Husqvarna has a long history that is rich in tradition. The first Husqvarna plant was established in 1689 as a weapons factory. In the course of the centuries, Husqvarna has produced a large range of different products, including sewing machines, bicycles, motorcycles and kitchen equipment.
For most people, Husqvarnas motorcycle history starts in the 1960s with the long series of World Championship victories that extended through the 1970s and into the 1980s however Husqvarna motorcycles go much further back than that, all the way back to 1903 when the first Husqvarna motorcycle was produced in Sweden. In these early days, Husqvarna, already a successful bicycle manufacturer started by installing engines from other suppliers into their own bicycle style frames and it took until 1920 for Husqvarna to establish its own engine factory.
The first engine to be designed in house was a 550cc four stroke V twin but by the end of the 1920s, Husqvarna has developed a racing program and becomes a successful racing company both on and off road, even racing at the Isle of Man TT.
During the 1930s, Husqvarna gradually pulls out of road racing activities as the market for large capacity motorcycles decreases and changes focus to start building lightweight two strokes with the first production bikes coming in 1935.
These first lightweight motorcycles with their 98cc two stroke engine were produced by the thousand in the years leading up to the Second World War, mobilising the Swedish population with economical transport. Post WW2, Husqvarna produced the legendary “Svartkvarna”, first introduced in 1946. Built to comply with the Swedish 'light motorcycle' legislation which meant a weight of no more than 75kgs, this durable and economical bike enjoys great popularity as the alternative to the car in the post war period.
1957 sees Husqvarna present the “Silver Arrow”, an all new 175cc bike also weighing in at under 75kgs and with a top speed in excess of 100kmh (62mph). This is followed later by the 200cc version known as the “Golden Arrow” but the on road performance of this new model is too much for the Swedish authorities who then limit Husqvarna to 75cc for their 'light' motorcycles.
Off road, Husqvarna face no such restrictions so development starts on converting their lightweight road bikes into motocross bikes. This is where Husqvarnas long and successful association with off road competition begins, with the first European Championship win coming in 1959 and a World Championship in 1960.
From 1960 through to 1987, Husqvarna continues to produce championship winning motorcycles in Sweden, gaining popularity worldwide including in the United States where Husqvarna becomes the serious choice for the off road racers, including movie legend Steve McQueen who can been seen riding a Husqvarna in the “On Any Sunday” movie.
1986 saw a major change for Husqvarna motorcycles. Electrolux, who had acquired the Husqvarna Company in 1978 decided focus their efforts on their core products and the Husqvarna motorcycle division was sold to the Italian Cagiva Group.
Cagiva Group, who later became MV Agusta S.p.A. integrated their existing Cagiva off road range into the Husqvarna line up in 1990 and continued development of both two and four stroke off road bikes under the Husqvarna brand name.
World Championship racing was still important to Husqvarna, winning the 500cc World Championship in 1993 with Jacky Martens on the new four stroke bike, which effectively restarted the dominance of four strokes in World Championship racing. Two stroke development continued at the same time resulting in winning the 1993 125cc World Enduro title with Paul Edmondson (who also won the British Enduro Championship in 1991, 1992 and 1993 on the WR125) and Alessio Chiodi who took the CR125 to World Championship victory in both 1998 and 1999.
Other notable results in this period include 6 World Enduro titles from Anders Erikson as well as two from Stefan Merriman.
The first Supermoto World Championship came in 2000 with Thierry Van Den Bosch and this is a sport in which Husqvarna continue to dominate to the current day, winning 3 out of a possible 4 World titles in 2009.
The most significant change in the recent history of Husqvarna happened in October 2007, when the Husqvarna motorcycle brand parted company with MV Agusta to become part of the globally successful BMW Group.
Since the takeover in 2007, BMW have completely revitalised the Husqvarna brand. A new factory to house production, design and administration as well as research & development has been built in the Varese region of Italy on a site purchased from MV, new models such as the ultra light TC250 have been developed and the racing tradition of the brand continues with Enduro World Championship wins in 2010 and 2011.
2011 also saw the introduction of the most powerful Husqvarna motorcycles ever produced, the new Nuda 900 and 900R models. Based around a BMW F800 engine, the Nuda range with the 105hp 900cc parallel twin engine makes Husqvarna a force to be reckoned with on the street as well as in the dirt.