The premium, entry-level motorcycle segment in India was kickstarted by the Kawasaki Ninja 250R in 2008. However, the premium price tag and few touchpoints prevented the Japanese model from being an explosive success. Honda 2Wheelers India saw an opportunity in this and introduced a single-cylinder quarter-litre motorcycle, the CBR250R.
Fast forward to circa 2020 and the 250-300 cc segment has seen several ups and downs in India. Kawasaki now retails the locally assembled Ninja 300 and the Ninja 400 in India. Honda, however, continues with the CBR250R and a neo-retro café racer styled CB300R.
The market though was completely jolted with the entry of the KTM range of motorcycles. Manufactured locally, these performance-oriented machines quickly managed to garner eyeballs. While the range included just the 200 Duke and 390 Duke initially, the 250 cc category was revived with the 250 Duke later, and that was a masterstroke. This motorcycle brought in the mix of performance and features accessible to the masses.
Now, customers have two more options in the 250 cc segment. Enter, the Husqvarna Vitpilen 250 and Husqvarna Svartpilen 250.
It all began when Stefan Pierer owned Pierer Industrie bought Husqvarna from the BMW Group in January 2013 for an undisclosed amount. The BMW Group had earlier acquired Husqvarna from MV Agusta for a reported EUR 93 million.
This opened a possibility of an affordable Husqvarna motorcycle made in India at Bajaj-KTM’s Chakan plant. The unveiling of 390 Duke-based concepts Vitpilen 401 and Svartpilen 401 in November 2014 (at Milan, EICMA) added more hopes to this.
After an agonising wait spanning over half a decade, the KTM-Bajaj duo was expected to confirm their India plans for Husqvarna at India Bike Week 2020. However, the alliance sprung us with a surprise with the twins – Husqvarna Vitpilen 250 and Husqvarna Svartpilen 250.
Design and dimensions
If you just look at them once, it is fairly easy to confuse the quarter-litres with the bigger 401s. However, the company decided to keep the alloy wheels standard in both the 250 cc models. In comparison, the Svartpilen 401 bears spoke wheels, making it the single biggest differentiating point from the Vitpilen. This does come as a surprise as the Svartpilen range is positioned as a mild off-road biased vehicle. While the Vitpilen 250 has 5-spoke alloy wheels, the Svartpilen 250 has different, 8-spoke units.
The Husqvarna Vitpilen 250 is fitted with clip-on style handlebars which have been positioned slightly lower than the rod-styled handlebar in the Husqvarna Svartpilen 250. The latter has its handlebar positioned placed higher leading to a more upright riding posture. Besides that, the Svartpilen 250 has been given a darker shade of colour.
Keeping things accessible, Husqvarna has shod both the bikes with MRF tyres. The Vitpilen 250 gets road-biased set of rubber, while the Svartpilen 250 gets knobby set of wheels.
Both the motorcycles are fitted with a 9.5-litre fuel tank and have a ground clearance of 145 mm. Also, the seat height of the Husqvarna 250 twins is the same, registering 835 mm. The suspension duties are taken care of by upside-down fork sourced from KTM’s subsidiary WP Suspensions. Both the ends offer 142 mm of wheel travel.
At the rear, the setup includes a monoshock with adjustable preload. However, it is not clear if the two motorcycles have been tuned differently. In theory, the road-biased Vitpilen 250 should have a stiffer suspension setup, while the Svartpilen 250 should be able to take in the bumps while doing off-roading.
The Husqvarna Vitpilen 250 is slightly lighter than the Husqvarna Svartpilen 250 with a kerb weight of 152 kg. in comparison, the latter tips the scales at 153 kg. The braking setup, too, is the same - a 320 mm disc at the front and a 230 mm disc at the rear, supported by a dual-channel ABS.
The Husqvarna Vitpilen 250 and Husqvarna Svartpilen 250 share a 248.8 cc single-cylinder, liquid-cooled mill. This is the same powertrain which does duty in the KTM 250 Duke. However, this engine traces its origins to the 373 cc mill from the KTM 390 Duke and is a re-sleeved unit. The engine has a bore and stroke of 72 mm and 61.1 mm respectively.
Interestingly, both the 250 cc motorcycles are in the same exact tune which saves KTM-Bajaj from engineering costs. This fuel-injected engine produces 30 PS of maximum power at 9,000 rpm. The torque output of 24 Nm peaks at 7,500 rpm. The gearbox is a six-speed unit, and both the Husqvarna Vitpilen 250 and Husqvarna Svartpilen 250 have a slip and assist clutch.
The engine is BS-VI compliant and hence meets the newer and stricter emission norms. It is one of the most practical engine options in KTM-Bajaj’s line-up and that’s what makes the engine fun to ride, both as a daily driver or as an occasional highway tourer.
Now here comes the most exciting part. Both the Husqvarna Vitpilen 250 and Husqvarna Svartpilen 250 are priced the same - INR 1.80 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). However, this price is applicable for an introductory period and will be increased at a later date.
Keeping the price tag same for the two motorcycles is a similar strategy used by KTM for Husqvarna models in Europe. In the UK, both the Vitpilen 401 and Svartpilen 401 are priced at GBP 4,799 (INR 4.51 lakh). However, that’s not the case with the Vitpilen 701 and Svartpilen 701. The bigger duo are priced at GBP 8,899 (INR 8.36 lakh) and GBP 9,349 (INR 8.78 lakh) respectively.
The Husqvarna Vitpilen 250 and Husqvarna Svartpilen 250 are sold via KTM dealerships in India. Initially, (early March 2020) they will be retailed via 100 such dealerships across. KTM-Bajaj will be increasing the number of touchpoints to 400 dealers in 275 cities.
Which brings to the single biggest question. Husqvarna Vitpilen 250 or Husqvarna Svartpilen 250, which one to buy? Well, you won’t go wrong with either of these, but a lot depends on how you want your ride to be. The Husqvarna Vitpilen 250 is positioned as a café racer with a low slung riding position. In comparison, the Husqvarna Svartpilen 250 is slated as a scrambler which can occasionally be used off the tarmac.