Husqvarna Motorcycles is diving back into the on-road segment in 2016 with two new large displacement single-cylinder models, the 701 Supermoto and 701 Enduro. While these two bikes are new additions to the Husqvarna lineup they are not altogether new designs. The 701 Supermoto and 701 Enduro share platforms not only with each other, but also with the KTM 690 SMC (not sold in the US) and the KTM 690 Enduro. There are key differences like bodywork and the Husqvarna’s use of a trick polyamide rear subframe with an integrated fuel tank, much like the KTM 690’s, but the Husqvarna holds a bit more fuel. The Husqvarna 701 Enduro also has more wheel travel than the KTM 690 Enduro. The Husqvarna models use a very different seat as well, which wraps around and down the sides of the shroud, providing plenty of room to move around comfortably on the bike.
The trick looking trellis steel frame weighs only 18.5 pounds and is produced by WP Performance Systems. The laser cut components are robot welded and hydro-formed for maximum precision and consistent quality. Both the Supermoto and Enduro use WP suspension, but in slightly different configurations. The Supermoto uses an open bath style separate-function fork with the right leg dedicated to rebound damping and the left to compression. The fork utilizes 8.4 inches of travel while the shock has 8.8 inches of travel. The 701 Enduro uses the WP 4CS fork with 10.8 inches of travel while out back the shock features 10.8 inches of travel.
The Bosch ABS braking system is mated to Brembo components. The Enduro uses a twin-piston caliper on a 300mm floated wave disc up front and a 240mm wave disc in the rear. The Supermoto uses a radially mounted four-piston Brembo caliper and a 320mm floating disc at the front with a single-piston caliper and 240mm floating disc at the rear. Supermoto and off-road braking modes are available through an optional dongle, allowing the front brake to retain ABS while letting the rear brake lock up when needed. There is also a setting for turning off the ABS completely.
The 701 Supermoto rolls on 17-inch wire-spoke wheels and comes with tubeless Continental ContiAttack supermoto tires. The 701 Enduro uses a very dirt worthy 21-inch front wheel and an 18-inch rear wheel, wrapped in Continental TKC 80 tires.
Day One On The Asphalt
As a dedicated dirt bike guy I’ve had some fun experiences with various sized supermoto machines, especially when the sport was at its peak here in the States, but that was only on closed course racetracks. After a full day of carving up and over mountains, buzzing across valleys and checking out small towns I fully understand what the 701 Supermoto is all about. Fun, plain and simple. It loves tight curvy roads and begs to be ridden aggressively. It isn’t a highway cruiser, although it can do it, but there are a ton of bikes that are built to go down the road in a straight line much more comfortably. The 701 Husqvarna Supermoto is a bike that likes to avoid the straight and boring, the more curves the better!
Without an abundance of street riding background, it took me a little while to get comfortable with the incredible traction offered by the supermoto tires. After 20 miles of carving corners I started to embrace the abundance of traction, the strong brakes and the dirt bike-like upright sitting position. Under regular carving I never felt the tires were in danger of breaking traction and had I had the ability, could have leaned further and gone faster. With some supermoto in my background I loved the slipper clutch when riding the 701 Supermoto in a supermoto style, entering corners at speed, downshifting and letting the backend step out. There was never any rear wheel chatter, allowing a consistent slide of the rear wheel. The 701 power is incredibly linear with plenty on tap. Accelerating through corners is easy and smooth without any surprising power bursts that would cause the rear to break loose without warning. Both the Supermoto and Enduro were outfitted with the optional dongle for the braking system, allowing the front to retain ABS and the rear brake ABS to be turned off. The optional dongle also allows all ABS to be turned off completely. I left the ABS on for the front and off for the rear on both bikes.
There is a little bit of vibration from the 701, but it’s not at an unpleasant level. Cruising down the highway it was smooth and as much as I wanted to be bothered by the vibration, there just wasn’t enough to worry about it. The seating position is very comfortable and the rubber mounted handlebars offer up a lot of cushion while reducing vibration to the hands.
Getting Dirty Day Two
Wheels, tires, gearing and suspension are the main difference between the 701 Enduro and the 701 Supermoto. The Enduro uses WP 4CS forks up front with more travel when compared to the Supermoto and the WP shock out back has slightly more travel than the WP shock on the Supermoto. Aiding the dirt worthiness, the Enduro uses a 21” front wheel and an 18” rear with Continental TKC 80 tires.
The second day of our time with the 701 was aboard the Enduro model. We split our dirt and street time in favor of sliding and roosting in dirt, getting the full off-road experience of what the Enduro can handle. For a 320-pound dirt bike the 701 Enduro works quite well. The Continental TKC 80 tires come standard and the well-proven tread offers up plenty of traction, only suffering in the deep sand. With the optional dongle installed I left the ABS turned on for the front wheel and off for the back wheel, allowing me to skid and change direction easily in the dirt. With a bike of this size using the rear wheel to help initiate turns is key. You don’t just lean a big bike over in turns like you do a normal dirt bike. I like the ABS in the front and played around with seeing just how fast I could bring the 701 to a stop. It is a feature that is critical for beginner or inexperienced dirt riders and an added bonus for good riders. It really helps keep the front end from washing out in a panic situation.
Just like on the street, the smooth power delivery helps keep the 701 Enduro in line and under control. But riders must respect the throttle, as the 701 has a lot of power on tap that can surprise you if you get heavy handed and aren’t ready. The 701 doesn’t have traction control, that duty falls on you and wheelies are an easily answered request.
The WP suspension (4CS fork) does a good job of soaking up bumps, rocks and big hits. Smashing down rocky roads and through rain ruts it’s surprisingly stable and the added weight of a bike this size reduces deflection. The overall balance is comfortable for a wide range of riders, both in size and skill level. With the gas tank at the rear of the bike, the overall feel is fairly thin when standing and makes it easy to slide forward when seated.
On the asphalt sections between dirt fun the 701 Enduro felt smooth and stable. Overall, as a dirt-based rider, I preferred humming down the highway at 75 mph more on the 701 Enduro than I did on the 701 Supermoto, thanks to the extra cushion of the knobs on the TKC 80s. The Supermoto has a slightly faster top speed but both bikes easily pulled up to the 100 mph mark.
The 701 Enduro has huge potential as an adventure bike. Add a small windscreen, more fuel and find some technical trail, the 701 will allow riders to conquer much more gnarly terrain than a full sized KTM or BMW adventure bike. It won’t be nearly as comfortable on the asphalt, but for those looking for some serious off-road performance out of a bigger bike, this is it.
After two full days aboard the new 701 Husqvarnas I know there will be a lot of happy owners in the near future. The fun factor of the Supermoto is off the charts and the Enduro has huge potential to slip into the adventure market for riders that desire a machine that can take them where big bikes can’t dream of going.