By Kenneth Olausson

Life was different in the old millennium. The revolution in technology set in and people started to move around in vehicles. Husqvarna produced its first two-wheeler in 1903, pioneering the trade after the company had been around for more than 200 years. In the period from 1903 to 1910, Husqvarna manufactured four different models.

Over millennia people had relied on horse and carriage for transport. In the beginning of the 20th century, there were research and developments that led to better comfort and faster access. When Husqvarna started its operation in 1689, it was an armory where rifles and weapons were manufactured.Two-hundred years later the company expanded, to also produce sewing machines. After that “the House-Mill” stoves and household appliances were added to the menu by the end of the 19th century.

1903 was a distinct breakthrough for the now growing company situated next to the river of Huskvarna – meaning “House Mill”- in the town with the same name. The “Moped” was invented here and the name was nothing more than an abbreviation for “Motorvelociped” – an engine-velocipide. The engineers were thorough and tested several foreign-produced drive trains before arriving at their result. Their final choice was to use a Belgian-made FN-engine (Fabrique Nationale) in connection with the homemade bicycle. The single-cylinder engine from Liège had a capacity of 225cc and the performance was measured at one and a quarter horsepower which gave this machine a manageable speed of 40-50 km/h. As the petrol tank contained four liters of fuel, it was possible to cover a distance of approximately 150 kilometers without filling again. But in fact, the final product was more like a pedal bike with an added power package. And the transmission from engine to wheel was made by a leather-belt. In the book of instructions you could read: “There are no obstacles in learning how to operate this engine-velocipide. Nor does it take any technical knowledge for the purpose. However, you do have to take care of this machine carefully and see to the fact that it functions impeccably. If not, this vehicle will not perform to the satisfaction of the owner”. It was furthermore added as a tip on the starting method of this power source, should it be difficult to get it going: “If the petrol is too cold, you can warm up the carburator by holding a burning newspaper or other sheet underneath it. Do not under any circumstances use a welding torch to heat it!” The Husqvarna logotype was painted on the tank and the machine was manufactured on a small scale between 1903 and 1906. The initial price tag was set at 700 kronor, SEK (approx. 150 US dollars). In the book of instructions, it was furthermore stated that the weapons factory did not give any warranty on the FN-engine, but instead took full responsibility for the velocipide itself. In the last season, the original power source from the FN was increased to the tune of 2 3/4 horsepower.

There are no sales figures available from this era. But, the “Motorvelociped” had dual purposes being both used for transportation as well as for racing. A year after – in 1907 – Husqvarna made a test using a NSU engine, which gave an output of 3 1/4 HP, but the German-made power was only used for two years. However, as of 1907, a magneto was standard on all power sources handled onwards in Huskvarna. Still, a generator for the battery lay a long way ahead in time.

From 1908 the first manufacturing figures are known to the public. The weapons factory churned out and sold 14 units of its product. At the same time the Swedes initiated a co-operation with Motosacoche in Switzerland. This company was based in Geneva, but also had a factory with 300 employees in Genova, Italy, where both engines and motorcycles were manufactured. The Motosacoche power sources were then sold to more than a dozen different two-wheel producers all over Europe. The Swedish collaboration with the Swiss lasted for almost four years. In the following year, Husqvarna took a giant step towards making a two-wheeler that looked like a motorcycle. Using the single-cylinder Motosacoche No 58 they made a nice looking machine that had an aura of the weapons factory. All in all, 23 units were sold during 1909. The sales doubled in the coming year when a new collaboration was introduced. This time, it was again a Swiss company, by the name of Moto-Rève – the Motorcycle Dream. The power source of the model 65 had a capacity of 298cc and a performance of 2 HP, but the main feature of the 1910 model was the configuration of this engine – a dual – cylinder v-twin.

In their initial eight years – 1903-1910 – Husqvarna had made a giant step in engineering, but only sold approximately one hundred units. Soon enough the market would be attracted by the new models from the next pioneering Husqvarna era – 1911 to 1920.

Comments are closed.