Husqvarna VITPILEN 701 – Interview with the Designers

The VITPILEN 701 is Husqvarna’s new street bike concept.

It marks their return to street motorcycling and is the next step towards Husqvarna Motorcycles’ future vision; a sophisticated single-cylinder 4-stroke bike, housed within a minimalistic yet high-tech layout.

The VITPILEN 701’s designers believed strongly that something fresh was long overdue in the motorcycling world, so they set out to create a bike that is free of any gimmicks, gadgets, fairings or over-the-top-styling. A throaty single-cylinder motor and a neutral riding position signal that everything a rider need for a raw, authentic and thrilling riding experience.

Here is Q&A with Maxime Thouvenin, designer of the VITPILEN 701 and Craig Dent, Creative Lead Transportation Design about the Concept Vitpilen 701 (extracted from Husqvarna Media Kit @ EICMA 2015):

Yellow central line

HQV_701_VITPILEN_EXPLOTION_VIEWWhat is the distinct yellow line down the middle?


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.

Light vs Dark

Is there a reason for the distinct contrast between the light front and dark rear?


The dark part is the main underlying structure of the bike. The light area is where the rider interacts with and controls the bike.


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.



Who is this bike built for?


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. 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.

Differences between VITPILEN 701 and 401

How is it different from the VITPILEN 401?


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.


Is there any non-motorcycle inspiration behind the bike’s design?


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.


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.

Favorite features

As the designer of this bike, what are you most proud of on it?


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.


I’m proud of the fact that we see so much machine, yet overall the bike still appears so dynamic and emotional.

Rider’s perspective

What does this bike reflect of you as a rider?


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.


Honestly? I’d say that finally there’s a modern street bike that I would actually like to buy.


Cafe-racer or not

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?


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.

On carbon monocoque

What is the rear section made from?


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 on Swedish roots

How are the Swedish roots reflected in this bike?


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.


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.

Co-founder of Bikes Republic and a motoring journalist by night. He is a self described enthusiasts with a passion for speed but instead rides a Harley and a J300. A man of contradictions, he is just as passionate about time off in the quiets as he is about trail braking into turn one at Sepang Circuit on two or four wheels.

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