Historic Motorcycle Brands
The Husqvarna brand was founded more than 300 year ago, near the town of Huskvarna in Sweden, in 1689. As a subsidiary of the Husqvarna armament firm, it began manufacturing motorcycles in 1903, making it the longest-lasting, continuously-produced motorcycle brand in history.
Today, after successive ownership by Cagiva (1987) and BMW (2009), Husqvarna Motorcycles GmbH is owned by KTM. The company’s armament-making history is reflected In the logo, which is a distorted drawing of an end-on musket barrel and sights.
1910 Husqvarna Moto-Reve – Simiprof
As with many motorcycle manufacturers, Husqvarna first began producing bicycles in the late 19th century and made the jump to motorcycle manufacturing. The first Husky motorcycles used imported engines and it was not until 1918 that Husqvarna began producing machines built entirely in-house.
Around that time the company secured a contract with the Swedish Army and also began entering cross-country and long-distance motorcycle races.
Husqvarna Moto-Reve – Lars-Goran Lindgren
The first Husqvarna engine was a 550cc, four-stroke, 50-degree V-twin, side-valve engine, similar to those made by Harley-Davidson and Indian.
Husqvarna competed in Grand Prix road racing in the 350cc and 500cc classes during the 1930s, with engines based on the 50-degree V-twin prototype built by Folke Mannerstedt in 1931.
The company team beat the Norton works team at the Swedish GP in 1931 with a one-two finish by Ragnar Sundqvist and Gunnar Kalén. This and the next year’s success led to a full commitment to the GP tracks with Stanley Woods and Ernie Nott joining the Husqvarna racing team. That year, Nott finished third in the 350cc Junior TT and Woods ran out of petrol eight miles before the finish of the Senior TT.
Rune Nylander Husqvarna 250cc
In 1935, the company withdrew racing support, but new bikes were still produced and raced privately, while the company focused on producing a new two-stroke, two-speed commuter bike.That year, Woods won the Swedish GP – the fourth year in a row that a Husky had won – on a 500cc Husqvarna motorcycle that weighted only127 kilograms.
With the rise of motocross as a sport Husqvarna focused on producing lightweight, off-road racing bikes. They adapted their lightweight single cylinder bike to racing and delivered the Silverpilen (silver arrow in Swedish).
Weighing in at only 75kg and purpose-designed for racing, it gained widespread popularity. Sporting many innovations, including telescopic front forks and hydraulically-damped suspension it became an international success.
The 1959 motocross championship went to Rolf Tibblin and his 250cc Husqvarna.The 1960 world 500cc motocross championship was won by Bill Nilsson on a four-stroke Husqvarna.
In the 1960s, Husky lightweight, two-stroke-engined, off-road bikes helped make the once-dominant British four-stroke motorcycles obsolete.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Husqvarna was a dominant force in the motocross world, winning 14 motocross world championships in the 125cc, 250cc and 500cc divisions; 24 enduro world championships and 11 Baja 1000 victories.
1983 saw Husqvarna innovate again with the introduction of a 500cc bike that set new standards for competition four-strokes. It was lightweight, air-cooled, easy-handling and changed the future of off-road racing motorcycles. It was the predecessor of the Husaberg brand.
In 1987, the Husqvarna motorcycle division was sold to Italian motorcycle manufacturer Cagiva and years later became part of MV Agusta. A group of the company’s managers and engineers were not willing to move to Italy and therefore founded Husaberg – which was acquired by KTM in 1995. Husqvarna motorcycles were then produced in Varese, Italy.
In July 2007, Husqvarna motorcycles was purchased by BMW Motorrad for a reported €93 million, but in January 2013 BMW announced that Pierer Industrie had bought Husqvarna for an undisclosed amount. Pierer Industrie CEO, Stefan Pierer, was also the CEO of Cross Industries, then the main shareholder of KTM-Sportmotorcycle’s parent KTM and the CEO of KTM.
2010 Husqvarna E1 at the WEC GP of Turkey – Antoine Meo
Later in 2013, direct ownership of the Husqvarna company was transferred and license rights were sold from Pierer Industrie to KTM, making the newly established Husqvarna Motorcycle GmbH part of the KTM Group.
Husqvarna motorcycle production at Mattighofen in Austria started in October 2013. At the same time, Husqvarna spin-off Husaberg was re-united with Husqvarna.
In 2014, the company presented prototypes of the newly developed 401 Vitpilen and 401 Svartpilen at the EICMA in Milan. Together with the 701 Vitpilen, which was first revealed in 2015, these motorcycles became publicly available in 2018.
In 2017, Husqvarna Motorcycles introduced a new range of enduro motorcycles with a self-developed two-stroke fuel injection system (Transfer Port Injection – TPI). The new fuel-efficient, sensor-controlled technology complied with the Euro 4 regulations for emission management.
2017 Husqvarna TE-300