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2001 Husqvarna 577 cc with a 1 cyl 4 stroke MV Agusta engine

Husqvarna is a brand used by several companies, all related to Husqvarna Vapenfabrik (Husqvarna weapons factory), founded in 1689 to produce muskets for the Swedish military. The Husqvarna logo is based on a cross section through a gun barrel and sight. Piaggio S.P.A. is now the sole owner.

The name is a spelling variant of the company's hometown, Huskvarna. There is a small company museum in the city, situated next to the oldest production facilities.


For most people, Husqvarna’s motorcycle history is very much associated with the long series of World Championship victories in motocross that Husqvarna enjoyed in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. But Husqvarna’s motorcycle history goes back even further. Just like many other motorcycle makers, Husqvarna began by making bicycles.

A Husqvarna from ca. 1915 with a 4.5 hp engine and an elegant sidecar.

1903 - From bicycle to motorcycle

Like many early motorcycle makers, Husqvarna begins by making bicycles. The production of bicycles starts at the end of the 19th century and in 1903 Husqvarna builds their first motorcycle. At that time it is a matter of fitting the Husqvarna frames with engines from other makers such as FN, Moto-Rève and NSU. These early machines also use 250 and 500 cc engines from Sturmey-Archer and JAP.

1920 - Our own engine factory

In 1920 Husqvarna establishes its own engine factory and the first engine to be designed is a 550 cc four-stroke 50-degree side-valve V-twin engine, similar to those made by companies like Harley-Davidson and Indian. It doesn’t take long before Husqvarna, just like the other pioneering motorcycle manufacturers, also develops racing motorcycles in the classes up to 1000 cc.

The hill climb at Klevaliden was extremely popular in Sweden.

1920-30 – Competition successes

Towards the end of the 20s and in the beginning of the 30s, Husqvarna enjoys lots of success in Sweden and at numerous European events, facing tough competition from other well-known manufacturers such as BMW, DKW, Excelsior, FN, Harley Davidson, Indian, Norton and Velocette. The competitions where Husqvarna is successful are enduros like the International Six Days and the full-fledged speed races like the international Grand Prix and TT.

Commencing the journey to the Six Days in 1929, with one of the first Mannerstedt machines, a 700 cc sidecar machine. In the sidecar is Folke Mannerstedt himself.

One reason for the success is that the designer Folke Mannerstedt is one of the pioneers in the use of light alloys, in the engine itself as well as in the rest of the motorcycle, which results in outstanding power-to-weight ratios.

The Mid-30s - Husqvarna stops racing

In the mid-30s, Husqvarna gradually pulls out of the racing activities, partly because the civilian market for large motorcycles is shrinking.

In 1936 the production of the large motorcycle engines stops. Nevertheless, these engines will reappear later, although in modified form: Albin, the engine manufacturer, uses the Husqvarna engine as a basis for a single-cylinder 500 cc power plant in the army motorcycle that they are building together with Monark.

1935 - The first lightweight

In 1935 Husqvarna starts producing the first two-stroke motorcycle. This lightweight motorcycle, which doesn’t require a driving licence, has pedals like a traditional bicycle and a 98 cc engine. It soon becomes very popular. During the years before the Second World War, thousands upon thousands of machines are produced, which means that Sweden now has wheels.

Calle Heimdahl, head designer after Mannerstedt, and the factory foreman Birger Johansson beside one of the first Svartkvarnas, or “Blackqvarnas”. (Blackqvarna being a nickname for the earlier 120 cc lightweight bikes, originally painted black).

1946 – The “Svartkvarna”

In 1946 the legendary “Svartkvarna” is introduced. It soon becomes the archetypical light, reliable and hard-wearing motorcycle which is the alternative to the automobile during the Post-War period. The “Svartkvarna” is built to classify as what the Swedish regulations call a “light motorcycle”, which means that it must not weigh more than 75 kg. Again, Husqvarna benefits from its experience of light, strong and reliable designs.

1957 – The Silver Arrow

1957 is the next milestone in Husqvarna’s motor and motorcycle history. That’s when we present the Silver Arrow: a completely new, powerful and sporty 175 cc motorcycle, also weighing less than 75 kg. A year or so later we also launch the Golden Arrow, a 200 cc version. But the Swedish authorities ask Husqvarna to be content with 75 cc, since the Golden Arrow is considered too fast for the Swedish roads!

However, both the Silver and the Golden Arrow prove to be the perfect foundation for further development into motocross bikes. So begins Husqvarna’s long, successful motocross era with victories at both the European and the World Championship levels.

European and World Championship Victories

Year Name Championship CC Class
1959 Rolf Tibblin European Champion 250 cc class
1960 Bill Nilsson World Champion 500 cc class
1962 Rolf Tibblin World Champion 500 cc class
Torsten Hallman World Champion 250 cc class
1963 Rolf Tibblin World Champion 500 cc class
Torsten Hallman World Champion 250 cc class
1966 Torsten Hallman World Champion 250 cc class
1967 Torsten Hallman World Champion 250 cc class
1969 Bengt Åberg World Champion 500 cc class
1970 Bengt Åberg World Champion 500 cc class
1974 Heikki Mikkola World Champion 500 cc class
1976 Heikki Mikkola World Champion 250 cc class
1979 Håkan Carlqvist World Champion 250 cc class

It’s worth noting that from 1969 Husqvarna’s 360 and 400 cc two-stroke engines break the dominance of four-stroke motorcycles in the 500 cc class.

The early 70s - Motocross bikes to the US Husqvarna’s motocross and enduro bikes become a huge export success, including to the US, where high power and low weight in combination with reliability is the winning recipe for many American champion riders, whether competing in dirt track, enduro or desert races. As a result, in the US Husqvarna becomse a classic: the prototypical modern off-road motorcycle.

The last motorcycle is ridden out by Sven-Erik Jönsson, the European champion in enduro and the 1987 winner of Novemberkåsan (the November Cup), a long-distance off-road race in Sweden.

The Swedish production of Husqvarna motorcycles continues until 1986-87, when the Italian company Cagiva takes over the production and the continuing development of motorcycles with the Husqvarna name. The 84-year long motorcycle era is now over.


Enduro. Husqvarna 250WR from 1996

As with many motorcycle manufacturers, Husqvarna first began producing bicycles in the late 19th century. In 1903, they made the jump to motorcycle manufacturing. Although they once made motorcycles for street use, and raced at road circuits such as the Isle of Man TT prior to World War II, they are more well known for producing World Championship winning motocross and enduro bikes. In the 1960's, their lightweight, two-stroke engined off-road bikes made the once dominant British four-stroke bikes obsolete. Throughout the 60's and 70's they were a force to be reckoned with in the motocross world, winning 14 Motocross World Championships in the 125cc, 250cc and 500cc divisions and 24 Enduro World Championships. The Husqvarna motorcycle division was sold to Italian motorcycle manufacturer Cagiva in 1987. The motorcycles (affectionately known as "Huskys") are now produced in Italy. A group of former Husqvarna employees started a new motorcycle company named Husaberg that won the 500cc Motocross World Championship 3 times in the 1990's.

Automobile manufacturing

Toward the end of World War II, the company started thinking about making a small, simple, inexpensive car. A team consisting of Bengt Magnusson (head of R&D), Stig Tham (engineer), Calle Heimdal (engine designer) and Birger Johansson. The design came to look somewhat like the Saab 92, but with three wheels (two front, one back), and a strange split rear window. According to some sources the similarities with the Saab 92 may have something to do with that Sixten Sason worked as designer at Husqvarna. A prototype was built in 1943, powered by a 20 hp two cylinder 500cc DKW motorcycle engine with chain drive to the rear wheel. The wheels came from a Fiat 500. The project was cancelled in 1944, and the prototype was scrapped in the end of the 1950s.

Chainsaws and lawn equipment

Husqvarna AB is a company, based in Huskvarna, Sweden, that is producing power lawn equipment and chainsaws under the brands Husqvarna, Jonsered and Partner. The company is owned by the conglomerate Electrolux

Sewing machines

Sewing machine from 2003

VSM Group AB (Viking Sewing Machines), previously named Husqvarna Sewing Machines is a company based in Huskvarna, Sweden. The company is best known for "smart" (computerized) sewing machines and sergers under the brands Husqvarna Viking and Pfaff. In February 2006 VSM Group was bought by Kohlberg & Co., who already owned the brand Singer. Singer and VSM Group will be merged into a company named SVP Holdings, where the initials are reflecting the brands Singer, Viking and Pfaff.

Household appliances

Electrolux is using Husqvarna as one of their brands for household appliances. The products are produced in several countries. Husqvarna has a long history in producing iron stoves.

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