Husqvarna 701 Enduro & Supermoto

Author: Roland Brown Photos Marco Campelli & Sebas Romero Posted: 06 Nov 2015

New Husky 701 EnduroEnduro is one of the first two new streetbikes from the reborn brand

Husqvarna 701 Enduro & Supermoto Road Test & Review

The 701 Supermoto and Enduro are the first streetbikes from reborn Husqvarna, and look distinctive with their eye-catching bodywork in the firm’s traditional white, yellow and blue colours. But it’s not surprising that the singles sometimes felt familiar on an entertaining day spent caning them in Portugal.

The famous old marque – founded in 1903, the same year as Harley-Davidson – is now owned by KTM, and based in Austria rather than its original home of Sweden. Combining resources makes obvious sense, so the 701 models share most of their components with KTM’s 690 SMC R and Enduro R models. It’s the modern version of the “badge engineering” that British marques AJS and Matchless employed in the Fifties.

Revitalised Husqvarna, best known for off-road competition bikes, is not stopping there and aims to get into streetbikes in a big way. The firm plans a complete range of roadsters, with the aim of turning Husky in Europe’s third largest manufacturer (behind only KTM and BMW) in just four years’ time.

Both the Supermoto and Enduro are powered by KTM’s 690cc, dohc liquid-cooled engine, which is borrowed in unchanged form, complete with slipper clutch and maximum output of 67bhp at 7500rpm. The tubular steel frame is also unchanged, apart from being painted white instead of orange.

Husqvarna plans to make the brand a slightly more approachable, less hard-core alternative to KTM, and most of the new parts reflect that. New WP suspension and a more progressive shock rising-rate action are intended to improve comfort, a new fuel map is claimed to give smoother delivery, there’s increased steering lock to aid manoeuvrability, and the rear-mounted fuel tank is a litre larger, at 13 litres.

“We’re aiming for a more general, everyday rider; not quite as aggressive as KTM,” says Justin Maxwell, Husky’s Product Manager. “Someone who commutes in the week and wants to travel at the weekend. We’re a bit more user-friendly, designed for comfort and ergonomics as well as performance.”

701 Supermoto

Road Tester Roland Brown gets the Sporty Single Supermoto's front up

The Supermoto half of the launch included a wheelie competition (won by an out-of-control Dutchman who scraped his number-plate while just avoiding a flip) plus some laps of a damp kart-track, so there’s no danger that Husqvarna has gone soft. The sporty single was big fun on the track, pulling hard and very controllably out of the slippery turns, and cutting through the many tight bends with its Continental Attack SM tyres finding improbable amounts of grip.

But it was at a slightly less hectic pace on the road that the Supermoto impressed most. On the mostly twisty route from the launch base hotel to the track (in the grounds of the Portimao GP circuit) the Husky was superbly quick and easy to ride, its flexible motor pulling hard through the midrange, and its wide one-piece bar and light weight (at 145kg without gas the Supermoto weighs a kilo more than the SMC R) making it fantastically easy to flick into turns, regardless of whether I’d braked hard enough to compress the forks.

Continental Attack SM tyres found improbable grip according to our man Roland Brown

And it even coped with a stretch of motorway on the way back, rumbling up to an indicated 110mph on its small instrument panel, and more to the point feeling slightly smoother than I recall the 690 SMC R doing on its launch last year. Rubber-mounted handlebars and the footrests’ rubber inserts doubtless helped on that score, though the former don’t prevent the mirrors from blurring uselessly at most speeds.

Suspension played its part too. The WP forks and shock have a generous 215mm front and 250mm rear travel (same as the SMC R) which gave predictably good ride quality. On a twisty road you might expect to feel sea-sick due to pitching under braking and acceleration, but damping control was excellent and the Husky stayed very composed, despite the fact that its ABS-equipped Brembo front stopper hauled it down with impressive force, even in the damp.

Supermoto will reach an indicated 110mph890mm seat heightSporty single offers 67bhp

Of course a supermoto single was not the ideal type of bike for motorway travel, especially when a rain shower emphasised the lack of wind protection and bolt-upright riding position. But if the long seat (almost identical to the SMC R’s, apart from colour) was very high for short riders, at 890mm, it was also reasonably comfortable. And for many riders that extra litre of gas will push range to around 150 miles, adequate for this type of bike.

You’d need a back-to-back test to determine whether the 701 Supermoto really is substantially different to the SMC R. I suspect that in many situations they’d be hard to tell apart, but the Husky is certainly a stylish and high quality alternative. The reborn firm’s first pure streetbike doesn’t score highly on originality, but for fun factor at relatively sane speeds it takes some beating.

701 Enduro

Slim, light, punchy duel-purpose single

There’s slightly more difference between Husqvarna’s Enduro and the KTM on which it’s based, because the 701 gets a different competition-spec WP forks and shock that give a whopping 275mm of wheel travel at each end, up from the 690 Enduro’s 250mm. The other changes are shared with the Supermoto, including the slightly larger 13-litre tank.

That means it’s a slim, light and punchy dual-purpose single that is as capable off-road as you’d expect of a marque that has won an enduro world title in one class or another in most of the last 25 years. Inevitably that means it’s compromised on the road but it’s happy on short hops and in town, provided you can cope with the seat, which at a nose-bleed inducing 910mm is 20mm taller than the Supermoto’s.

On the highway its shorter gearing and lack of footrest rubbers made it feel much more vibey, even at a slightly slower cruising pace, short of the top speed of just over a ton. The ultra-long-travel suspension meant it pitched around slightly more, its knobblier Conti TKC80 rubber probably contributing to the vibration as well as the occasionally squirmy cornering feel.

Good news: three rider modes. Bad news: they're adjusted under the seat

But that’s all to be expected, and payback came when we headed off-road and the Enduro’s chassis was in its element. Suddenly those tyres were finding grip on rutted trails made muddy by torrential overnight rain, and the suspension was floating over bumps and soaking up big potholes as though they were barely there. The Bosch ABS system even worked so well on dirt that for all but expert riders it would be well worth having (and like the Supermotos it can be turned off or switched to work only on the front disc if preferred).

The Enduro also matched the Supermoto – and its KTM equivalent – with its smooth, flexible ride-by-wire throttle response, which can be switched through three modes by adjusting a button under the seat. A handlebar switch would make this more useful but the standard setting worked so well that this wasn’t an issue.

Like the Supermoto (and KTM) the Enduro has fully adjustable suspension with easily accessible damping clickers on the fork tops, so expert riders could doubtless fine-tune it into a seriously quick and capable off-roader. As with the Supermoto, the differences between the Husky and its orange cousin are subtle rather than obvious, and as much about image and looks as performance.

But its extra litre of fuel capacity would be welcome on longer trips, and Husqvarna are developing a larger rear-mounted accessory tank which, in combination with a screen that is also under development (and ideally a wider seat), will turn it into a very useful lightweight adventure bike. At £7999 it matches the Supermoto for price and is a couple of hundred quid more expensive than the orange Enduro R. It’s well built, superbly capable off-road and a serious contender for anyone considering a dual-purpose single.

The slim instrument panel holds minimal informationCompetition-spec WP forks and shock with 275mm travel67bhp single-cylinder motor

701 Supermoto 8.3/10

701 Enduro 8.4/10

Verdict: Obvious similarity to their KTM equivalents doesn’t detract from that fact that these specialised, subtly modified singles are great fun and brilliant at what they do best

The 701 Supermoto is quick, light and at home on everything from twisty kart-tracks to main roads, and the Enduro is truly versatile, as happy on muddy trails as on the High Street

Pros: Flexible, rider-friendly engines; light and high-quality chassis optimised for all-round use

Cons: Similarity to KTM equivalents will put off some, prices are not cheap





67bhp, 50ft.lbs

Wet weight

145kg wet (without fuel)

Seat height

Supermoto 890mm, Enduro 910mm




What do you think of Husqvarna's new duo?  or