2016 Husqvarna 701 Enduro Review
All new for 2016, the Husqvarna 701 Enduro slots in above the FE501S, and provides a more road-savvy dual-sport motorcycle that is equally at home off road.
The 701 Enduro shares the unconventional layout of its parent-company’s well proven KTM 690, with the engine suspended from a chromoly steel trellis frame that cradles the airbox. Also like the KTM 690, the 701 Enduro has a large 3.4 gallon rear mounted tank that doubles as a subframe and is strong enough to carry a passenger and luggage.
However the Husqvarna 701 has been extensively reworked in all areas by the Husky engineering team in Sweden with particular emphasis placed on power delivery and suspension performance to produce a more refined and polished higher-end package.
The 701 Enduro uses the same WP 4CS closed cartridge fork and rear shock system as found on all high-end Husqvarna off-road motorcycles. Rebound and compression cartridges are separated with easy adjustment for both at the top of the fork legs. As expected suspension performance was a highlight of the machine. Parts of our test route were over some rough dirt roads with rocky sections and big rain ruts from recent storms.
The Husky could be held open through the nastiest stuff and performs in a different class to any of the other 650cc dual sport motorcycles on the market. The suspension even works well on the street – it provides secure damping and stays off the stops even when ridden aggressively. The Husqvarna development team clearly spent a lot of time dialing in the handling, and the 701 Enduro is extremely stable in the dirt without ever feeling slow steering.
As with the 701 Supermoto, the 701 Enduro comes with a sophisticated Bosch 9M+ABS system with the ability to turn off the rear function to allow the rear wheel to slide via an aftermarket plug in dongle, the mode we used during testing. The ABS system has been optimized to work on dirt and, at least in the dry dusty conditions of our test, performed so well that I never felt the need to completely disable it.
The Brembo brakes had great feel and sufficient power to never feel overwhelming on dirt, but still provide plenty of stopping performance on the street. The routing of the ABS wire to the rear wheel sensor looks like an afterthought though.
The 690cc SOHC single cylinder makes a claimed 67 base horsepower, yet has long 6,000-mile oil change intervals. With fuel injection, a throttle-by-wire system, and independently fired twin spark plugs. the thumper makes smooth linear power with perfect throttle response. The big Husky starts instantly and pulls cleanly from cold. On dirt the big 690cc motor produces more than enough thrust, but the precise fueling allows the engine to lug down at low rpm yet still pull cleanly and makes the 701 easy to ride, often allowing it to carry a gear higher than you would normally use.
The rear tire can still spin up easily with all the power but always feels under control. The standard 15:45 final gearing is spot on for off-road use and first is plenty low enough for technical sections yet the 6 speed transmission still has enough range for long distance street riding. The 350lb wet weight is heavy by dirt bike standards, but the rear mounted fuel tank keeps weight off the front wheel and the 701 Enduro feels manageable even in soft-sand washes. The APTC slipper clutch is retained from the supermoto version and works to take the edge off engine braking, while the lighter clutch springs of the slipper provide a light lever pull that is welcome for long days in the dirt.
The choice of Continental TKC80 tires as standard highlights Husqvarna’s intention for the 701 Enduro. The TKC80 is a combined street and dirt tire popular on larger adventure bikes. The tires sacrifice some off-road performance, but with large tread blocks and soft compound provide excellent traction, stability and quiet running on the street. They can handle the dirt too but the front requires more care than a full knobby when setting the bike up for turns in the loose.
On the street the 701 Enduro will nudge past 100mph with perfect stability and is comfortable at 70-80mph, the smooth counterbalanced engine transmitting only the barest noticeable trace of vibration. The Husky is a surprisingly fun street bike, and with the impressive grip and lack of squirming from the big block tires it can be thrown hard from side to side and leaned over deep into turns, albeit with slower steering from the taller 21” front wheel.
The 701 Enduro is a true 50:50 dirt and street bike that is equally fun, capable and fast in both environments. Whereas a larger V-twin adventure bike can traverse rough dirt roads and deep sand with a skilled rider on board, it is often challenging, tiring and more stressful than fun. The 701 Enduro can be ridden like a capable dirt bike on the trail while still providing great high speed handling and stability for eating up the miles on dirt roads and pavement.
We rode the 701 Enduro along with the 701 Supermoto on the two- day Husqvarna launch and for me the Enduro was the pick of the pair. The Enduro can play convincingly at being a supermoto, but will then happily be at home running hard and fast on rough and twisty dirt roads; it’s truly two bikes in one.
The perfect application for the new 701 Enduro is as an adventure “lite” motorcycle. Load it up with some light luggage, fit your GPS to the bars and go exploring with confidence. Husqvarna have a range of accessories planned for the bike including small soft side cases, an additional fuel tank that replaces the front shrouds and a touring screen that will allow the owner to really dial the motorcycle in for an adventure touring role. The 701 Enduro is priced at an identical $11,299 to the street-only 701 Supermoto version.
Photography by Kevin Wing