Based on the same chassis and engine as the KTM 250 Duke, the Husqvarna Vitpilen promises to deliver exhilarating performance and remarkable agility. But it isn’t all smooth sailing for the café racer.
The Husqvarna Vitpilen 250 is based on the same engine and underpinnings as the KTM 250 Duke. It almost shares all of its parts with the Svartpilen 250, barring the handlebar, tyres, and a few others. Is it just the Duke with fancier clothing then, or is there more to it than meets the eye? Just how much difference does a change in riding position make to the overall ride experience? We took it for a spin to find the answers.
Straight off the bat, let me tell you that both Husqvarnas look nothing like any other motorcycles on sale in the Indian market, which really works in their favour. Their clean and unconventional styling does turn a lot of heads on the road. Coming to the Vitpilen, it is a café racer-like offering, and I must say that the overall stance and posture is just spot on. It gets a low-set clip-on handlebar and rear-set footpegs, which give it an extremely aggressive squatted down stance, but more on that later. I just love the minimalistic and spotless design. It just gets two large panels for the body – one for the fuel tank, which extends as the side panel, and the other for the tail section, thanks to which there aren’t many panel gaps or joints on the body. Look closely, and you will be impressed by some of the design details, like the Husqvarna insignia on the seat, the bronze fuel cap, and the Vitpilen lettering on the handlebar, grips, and the alloy wheels. Speaking of which, the five-spoke alloy wheels are exclusive to this model. Other elements like the circular LED headlamp, digital instrument cluster, LED taillights, and rear tyre hugger are identical to their counterparts in the Svartpilen.
The Vitpilen is 2,010mm long, 782mm wide, and 1,031mm tall. Although its wheelbase is the same as the KTM 250 Duke it is based on, its overall size is considerably smaller. It is also noticeably smaller than the Svartpilen.
Engine and performance
The Husqvarna Vitpilen is based on the same motor as the KTM 250 Duke and makes exactly the same 29.2bhp and 24Nm as its Austrian sibling. Transmission duties, however, continue to be performed by a 6-speed transmission, which is aided by a slipper clutch.
Get the Vitpilen going, and you immediately realise that it isn’t a motorcycle that likes to take it easy. The Vitpilen, just like the Duke, feels quite jittery in its low range. Below the 4,000 – 4,500rpm mark, the response is rather sluggish, due to which it demands constant gearshifts in the city. But push beyond that, and it feels like a different animal altogether. There is a surge of power that really takes you by surprise, and it stays on offer right until it hits the redline. While this nature of the motor worked well in the Duke, and to a certain extent even in the Svartpilen, it feels a bit counterproductive in the Vitpilen, keeping in mind that it will primarily be ridden in urban settings. That, however, doesn’t take any points away from it, for the simple reason that its performance is remarkable. Keeping in mind that the Vitpilen is 4kg lighter than the 250 Duke, it should result in a marginally better 0 – 100km/h time.
Moving on to the gearbox, the 6-speed unit is precise in its shifts. A short first gear allows you to quickly shift up to second, but once you make the switch, the lack of low-end grunt is even more prominent. The sixth gear is rather tall, and you will only find yourself slotted in it while cruising on the highway.
Ride and handling
Aside from the same chassis and engine, the Vitpilen also shares its suspension components with the 250 Duke. The front-wheel sits on the same 43mm upside-down forks, and at the back, it gets a monoshock. The stiff suspension setup combined with its lightweight body makes the Vitpilen extremely nimble. Husqvarna has got the forward-leaning café racer stance spot on, which further aids its cornering capabilities, as you naturally end up putting more weight at the front. The MRF tyres that it comes shod with performed well during our ride, even during the heavy downpour – however, they don’t feel as grippy as the Metzelers.
The stiff suspension setup, of course, has a counter effect on the ride quality. Riding over the bad roads in Mumbai wasn’t a pleasant affair, to say the least. Every bit of unevenness of the road is easily transferred to the lower back. The Vitpilen’s aggressive riding posture doesn’t make the ride any smoother either. Spending long hours, even while commuting in the city, can leave you with a sore neck and back. Owing to its tight proportions, taller riders may also feel a bit cramped for room. Although Bajaj says that the pillion seat has been lengthened, it still isn’t long enough for proper comfort.
Like every other product to be launched from the Bajaj family, the Husqvarna Vitpilen too offers phenomenal value. At Rs 1.84 lakh, it is more than Rs 20,000 cheaper than the 250 Duke with which it shares its underpinnings. Its punchy motor and the nimble handling characteristics sweeten the deal further. On the downside, the Vitpilen’s riding position and ride quality do make it a bit difficult to live with and endorse, especially keeping in mind that you have the option of the more practical Svartpilen at a similar price. But if you are smitten by the Vitpilen’s café racer styling, that’s alright too – the course of true love never runs smoothly anyway.
- Husqvarna Vitpilen 250
Engine: 248.8cc / Single-cylinder / 4 valves / DOHC
Power: 29.2bhp @ 9,000rpm
Torque: 24Nm @ 7,500rpm
Price: ₹1.84 Lakh (Ex-Showroom)
X-factor: High on the cool quotient, the Vitpilen is quite a head-turner.
• Small pillion seat