Swedish bikemaker Husqvarna has revealed the VITPILEN 701 concept roadster at this week’s EICMA bike show.
The new street bike concept marks the brand’s return to street motorcycling and is the next step towards the company’s future vision under the ownership of KTM.
Powered by a single-cylinder 4-stroke engine borrowed from the new KTM 690 Duke, the minimalistic-looking bike gets a dose of extra power and torque compared to the VITPILEN 401 concept that was revealed this time last year in Milan.
Husqvarna says the 701 is “more of a serious rider’s bike” than the 401.
We sat down with designers Maxime Thouvenin and Craig Dent to find out more about the new bike’s design:
Question: What is the distinct yellow line down the middle?
Maxime: During the design process we called it ‘the split’. It is a single connection between front and rear. We pushed for the simplest architecture, and the split was the most straight-forward way to merge the front with the rear of the bike. Visible from the side, the yellow line runs from the front of the seat to the centre of the silencer – it is one flat aluminium plain, that the rear section bolts onto.
Question: Is there a reason for the distinct contrast between the light front and dark rear?
Maxime: The dark part is the main underlying structure of the bike. The light area is where the rider interacts with and controls the bike.
Craig: Riding is an emotional experience that happens on a machine – the bike. The dark rear lower section houses the raw machine. The light top by contrast is the point of contact between bike and rider.
Question: Who is this bike built for?
Craig: It’s for a modern rider. This is a real street bike for ‘new-school’ and free thinking riders who want more from their riding experience.
Question: Real street you say?
Craig: Yes indeed. But fresh and clearly different from any street bike there has ever been. Its nakedness and simplicity appeals to the timeless enjoyment of riding a motorcycle, but in a very modern and technically advanced package.
Question: How is it different from the VITPILEN 401?
Craig: The VITPILEN concept is of a compact, simple, pure and raw riding experience. While the 401 is a compact and cheeky little urban-styled charger, the VITPILEN 701 is more of a serious rider’s bike. The VITPILEN 701 adds serious power and torque to the mix, but where the 401 is simple in form, the VITPILEN 701 takes it even further and is simpler in both form and function.
Question: Is there any non-motorcycle inspiration behind the bike’s design?
Craig: Yes, for sure. Over recent years consumer products have evolved really far. The trend has been towards simplicity, practicality and ease of use, without compromising any of the aesthetic appeal. This trend has been slow in arriving on the motorcycle scene unfortunately. We feel that this new bike will finally translate a very overdue and necessary trend into the motorcycle world.
Maxime: The design world is moving at lightning speed. We looked to fields at the pinnacle of performance. Beyond formula one, we drew cues from the aerospace industry’s simplicity, precision of construction and use of ultra-lightweight materials. Even performance footwear design is phenomenally advanced and gave us some inspiration and new angles. The efficiency of modern architecture and even advances in computer modelling and construction processes have opened up new possibilities in all fields of design.
Question: As the designer of this bike, what are you most proud of on it?
Maxime: Well ‘the split’ down the middle really excites me. Seeing how well it has worked. The practicality, transparency and honesty of the design. Very little of the bike is hidden in any way.
Craig: I’m proud of the fact that we see so much machine, yet overall the bike still appears so dynamic and emotional.
Question: What does this bike reflect of you as a rider?
Maxime: I like a bike to be fun to ride. It must be ride able and enticing to climb on. But also, it needs to be aesthetically exciting. It must still be an attractive object. I think this bike reflects that.
Craig: Honestly? I’d say that finally there’s a modern street bike that I would actually like to buy.
Question: Is it an issue that this bike could get painted into the same corner as the recent fad or ‘fashion’ of production bikes styled as retro-rehashes and café racers?
Craig: Is it an issue? No. Will some people want to call it a café racer? Sure they might. That could be the easiest thing for them to do. But there’s nothing old or revamped about this bike. It is 100% progressive and modern. It is bold and brave and doesn’t need to belong to any club. The simplicity it represents for a pure motorcycle riding experience is timeless, but other than that this is no dressed up classic bike. It is very innovative, modern and even though you can customise it if you want to, it doesn’t need any tinkering or fabrication to make it special.
Question: What is the rear section made from?
Maxime: It is a one-piece carbon composite on this prototype. Very strong, very light. Just one section makes up the rear end of the bike – integrating the subframe and airbox as well as the base for the seat.
Question: How are the Swedish roots reflected in this bike?
Maxime: The bike has the same Scandinavian simplicity evident in modern Swedish architecture and industrial design. Meticulous attention to detail in a design that is subtle, logical and functional.
Craig: Very focused and practical in approach, this bike managed to avoid having the design idea and engineering concept compete with each other – as is often the case – but instead it all works together harmoniously.