ years of riding dirt bikes to 1600’s, one thing still remains true – It is more fun to ride a slow bike fast than riding a fast bike slow. Of the numerous bikes my father and I have owned, my 1981 Yamaha Maxim 400 Special II (a bargain at $400 with 1,200 miles in 1988) is bar far the funnest ride I’ve ever owned. What I lacked in HP was often made up with the me staying on full throttle, being able to brake way later than heavier bikes (like my dad’s 2001 Fat Boy). I could also fling it through city traffic the way Honda advertised the new Rebel (I thought the streets would be flooded with them, but not so much here in CT), and gas mileage was great (it was supposed to use leaded gas, but it never once had a problem with unleaded). I’d buy that bike again and again, over anything 400cc or less, but only up to a certain price. At $5,000, there are several bikes I’d consider though, even before looking into the used market. Maybe because of the long winters in Connecticut, but if I’m going to invest I should at least be able to lust after it in the garage. This probably isn’t it. Sorry.

  3. Gerry Urban says:

    That motorcycle is the epidemy of modern ugly styling……no rear fender and that goofy swingarm mounted tail light.

  4. MikeG says:

    Several YouTube videos have shown what the 401 can do off road, and it would have been cool to hear what you thought of how it handles dirt roads, gravel, etc. Seems like it’s at least a “soft roader” even if Husqvarna isn’t vouching for that ability.

  5. My2cents says:

    My local dealer carries Husky and I just can’t get past the visuals. The tank looks like it was designed for Xbox it’s stubby and has a oddly jumbled set of body panels. But the hp level from a small single is impressive and lightweight is never a negative on a twisty road. Certainly seems fitting for a rider of smaller dimensions avoiding expressway journeys.

    • Mick says:

      One of the things I liked about this series is the styling. It’s a little outside of the box. But for this bike, and few others, I’m good with it. These bikes build on the past without dwelling in it. There is plenty not to like. But any non negative path for me is welcome. They are more striking in the flesh by far.

      Think about it. Here is a KTM product that doesn’t come equipped with a cheap science fiction horror movie prop for a headlight.


  6. Mick says:

    I was kind of tempted to score one of the 701s some of the local dealers were bombing out on Craigslist for some pretty attractive prices a while back.

    Odd that they didn’t seem to sell well. But I think most street riders now days have a minimum cylinder count of two. I must admit that I feel that if you are going to buy something so heavy, you’re going to need an extra cylinder to haul all that extra weight around. Even this bike weighs 75 pounds more than a Kramer 690.

    One of the big paper motorcycle magazines used to have a big street bike spec list on their website. I used to look it over to kind of get the feel for the market as a whole. For as long as I checked, something like a decade, the lightest street bike on their list was a Honda 250 Rebel. I stopped going there. It was too sad to watch.

  7. badChad says:

    I dig the look, except for the rear fender tail thing, that just looks forced to me.

  8. Jeff says:

    Couldn’t find one anywhere. Was happy to find a lightly used 2022 390 Duke. Really like(d) the Svartpilen.

  9. austin zzr 1200 says:

    If anything ever happens to my N400 (heaven forbid) this is the replacement

  10. Randy says:

    Love mine. A Leo Vince can and Coober air box lid helped the motor better achieve it’s potential. The gearing is really tight through the first 4 but spreads out nicely for the last 2. Highway cruising at 75 at 7000 rpm is calm and uneventful. As noted, neutral can be a bugger to find but only requires a little patience. I change the oil at 500 mile intervals for the first 2000 miles and expected some crud on the screens (2), especially the first time out, but they were, and have remained relatively clean. With the new complete oil change kits available, it’s a breeze. The stock mirrors are too narrow (they provide an excellent view of your shoulders) but I believe Santa is bringing replacements :). All in all, a great, fun, little bike that people always stop to look at. Not a cheap motorcycle, just a unique, inexpensive motorcycle. At $8500 out the door complete with a 3 year dealer supplied extended warranty, it is thousands less than my second choice, a KTM 390 Adventure (without the extended warranty!). It’s not perfect, but this bike will take you back to your enduro days and put that familiar smile back on your face. That’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it?

  11. motorhead says:

    Very pleased with the $5,399 price, especially as it appears to be exotic and special. The pseudo-skid plate and street-knobbies encourage me to take it on back country tours. New KLR300 (lighter, more dirt worthy) just fell off my short list.

  12. todd says:

    I don’t understand the disrespect against the Ninja 250. These things were powerful enough to outrun a Sportster. I can recall some comical interactions between owners of each bike during some old group meets. I once spun one up to 100 mph and felt it was just as fast/powerful as my GB500.

    • Tom R says:

      “…powerful enough to outrun a Sportster.”

      Is there anything not cemented to the ground that can’t?

    • Trent says:

      The little Ninja was my first bike, and I still have fond memories of it. I changed the gearing and it was able to handle the freeway/expressway, though it didn’t have any real passing power to speak of. It also has a 4.8 gallon fuel tank, which is now larger than some bikes with much bigger engines. And its motor was smooth, too. It’s good that the Ninja 400 is now available, but the little Ninja is still a fantastic bike.

  13. Jeremy says:

    I personally love the styling. If I do buy another street bike someday, it will probably be something like this.

    • TimC says:

      Agreed – unlike almost everything now it looks like…a motorcycle. Very little if anything clashing, decent lines and proportions. The retro round light and mirrors actually manage to work with the more modern fuel tank/body panel (whatever you call it) stuff.

  14. Rhinestone Kawboy says:

    I agree on the styling, being somewhat… um weird. I can understand why they would have to lower the price over the years. Seems to look a little better than when I first seen the original. At the current price which seems quite reasonable if not a deal, it may make sense for many if they can get past that weird ass styling. 🙂

  15. Dave says:

    Dirck, thanks for reviewing this bike. I assume you’ve ridden it’s sister bike, the Duke 390. What would you consider key differences between them? Does one have more or less room for taller guys than the other?

  16. Nick says:

    An odd-looking thing but obviously effective.

    Perhaps Dirck needs to check his prose though!

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