Review: The 2018 Husqvarna Vitpilen 701

We’ve waited so long, and it’s finally here. It was over three years ago, in November 2014, when Husqvarna revealed the Vitpilen 401 concept at the huge EICMA show in Italy. It marked Husqvarna’s return to the street motorcycle segment, and the attention it received was massive.

The angular, fresh design helped: for many, it was a welcome respite from the endless focus on the retro scene. Then a year later, the bigger 701 concept was unveiled: another clean and modern design, built around the 690 Duke engine from sister company KTM.

Fortunately, the production Vitpilen 701 is very close to the concept, and the design is stunning in the metal. The tank is a piece of modern art, and so is the tail unit. It’s all very clean and sleek—very Swedish, pure and simple.

This is the DNA of the bike, and its vision too. It was not developed for a specific target group, and there is no stereotype that matches its philosophy. The Vitpilen 701 defines its own segment.

After three interminable years from concept to production, the Vitpilen 701 is now available at dealerships in many countries—along with its smaller siblings, the Vitpilen and Svartpilen 401s.

We’ve just ridden the 701 in Barcelona, Spain, and one thing became immediately clear: the riding performance is on the same level as the design. The new Husqvarna is a serious and ‘grown up’ motorcycle, and not just a style item.

It’s tempting to underestimate single cylinder bikes, but one shouldn’t. Especially not when the engine is the most powerful street single you can get nowadays. It’s derived from the KTM Duke 690 and delivers 75 hp at 8,500 rpm from 693 cc. It’s also worth noting the Vitpilen’s wet weight of only 166 kilograms, which is easy meat for this engine.

Given those figures and the KTM connection, it’s not surprising that the Vitpilen is fast and very agile. If you are pressing on hard, you’ll need the assistance of the traction control at the exit of the corner because your front wheel might pop up.

From 3,000 rpm onward, the bike answers ride-by-wire throttle inputs with a strong punch—thanks to the ample 72 Nm of torque at 6,750 rpm. Happy feelings guaranteed.

It’s a good setup and it’ll put a bright smile on your face. In Swedish Vitpilen means “white arrow” and the moniker fits well.

The acceleration is linear—and smoothed out by the twin-spark ignition and a second counter balancer shaft. Having said that, it is a little twitchy under 3,000 rpm. But remember this is a single, so you still want some good vibrations.

The urban playgrounds of Barcelona and the Catalonian backcountry are a good area to test performance, in both city traffic and on twisty roads. The chassis is quite firm, but it’s a dynamic and precise riding experience.

It’s super easy to bank the bike quickly from one side to the other, from curve to curve. The 43mm USD forks and monoshock—both from sister company WP Performance Systems—deliver exact feedback. You know exactly what’s going on, but the setup is also stable at speeds of up 160 kph (100 mph) on the highway.

Compression and rebound can be adjusted easily using the clickers on the top of the fork tubes, so you can adjust the suspension for more comfort in the city or a tauter ride on the back roads.

The mild angle of the clip-on bars offer an engaging riding position which suits the sporty character of the bike, improving the handling and agility—but they also make it a little tiring during longer rides.

On the technical front, the Vitpilen 701 comes with a quick shifter and auto-blipper, so you can easily shift through the 6-speed ‘box without using the clutch. It works well, especially at higher RPMs. There’s also an APTC™ slipper clutch, which stops rear wheel hop when braking hard into a turn during fast downshifting.

The Brembo brakes are up to the job, although there is only one floating 320mm disk with four-piston calipers in the front and a 240 mm rotor at the rear. We wouldn’t describe the braking as super-sharp, but it’s predictable. Advanced riders can switch off the Bosch ABS if they wish.

For a single, the sound through the standard exhaust system is pretty good, especially if you’re accelerating at full throttle. If it’s not loud enough for you, you can improve it with a stunning titanium/carbon muffler from Akrapovič—which adds to the looks of the bike and doesn’t require a remap.

The seating position is comfortable and feels ‘just right’—even though it’s higher than you’d expect at 830mm. Everything else is where it needs to be, and gives you a good feeling of control.

The headlight is well made and looks very sharp, but the dashboard could have been finished a little better. It’s also not always easy to read the key information fast.

Riding with a passenger shouldn’t be a problem, at least not for short distances. The fuel tank holds 12 liters (3.2 gallons) of petrol, and consumption lies somewhere between four and five liters per 100 kilometers.

Depending on your riding style, the effective range should be around 250 to 300 km (150 to 190 miles).

To sum up: the Vitpilen 701 is a fun and easy bike to ride. It’s not cheap, but it’s not expensive either. For US$11,999 (or £8,899 or €10,195) you can get one of the most desirable and stylish motorcycles on the market.

It’s a progressive design that fits the modern zeitgeist, with state-of-the-art componentry and engineering—and a dynamic riding experience. Well done Husqvarna. Your white arrow has hit the bullseye.

Road test by Christoph Blumberg of CRAFTRAD | Husqvarna | Facebook | Instagram

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Author: Craftrad

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BAAK Motocyclettes BMW R nineT Scrambler Prototype

BAAK Motocyclettes BMW R nineT Scrambler Prototype

The BMW R nineT

The BMW R nineT was developed by the German marque as a modern version of the now iconic R90 – the identically pronounced (but far simpler to type) name given their top of the line model originally released in 1973 and sold through till ’76.

BMW developed the R nineT as a base platform for customization, not dissimilar to the Sportster from Harley-Davidson, the Bonneville from Triumph, or the Scrambler from Ducati. The current trend toward heritage motorcycles that embrace some of the simplicity and classic design language of their forebears shows no signs of slowing down or losing momentum.

With its 1200cc horizontally opposed twin, 6-speed transmission, dry clutch, shaft drive, upside-down forks and monoshock rear – the R nineT rides as well or better than any modern motorcycle and with ~110 bhp and a top speed of 135 mph – it’s highly unlikely that even the most capable riders will ever manage to tire of it.

The BMW R nineT Scrambler

The Scrambler version of the R nineT was developed to evoke the spirit of the original scramblers, whilst keeping the practicality of a capable road-going motorcycle. A raised exhaust was fitted, along with a new 19-inch front wheel, fork gators, and an upright seating position. The 1170cc boxer twin produces 86 ft lbs of torque and over 100 bhp, that torque figure is ideal for off-road use where you typically travel at lower speeds and need immediate power at lower RPM.

BMW offer a range of parts and accessories for the R nineT Scrambler to add to both its looks and its ability, and an increasing number of aftermarket suppliers are developing their own performance parts to improve performance further still.

The BAAK Motocyclettes BMW R nineT Scrambler Prototype

The bike you see here was bought by the team at BAAK Motocyclettes specifically to prototype a series of new parts using the R nineT to ensure perfect fitment and function. The new parts started with sketches and brainstorming, followed by CAD design and 3D printing the prototypes to ensure the fit was perfect to the millimeter, then final manufacturing takes place.

For this build it was decided to develop a new seat, pannier bag, front and rear fenders, handlebars, fork gators, and exhaust. The two-part seat is made with natural double-tanned leather to match the leather pannier/saddlebag that comes with a removable bracket so it can be installed with no drilling or welding.

The higher-flow dual muffler exhaust bolts directly to the stock BMW exhaust manifold after the catalytic converter. The twin matching aluminum fenders have built-in brackets, and the rear fender has a built-in brake light and license plate mount.

The waterproof leather used on the fork gators is designed to be long-lasting and hard-wearing, and it gives the bike a unique look when compared to the more common black rubber units. In order to further improve performance the team at Baak added a Beringer handlebar control kit (clutch and brake master cylinders and levers), and to improve looks they installed small Motogadget turn indicators and a classic round aluminium mirror.

The completed bike looks like the perfect weekend adventure vehicle, and it’d work well as a weekly commuter too, particularly thanks to that pannier bag on the righthand side. If you’d like to see more from BAAK Motocyclettes you can click here to visit their website, or you can click here to see the full listing for their BMW R nineT parts.

The post BAAK Motocyclettes BMW R nineT Scrambler Prototype appeared first on Silodrome.

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Author: Ben Branch

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Custom Bikes Of The Week: 18 March, 2018

A sinister Yamaha XJR1300, a smokin’ hot RD350, a Honda CX500 with R6 suspension, and an 80s-style Hayabusa rocketship. It’s all about the grunt this week.

Yamaha RD350 by Jake Drummond Working from drawings that he’d penned about a year earlier, 24-year-old Jake Drummond wanted a custom that dipped toes in both the board tracker and mountain bike ponds. After two years of labor and learning on the fly, he’s done more than succeed with his Yamaha RD350.

Jake didn’t even know how to weld properly when things got underway, so instead of blasting towards a finish line, he took his time. Barely anything, aside from the engine cradle has been left stock. The subframe is an all-new unit, designed to work with the modified swingarm that holds the 21-inch rear hoop and provide a mount for the twin inboard shocks. The steering head has been completely re-worked, and the lines on that custom tank earn Jake near-Golden Arm status.

Up front a shortened YZ250F front end has been fitted, and the front cowl was designed to mirror the look of the two-stroke’s cooling fins. The seat is Jake’s first upholstery attempt, and he even fabricated the aluminum silencers. The package is unique and stunning, and given his age, we’re sure even better things are on the horizon. [More]

Yamaha XJR1300 by deBolex Engineering Last year I found myself on a ferry ride to the Isle of Man to take in the action of racing’s most amazing spectacle. And thanks to a friend, there was a Yamaha XJR1300 in the belly of that boat for me to flog around Snaefell during my stay. But as thankful as I am, my loaner sure as hell didn’t look anything like this stunner from deBolex Engineering.

This bike belongs to Gareth Roberts, the man behind the eagerly awaited upcoming moto documentary Oil in the Blood. And while the job started out as a mild refresh, it didn’t take long until a full redux was underway.

To dull the shine on the Yammie’s frame, everything was stripped out so that a matte finish could be applied. Then deBolex’s Des and Calum figured they’d Cerakote just about everything they could.

Blacked out and sinister, attention was now turned to the custom tail. The seat is a single piece of kit that sits on a new subframe structure. And you’ll notice the pillion can be padded or cowled, depending on which piece slides onto the metal racking.

On the performance end of things, the Marzocchi forks have been lifted from a MV Agusta Brutale and Öhlins Blackline shocks are mounted in the rear. An Akrapovič exhaust has been fitted up to custom headers, and the big inline-four breathes through a less restrictive set of K&N cones. [More]

Honda CX500 by Redwood Cycles Putting together your first custom build can be a tricky affair: just ask Chris Kent. Thanks to an ‘off’ and some disastrous electrical gremlins, he and the team at Redwood Cycles had to do everything twice. Persistence paid off though, because Obersten Regal (‘Top Shelf’) is one of the sweetest CX500 builds we’ve ever seen.

The transverse twin engine has had a complete rebuild—along with an overbore, and the accompanying new, right-sized internals. Mikuni carbs now feed the beast, breathing through a bronzed set of velocity stacks with integrated screening. The exhaust is a bespoke, slinking underbelly unit that exits through a set of 12-inch cones.

An R6 surrendered its front end in the name of handling and a Penske shock controls the rear. The Warp 9 wheels came hubbed courtesy of Cognito Moto and are flanked up front by a Gixxer’s petal rotors.

The rear subframe is long gone and in its place sits a flat tracker perch. A set of street tracker bars delivers control, and Motogadget were enlisted to tackle the electrics. Underground Art Studio shot the paint on this build and, set against the bronze and red accents, it looks absolutely killer. [More]

Moto Guzzi V7 by Lucky Custom When a brand spanking new V7 Stone landed on the bench at Argentina’s Lucky Custom garage, they knew a transformation from tourer to racer wouldn’t be easy. And yet they’ve pulled it off and delivered one hell of a looker.

The biggest changes to this ‘modern classic’ Guzzi V7 are the suspenders. For a firmer ride and more confidence through the sweepers, the forks are now fully adjustable units—and the monoshock setup out back is a completely new design. Of course, having that shock run right through the V7’s old airbox and battery tray meant relocating just about everything the Guzzi engineers tried to hide, as well as crafting a new subframe to support a rider.

With the stance sorted, the next change was made at the wheels. The hubs at both ends were reworked to accommodate a new lacing pattern and some fatter Bridgestones were spooned on.

The tank received some cosmetic tweaks to mimic the new front fairing, and the tail unit is a stunning slender hump that’s only bested by the new exhaust. And the good news is that Lucky Custom will be selling a limited run of these beasts. [More]

Suzuki Hayabusa by Frank Dirla It’s hard to believe we’ve been tolerating ‘Busa bros and their LED-lit, stretched-swingarm customs for two decades—but lo and behold, the Hayabusa is turning twenty. And while the peregrine falcon-inspired plastics never rocked my world, this retro-tastic reimagining has me feelin’ a touch squidly.

Modeled after a 1989 GSX-R1100, this restomod is a tight and tidy representation of what could have (nay, should have) been. Instead of bulbous bodywork, Frank Dirla worked some magic to deliver slab-sided, late eighties elegance to his once busted ‘Busa.

Starting with a stripped and beaten 2000 GSX1300R, Frank put the 175 hp mill on the bench for a rebuild, after a timing problem caused the engine to eat itself a few years back. Once it was running smooth and strong, he let his experience as a tuner on air-cooled first generation Gixxers take over.

On the chassis side, Frank hacked away at the subframe to so he could squeeze on some bodywork from three different eBay sourced Gixxers. The OEM tank underwent some massaging to match aesthetics and to enable fitment of the new/old plastics. As a restomod it totally rocks and I’m a fan of Frank’s sense of humour, too. It can be appreciated with his German phrasing throughout with the “Bremse” brakes, “Ohldrin” (oil in it) forks and Suzuki Advanced Comical System stickers. [More]

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Author: Matt Neundorf

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The Triumph TR7 Tigers of The Royal Signals Motorcycle Display Team

The Triumph TR7 Tigers of The Royal Signals Motorcycle Display Team

The Royal Signals Motorcycle Display Team is commonly known as the “White Helmets” due to their distinctive white motorcycle helmets, worn by all riders since 1963.

This collection of five customized  Triumph TR7 Tigers has been used by the stunt team since 1999, and they’re now for sale to the general public with estimated prices ranging from £5500 to £8000.

The Triumph TR7 Tiger

The Triumph TR7 Tiger and its sibling, the Triumph T140 Bonneville, were released in 1973 as upgrades over the Triumph TR6 and T120 Bonneville respectively.

The onslaught of less expensive Japanese motorcycles with oil-tight engines, electric starts, 5-speed gearboxes, and front disc brakes had eaten deeply into Triumph’s marketshare, and the marketshare of other British, Italian, and German motorcycle manufacturers.

Triumph developed the TR7 and T140 Bonneville to counter this Japanese insurgency, and while they weren’t particularly successful, the models were a notable performance improvement over their respective predecessors.

The parallel twin from the previous models was kept but bored out to 724cc initially, then to 744cc soon after. Both models now came from the factory with a 5-speed gearbox and front disc brake as standard, though the vertically-split crankcase still resulted in issues with oil leaks, and the lack of electric start was a big issue for many prospective purchasers – particularly when many of the new Japanese bikes offered them as standard.

The one thing the Triumphs did better than their competition from Asia was handling. Decades of racing experience resulted in an excellent frame, sharp steering, and good suspension – all by the standards of the era of course.

The Triumph Bonneville T140 and TR7 Tiger are now popular with classic motorcycle enthusiasts – they’re not as expensive or desirable as their siblings from the 1960s and 1950s – but they’re faster, they have better brakes, and they have that extra cog in the gearbox that makes highway journeys far more manageable.

The Triumph TR7 Tigers of The White Helmets

This series of 5 customized Triumph TR7 Tigers have been significantly modified by the White Helmets for use during their stunt display show that would travel around Britain each summer, thrilling crowds with high-speed human pyramids, jumps through rings of fire, motorcycle-based acrobatics, and much more.

All of the bikes keep their stock engine, gearbox, brakes, and front suspension – but the rear shock absorbers have been replaced on four of the five with steel struts to provide a more stable platform. The original fuel tanks have been covered with a distinctive red and black leather cover to provide a more grip, and most of the bikes also feature a rear subframe for carrying additional stuntmen.

Interestingly, the rear sprocket has been replaced with a far larger unit to provide better low speed control, and the original mufflers have been removed to give the bikes a more crowd-pleasing engine note.

All five are now for sale with Bonhams, they’re all going to be offered for sale as separate lots at the Spring Stafford Sale and if you’d like to read more about them you can click the following links to visit their listings: Triumph “25”, Triumph “28”, Triumph “23”, Triumph “27”, Triumph “8”.

Images courtesy of Bonhams

The post The Triumph TR7 Tigers of The Royal Signals Motorcycle Display Team appeared first on Silodrome.

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Author: Ben Branch

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Don’t Call it a Bitsa: Hello Engine’s Triumph 750 TT Tracker

Work on motorcycles long enough, and you’ll amass two things: a pile of leftover parts, and the wisdom to know which of those parts go best together. Hayden Roberts has hit that level, and this candy-coated vintage Triumph dirt tracker is the result.

Hayden restores and repairs vintage British machines under the moniker ‘Hello Engine.’ Originally from Birmingham, England, he escaped to the Californian coast in the early 2000s; “about 40 years too late,” he says.

“I quit my real job to start rescuing old British bikes a fair few years ago and currently work out of Ventura County, CA. I put this bike together an hour at a time between customer jobs over the past three months.”

So what is it, exactly? “The goal was to make a mid-60s TT bike,” Hayden explains, “something you’d see racing at Ascot. But with the late 750 five-speed, which was the best motor Triumph made.”

Hayden started with a 1965 Triumph competition frame, “because the head angle was steeper than the later bikes, and it had the best geometry for that kind of racing.”

As for the motor, he specifically wanted the torquey parallel port 750cc Bonneville power plant from the late 70s. “I stumbled across one of these motors on Craigslist,” he says, “while getting a sandwich in a town a couple hours north of us.”

The 750 came with a left side shifter, since Triumph switched their well-known right side shifter over to the left in 1975. “But all proper bikes shift on the right,” says Hayden.

“So, with a little machining and intermingling of earlier parts, I put the shifter back where belongs.”

He also lightened and balanced the crank, switched out the factory cams for a set of TT ones, and threw in a couple of higher compression pistons. Other upgrades include a battery-less CDI ignition and a set of Amal Mk2 carbs.

The exhaust ports have also been modified: they now accept clamp-on pipes, rather than the traditional push-in types that can come loose.

The actual exhaust system is a pair of TT pipes that Hayden had lying around the workshop. “Over the years I’d stockpiled a fair amount of spares and castaways. As any shop would tell you, old chrome piles high and is pretty much useless in any restoration project. So I used as much as I could in this build.”

Other salvaged parts include the 1966-model slimline gas tank, the oil tank, a set of folding competition pegs and a late 60s rear drum brake. The oil tank’s been modded with an outside filler, and the pegs fitted with replacement Bates rubbers.

The rims are shouldered Akronts from the 70s, laced up with stainless spokes from Buchanan’s. The front drum brake hub is from a 500, which Hayden points out is a fair bit lighter than the 650 unit. “Both drums have been turned and the shoes matched, so they actually stop,” he says.

The front’s held up by a set of Ceriani forks, re-valved and sprung to match the bike’s weight. A new set of NJB shocks do duty at the rear, with an authentically basic aluminum fender capping things off.

Up top are wide N.O.S. handlebars, a Tommaselli Daytona throttle, and new grips. A pair of Tommaselli headlight ears have been repurposed to hold a number board, rather than a headlight. The only lighting anywhere on the bike is a small Harley marker light, mounted on the left for use as a tail light.

“No turn signals are needed on pre-73 bikes in California,” explains Hayden. “Headlight? I’ve never found a headlight I like the look of on a street tracker so I don’t use one. Just don’t ride at night, I guess. It’s got a historical license plate so the law is a little open to interpretation.”

That Bates-style seat looks like another refurbished part, but it’s not. It mimics the Bates competition seats of the 60s, but it’s been designed to match the frame’s lines better, and is better padded than the original. Hayden uses the same seat on all his desert sled builds, using seat pans made for him by Evan at Iron Cobras.

The glitter vinyl it’s wrapped in probably won’t suit everyone’s tastes…but this is Hayden’s bike. “I’m just a fan of bright bikes,” he says, “and this was a good excuse to throw a bunch of metallic paint at something. From the 1970s Rolls Royce palette: peacock blue frame and regency bronze tank.”

We happen to like the combination—but even if you don’t, this is one sorted vintage racer. On top of the serious diet it’s been through, Hayden reckons it’s punching out about 20 percent more horsepower.

And almost all the work you see here was done in-house, including the motor rebuild, head work, wheel builds and paint. Even the heads on all the stainless steel fasteners have been turned down on a lathe to remove their manufacturer markings. “The only thing we didn’t do was polish the aluminum and paint the stripes on the top of the gas tank,” says Hayden.

You could technically call Hayden’s new sled a bitsa, but that’d be unfair. It’s a combination of Triumph’s greatest hits; a shimmering delight that makes us wish we were in California right now.

Hello Engine on Instagram | Images by Scott G Toepfer

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Author: Wesley Reyneke

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