Known partly for their famous connection to Steve McQueen (thanks in no small part to a legendary Sports Illustrated cover), Swedish motorcycle company Husqvarna has been called “the two-wheeled version of what Mini is to BMW’s car division” since being bought by the automotive giant in July of 2007.
Similar to the Mini, Husqvarna Motorcycles has a storied history involving iconic design and mass exposure through various pre-digital age media including extensive appearances in print, film and television.
Aiming to bring back that nostalgic spirit into today’s modern day and age, Husqvarna has developed some new market-testing concepts that have been met with an enthusiastic response thus far from the cycling community…and for good reason.
Unveiled at this year’s EICMA motorcycle show in Milan earlier this week, the two ‘401’ concepts were co-designed by industrial design firm Kiska and seamlessly blend the nostalgic dirt bike-feel of the Steve McQueen-era golden years with what you might expect to see in a modern sci-fi fable.
The two bikes…titled Vit Pilen (‘White Arrow’ in Swedish) and Svart Pilen (Black Arrow)…are inspired by the Silverpilen Motorcykel design from 1955 that was known for being lighter, smaller and faster than its competition. With this in mind, the new 401 designs weigh in at just 297 pounds, have an output of 43 HP and are powered by a 400cc water-cooled engine.
“The 401s are not recollections of the past. They’re about purity, simplicity of form, and economy of line,” Kiska’s senior designer Björn Shuster explains in an interview with Bike Exif. “Those are the fundamentals of the Husqvarna design language. It doesn’t matter if it was 60 years ago or now, the same mentality remains.”
The announcement of the new Husqvarna bikes comes on the heels of Ducati’s announcement of their much-anticipated sub-$10,000 USD Scrambler lineup in late September. Similarly-inspired by the Steve McQueen-era of dirtbikes, the iconic motorcycle brand has taken style cues from nearly a half-century ago and modernized the industrial design with LED lights, updated materials and subtle add-on features such as an underseat USB storage compartment for charging your iPhone on-the-go.
Supposedly…if the reaction to the 401 concepts are good, Husqvarna will put them into production alongside Ducati’s Scrambler lineup. Either way, let’s just assume that the roads are about to look a whole lot better.