Photographs by Kaizad Adil Darukhanawala
The wave of retro motorcycles has been around for a while now, and by the looks of it, I don’t think it is going to recede anytime soon. Husqvarna is the newest brand to hit our shores and has brought along the Vitpilen 250. It’s a café racer, but unlike all things retro, this one offers a different experience. The Vitpilen has its underpinnings borrowed from KTM’s 250 Duke, a modern street bike that’s quick and agile, and ample amounts of fun. With compact dimensions along with modern cycle parts, there’s so much more that one can do on the Vitpilen 250 with only few limitations to be concerned about.
Is it a looker?
Absolutely. I mean, just look at it. For starters, it looks flawless in terms of design execution. There is only enough plastic present on the motorcycle that’s required while everything else has been left exposed. The black split-trellis frame, and engine covers that are finished in faux magnesium, together look utterly gorgeous. The round headlamp is full-LED that looks and functions really well, casting a wide spread with good intensity. Besides that, the stepped seat, matte/gloss paint scheme, slim five-spoke alloys and a generous sprinkling of the Husqvarna logo at several places ensures the Vitpilen exudes a premium appeal.
What’s great about it?
Let’s begin with the motor. The Vitpilen shares its engine with the 250 Duke. The motor has been directly lifted from the street bike and dropped in without any alterations or tweaks. Notably, in the Vitpilen, the motor feels a little more eager and quicker at building speed. The reason for that is the lesser kerb weight of the bike standing at 166 kg, 4.6 kg lesser than the KTM. What that translates to is a better power-to-weight ratio which leads to better acceleration. That along with a high-revving motor, there isn’t much more to ask for. Dump the clutch, and the front end lifts up like no one’s business, making sure you have a quick launch off the line as many times as you desire.
Then there’s the handling. In contrast to café racers being big-engined motorcycles that are stripped down in pursuit of chasing speed, the Vitpilen has compact dimensions and light weight which makes it a lot more communicative and agile. The knee recesses on the tank are good to grip, while the rear-set footpegs and low two-piece handlebars provide a low-slung stance that requires a certain level of commitment which is manageable. The suspension, though set slightly on the stiffer side compared to the 250 Duke, is ideal for what is expected from a café racer. From sweeping corners to twisting the throttle on open stretches, I was able to stick to my lines with ease, while undulations were absorbed without unsettling the motorcycle. All of these elements, along with the chassis, give the Vitpilen a handling package that can keep up with the heady power delivery. This will be as much fun on a racetrack as it will be in the twisties.
Special mention must be made of the MRF Revz tyres which grip with confidence and really allow you to push the Vitpilen as hard as you can dare. The 320-mm disc up front is sharp and feels progressive at the lever. Even under hard braking, the front tyre doesn’t lock up easily and when it does, ABS has got your back to let you squeeze the lever further without any hesitation. Meanwhile, the 230-mm disc at the rear has switchable ABS (supermoto mode), allowing you to kick the tail out when in the mood for some fun. The entire setup of the Vitpilen does a fantastic job of coping with the high speeds the bike is capable of.
What’s not so great about it?
Since it’s a café racer, let’s talk about the riding triangle. I am 5’6” and with the bike’s saddle height set at 842 mm, I wasn’t able to get a firm footing on the ground. Café racers are usually supposed to have the rider sitting in the bike rather than on it, and it’s the latter with the Vitpilen. This makes it a bit of a task when reversing the bike out or riding through crawling traffic, though it should be better for taller riders. Next is the pillion seat which has turned out far from being comfortable, and the ’pegs are also higher off the ground, resulting in bending the knees more. Lastly, the round mirrors mounted on the handlebars are a major eyesore for the café racer look. I would’ve rather preferred bar-end mirrors.
And the last word is?
At Rs 1.84 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Vitpilen 250 is marketed with a lower price tag than the 250 Duke by a considerable margin which makes it a fantastic proposition. What you get is a retro-modern café racer equipped with premium cycle parts and performance that’ll keep you engaged for a long time. Also, if you look at it as a motorcycle that will introduce you to a world of performance-oriented motorcycles, new riding skills to develop and not to forget the beautifully sculpted bodywork, it’s a deal that’s totally worth considering.
Husqvarna Vitpilen 250
Displacement: 248.8cc, single
Max power: 29.2 bhp@9000 rpm
Max torque: 2.44 kgm@7500 rpm
Type: Split Steel Trellis
(F/R): 43mm inverted forks / Monoshock
(F/R): 320 mm single disc / 230 mm single disc
(F/R): 110/70 R17 / 150/60 R17
L/W/H (mm): NA
Wheelbase: 1357 mm
Ground clearance: 149 mm
Seat height: 842 mm
Kerb weight: 166 kg
Fuel capacity: 9.5 litres
PRICE: Rs 1.84 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)