The sheets finally came off the new Husqvarna line in Sweden this week, revealing a line of 10 competition dirt bikes that are bound for the U.S. Since KTM acquired the 110-year-old brand earlier this year, speculation, rumors and scuttlebutt have been rampant. The upper brass at KTM was keeping the info under wraps until the world press could be assembled at the Uddevalla GP track in western Sweden for a big unveiling when outsiders would be permitted to test ride the first Austrian-made Husqvarnas. The line will include both motocross bikes and off-road models powered by two-stroke and four-stroke engines. Additionally an 85cc MX bike will available. At last, some significant questions have been answered. Such as
Q. Will the new Husqvarnas be just like KTMs?
A. Not exactly, but they will be very similar. Everything in the new Husqvarna line has a blood brother in the KTM line.
Q. Will Husqvarna replace Husaberg in KTM’s corporate family?
A. Yes. But not in 2014. The two lines will coexist for a year. The new owners see it as more of a reunification. Back in 1988, when Husky was relocated from Sweden to Italy, some disgruntled Swedes formed their own motorcycle company. That was the origin of Husaberg.
Q. Will the current line of Italian-made Husqvarnas be discontinued?
A. Yes. Say goodbye to the models that were produced in Italy, as soon as the current inventory is gone. These will include some 2014 models. The new owners will be providing parts and customer service for the Italian line for the foreseeable future.
The bottom line is that 2014 will be very confusing, as Husabergs, Italian-made Huskys and Austrian-made Huskys coexist with KTMs. All that will quickly be reduced to KTM and Husky, which will be similar but not identical. Husqvarna will be seen as a high-end line, sold through separate dealers. For 2014, there will be five motocross bikes (85, 125, 250 two-strokes, 250 and a 450 four-strokes), and there will be five off-road bikes (250 and 300 two-strokes, and 250, 350 and 450 four-strokes) in the Husky line.
Riding the new bikes in the area around the Uddevalla GP track revealed that the new Husqvarnas will, indeed, have their own identity. The enduro models, in particular, are unlike anything currently available. They are woods bikes like the KTM XCWs and Husaberg FEs, but they have linkage like the KTM motocrossers. The suspension settings are very cushy, and the forks are the WP 4CS units with the rebound damping in the right leg and the compression in the left. All of the full-size Huskys will have composite subframes that are integrated with the airbox, like the current Husabergs.
The terrain in Sweden is rocky, muddy and unforgiving. The new Huskys, while made in faraway Austria, step into the role of the tough Swede well. It’s hard to image bikes that would be more effective in that type of riding.
So are we better off now that Husky and KTM are under the same umbrella? Absolutely. Inevitably, some will say that our choices have been reduced now that Husqvarna has stopped being an independent brand. But that was going to happen anyway. Former parent company BMW had clearly lost interest in Husqvarna, and KTM actually saved the brand by stepping in and taking over. If this had not happened, there would be no more Husqvarna.
We couldn’t be happier with the results. The bikes are good, they have their own purpose and if you’re a Husqvarna fan, you have a lot to be happy about. Expect the new models to be in dealers by Spring 2014.