On the ROY-G-BIV color spectrum, not everyone's in-your-face biker personalities and back-country riding pants compliment the KTM - O in that color rainbow. Honda has there hands on the remarkably red, Kawasaki on the grandeur shade of green, Yamaha’s bold blue, but KTM. Well, KTM must have thought violet wasn’t going to get them very far with the alpha male crowd. Looking at sales, it seems that the shade of KTM orange has become one of the most effective marking campaigns ever rolled out.
Had the KTM Enduro line flopped, well then, there might be a problem. The KTM, however, is a stunning bike designed in a buffet of options for every riders consumable pleasure. The bike is a well-aged merlot, beautifully grilled ribeye, and a slice of chocolate cheesecake with citrus orange drizzle accenting plate. All served up with seating for two. How has the decedent motorcycle-menu expanded from KTM to 701?
From one 3-letter company to another.
In 2013, after some interim parenting by BWM, KTM had officially acquired the rights to Husqvarna. Then, by October 7th of that year production began on a Husky line under the watchful KTM eye. With a few borrowed parts from the KTM line, like the 690 engine, and a color scheme of white, yellow and blue that stands out just as well as the big brother KTM in orange. The Husqvarna 701 Enduro came kicking and screaming into the motorcycle world.
To get an exhaustive opinion on the bikes weak and strong points, I wanted to find someone who'd run the bike through the wringer and reach out for their full feedback. I wanted to know just what the Husky could, or couldn’t do when tested in varying on and off-road elements. Could it have its ass kicked in the mud and still ride you home on the asphalt with no complaints?
Well, as one does while crossing the far-off nether regions of the world. I happened to have the holy experience of meeting Dirtbike Jesus and his beautiful companion Lea, at a border post in the Andes that divide stunning southern Chile and arid Argentina. There we were on various adventure bikes, along with some fifty or so South Koreans fresh off a tour bus in line for stamps ahead of us. This delay opened up some time to talk bikes.
Who is Dirtbike Jesus and why does his opinion matter?
Dirtbike Jesus, not his Christian name- ha! Had recently traded in his Triumph for a Honda 150 to get downright dirty in the remote regions of Patagonia. In between answering questions for the Koreans who were astounded with our arrival here via motorcycle. Dirtbike Jesus would recount to me his time spreading the 701-scripture to those across the irreligious motorcycle regions of the world.
For opinions, I find that people usually consult their most trusted forum. They take the views of those in that forum and go with it, as though “Greeseybiker135”, actually knows what he’s talking about. I’ve met people in person after enjoying their online opinion before. In my experience, I wouldn’t say that you’re going to trust everyone you meet online after you’ve met them in person. If you can get to know a person first, then their opinion, you're less likely to get an ear full of B.S. then you might expect from some armchair enthusiast who knows how to type.
Dirtbike Jesus has a vast spectrum of use on the 701. More than can be offered by a writer who was taken out by KTM for a weekend ride to do a media review all expenses paid. In contrast to our free ride/free lunch sponsored writer, D.B.J’s opinion has not been swayed by shiny things and garage swag.
Finally, before you slide 15-minutes away from your employer's precious work time to get to know the full 701 details and the reviewers historical significance with the bike. First, listen to even 30-seconds of this version of Edgar Allen Poe’s poem The Raven. Read by the deep rumbling voice of James Earl Jones. Then go here to understand the deep rumbling relationship that Dirtbike Jesus has with his Husky and how it acquired the fitting name of Lenore. The time, especially if you’re at the office, could not be better spent on anything else right now.
-----------No rush, will wait right here when you get back.-----------
Without further ado:
Lenore, what’s her year, millage, and time you've owned her?
2016, 20k km I've owned it since nearly new, ex-demo model.
What's your relationship with the 701?
Abusive. I've used Lenore pretty hard, together we've done some long trail riding trips, huge highway jaunts, enduro weekends and a full-length rally.
You took your Husky across parts of Europe and Africa, what were some if any of the setbacks as a travel bike?
The only real setback is reparability, it's hard to find parts and has a lot of electronic components - it's not a bike that a backstreet mechanic will be able to repair easily. Aside from that, it's perfect, it's light, fast, capable on all terrains and can carry luggage well. Perfect for Europe or America but not a bike I'd take around the world.
You also entered yourself and the bike in one of Europe's biggest off-road races, the week-long no holds barred, Hellas Rally in Greece. How did the Husky hold up?
Aside from my own abuse of it - exceedingly well. I blew up the clutch in the dunes, but that was rider error, apart from that I didn't have to do any repairs during the event. I'd prefer a lighter bike for rally racing but for one bike to do it all - perfect.
How did you get Hellas race organizers to give you the number, 701?
It was a total fluke, I didn’t request the number I just happen to end up with it on my bike. How fitting I thought!
Unmodified do you think the 701 is good enough for the trail, the road or rally racing?
No, but I think that's a good thing. The 701/690 is a base for you to build into your ideal machine. If you're planning to use it as a road bike it's probably ok, but for any other use you'll need to make changes - I've made mine into the perfect machine for me, and that's the point.
If you were in charge of the next 701 design rollout, what would you change?
The ABS system should be selectable on the handlebars, with all modes available - it's ridiculous that I needed to hack the system to get it to function in a rational way. Aside from that, I'd love to see a factory rally version, with additional fuel capacity and a fairing - it would be a better travel bike. But the Enduro would need to stay on the menu so people can do their own thing too.
If you had to buy a bike for the same use again would you buy another 701?
I'd have to say "no" because I have discovered that I don't actually need its insane performance. I think I'd be better served by something simpler, cheaper, easier to repair and with lower performance - I'm not a particularly fast rider, and the 701's abilities exceed mine.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I guess the other thing I'd like to get across is the ghastly experience I've had with Husqvarna’s after sales service. They have been completely obtuse since the bike failed on me while riding it in Iceland, and it's put me off Team Orange for good.
Husqvarna’s side of the story
It’s not like Husqvarna is new to the world of two-wheels. They actually got there start by rolling out bicycles back in the early 1900s, much like Honda and many other manufacturers. Before this, they weren't in the transport world at all. In 1689, centuries before anything like a 690cc engine was dreamed up, Husqvarna was taken into the business world via the ago-old musket. Even today you can clearly see the stamped logo design on their products, it’s the view you’d get when looking down the end of their musket barrel.
The 701 might not be the choice for round-the-world- enthusiast. Though, for anyone with a need for dirt and speed, who can get to their nearest dealer for servicing. The Husqvarna 701-Enduro has proven itself as a worthy machine - in the premium motorcycle world - next to their brothers in orange.
*All images from dirtbikejesus.net