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Dementor

Having spent eight years of pioneering work since their inception in 1903, Husqvarna were ready to take the next step. By 1911, their products developed into being more and more sophisticated, thereby satisfying a starving market. People were hungry for novelties and new design. They also demanded a higher quality to get their money's worth. Speed was suddenly in fashion for everyone.

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Husqvarna sales were a mere 53 units during 1911. In the same year, the collaboration with Motosacoche came to an abrupt end. Simultaneously, the weapons factory increased their business with Moto-Rève. Production turned out a twin-cylinder 298cc V-engine – the Model 65 – which delivered two horsepower performance at the beginning but was tuned to 2.5-3hp during subsequent developments. This model lasted four years before an update was released.

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In 1913 the Model 65 was supplemented with the new 70, and also the 70A model, which were manufactured for two years. The Model 70 had a 405cc engine giving 3hp with a clutch in a pulley and as an option the customer could order a three-speed gear-hub in the rear wheel. The 70A had a slightly bigger engine with a 3.5hp output. By 1915 Moto-Rève had come up with an even bigger power unit. This time it was still a two-cylinder V-engine, but the Model 75 gave 3.5 or 4.5 horsepower, depending on choice. The stroke was 85mm for both versions, while bore was at 55 and 61 millimetres respectively. The smaller model – with a weight of just 80 kilograms - was priced at 1,300 Swedish Kronor (approx. 280 US dollars). The bigger one – weighing 90kg cost 1,400 SEK. By now, competition had entered people's mind and the bikes soon became popular for sport. This meant that many had a dual-purpose use, and the interest in competition grew fast among the purists.

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At the end of 1915 the first big breakthrough came for Husqvarna. Their new Model 145 was a 496cc-powered machine with 4.5hp, still from Moto-Rève but now with a chain transmission to the rear wheel. Bore and stroke were measured at 61 x 85 millimetres for this electrifying engine. Like Husqvarna's previous Moto-Rève power units, the latest creation from Switzerland also had a semi-cylinder head engine. A three-speed gearbox and a kick-starter were included in the novelties. This was a real motorcycle and would set the future standard for the factory in Huskvarna. The 145 had a dry weight of 90 kilos and the performance included a top speed of 70 km/h. The model cost 1,500 Swedish Kronor at the time.

Soon after, a model 145 A version was manufactured for the Swedish military and the army deliveries began in 1916, during the Great War, which lasted for another two years. Raw material was now scarce and production became lean. But despite world troubles, Husqvarna set a new sales record in 1917. They churned out 315 units of the 145 model, which included delivery of the ‘A-version’ to the military forces.

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Another big leap in the history of the brand came in 1919 when the factory produced their first own product - with a Husqvarna engine. It was the Model 150 and would be made for almost a decade-and-a-half until 1933. At the time of its market introduction in 1920, this newcomer was priced at 2,900 SEK (approx. 600 dollars). The Model 150 was equipped with a homemade 550cc four-stroke engine with side valves and an initial output of 5hp. In reality it was more, but for taxation reasons, the official performance figure was kept low. The twin-cylinder was also built in a V-configuration with sturdy components and the cylinders with side valves were cast in one unit. The ‘petrol box’ swallowed 12 litres of fuel and the oil tank had a capacity of two litres. The wheels had a dimension size of 28" x 3" with steel rims, but the bike still lacked front-brakes. However, this machine could be delivered with a gas-light or electrical lighting from Bosch as an option. 

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Gustaf Göthe was a young man with an engineer's degree when he joined Husqvarna in the first month of 1917. He was going to be responsible for R&D for the coming Model 150 with a half-litre engine manufactured in-house.

“The task given to me was two-fold; partly I was to enhance the riding characteristics of the existing machine, and partly to develop a brand-new engine, which would make Husqvarna an entirely domestic product. Actually, the first plan included two vehicle versions; one lighter motorcycle for solo riding and one sidecar unit. But due to financial restrictions and other limitations, it was only possible to make the solo version, which could be fitted with a sidecar as an option.”

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The rest of Göthe's interesting story will be highlighted in a coming, more personal blog text.

In the ten years from 1911 to 1920, Husqvarna made a big leap forward in terms of engineering and sold some 1,600 units in total. The following 10 years would be influenced by the decadence of the twenties. It not only included Charleston and Champagne, but also some technically interesting motorcycles, which attracted many customers – both wealthy, but also fans from the middle class. After the Great War, people started to move around in a new way for transportation. And two wheels were more affordable than buying a four-wheeler!


Dementor

Born back in 1882, Swede Erik Hyginus Rud became famous for two things – an early interest for photography and as someone who bought his first real motorcycle at the age of 31 years. With his two-speed Husqvarna Moto-Rève, Hyginus rode around the western parts of Sweden on his Model 65 and immortalised everything from weddings to birthdays with his camera.

There was a small cottage, or croft, in the vicinity of Fredsberg in the western part of Sweden. It’s here where Erik Hyginus Rud was born, back in the noble year of 1882, and it was here that he grew up under spartan circumstances. From his father, he soon learned the trade of shoemaker, but just as an avocation to the daily work that had to be accomplished near home at the cottage. However, with only one cow and a small, stony piece of land it was not enough to make ends meet in the average week. Poverty was unfortunately an influential part of this young man’s everyday life, which did not suit Erik Hyginus at all. It was duly noted that he was a gifted youngster with many talents, such as being an avid reader.

Consequently, poor circumstances did not stop Erik H-R from having an appetite for life, or big dreams. Anything that was connected to technical matters for the future was swallowed up by this enthusiastic eccentric. He was addicted to developments that made life easier and that had a technical background. At the age of twenty, Erik was seen handling his initial high-wheel ‘velocipede’ and five years later he had installed an engine, making this an innovative vehicle.

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With the two-wheeler, Erik had his first experience of riding a bicycle equipped with a ‘powerful’ engine. In 1913, Erik turned 31 years old and by now, he had worked enough and would spend his hard-earned money by purchasing his first motorcycle. Erik had had his eyes on a two-speed Husqvarna machine with a power-source from the Swiss company Moto-Rève. This Model 65 came from the Huskvarna factory in mid-Sweden and was manufactured between 1913 and 1915. All in all, some 250-300 units – with pedals - were produced during this period. Erik’s motorcycle had a 340cc V-twin engine with a performance capable of doing 50-60 km/h. It was a proud moment when Erik Hyginus picked up his first love at the dealer’s workshop.

At the time, there were no filling stations around, so gasoline by the barrel had to be provided by canal boats to the Hyginus home. Once, he was out of fuel and had to fill his tank with petroleum from a pharmacy. By solving his problem, this flexible man was able to ride home to complete his day’s work.

With no front brake and only a meagre rear block, it was not easy to stop the machine from a speed of 50 km/h. “You had to be careful,” he said with a smile at the age 80. “The road conditions in those days were not like nowadays in the 60s. You had to ride carefully and consider all the hazards, many of them not existing any longer.”

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Erik Hyginus remembers an incident when he was out riding around his home turf, “I arrived at a steep hill ahead of the Halna church and had to push a little in order to make the ascent. Consequently, I gave the engine a push by handling the throttle lever. Arriving at the top, I discovered a man shovelling sand from a steep ditch. When he saw me, he simply walked out on the road, obstructing my way. ‘You have to pass me with care,’ the man shouted. ‘Otherwise I will twist your neck into oblivion and bury you in my gravel pit here.’ So, I did pass him with care.”

Before the turn of the new century, Erik had laid his eyes on some ‘photographic apparatus’ in a monthly magazine. So, he decided to make his own photographic device and adapted a worn cigar box for its new purpose. By using a piece of tin plate, Erik was able to make this invention work adequately. He was successful by developing his cigar box with further research and also produced an electric shutter for which he received a patent.

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By 1900, Erik was able to buy his first ‘real’ camera by mail order from the capital of Stockholm. His technical knowledge and his imagination had no limits. In the early 20s, Erik made a positive attempt at building his own radio receiver. This happened even before the Swedes started broadcasting news by radio. Consequently, from the beginning, Erik could only listen to Morse signals before the national radio began sending transmissions. Erik also installed telephones within the local community, so his neighbours were able to talk to each other. This of course was very much appreciated as the authorities had not yet begun with their telecom company.

But it was his interest in photography that was going to occupy most of Erik’s time. On his two-speed Husqvarna, he rode to celebrations and confirmation parties and earned extra money as an allowance. Mister Hyginus made his proud motorcycle trips with his camera equipment attached to the vast rear luggage carrier, which can be seen on the photo. Erik also devoted time to document people in their environments during the early stages of the 20th century. He rode his Husqvarna until 1926 before he switched to driving a car. By doing so, he was also able to work by night and could extend his hours for efficiency. Erik Hyginus Rud died in 1972 at the age of 91 years. He lived, if you please, in the shadow of the devil – being a truly happy man, who made a difference in life, simultaneously being a Husqvarna motorcyclist and a colourful photographer!


Dementor

DADDY’S DREAM

As a young kid, my father Tore was not really into school or education. Instead, he dreamt of famous riders and had early passionate thoughts of becoming a motorcycle man. He was a fan of Husqvarna and his active racing period lasted half a decade. My father began competing by the end of the 20s, continuing through the early 30s – in Husqvarna's initial big-time era in racing.

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Daddy was born in Norrköping in the hot summer of 1911. After three years he was adopted and moved south with his new parents. Tore Olausson grew up in Malmö, situated in the Scania province. Like any other kids on the block, Tore took an early interest in motorcycles and occasionally he saw them passing by in the streets of his home town. There were not so many bikes at the time and when my father was seven years old, Husqvarna only sold 27 units for the year, in 1918. But the two-wheelers attracted interest - not only from young kids on the block, but from grown-ups who also stared as the adventurous machines hit the road.

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Taking out an old album of clippings – its cover a brownish, semi-thick wrapping-paper, spiral-bound – Dad was already listed in the dailies at the age of 18 from articles published in 1929. When the results of this season were counted, he was the eighth best rider in our country. Gunnar Kalén, the winning big star from Malmö, would later be Husqvarna's leading rider during the early parts of the 30s. Kalén had 19 victories while his opponent Olausson could proudly count six wins, two second places and three third positions after his very successful year.

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On August 22nd in 1930, Tore Olausson was one of 80 starters in the famous Bedinge hillclimb race in southern Sweden. He rode his 500cc AJS in the solo class, where he finished second behind the winner. His time for the one-kilometre track was 21.8 seconds – some five seconds slower than the overall winner in the 750cc class for racing machines. 15,000 spectators were thrilled to see so many records being beaten on this summer day.

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In the early stages of motorcycle racing, there were few people who enjoyed factory support with specially manufactured or tuned engines. Instead, people were racing with ordinary street machines. After some years of racing Tore's mother Bothilda had endured enough heart attacks through her son's motorcycle maniac ideas.

“I dearly wanted him to stop racing before something bad happened,” she once told me. “Some of the friends of my sons were killed in motorcycle accidents.”

So, what to do? As an alternative to medium-sized bikes, Bothilda figured Tore would stop racing if he received a heavy, big-bore Harley-Davidson. “That should keep him on ordinary roads,” she reasoned.

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She was of course right, but only for the time being. My father was a stubborn man and he soon started to practice broad-sliding with his latest mount. It wasn't long before he took up racing with his American machine - mother Bothilda was devastated.

Daddy's dream of achieving a competitive racing machine finally came through when he got hold of a 350cc lightweight Husqvarna racer from the factory back in 1933. As opposed to so called ‘catalogue machines’ the racers were more professionally built and had a greater capacity for setting good lap times at racing events. My Dad bought a 350DT – a development of the previous so called ‘Special Racer’ and also ‘The Poor Man’s Racer’, built between 1931 and 1933. It was a big moment for him – having reached a near-professional level in motorcycle racing.

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Practicing in these days meant riding a bike as much as possible. Nobody had ever thought of their physical condition in connection with performance. But my daddy was fit and had good stamina for bike racing. In an old inherited photo album, I found a fantastic picture of Tore with his two buddies. His riding gear is incredible, but adequate for its purpose. Helmets did exist at the time, but were not mandatory for riding. There are photos of my dad with a cap, or sometimes with a club hat, but there are also pictures where he really does wear real protection. A shirt and a sweater are at hand while his bike trousers were wide at his legs - just like horse-riding pants. The leather boots stick out as well as being long and reach just below his knees. What a sight!

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One of Tore's major successes came in the hill-climb at the Lyckas track, situated near the slopes in the vicinity of the city Helsingborg. After heavy rainfalls there were two factors to consider on race day; the spectators were absent with only a crowd of 1,500 persons present and the hill-climb track was tricky as it was wet and slippery to conquer. However, despite this fact there were thankfully no major crashes during the event. The track facing the hill was only 575 meters long, so one could expect riding times close to half-a-minute under existing conditions.

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Race day started on time at two o'clock in the afternoon with up-and-coming riders making their debut. After their performance the ‘catalogue riders’, ten in total, made their contribution with finishing times around 38 seconds. Last but not least, the category 6 class for racing machines followed. Six riders were scheduled to race, but only four of them made it to the start. And it was here that Tore Olausson set the record with his Husqvarna lightweight bike. He scored first place with a set time of 32.9 seconds. The margin to the second man was 3.2 seconds which meant that Tore was 10 percent faster than anybody else. Hats and handkerchiefs flew in the air from a cheering crowd. He had the fastest set of wheels on this memorable day!

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“It was a great moment,” my father used to share with me when looking through his scrapbook. “I was really happy and proud when I received the trophy from the hands of countess Piper,” he said with a smile and an owlish blink. Except in my world, daddy never became a legendary racer. Instead, Tore was a humble man who went after his dreams and experienced racing life such as it was nearly a century ago. Being fond of his competition machines, be it at any size or cylinder capacity, he cherished his lightweight Husqvarna racer as his favourite machine.  Look at the shot in his newly-ironed suit. Dad was a true scrambler, racing to the marrow in his bones. And it was his big-time love affair in a stone age...


Dementor

1923 WIN AT 6-DAYS ISDT

The two phantoms Gustaf Göthe and David Senning each captured a gold medal in the 1922 ISDT in Switzerland. Consequently, in the following year, Sweden hosted the International Six Days Trial. It was run out of the capital city Stockholm for 1,863 kilometres before returning to the finish line. Being there, the local Husqvarna team captured victory, winning the International Trophy.

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But let's start in 1922 when the ISDT was organized by Switzerland. Three Husqvarna riders from Sweden took part in this event, where the competitors had to manage the steep hills of the Alps. It not only strained the engines of the workhorses going uphill, but also put severe pressure on the brakes going down the slopes. And most riders were not used to such obstacles, which of course influenced their performance. Conquering the dwindling passes in the Alps, many a rider got stuck with problems and had to abandon the race. The Husqvarna riders had the disadvantage of the weight of their machines, which caused them to ride with care. The engines tended to overheat as they were used to the limit. In the end the Swedish Husky team came home third in the result sheets - after England and Switzerland.

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The Swedish top performance was respected by the international sports crowd and when they applied for organizing this gruelling event in 1923, England were generous to let the Swedes have the race. It was then approved by the international motorcycle federation – FIM. This year, the event took place in the first week of August and was not only run on Swedish turf, but also included a trip over to the neighbouring country of Norway. There was a total of 94 participants from seven nations that set off from the Swedish Stadium at the departure. Here, the Olympics had been held a little over a decade before and it was only appropriate that this important race should start with status and fanfare. It was an impressive sight to watch all the riders take off towards the city of Västerås, which lay a mere 100km away. There were three teams fighting for the Trophy while fourteen participants competed for the brand award.

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But first, a few words on the ISDT rules of the roaring 20s. The riders had 15 minutes of service each morning before the start. It was used for maintaining the machinery and competitors were not allowed to start their engines before their start time. Then there was a lunch-break scheduled for half an hour, but now the riders couldn't touch their bike at all - only fast-eating a meal. Each machine was plumbed with sealing material and the riders were never permitted to obtain foreign help while undertaking any necessary tasks. One of the initial obstacles came at the hill of "Nornberget" that lay outside of Hedemora town. One of my older colleagues went there to see the Six-Days riders pass through this difficult section.

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“I was surprised to see all the foreigners cope so well with the harsh Swedish conditions,” he said. We knew that ‘our own’ would be tested to the limit here, but we were all surprised that the international riders did so well in the inferno of mud. Going uphill during these demanding conditions was hard. The roads were so miserable that you thought you were standing in the middle of a recently ploughed field. Passing through with good speed required determination and stamina. And everyone seemed to know exactly where to change sides, taking another furrow to make the most of the race. So, the first day ended in the region of Dalarna at Rättvik after 320km of riding. The second day was slightly longer being 378km in length, taking the fast crowd to Karlstad.

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Then it was time to go to Norway. On the third day, the riders went 270km to Kristiania (Oslo) before getting some rest. Outside of the Norwegian capital there was a hill-climb section of 2,250 meters. Being very steep, it was a decisive moment for many a rider trying to go fast uphill. After half the race, the Husqvarna team with riders Gustaf Göthe, Bernhard Malmberg and Gunnar Lundgren were well ahead - so far without penalties. On the fourth day, it was back to Sweden again, going all the way to Gothenburg - a distance of 388km. The fifth day was only 335km long, but at this stage, everyone was getting tired and you could see the strain in the faces of every participant. During the final stage back to Stockholm - 172km - there was a kilometre-long speed-stage ahead of the capital. It proved to be quite decisive and only the fastest managed to keep up their pace here.

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All in all, 67 riders were seen arriving at the finish line in Stockholm. Thirteen of them were awarded a gold medal while the Husqvarna team ended up winning the all-important Trophy-class. There were of course happiness and congratulations in the famous red brick-wall Stadium, before everyone hurried to town for drinks, meal and final celebrations.

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Dementor

We head back in Husqvarna history to their important Silver Arrow model, which was released in 1955. It was a 175 cc ‘lightweight’ motorcycle with a 2-stroke engine and a three-speed gearbox. This model was manufactured until 1965 and there were 11,300 units made. Here, we take a look on how this ‘Silverpilen’ bike paved the way for the factory's future success in which the Silver Arrow played an important role putting Husqvarna on the world stage.

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Having said that, it was well-known that this newcomer was a true novelty amongst the finest market products available in the middle of the fifties. ‘Viking steel bites’ was often heard in the discussions of field experts. So, let us look at the hard, technical facts of this wonderful machine. The basis of the power from the Dream Machine was used, but since it needed development, there were several technical updates that made this power plant both quicker and more modern. Both the cylinder and the top-end were made from aluminium, increasing heat dissipation, while the cylinder walls were fabricated in hard-chrome steel. Both cylinders and pistons came from the German manufacturer Kolbenschmidt. Maximum power from the engine was measured at a ‘stunning’ nine horsepower at 6,000 rpm. The cylinder measurements were 60 millimetres in diameter and the stroke was at 61.5 mm, which gives us exactly 173.8 cc. A German Bing twin-port carburettor was incorporated in the engine design. This unusual Bing product for the 282 model, was a two-in-one concept with double throttle-slides in one carburettor body. One throttle rose before the other, which made for smooth riding. The gearbox had three positions and all-in-all, this beast was capable of doing 100 km/h, which at the time was a very good figure.

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According to standards, the lightweight tubular frame was a simple but elegant stamped-steel product where the engine helped to make the bike stable as a part of the build. The ‘rubber band’ suspension was acceptable at the time, but only gave a little riding comfort. Demands were not so advanced in the fifties and the factory soon produced better rubber for their front fork suspension. Streamlining was part of the styling concept and Husqvarna wanted no less, of course. Both the front forks with leading link and rubber links and the head-lamp suited well into this modern, up-to-date design. The single-exhaust system however trimmed more weight. Later, there was a Sports model, which used double-exhaust pipes. Immediately though the weight crept over 75 kilos, but this was of minor importance for the export markets.

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A friend of mine once told his story going to Germany with his ‘Silverpilen’ (Swedish for Silver Arrow) back in 1957 when he had purchased a used 175 cc Husqvarna. "After the machine I had been riding before, this was like coming into paradise," he said. He was working day time and then bike riding at night - every day of the week. “I had to pick up some spare parts for my employer and he thought it was quicker to let me go fetch them instead of the usual transportation methods. I made it back in three days after visiting Hamburg picking up the parts. My machine ran perfectly and despite some spills on slippery tarmacs, I had no problems during my entire trip." This episode seems to represent what many of the young guys at the time experienced - going to the limit with their Husqvarna, without any problems! The price of the Silver Arrow in 1955 was 1,890 Swedish Kronor corresponding to around 375 U.S. dollars at the time.

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Launching the newcomer took place in 1955. From the media, the motorcycle was considered to be a rocket toy with an uncertain future. But it soon turned out that this mischievous bike was a hit for the new generation. Besides rock 'n' roll, young people also liked the 2-stroke music and the Silver Arrow became ‘The Graduate’ into the big world. The teenage dream was the big leap from a moped to a grown-up motorcycle!

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After a couple of years on the market it became clear that the existing 175 cc power plant needed development. Increasing the capacity to 200 cc this newcomer was soon nicknamed the ‘Golden Arrow’. The designers counted on 15 horsepower under continuous load while the machine was only ten kilograms heavier than its predecessor. This made a subtle advantage on the market, but the Golden Arrow - manufactured between 1957-59 - was never accepted by the public so a mere 1,250 units were manufactured before Husqvarna skipped this model entirely. Overall, the Silver Arrow was a tremendous success for the Swedish motorcycle industry. Husqvarna established an international name, although exports of this particular model were limited.

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Dementor

In all of Husqvarna’s history, probably one of the most important developments is the Silver Arrow, Silverpilen. This 175 cc 2-stroke, three-speed machine paved the way for the company's future success. The Silver Arrow was the basis for a victorious path on track. Husqvarna won 13 individual world championship titles in motocross and many enduro victories from this lightweight machine. The hit started in 1955 when the classic bike was born...

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My first and only motocross bike was of course a Husqvarna, developed from the Dream Machine, which had first seen the light of day back in 1953. Despite good intentions, I never became successful on the track, but I remember as a kid dreaming of reaching the top of this gruelling sport. My neighbour had bought a used Silver Arrow, which I had the privilege of trying out in the dark woods around the western Stockholm area where I grew up.

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Since the Dream Machine never sold to expectations, a new motorcycle was introduced in January 1955, stealing the name "Silver Arrow" from Mercedes successful four-wheeled racers. It was sales director Harald Carlström who baptised this embryo, since he was both a motorsport man and drove a Mercedes. The newcomer had exactly the right styling to tempt many a youngster to become a motorcyclist over the next decade. Actually, the Huskvarna factory benefitted over almost twenty years from income and developments that could be traced back to the Silver Arrow. A common joke was that the weapons factory reloaded its guns from releasing a silver-plated arrow to shooting a silver bullet through the air. All in all, 11,300 units were produced between 1955 and 1965 in the province of Smaland, before sales then stopped.

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The model name consisted of the three tiny figures 282, which later had the extra tag of an "E" on the refined versions for export. Crucially, according to Swedish law restrictions, the new machine had a weight just below 75 kilos, which was the legal formality for using a "Lightweight Machine". In this weight classification both equipment and a full tank of petrol were included in order to make the bike legal for 16-year olds with a riding license. The law was actually counter-productive and bureaucratic as the factory was inclined to use lightweight, budget components in order to reach the 75-kilo-limit. Consequently, the factory had to use two-ply tires, under-powered brakes, a frame that was not up to standards for the potent engine and finally front forks that were more like rubber bands with poor damping characteristics.

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The following statements are an excerpt from the Silver Arrow book of instructions: ‘During the running-in period of this vehicle, the engine should always be allowed to work easily, i.e. shift down over hills and heavy conditions. The workload on the motor should never be strained. The running-in period for engines with hard-chromed cylinder-walls is 4-5,000 kilometres and you will not get full performance before this distance. The abrasion in the cylinder is normally not more than 0.004 millimetres over 10,000 kilometres of riding".

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One of the men behind the work was Carl Heimdahl. His background with Husqvarna went way back as he had both ridden races for the factory as well as being a test rider with deep knowledge in the mysteries of research and development. Having an education as an engineer with a master's degree, Carl Heimdahl came to Husqvarna in the thirties with excellent technical knowledge. Another engineer behind the scenes was Olof Edlund, who worked a lot for this investment. Further names in the project were the constructor engineers Ruben Helmin, Allan Kastberg and Egil Skoog.

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A test protocol from the Royal Technical University, KTH, was performed by the end of January in 1952. This engine reliability try-out was performed during various conditions. Primus motor Carl Heimdahl in power source development was of course present at KTH in Stockholm. This all happened before Olof Edlund came to the engine laboratory. The tests were done in the cold room at the institution for combustion technique with the aim to establish adequate greasing for clutch and gearbox. Minus 30 degrees Celsius was set as a standard. It was an interesting and satisfactory conclusion that the goods withstood this coldness without problems. It was noted that the throttle was sluggish and that neither the lighting nor the signal worked at this freezing temperature. The Husqvarna people were thorough in the development stage and it is no coincidence that the material was up to standards. Their homework had been done right from the start.


Dementor

OLD STYLE MOTORING NEWS

Every Swedish race fan looked forward to each Friday when a new issue of the country's one and only weekly motoring magazine was published. What had happened during the past weekend was properly reported by journalists and photographers of the time. Husqvarna could count themselves as one of the major advertising clients during the beginning of the 30s when the factory had tremendous success in motorcycle events.

"Motornyheterna" was established in 1925 when the surge for news began to spread in the Nordic country. People in Sweden had a great interest in motoring venues, be it an exciting two-wheel race or then a fabulous arrangement for four-wheelers, cars. The newly started magazine covered it all, including articles of boating and flying. The initial price for an issue was set at 25 öre (Swedish currency), equalling three cents in today's Euro. The yearly subscription rate was quoted at one Euro (not updated for inflation, of course). The original format of "Motornyheterna" was a large 35 by 50 centimetres, difficult to handle, but nevertheless manageable. After some ten years the editors cut the size by twelve percent in order to make it more effective.

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The contents varied, as said, and so did the number of pages. But generally, eight pages would suffice to cover each week's happenings around the globe. Yes, by all means, the reports included major events in the world, even if taken with a pinch of salt. But the emphasis was of course focused on true national happenings.

Looking back at an issue from March 29th in 1929, we find an interesting full-page article on Husqvarna, based on a factory visit by a staff editor from "Motornyheterna". More statistics - this happened in the fifth publication year and the 203rd issue of the magazine. The preamble of this report concerns Husqvarna's history as an arms & weapon manufacturer, dating back to 1689. The Motoring News editor is then walking around the premises which ‘are both modern and old’ as the factory has been updated throughout the years. In the motorcycle division the new models had just been presented. ‘The 30A and the 50A machines – 250cc and 500cc respectively - are sport models, which appeal to its customers,’ the editor states.

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The total employment at the factory was 1,800 workers and 200 officials and the two-wheel production was estimated at 2,000 units per year, among all the other products at the factory near Jönköping. It is reported that the two novelties were tried out at last year's International Six Days Trial event, the ISDT, (in 1928). Here, the machines went through many substantial tests in order to adjust minor flaws between prototypes and production versions. As an example, a test bench was shown to the editor, where an engine had been run for 58 hours non-stop to test the durability of this precious gem before shipment.

‘No doubt it is a quality product,’ was the final verdict from "Motornyheterna", the Motoring News.

The name of the chief editor of this era was Ake Winblad, who had a Master’s degree in engineering. The editorial office was in the middle of the Stockholm centre at Sveavägen, where the advertising was also sold. The price for outside communicating was at three cents per millimetre and column. During the 30s Husqvarna was one of the magazine's major ad-players as the factory had enormous sales success on the market. "Motornyheterna" was printed locally in Stockholm and distributed throughout the whole nation. Its circulation in the 20s lay at 15,000 copies weekly, a figure which was up 30 percent during the mid-stage of the thirties. If you happen to catch an original copy of this eight-page magazine at an auction today, you probably pay around 25 Euros for it!

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Five months after the factory report, Motoring News published a preview for the International Six Days Trial event, this year held with a start in München and finish in Genève. The six sections went through many countries, which was quite a challenge for the 160 entrants from a dozen countries. The Swedes had had tremendous success back in 1923 when the four national riders won the event's ‘International Trophy’. Now it was time for Husqvarna's first try-out in this prestigious race, well-known all over the world and still today considered to be an important event.

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Husqvarna's director since 1911 Gustaf Tham saw the importance of publicity and backed factory-supported racing. In order to achieve results, he hired the super-engineer Folke Mannerstedt as of February 1st in 1929. He became responsible for the R&D division and his orders from the top were straight and simple - make a machine that will win!

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In the article previewing the Six Days, director Tham was interviewed in Motoring News where he stated that it was crucial to make a new type of engine for future races. Folke Mannerstedt agreed and reported that he would follow the team in the sidecar when travelling to southern Germany for the event. Another man, Yngve Eriksson from the tuning department, was also set to go to München for the Six-Days. The Husqvarna team had an optimal backup from their factory, but unfortunately things didn't go their way at the gruelling venue. Instead the British team had another overwhelming victory - as was usual.

It was at the end of the 20s and things looked bright for the coming 10 years. Husqvarna would be there to claim numerous victories and establish the brand as one of the leaders in this competitive industry. And "Motornyheterna" would be reporting of the success from the Swedish weapons company.

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Dementor

BRAVE AND STRONG

Late in his splendid career Sylvain Geboers switched to Husqvarna, hoping for success. The Belgian had never made it to the top of the podium, forced to be content with runner-up positions as country-man Joel Robert beat him to the finish line. After two second places and three third spots in the 250cc world championship, Geboers set out to try his luck with Husqvarna in 1975. Here's how it happened.

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Sylvain Geboers was born on the 28th of March in 1945. He lives in Mol, which is the Flemish part of Belgium where the sand tracks are plentiful. He soon became interested in motocross. He started racing by the time he was 16, straddling a big-bore, heavy 4-stroke machine. At the age of 17, Sylvain won his first title and became the national junior champion in the 500cc class. Geboers rode a sturdy BSA Goldstar, which he managed with impressive strength. A year later he was representing Belgium at the team world championship that were run at Hawkstone Park. They finished second at this Moto Cross des Nations, which was Geboers first big breakthrough. With this impressive ride Matchless offered the young Belgian support for the 1965 season when Sylvain yet again was a member of the Belgian 500-team coming home as silver men at the MCdN.

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For 1966 Sylvain Geboers had ties with the Swedish performance tuner Lindström, who contracted the Belgian to race in the half-litre championship. Lindström had close ties with Husqvarna and it was these 2-stroke machines that were turned around according to Lindström's technical knowhow. Sylvain returned the favours by clinching his first WC points when he finished third in the Danish Grand Prix. This rendered him his initial four career points. But the season was a big disappointment and did not result in any further points. He came 16th in the final standings, which tempted the Belgian to switch brands for 1967.

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In the following eight seasons Sylvain Geboers was at the h of his successful career. Being runner-up in the 250cc championship twice and third three times, the Belgian was well-known all over the globe as he also raced in the American Trans-AMA championships. In 1971 Geboers won this series outright in the 500cc class.

Sylvain Geboers was not only famous for his good stamina and his fantastic rides on sandy tracks, he was also a popular rider because of his nice manners. Always a happy and positive man, Sylvain thrilled his fans - and competitors - with enthusiasm and good pride.

“I considered the mental and physical health as being just as important as my riding ability,” said the sympathetic man from Mol, who still travels a lot in the MX business.

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After 14 Grand Prix victories Sylvain Geboers switched to Husqvarna for the 1975 season. At that time he not only cherished the Swedish brand, but also had good experiences from his days riding for the Lindström company. “I was always impressed by the results from the Swedish factory,” said Geboers, “and I wanted to have a go at it in 1975.”

The year started very well on his new mount. In the opening round at Sabadell in Spain, Sylvain finished fourth on his Husqvarna in the first heat. “It seemed the machine and I were a good couple,” he laughed after his impressive ride.

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After the first round, the Belgian lay 5th in the title chase. But Sylvain Geboers had seen his best days in motocross. When half the season was over, he came 7th in one leg of the Polish GP in Szcecin. In the following round Sylvain hit 10th position after a decent ride. But that was it during his short Husqvarna career, which only lasted for one-year. His final position in the 250cc championship table this year was a meagre 21st place with 13 scored points.

Sylvain then raced motocross for another two seasons before he definitely quit. “The last two years were more for fun than anything else,” he said after his Husqvarna season. “I knew that my successful years were over.”

On the 15th of August in 1978 Sylvain Geboers rode his last active race on home turf for KMC Mol at the Keiheuvel-Balen track outside of his native town. He still lives on Smallestraat 10 in Mol.


Dementor

Swede Einar Söderén was an army lieutenant who in 1925 decided to go adventuring. Riding his 12 horsepower 550cc Husqvarna V-twin, Söderén headed off south from Europe with northern Africa in sight. In mid-March, he encountered frozen and snow-covered roads on his 14,000-kilometre trip - but temperatures soon increased…

In 1921, Söderén had acquired his first motorcycle. It was a Husqvarna model 160 V-twin, which he used for recreation. Then he did longer trips, covering many Swedish towns on his travels. "It wet my appetite for more," he said afterwards.

Einar Söderén started to look into the horizon and bought his new 1925 Husqvarna model 170, which was prepared for an extensive journey. The 12 HP side-valve motor, coupled with a 3-speed gearbox, had automatic oiling together with a Schebler carburettor. The machine featured a Bosch light and Söderén equipped it further with sturdy leather cases and an extra canister for carrying reserve fuel. One was filled with spare parts while the other contained a suit, extra shoes, four socks, six shirts, two pairs of underpants, two caps, a camera and a toiletry bag. "As I did my trip alone, I also carried a Browning pistol," the adventurous Swede laughed.

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Having travelled the first 600 kilometres on home turf, Einar crossed over to Denmark where he also switched into right-hand side riding. In Germany, Söderén met with hard-surfaced roads, which contained stones. Having passed Cologne, Söderén hit the Ardennes in Belgium when he went the wrong way and entered Luxemburg. "It was actually the only time that I went the wrong way during my trip," he proudly said. The ride over steep mountains meant going over foggy passages, hard to accomplish. The rear lights glowed like red devil's eyes in the dark. "Sometimes, I walked alongside my machine with the big wheels tugging the wet snow," he said.

Most roads in France were battered after the war. Söderén was doing 50 km/h on his way towards Paris. Arriving, he made a stop with his Husqvarna and interested Parisians swarmed the machine wondering what make this beast was. Despite genuine publicity, the brand was not marketed here - yet. High season had just begun in Biarritz and Söderén’s machine still fascinated the French.

Going over the Pyrenees, the lieutenant arrived in Spain where roads again were hard on his Husqvarna. "But my machine never tired although I had to change front fork springs here.” In Madrid, Söderén stayed four days for his initial rest. "I went to see bull-fighting, but wasn't impressed when they slaughtered the beasts," he told. In Sevilla, Söderén met with summer and soon he came to Gibraltar before the ferry-crossing to Africa. Here, he filled up his canister, which gave prolonged mileage to the 11 litres in the original tank. "I had to use the extra fuel a couple of times," Söderén admitted.

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An English vessel took the rider & bike to Casablanca in Morocco. "It was an expensive journey," our globetrotter stated. "Arriving, I made an overhaul, exchanging the piston rings and cleaning the engine from carbon emissions. After many miles, a new chain was also due, so I replaced the old one. I also gave the engine an extra dose of oil every 50 kilometres to make it run smoother. The exhausts left a blue smokescreen after the added oil. My personal gear was upgraded, and I switched from leathers to Kaki clothes and a tropical hat covering my head from the sun."

Söderén rode 300 km south to the old capital of Marrakech, situated in the often-snow-clad Atlas Mountains. Here, he met with Islamic traditions and a 42-day religious Ramadan feast. "Interesting, but not getting any accommodation, I backtracked all the way to Casablanca before going to sleep again," he said. Traversing North Africa, Söderén ran out of oil and had to buy an extra small Mobil Oil canister for his onward adventures. "The petrol stations were scarce, and you had to be careful to not run out of fuel," he told. The trip through Algeria was pleasant with good roads, plenty of delicious food and splendid hotels. Traces from the old war between the French and the locals could be seen everywhere, but both Alger and Tunis were now modern cities. It would turn out different in Egypt...

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From the start, Söderén intended to take the fastest track to Cairo, but would have been delayed as there were no acceptable connections at sea. Instead, he boarded a vessel north to Civitavecchia outside Rome. Before carrying away on the Italian strada, Söderén hit the capital streets with lots of effective sightseeing on his comfortable Husqvarna.

"It was nice to experience the famous sights in this vast city," he said. "Continuing, I saw wonderful sceneries with beautiful towns situated on hills, looking like bird-nests. These ‘fortresses’ were surrounded by castles and walls to improve the impression. There was an incident on my tour to Naples. Some barking dogs came out on the road and I tried to dismiss them. However, one of them bit me and I had to use my Browning, shooting this evil creature. Displeased farmers turned up as they heard the shot, but they soon realized that I had a gun and was injured by their dog, so they returned home. On top of it all, I learnt that Mussolini punished armed people without a weapons license. Being caught, it would have meant six months in jail, so I took the fastest road to Naples, surviving without further incidents."

Miles before Naples, smoke from the volcano of Vesuvius could be seen in the distance. Of course, Söderén climbed the hs of this volcano and also went to visit the island of Capri with the famous "Grotta Azzurra" (Capri’s Blue Cave). Pompeii was on his agenda too, before going to sea again - this time traveling to Alexandria in Egypt.

It was now June, two-and-a-half months into this bike adventure. Arriving in the Egyptian heat was overwhelming, but people avoided the worst by resting between midday and 4 o'clock. There were troubles at the customs clearance into this bureaucratic country. Despite the fact that the machine had a ‘carnet’ - an international customs clearance declaration - the authorities made a fuss about everything. It resulted in a 3-hour arrest as Söderén’s gun was discovered, which didn’t make customs officials any happier. After tense discussions and helping words from the local Husqvarna agent mister Anlyan, Söderén finally hit the road again. He spent a few days in Alexandria and then man and machine set sights on Cairo - one of the big African goals.

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Dirt roads gave little grip and were impossible to conquer in wet conditions. There was mud, mud and more mud during this rainy season, but then it dried out after only two days, Söderén arrived in the vast capital. He looked at historical monuments in this whirlwind city. "Early one morning, I intended to go south along the Nile River, but was instead taken to hospital after being poisoned by ill food in the previous night. I arrived in a German camp and the doctor probably saved my life before I returned riding again. But the effects from my illness put the journey into perspective and I had to take it easy from then on. The Nile was abandoned so I went to visit the Suez Canal instead."

In the Sinai desert, the 28-inch wheels got stuck in deep sand. Four Arabians eventually turned up and helped him out of trouble. When they saw that Söderén had money, the situation turned grave. The Arabs threatened with their clubs but disappeared seeing that Söderén was armed! In order to return, he was forced to take the train instead of risking being caught again. "It was the only time I cheated during my travels," he said.

Jerusalem was the last stopover for Söderén before turning north. "I was weak after the poisoning and steered towards Europe. On my way to Port Said, I ran into a steep ditch, which was discovered too late to miss it. But my sturdy Husqvarna was up to the strain and I continued homebound," he said. In Port Said, Söderén boarded a ship with destination to Genova. Arriving, he was close to an accident as some Italian drivers came towards him on the wrong side of the street. "People used the entire road where the surface was best, without looking left or right. I had to brake hard and one of the gearbox cogs broke. Fortunately, I could go to Switzerland, where the Husqvarna agent sent for spare parts. After a few days, I was able to repair my vehicle." Staying a week in Paris meant a new machine service and a few parts from Sweden. After that, Söderén took the sea road from Rotterdam to Malmö. The final 600 km in the beginning of August did not pose any troubles. Completing four and a half months and 14,000 kilometres, Einar Söderén was back in Stockholm - with lots of memories and a fit Husqvarna ready for new adventures!


Dementor

Italian manufacturer Pirelli had their tyre treads marked on bodies of female models as a symbol in their famous 1980s calendars. In the 30s, Husqvarna used its racing success to market their products in advertising. The copy and pictures appealed to people's inspiration and was street smart for increasing sales.

During the roaring 20s the Jazz age set off, overwhelming trends that also gave an echo within the motoring industry. In France - where else - fashion was of the utmost importance for acceptance of a new vehicle model. Coachbuilders expressed themselves vigorously and fashion magazines were quick to follow up on new trends. Concours d'élégance were established in Paris with witty designs being displayed to many excited local spectators - one would not show up in Biarritz in last year's model, which was as bad as appearing in the fur of the previous season. It is worth noting that advertising can appear in many shapes, which are accounted for in this little two-wheel episode. The Swedish lieutenant Einar Söderén made a stop on l'avenue de l'Opéra with his 1925 Husqvarna on his way to northern Africa. Interested Parisians gathered around his machine wondering what this beast was made of. Being surprised over the Swedish steel and its quality made of rigid material, some motoring insiders were surprised to see the big engine that powered this vehicle. "C'est un vrai construction avec une moteur comme dans une voiture," were the spontaneous comments. It was truly good publicity although the brand was not sold there at the time.

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From its early days, the motorcycle was a magnificent beast - both economically and politically. During the 20s, it took a somewhat modest position in comparison with the four-wheelers. But not only did one regard all the new possibilities riding a potent machine on the road, but also the design and a prestigious layout grew in people's mind. More often than not, the new vehicle era of the 30s developed into a showpiece of the bike designers around Europe and Husqvarna played a vital role in these European developments.

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Printed press such as daily journals and weekly magazines had at the time no competition from other media. And certainly not from television, which was still a long way from being introduced. Prints of the era raised the question whether advertising was to be considered an independent art form - or just a folly existing in the tabloids, newspapers and magazines. The debate was absolutely not new as it had been an ongoing theme for at least 500 years since an Englishman printed a leaflet on a hand-press in London. In the 15th century, this man called for attention that his products could be purchased at a low price, which was great news at the time.

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At Husqvarna, the boardroom consisted of men in suits during the 30s. Sales increased into the 1,000s during the last part of the 20s and now was the time to look to the future. After establishing how to invest and where to book the profits, the Husky men had the noble task of establishing their goals in advertising. Racing was hot on the Swedish agenda and instead of using the normal tools by publishing street machines, it was decided to feature TT – Tourist Trophy – race success as a new concept from the factory. It was decided that racing success was the right medicine for transmitting sales messages to the would-be customers.

34_saxtorp_win_ad.jpgAnd, as racing victories took off in the beginning of the 30s, the advertising department - maybe just one man - showed the Swedish customers elegant photos or sketches of successful riders in their leathers competing on the Swedish machine. So, in the early 30s, you would see Gunnar Kalén, Ragnar Sunnqvist and Ake Jonsson in advertisements, featuring these riders' latest victories. Simple sketches were the favourites and no glittering shots were used to communicate the company's agenda. It was definitely not the same art as in the automobile business. However, it was a straight-forward concept that worked well within the Scandinavian borders. Mind you, everything published was in colourful black-and-white shades - no true colours here! In the end, originals were for rich people - advertising, you could say, was a poor man's art. However, ‘if the bike I ride to work can also win races, then I feel I’ve made a good choice buying the right machine’ was the important statement.

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In a quest for excellence, Husqvarna always strived to better its position on the market by advertising their products. So, be it Gunnar Kalén or Stanley Woods, the riders always marked success by being an icon in the eyes of the customers. To develop means to look forward, taking pleasure in wins and constantly strive for the next victory. But the 30s came to an abrupt halt when the war stalled ambitions towards the end of this magnificent decade.


Dementor

His close friends nicknamed him ‘James’ as Swede Gustaf Göthe had bought his first James motorcycle in 1914. When riding Husqvarna, his major merits consisted of victories in the ‘Novemberkasan’, the Six-Days ISDT and the prestigious ‘Majtävlingen’ – the May Trophy. Gustaf Göthe was also a well-respected engineer at the Huskvarna factory, being responsible for developing the famous 150-model - a 550cc Husqvarna V-twin. It was Husky’s first own-manufactured machine and came out in 1919.

The two phantoms Gustaf Göthe and David Senning captured gold medals in the 1922 Swiss ISDT. Three Husqvarna riders from Sweden took part in the event, where competitors had to manage steep hills in the Alps. Going uphill, not only strained the engines of the workhorses, but also put severe pressure on the brakes when going back down. Most riders were not used to such obstacles, which of course influenced their performance. Göthe however, was often heard humming the unfinished tunes of Beethoven or the ‘Magic Flute’ by Mozart when he was riding.

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Conquering the dwindling passes in the Alps, many a rider got stuck with problems and had to abandon the race. The Husqvarna riders had the disadvantage of the weight of their machines, which caused them to ride with care. The engines tended to overheat as they were used to the limit. Thanks to Gustaf Göthe and his partners, the Swedish efforts in the team resulted in third place after England and Switzerland. In 1923, Göthe took the Swedish Husky team to an overwhelming victory in the ISDT on home grounds. But this successful rider was more than a strong man behind his handlebars.

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He started riding back in 1913 and did his very first race on a twin-cylinder Humber motorcycle. In the following year, he set off on an English James machine, hence the nickname given to him by his colleagues. Gustaf Göthe was a young man with an engineer's degree when he joined Husqvarna in the first month of 1917. He was going to be responsible for R&D in the coming model 150 with a half-litre engine manufactured in-house. This is his story:

Gustaf Göthe: “The task given to me was twofold, if not more, partly I was to enhance the riding characteristics of the existing machine, and partly to develop a brand-new engine, which would make Husqvarna an entirely domestic product. Actually, the first plan included two vehicle versions – one lighter motorcycle for solo riding and one sidecar unit. But due to financial restrictions and other limitations, it was only possible to make the solo version, which then could be fitted with a sidecar as an option.

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“My responsibility included research in balancing the machine, keeping the overall weight to a minimum and making a reliable power source, which endured strain. The engine had to be quick and flexible and free from vibrations. But after the war, it was difficult to find decent material to work with. I went to Denmark where I found an AJS and a couple of other old machines, which was enough to do some experiments at the factory.

“I was also handicapped because of the lack of a test-bench since I needed to run the engine in order to develop its characteristics. The solution was to travel nearby to the village of Klevaliden, where some of the problems could be managed. On the other hand, there was also a shortage of fuel and the restrictions also had a negative influence, delaying my work. During 1918, I was able to finish the three-speed power source that would eventually be used on the Husqvarna model 150, which was presented the following year. The finished product was a 550cc four-stroke V-twin with side-valves, sturdy cooling fins and an Amac carburettor. The published performance was 10 horsepower but in reality, there was more clout in this power-house. However, it was decided to keep the figure low for tax reasons.

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“There were more things to take care of - the rest of this new machine such as the frame, suspension and riding position had to be developed for proper use. I made several trips to southern Sweden before the final work on my drawing board could be done. I was not allowed to change the front forks as the factory had a substantial inventory of these parts. Then again, there were repeated follow-up journeys to establish endurance, reliability and quality of the new 150 model. Finally, celebrating New Year’s for 1919, we could also praise the very first own-manufactured Husqvarna motorcycle. It was a great moment in my life and it also turned out that this motorcycle would path the way for a great future of the company.”

Back to racing, and in 1919, Gustaf Göthe once more took an important victory for his factory. Riding his new, own beloved machine, he ousted the competition by winning the prestigious Novemberkasan – a remarkable feat that he would repeat five years later when Göthe came first, riding a Husky sidecar carriage. He did a few more racing stunts, but from now on, Gustaf mainly concentrated on the work at the Swedish factory. In one of the pictures captured in the early 20s, we see Göthe on his machine equipped with gas-light and the feeding tube mounted on the bottom of the rear-frame.

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In 1928, the genius left Husqvarna and moved back to Stockholm where he became an editor at a weekly newspaper, covering sports. Shortly thereafter, he was hit by a car in a blind corner, which cost Göthe his life – a huge loss after so many successful races without injuries. Finally, a last wonderful truth, which tells you tons of Gustaf Göthe’s remarkable character. He always carried his tuxedo in his luggage when riding to an event as it would be unthinkable to present oneself in any other clothes at a prize ceremony. Wow!


Dementor

Apple-cheeked Bill Nilsson was nicknamed ‘Buffalo Bill’ because he showed no mercy to his competitors. The fiery Swede was a tough Viking – never afraid of a challenge. Bill rode with the precision of a surgeon, but his main assets were his short temper and his stubbornness to never give up. That's why Bill Nilsson was so efficient, so successful and ever since he straddled a factory Husqvarna was a stellar Grand Prix performer on the track...

It was in the beginning of the 50s that Bill Nilsson started riding motocross. He was already a good stuntman – great at wheelies, which require a good sense of balance. Ten years later, ‘Buffalo Bill’ was hired by Husqvarna to ride for them during the 1960 world championship season. Everyone in the town of Huskvarna was convinced that their new factory rider would be the one to count on. True, there was no guarantee, but everything pointed in the right direction.

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Reigning European champ Rolf Tibblin was riding the second big-bore factory machine, backing up the passionate Bill for the title. The Nilsson family lived on Rörvägen ‘Tube Road’, in Hallstavik and there were few tubes that couldn't be bent by super mechanic Bill. Up until now, he had built and tuned his own machines, which lead to his first world championship title in 1957.

“But now, I devote more time to riding and practicing around my home grounds in Roslagen, north of Stockholm,” Bill told me in the 60s. “The fact that I received my Husqvarna from the factory a full month ahead of the start of the season, made things a lot easier. I got used to its performance and could adjust minor details to suit my riding style. After 10 years in the saddle I had never been so well prepared.”

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Being just 1.70 metres tall, Bill possessed a stocky and robust body.He looked even smaller when he wore his large leather pants, and the helmet hanging on one side made him look even funnier. But once straddling his machine, there was little to joke about. Where the lack of experience penalised him, his determination and desire to win made up for it. His riding style was based on stamina and talent that allowed him to face obstacles with determination. His extremely tough character led him never to accept defeat. He wascomfortable in all terrains, be it in the mud, in the water pools or over jumps and hills. Bill was armed with great self-esteem and had a mind to go far in his career.

The 1960 championship lasted for four months and a couple of weeks. The season opener came at the end of April in Sittendorf, where a decisive event would reveal what everybody had been up to during the winter months. In mixed weather between a burning sun and freezing hailstorms, 30,000 spectators watched 37 riders from seven countries compete. The course was 1.7 kilometres long and had to be covered 15 times in each moto - a hard task even for the well trained and almost impossible for those who weren't in shape.

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Husqvarna soon proved to be in top condition – Rolf Tibblin won the first heat while Bill Nilsson came third. In the decisive moments of the second race, Tibblin took another win while Nilsson was second this time around. A double victory for Swedes and the domestic brand, what an eye opener!

By mid-May, Vésoul in France hosted the next Grand Prix. This was definitely not Nilsson's weekend as he broke down in both legs. First, he had an eroding spark plug, while a broken magneto stopped his second outing. But Husqvarna went on to win anyway - with Tibblin.

Two weeks later, the Swedes competed on their home turf, battling for positions in Hyllinge. Eight nations appeared in front of 15,000 spectators. Bill fell in the first heat but managed to come back and filled third spot. In the final, nobody could touch him and he took the overall victory - his first of the year. “I was so pissed off after my crash,” hot-tempered Bill said. "Consequently, I wanted revenge in the second leg."

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Italian Imola is a classic motorcycle venue, both for motocross, road racing and formula one. Bill Nilsson came third overall and now shared the lead in the world championship standings with 18 points, tied with Sten Lundin. In Bielstein, Germany, Bill Nilsson injured his foot and had to abandon the race, but a week later he made up for the loss by winning the British GP at Hawkstone Park. He was back in the world championship running again - with 26 points.

"It was a Hitchcock thriller in England,” Bill said with a grin. 50,000 fans were present to watch the Dutch Grand Prix at the sandy track in Bergharen. Husqvarna shared a double victory, with Nilsson first and Tibblin second. A great day for Sweden!

The Swedish dominance in the 500cc class was overwhelming that year. Out of the six best riders, five of them were from the Scandinavian countries. In Namur, Belgium, this proved to be a representative fact – the four top riders came from Sweden. It was like a playground next door.

Bill Nilsson had his chance to secure his second title and Husqvarna's first world championship ever, should things go his way - and it did. Monsieur Nilsson took his fourth win and beat his opponent Lundin by 30 seconds. This result forced the factory to print a fan-card with a picture of Bill winning in Namur. It is today very valuable and sought-after, especially if you happen to find a signed copy. A famous quote came from Bill when he was to sign his autograph, “I never sign my name below that of Sten Lundin’s,” Bill said in earnest. And that was it.

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The ninth and last round was organized in Ettelbruck, Luxemburg. In a water-filled ditch, both Nilsson and Tibblin had problems when a clogged ventilation hose for the petrol tank caused their retirement. Both riders had to abandon the race while Sten Lundin took the last laurel of the 1960 world championship, but he was still two points down on the leader.

Bill Nilsson also won his national championship in great style, taking three wins out of a possible four. Advertising was easy for Husqvarna at the end of this thrilling season; Nilsson first, Tibblin fourth. Life was smiling at the world champions and there were gorgeous headlines in these Good Old Times!


Dementor

There is an old Irish proverb ‘An old broom knows the dirty corners best’. This applies to the legendary Stanley Woods; whose 10 TT victories were unchallenged in the 1930s. In 1935 the Irishman chose to join the Husqvarna team, culminating in a tremendous Saxtorp win which the history books recall as a ‘hair-raising adventure’. Just shy of 90 years old, ‘Mister Tourist Trophy’ sadly died in 1993.

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Stanley Woods was a big name in motorcycle racing in the 30s. Born in Dublin in 1904, he became the most successful Isle of Man TT rider of the era with 10 wins, a record held for over 25 years until the late Mike Hailwood beat it. When he did so, Woods was waiting at the finish line to congratulate his colleague. The son of a toffee salesman, Stanley Woods would always bring boxes of candy for the scouts who manned the IoM scoreboard on which the grandstand audience relied to follow the races.

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As a youngster, Stanley rode a 1,000cc Harley sidecar and borrowed this machine to make his race-debut in 1921. He had removed the sidecar and competed in a public road event until a crash forced him out of the race. Replacing the broken handlebars with a branch cut from a roadside hedge, he went back home. Woods' TT career began in 1922. Unfortunately, his machine caught fire during a refuelling stop. He dowsed the fire, brushed aside the officials who were trying to persuade him to stop, and rode off to finish the race in fifth place - he was 18 years old. In 1923 he was back and won his first TT-race. There were to be many more and Stanley always conquered there. His association with British manufacturers spanned from 1926-34.

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By 1934, at the h of his career, Stanley Woods chose to switch to Swedish quality. His independent character and the prospect of better money led him to sign for the Husqvarna factory. In February 1934, Stanley came to Sweden to discuss motoring matters with boss Folke Mannerstedt. He wanted to have detailed info on his new Husky-Banana (English wording for those who wouldn't pronounce the Swedish brand correctly). The Irishman was curious about a national ice racing event. At the famous Lake Axamo in mid-Sweden, he was guided by specialists Kalén and Sunnqvist, who let the Irishman in on the secrets of broad-sliding on ice.

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"I have never been so frightened in my whole life," said Woods when he saw the riders perform in the cold. But, on February 18th, Woods was ready for his chilly ice debut at the Stockholm Vallentuna track. It proved to be less successful than he was on the tarmac. The machine did not start until half the race was over, so no triumph and the 35,000-strong crowd were disappointed. A week later, he tried again at Lillehammer in Norway when his chain broke right after the start. But there would be prosperous times. Husqvarna advertised their factory team for 1934, which not only included Woods but also Ernie Nott who rode the Swedish 350cc machine. Together with Gunnar Kalén and Ragnar Sunnqvist, Husqvarna had the highest quality team of all time.

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Saxtorp 1935; 150’000 spectators, 17 starters in the 500 C-class, Husqvarna started as favourites with Stanley Woods competing as a rookie. Starting at 12.45, it was an incredible day! Stanley had last-minute spark plug troubles and set off fifth but was already second after the first lap. Another round and the Irishman lay ahead of the entire field. Husqvarna were dominating on home turf. But after five laps Woods was missing. His machine had stopped and he stood alongside the track at Dösjöbro for a while before the engine fired up again. Time and effort were of the essence now. Stanley Woods went straight into the paddock where it was confirmed that he had a faulty gearbox. Normally there was nothing you could do, but the factory mechanic Nils Jacobsson fixed the gearbox in 14 minutes - with a little help. He was not allowed to enter the pits, so he worked lying horizontal, hanging over the paddock wall, as someone held his feet. Quite spectacular – there was no ‘no can do’!

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When Woods went back out onto the circuit again, he was two laps behind the leader. After 19 laps Woods went up to second place, a minute and 12 seconds behind now. Things looked difficult, but manageable for the champion. Two laps later he led the race again and was able to ease down his pace for safety. So, the fabulous Irishman took victory after 3.31 hours of racing. His average speed was 123,7 km/h with his best lap at six minutes and four seconds (av. 143,55 km/h).

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Stanley Woods had a fearless riding style and would talk calmly of drifting corners at 100mph on the loose surfaces of its time – this was combined with good mechanical knowledge and sympathy. The motorcycle press at the time described him as the ‘Irish Dasher’ with stylish riding manners that were influenced from watching fellow TT competitor’s race. But he was also a sly rider, as ragged as the outline of his face, he knew how to handle his machine tactically. On top of it all, Stanley Woods never gave up, being a true fighter in his game. His ability built him into a legend, but he was a modest man and chose to avoid recognising fame. His racing era took place against a backdrop of a poverty-stricken Ireland and a rapidly changing, pre-war Europe. Woods' standing in the history of the TT was so high that in 1968, experts named him the greatest of the island's competitors. In 1996 the Irish Post Office issued stamps of notable Irish motorcyclists that included Stanley Woods. Fanfares to one the greatest icons with another Irish proverb, which he liked, “If you're lucky enough to be Irish, you're lucky enough!”


Dementor

Throughout the history of Husqvarna, good old times existed for the brand during the road racing of the 30s - called TT, short for Tourist Trophy at the time. This form of motor racing was abandoned before the Second World War and it took more than 30 years before the arms factory in Huskvarna resurrected the sport again. One of the oldest motorcycle magazines in Sweden, MC-Nytt, had a thrifty editor who had high hopes for the local national brand and thought up some creative ideas to be introduced by Husqvarna.

In the beginning of the 60s the editor Bengt Björklund of the Swedish ‘Motor Cycle News’ magazine came up with the idea to reinstate road racing for Husqvarna. He said, “It would almost certainly stimulate the market.” A market that had consisted of racing offroad machines in various forms during the 50s. During this time the interest for road racing was still very much alive after the world war, but Sweden lacked talented riders who could perform well internationally.

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The new idea was discussed in the boardroom and it was decided to try a concept where the reliable 250cc engine would be used as a power plant. The quarter-litre engine would certainly not be the fastest in international competition, where a number of English and Japanese brands were leading members. But the Husqvarna on the other hand was very reliable and had a broad power-band, which should make it competitive in a starting field.

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It was decided that the project would be a joint venture between Husqvarna, where Bror Jaurén was responsible, and MC-Nytt where Bengt Björklund would be the driving force. Engine parts and some other components were given to the magazine people who were then responsible for putting together a very basic Swedish road racing machine. A chassis of Husky's motocross bike was now being used for road racing purposes for the very first time and it was proven to both be adequate and reliable for the task. Development engineer Tommy Malm at Husqvarna helped with settings and also did some modifications of the power plant to make the new machine faster. The team was allowed to use Husqvarna's facilities, but had to work on their spare time, outside of working hours.

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One of the local bike riders from the west-coast agreed to race the machine, which were ready to be used for the 1966 season. His name was Anders Bengtsson who had little experience of racing but was considered to be a daredevil on a two-wheels. During the end of 1965, road racer Kent Andersson was also contacted which gave Husqvarna an excellent pair of riders for the new season.

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The initial national championship race was to be held at Skarpnäck, just outside the Swedish capital of Stockholm. Tommy Malm had spent a lot of hours in the workshop preparing for the Husqvarna debut event. The race went very well and Kent Andersson (125cc world champion for a Japanese brand many years later) won the 250cc class while Bengtsson managed to finish third. This was of course very much out of order for a total rookie and Husqvarna was soon in the headlines on the Swedish sports papers all over the country.

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This success gave the factory and team members a lot of confidence and Husqvarna continued road racing on the European continent. They were mostly successful on tight circuits where Andersson & Bengtsson would use their machines with the advantage of having good performance in combination with superior road-holding. Faster tracks were not as successful as their top-speed could never match that of their competitors'. The top result came in a local Belgian road race where the Husqvarna pair finished on top of the podium.

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After the European success Tommy Malm began looking worldwide for acceptance. He contacted the organisers of the Japanese Grand Prix and not only was the team's entry accepted, but it also included expenses paid for the entire trip as well as some starting money up front.

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Husqvarna's Grand Prix debut could not have gone better for a rookie team. Kent Andersson became the first Swedish rider for a long time to finish in the points when he crossed the finish line sixth, giving the factory its very first world championship point. However, the factory did not think it was worth continuing their efforts after the first season in 1966. They decided it would take too many resources and cost too much to go on racing and therefore withdrew their team the following year. It would take quite a few years before Husqvarna made a comeback in road racing. But that is another story...


Dementor

BIKES TO DYE FOR

Bragging about being the ‘biggest and best’ was not out of order for the Americans in the fifties. They prospered after the Second World War and hit a big economy leap. Research and development resulted in modern products which were very much sought after in Europe. American motorcycling was everyman's game, be it in the desert or just scrambling around the forests.

Things looked gloomy for the Husqvarna two-wheelers at the beginning of the 60s. Despite good intentions and motocross titles, the board of directors had limited understanding of the motorcycling potential. To say the least, they were against most of the ideas that came from responsible people in this division. But as it happened, chance would alter the future for the Husqvarna off-roaders and the answer lay in the United States.

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The Swedish dealer Stig Ericson of MC-Trim in Stockholm was travelling around San Diego in southern California. As winters were cold back home, ‘Stickan’ preferred the western state sun to the local snow. In a nifty smorgasbord joint called ‘Bit of Sweden’ in El Cajon, he, by sheer chance, met with salesman Edison Dye over a meal. The American had been in the bike business for years and the two started talking about European motocross. Edison showed genuine interest for Husqvarna, but the MX sport had yet to be discovered in the U.S.A. However, Mr Dye figured that there would be interest in solid offroad machines such as the Swedish product.

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Consequently, Edison Dye approached the weapons factory with a letter asking them to let him and his company MED International represent Husqvarna in the United States. True to the negative instinct from the leaders in Huskvarna, the simple answer was "no”, with a polite twist of saying "thank you for the interest". Their point of view was enhanced by factors such as; no desire to export, no motocross market available, no knowledge of recreational riding and last but not least, an unfavourable dollar-exchange rate, which made Swedish goods expensive across the Atlantic.

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But mister Dye from Oskaloosa in Iowa did not give in as easily as earlier interested parties had done. The rebel had a temper of a whirlwind and was persistent enough to be invited for a meeting by the autumn of 1965. Two representatives from Husqvarna met with the eager American in Scandinavia. Edison Dye convinced the Swedes that he was the right man for the job and bought 50 machines to be delivered during the 1966 season. The initial deliveries were air-freighted, which saved valuable time as Edison Dye wanted to give the first Husqvarna to ace rider Malcolm Smith.

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Edison had seen Malcolm ride on a track outside San Diego and he went to see Smith in Riverside. The ace rider showed interest to switch from his British make to Husqvarna. "I will try out your bike and let you know how I feel," he said. Malcolm was impressed with the Swedish product and had a great smile on his lips when returning from a long ride in the hills. "I want to try it next Sunday at a desert race," was Malcolm's comment. Of course, he won the race by over 20 minutes at the finish line. The rest is history. Malcolm Smith became the number One rider for Husqvarna in the United States, backed by Med International. Their relationship lasted over a period of more than five years.

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Edison Dye also wanted to have machines in his Californian showroom. One of the initial 50 machines was bought by Steen's and delivered to Alhambra in Los Angeles - a Husky which I rode in 1967 and blogged about some time ago (see ‘Mojave Dancing’). For three years the Swedish factory had only churned out a few hundred units a year, but this changed in 1966 when USA hit the market for the Husqvarna products.

Edison Dye: "The first year I sold 100 machines, then it was around 500 units while the third year's sale came up to 1,000." Not only was MED International successful, but also triple world champion Torsten Hallman, who rode 23 races with as many wins. He was the true Swedish ambassador who presented the sport to the U.S. motorcycle fans. Shortly after, Dye & Hallman introduced the classic Inter-AM motocross series in the USA, where most of the world top stars came to compete towards the end of the sixties. Now would have been the right time for the Husky people to react and invest into the future. Unfortunately, that did not happen although the U.S. market swallowed the better part of the factory's production.

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From 1961 to 1970 Husqvarna only manufactured 14,000 units, of which 5,000 were made in 1970 when the new Ödeshög factory opened. But the demand from the American market was bigger than that. Hungry customers waited to lay their hands on this new Scandinavian product. Edison Dye was the father of American motocross and did many fine things for the sport when it was established in the USA.

By 1974 Edison Dye decided to end his successful business and stop going to races. He had spent a good part of his life selling bikes. Edison wanted to retire as he also had lost his influence on the international motocross series (first called ‘Inter-AM’ - then the ‘Trans-AMA’ series). In 1999, the American received a Motocross Life Achievement Award in the USA for his outstanding efforts with Husqvarna during an influential 10-year period when motocross arrived in the big country.


Dementor

ALWAYS ON TWO WHEELS

At 70, Arne Kring still enjoys his time fixing two-wheelers. Although he was a factory rider for Husqvarna, he never left his true profession as a repair and salesman for bicycles in his private shop. Kring became globally famous when he ousted the entire motocross world back in 1970. He led the 500cc championship and would have won the title had he not crashed severely injuring his back. The result - Arne was runner-up to Bengt Aberg, who instead clinched his second MX world title.

He had the calm persona of a true northerner and Arne Kring never used big words around his colleagues. Coming from Knada in the county of Hälsingland, he was born on November 16th in 1942. In his teenage years he became interested in motorcycles and started to ride a 175cc Husqvarna Silver Arrow with great passion. More often than not, he rode his two-stroke on gravel roads and into the woods to have some fun. So, in the early sixties, Arne Kring decided to be a racer and took up motocross seriously. By chance he entered the Swedish GP at Vännäs in 1963, as the event was held not too far away from his home. Arne surprised the entire elite class by finishing second overall behind Torsten Hallman. Kring was only 20 years old at the time and there were of course big headlines in the press upon his unexpected success.

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After his podium achievement the Swedish youngster continued racing. Between 1964 and 1967 he rode Lindström and Ricksson machines, both makes were developments on the Husqvarna bikes. At the Swedish 250 GP in Motala 1967, Arne Kring took world championship points again coming fourth overall. This popular result prompted the Swedish factory to give Kring a machine for the 1968 GP season, but it was still early days in his coming career.

In 1969, Arne Kring hit top form and was right there from the start of this season. Not only was he in good physical condition, but he also had the best 500cc machinery available from the Husqvarna factory. The second round on the agenda came in Motala where Arne had scored two years before in the 250 class. Now he was into the powerful big-bore machinery, but it made little difference for the Swede who delighted his home crowd by winning his very first Grand Prix - ahead of Bengt Aberg.

“It was a fantastic feeling beating my neighbour from home,” said Kring with a great smile on his face. “Bengt and I are good friends, but not on the track, of course.”

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For good measures Arne went onto the next GP in Norg, Holland, where he took yet another Grand Prix victory in the sand. After three GPs he now led the championship. By mid-June the elite crowd of riders had gathered in Prérov, Czechoslovakia. Kring delighted the spectators by taking the chequered flag as second rider overall, gaining a valuable 12 points. He now placed second in the overall 500cc standings.

“The scene in the eastern world is incredible,” said Arne. “People really care for motocross and they are knowledgeable of our sport.”

It took until the last round in Schwerin, East Germany, before Kring won again, cheered on by spectator’s hats and handkerchiefs. It was a fantastic year for the Swede, placing fourth in the championship - behind winning Aberg. It was a tremendous season for Husqvarna.

When not on his motocross bike, Kring was occupied with two-wheelers. He has a shop at home for selling and repairing bicycles together with other bits and pieces that may be required out in the countryside - far from the big cities.

“The bicycle shop has been my safe heaven and main income,” said Arne Kring with a cup of coffee in hand. “The motocross was serious for a few years and I enjoyed the time thoroughly. But I also knew that when push comes to shove, I could rely on my business although it never grew out of proportion. I guess some customers came because they wanted to see who the racer-guy on the Husqvarna was.”

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Arne also has a great collection of motocross machines at home, mostly Husqvarnas in original condition. All his bikes are in perfect shape and will probably end up in some museum one of these days. “Maybe, if I get tired of them, but they are certainly not for sale now,” Arne says. In the meantime, the bikes are displayed in his shop to be seen by customers during opening hours.

1970 began with Kring on top form. Halfway through the season he was leading the championship with three GP wins - 14 points ahead of his neighbour Aberg. The two unfortunately clashed in their home GP and both had to retire. In the second half of the season Arne Kring had a severe crash in Belgium at an international race and hurt his back seriously. It put him out of the season and out of the title race. Still, he came second in the 500cc championship overall. Arne Kring raced in the world-series for another five seasons. In total, he won seven Grand Prix victories, but decided to stop riding motocross after 1975.

Years after his active career I visited Kring in his Knada shop, 300 kilometres from home.

“Welcome, here is a cup of coffee,” he said when the phone rang. “Can you please answer and listen to what the customer wants? I have to attend to a bike over here.”

Half an hour went by and Arne remained occupied. An hour went by and he still acted the salesman. Myself, after having served a few more customers and answered questions, decided to leave.

“Nice to see you,” Arne Kring said with a big grin on his face. “Please come see me again. Maybe then I can spare a few moments...”


Dementor

SIX RIGOROUS DAYS

The International Six Days is well known to most bike enthusiasts. Back in 1950 the Swedes wanted their own enduro, so the first "Motoring Six-Days" event was introduced. This gruelling race lasted throughout 50s and was cherished by riders who wanted success despite the sacrifices. It was also the official racing comeback for the Huskvarna Factory after the war.

Carl Heimdahl was one of the leading technicians at Husqvarna's R&D department, having been contracted by the factory from the beginning of the 30s. Among his other achievements Carl was also responsible as the chief engineer for the coming ‘Silver Arrow’ - Husqvarna's biggest street success throughout history. He was also a keen competitor and had collected a lot of trophies on his bookshelf. In the beginning of 1950, the newly developed 125cc engine was ready for testing at the factory. Since the ‘Motoring Six-Days’ was coming up in mid-May, everyone was looking to finish the new machine in time for this decisive race.

57_motor_6days.jpg90 participants throughout five classes - including sidecars - took off from the start at 5.30 in the morning of May 13th 1950. The day’s stage went from Linköping to Västerås, and was 463km long. As the final part consisted of a swamp section, quite a few of the delegates had to unfortunately abandon the race there. Only five riders were without penalties after day one. The second stage was easier to accomplish, while the third consisted of a tough night-stage, 324 km long. It was a cold night and very testing for the competitors - just 30 men made it through the darkness. After only four hours of the sleep, the next stage was held over 244km. The final stretch then went to Stockholm with the riders completing a total distance of 1,900km. In the 125cc class, Husqvarna dominated the results sheet by taking the four first places, including Carl Heimdahl who placed fourth at the finish.

dsc_0837.jpgThe popular event was repeated in 1951, but the race ran from Falun to the Stadium in Stockholm over seven stages - the night section included. This time, the start was held on June eighth, which made the enduro conditions a little less extreme than the previous year. In the landscape of Dalarna, many difficulties were encountered by optimistic riders. Stages in touristic towns like Leksand, Rättvik, Orsa and Mora had to be covered. The knockout sections were saved until the last days, in order to separate the men from the boys. dsc_0840.jpgAfter his 1950 success, Carl Heimdahl was awarded to start as the number two rider a few minutes after six o'clock in the morning. However, he was out of luck and did not finish the competition. Instead, two other Husqvarna-mounted riders were successful and finished second and third in the 125-175cc class.

1955 was the last true Six-Days event of the ‘Motorsexdagars’ as it was shortened after this year. A record number of 105 riders turned up to participate, but only 65 percent of them managed to take the chequered flag on May 22nd when the competition came to an end. Before that, the race was not only a nightmare to conquer, but the authorities had turned against motorcycling in general - bike racing such as enduros in particular. The police were watching everywhere and gave out penalties to surprised riders who in some instances had broken the law with the lowest margins. Despite all the rattling, Husqvarna managed to dominate the 175cc class with their reliable machines. Out of 11 gold medals in this class, the Husqvarna riders captured no less than eight golden plaques - a phenomenal record in the books. The rider Bengt Fasth came home without penalties, having ridden the ultra-new Silver Arrow with modified front forks and a rebuilt rear-frame. dream_machine_281.jpgOne year later, the event had transformed into a four-day competition due to the high costs of the venue. 97 men started this enduro in Strängnäs and 66 made it to the finish line. The Husqvarna riders Sune Olsson and Lars Hansson were first and second in the 175cc senior class, where the competition was very strong. In 1957 the race was reduced further to three days, which would remain for the lifetime of the event. Rolf Stagman was a good enduro rider for Husqvarna and won a gold medal there. He was then approached by the factory and assigned as a test rider for the ‘Silver Arrow’ project.

In 1958 the Motoring Six-days had the status of a national enduro championship race. Again, the 175cc class was won by Husqvarna with Göte Berglund in the saddle. Finally, 1959. It was again a super-tough race with only a couple of riders without penalties at the finish. Consequently, the organisers prolonged the riding time by 10 minutes in order to be able to distribute all the 41 medals that had been prepared for 55 riders in this event. There were of course massive protests from the most successful participants, but the organisers insisted, so the result sheet wasn't a complete waste of paper.

In the circle of life, the "Motorsexdagars" came to an end after costs sky-rocketed and interest diminished. It was a stellar 50s venue where only the strongest were victorious. Husqvarna made a strong contribution to this success!


Dementor

FINNISH GP 1932

People in Finland have always had a sweet tooth for motor racing. Through the years they have fostered more than a few world-class motorcycle riders. Looking back through history, it all started in 1932 when the country organized their first Grand Prix, outside of Helsinki. There was a place that initially had been reserved for a zoo, but plans changed and it turned out to be a good location for a TT racing circuit. Therefore, it received the name ‘Djurgarden’ (animal garden) after it had been initially called the Eläintarha track.

After thorough preparations and massive publicity, things looked optimal for a tremendous weekend with a new national record crowd present. It was reported that nearly 50,000 spectators made it to the Eläintarha/Djurgarden circuit, which had been made up to Grand Prix standards ahead of this fabulous event. It was such a crowd-pleaser that thousands of would-be attendants had to return home due to a scarcity of tickets and lack of space on the racing grounds.

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Every inch was packed to the limit when things started to happen. The cars were starting on this day and it wasn't until two o'clock in the afternoon that the two-wheeled TT riders made their entrance. Husqvarna had their two aces lined up at the start, represented by Gunnar Kalén in the C-class (500cc) while Ragnar Sunnqvist rode in the B-class (350cc). The two motorcycle classes had a joint start with 20 riders taking off from the grid at the grandstands.

At the getaway, Gunnar Kalén, displaying the number eight was the quickest man off the grid, closely followed by the local star Otto Brandt riding a British-made Rudge. In third spot Ragnar Sunnqvist (Husqvarna) already haede Ove Lambert-Meuller had problems with his AJS right from the beginning and was forced to catch up with the rest of the field having been severely delayed - at least, he rejoined the race. After a little more than one-minute, the leaders raced past the grandstands having completed their first 2,034 metres out of a total of 42 laps.

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Kalén was still in the lead and now being followed by the Finn, Arne Anttila on his AJS, and Hans Thorell. The home rider K. G. Granberg, on a 500 cc Saroléa, lay fourth just ahead of Sunnqvist and ace Erik Westerberg on a well-tuned Norton, both battling for position. After five laps the front order was still the same while Thorell had advanced to third place follwho like Anttila was heavily supported by the delighted crowd. The Finns realised that their riders did not have the same experience as their Swedish neighbours when it came to international bouts. By lap 10 Kalén had increased his lead and now was 500 metres ahead of second and third men, Anttila and Granberg.

So, Gunnar Kalén on his super-tuned 500 Husqvarna stormed away on the long ‘Railway Straight’ in front of a massive bunch of spectators. Ragnar Sunnqvist now lay fifth overall, but second in the B-class. At this time the five leaders had an overwhelming margin to the rest of the field. During the next ten laps, Granberg made a stunning effort, catching up with Kalén. After a little more than halfway through the race he was just 25 metres behind the leader.

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Erik Westerberg was forced to pit, adjusting his gear lever before he rejoined the race. However, he was a lap behind at that stage. Right up until lap 40 Granberg followed Kalén in the leader's shadow. The Finn then overtook the front runner to the great excitement of the spectators – Kalén however soon re-took the lead. Granberg tried too hard to regain his former position when he crashed, injuring his shoulder and having to retire.

After this incident, the road to the finish was clear cut for Gunnar Kalén who won almost a full minute ahead of Arne Anttila and Erik Westerberg who had been catching up during the last stage of this gruelling race. Ragnar Sunnqvist came second overall according to the measured time, but he was of course the master of the B-class, celebrating a comfortable victory. Ragnar was almost four seconds ahead of the Finn R. Lampinen on his Rudge machine. This was a double win for Husqvarna beating the opposition fair and square.

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“We had a devastating advantage over the competition with our full-blood machines in perfect order,” recalls Kalén after crossing the finish line. His overall time was one-hour eight minutes and 37 seconds - at a stunning average of 89 km/h.

“You can't do more than win,” said Ragnar Sunnqvist after having scored in the 350 cc B-class - his speed was 88 km/h. Fanfares played out to both Husqvarna-mounted Swedes. Now, the motoring world looked forward to the next Grand Prix at Saxtorp, a venue which would be held in just three months' time. Here the two ace riders would again score a double victory. Caramba!

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Dementor

MOJAVE DESERT DANCING

Twisting the night away dancing salsa or samba was never my kind of thing. No, I'd rather be doing it dirty in the dunes - preferably on a Husky-engined bike. Come with me back to 1967 and follow me through the desert - just 18-years-old and newly-graduated, I came Stateside to dance around in the Mojave. Surfers and blondes, step aside!

Early May, after graduating from high school, it was party time. I was out for an adventure and planned to start the following morning – a trip to the US Indy 500. But first, I had a few drinks and ended up in Hotel Foresta, outside Stockholm city. As it turned out, the Beach Boys were on tour in my home-town and we hit the very same bar in the wee hours of the night. Talking to Brian and Dennis Wilson, the subject soon got onto cars - a favourite topic. I proudly told them that I would drive a Shelby-Mustang press car for three weeks in California, but they were unimpressed: "It's a slow car”, they said unanimously, “we prefer the Shelby sports car, which is a lot faster". True, but then I did drive the supercharged version, which produced an awesome 450 horsepower, more than enough power for a poor graduate. After Dennis signed my college cap, we parted ways and they wished me good luck on my Surfin' Safari.

I had been invited to Los Angeles after helping a lost American media man in Sweden, the previous year. "Why don't you come visit me in Pasadena?” he’d asked. “Be my guest and stay as long as you want". Such a nice proposal couldn’t be rejected and Lynn Wineland was the kind journalist who would take care of me.

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Being a true Californian, he had broad shoulders and pale-blue eyes, having spent his youth surfing - just the way the yanks do as a lifestyle here. He also had access to one of the first Husqvarna motocross machines that were imported to the United States. "Why don't we enter you in a race?" he asked matter-of-factly. Being open to new things, I agreed without hesitation. "I'll take you to the Mojave for the weekend." Lynn promised.

Like many epic trails, the Mojave Desert was an old Indian trade-route. The Indians lived here along the Colorado River, following tracks that guaranteed water. Then the Americans moved west. Kit Carson came this way to reach the Mexican Pueblos. Gold was found, and people went crazy.

Gold or not, the Mojave was an early route that brought pioneers to California. The soil is unique and much of the countryside is the same now as it was once found. The Mojave consists of sand mixed with gravel basins, potholes and salt flats. It is a vast, arid region in south eastern California and you'll see cat claws grow along the arroyos. Trees are few, the exception being the Joshua, which is a yucca.

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We left early Sunday morning, it was pitch black outside. Stopping for breakfast - American style - scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, toast and hot coffee. Yummy, not like yoghurt and cereal back home! Getting close to nature, we watched the sun come up over the horizon. Unforgettable. To me, this was the Wild West, which is America to Europeans. The desert lives with its fate and has its own rules. Water means everything, or better still, the lack of it. In fact, an oasis is all that is on your mind despite all the bike fun. For it will get hot out there, and it gets dusty and your throat is going to be clogged, nearly as bad as your carburettor.

I didn’t realise at first but I had been entered into a cross-country event - a free-for-all invitation. Before I knew what was happening, I was straddling a brand new 250cc Husky, about to compete with a few hundred race fans in the desert. Among them, the rising star J. N. Roberts who was also Husqvarna-mounted. We were the only two guys riding the Swedish brand this Sunday.

The Mojave Preserve is huge, empty and with little service available. "Take plenty of emergency rations, extra water and fill up your gas tank". I did the opposite, thinking back to the same advice mentioned in Australia when I was riding a bike towards the Kakadu National Park; “Bring water and petrol into the outback” – I did the opposite. When young, you’re indestructible.

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Feeling lost among these riders ready to race, I missed the start, realizing too late it was time to go. Being late, I flew away eating dust and sand from the back of the field while J. N. was up front. I bounced around battling for control while adrenalin pumped through my veins.

Small, bumpy hills are a blast to cover and I went as fast as I dared over rocks where vision was poor. Driving full throttle over blind obstacles may not be my favourite game, but here I had a short time to enjoy the world's most enjoyable toy, so I gambled. The engine revved out when airborne, the power peaked in a crescendo and the rear weight caused the front-end to rise into the air. I wouldn't want to do a somersault here - better keep out of trouble, they weren’t my wheels after all.

A small breeze of hot and dry air flowed through my helmet and felt like a river of wind. I saw a long left-hander coming up and dropped down to 3rd gear. The Husky went wide and I tried holding the broadside throughout the curve. It is said that this trail still brings out the best and worst in people, being such a dangerous stretch. Picnickers should stay at home, as travelling here is unforgiving. Be it a sandstorm or a whirlwind, the climate is going to set you back a few pounds when you’re sweating.

The race in the sand was over in a little over half-an-hour. I had been chasing jack rabbits more than racing, but I competed, did some wheelies and crossed the finish, proud to have made it. Some guides predict you can die out here, maybe that’s what made my trip so challenging. What an adventure for an 18-year-old teenager!

I've been to Bonneville, rode a bike around Australia and driven to 14 countries within 24 hours - a Guinness Record. But riding the Husqvarna in Mojave tickled my fancy, because the machine was fast and furious. The experience will stay with me for the rest of my life. Oh, the race results? J.N. Roberts crossed the line before anyone else. Myself, I came last. Hurt, but not injured. So, a Husqvarna at both ends of the results sheet - 50 years ago!


Dementor

ICE RACING IN 1935

In the 1930s, Husqvarna dominated the Swedish ice-racing scene. Riders such as Ragnar Sunnqvist, Ivar Skeppstedt and Martin Strömberg took to the frozen lakes on Husky 350cc and 500cc machines equipped with lethal-looking spiked tyres. To the cheers of thousands of spectators these men were the gladiators of their time, racing hard in some of the toughest conditions.

Ice racing on studded tyres has always been popular in Sweden. It started in the twenties and there were already many famous events to choose from. In the mid-thirties, Husqvarna played a major role in races on the slippery frozen surface. The leading man in the festivities was Ragnar Sunnqvist, he rode for his private Husqvarna team as the factory had stopped supporting their riders at the time, but races were still won on the successful brand.

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Vallentuna, outside Stockholm, was the initial event for a new private team, Scuderia Husqvarna. The factory had withdrawn their official racing support, so Husqvarna’s new fate was established through private interests. It was February, it was cold and the lake had been frozen for quite a while when riders gathered to race in two classes. On February 17th in 1935, the event set off in super-windy conditions at a temperature of minus 15 degrees Celsius.

Despite the temperature some 15,000 spectators came to watch, hardened people who didn't mind getting cold during the day. The track consisted of many curves with one long straight, this was odd for an ice race. The start time was set at one o'clock, and the first heat was ready to get away with riders at the start line, engines running.

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Husqvarna entered with several machines, all on studded tyres with centimetre-long spikes moulded into the rubber. In order to race on the slippery surface, there had to be lots of spikes in each tire. In fact, there were more than six Husky bikes on the starting line which consisted of motorcycles from two separate classes; the 500cc C-class and the 350 cc B-class. Most Huskys were twin-cylinder, but there was also a single-cylinder 350cc ridden by ace Rolf Gülich. The twin-cylinders were a bit rough at the start as they were manufactured to be bump-started - turning the engine to fire up. That meant the first gear was very high, which made the Husqvarnas slow to get away when the flag was dropped.

Dancing on the ice began with riders charging hard from the start. One of the competitors, the legendary Ivar Skeppstedt, missed the second corner and rode straight into the snow-wall. He did recover, but was a bit behind, pushing hard to make up lost time. The race was over 10 laps and the length of the track was four kilometres long. The track was covered in snow, which whirled in the wind, making visibility non-existent. The studded tires bit into the ice, blasting clouds of tiny frozen drops in the air. This was not only a rider problem, as the crowd also had trouble seeing much of the action. However, with 20 riders active on the circuit the battle went on, regardless of each individual’s impression. At least, nobody was in the need of a Sherpa showing the way.

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As had happened many times before, Ragnar Sunnqvist took the lead of the field, having no problems whatsoever seeing where he was heading. Husky rider Skeppstedt was soon on Sunnqvist's heels despite his previous mistake and in third spot lay Arnold Linder, also Husqvarna-mounted. Then Sunnqvist had to make a stop to clean his wires and spark-plugs, due to them being clogged with snow. A new rider by the name of Larsson now took the lead, but he took a shortcut due to bad visibility and was consequently disqualified from the race.

Then something happened, the wind dropped and all the riders suddenly had a clear view of the track. In the big C-class Skeppstedt managed to pass his fellow Husqvarna competitor, Sunnqvist - the latter suffering with a misfiring engine. This made the ace-rider lose more and more ground to the leader which couldn’t be recovered. Instead, Ivar Skeppstedt took his Husqvarna to the overall victory, five seconds ahead of team-mate Arnold Linder. Husqvarna's third man over the finish line was Ragnar Sunnqvist, almost a minute behind the winner. Husqvarna took all three places on the podium and received all the accolades from a cheering crowd.

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In the B-class, Husqvarna also managed a triple podium. First to take the flag was Martin Strömberg, while Arthur Olsson and Carl Bagenholm followed in pursuit, around half a minute behind the first man.

It was a remarkable day, with chilly weather and hot, hot races – perfect for the ultrafast and reliable Husqvarna machines!


Dementor

HUSQVARNA ERA 1903-1910

Life was different in the old millennium. The revolution in technology set in and people started to move around in vehicles. Husqvarna produced its first two-wheeler in 1903, pioneering the trade after the company had been around for more than 200 years. In the period from 1903 to 1910, Husqvarna manufactured four different models.

Over millennia people had relied on horse and carriage for transport. In the beginning of the 20th century, there were research and developments that led to better comfort and faster access. When Husqvarna started its operation in 1689, it was an armory where rifles and weapons were manufactured.Two-hundred years later the company expanded, to also produce sewing machines. After that "the House-Mill" stoves and household appliances were added to the menu by the end of the 19th century.

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1903 was a distinct breakthrough for the now growing company situated next to the river of Huskvarna – meaning "House Mill"- in the town with the same name. The "Moped" was invented here and the name was nothing more than an abbreviation for "Motorvelociped" - an engine-velocipide. The engineers were thorough and tested several foreign-produced drive trains before arriving at their result. Their final choice was to use a Belgian-made FN-engine (Fabrique Nationale) in connection with the homemade bicycle. The single-cylinder engine from Liège had a capacity of 225cc and the performance was measured at one and a quarter horsepower which gave this machine a manageable speed of 40-50 km/h. As the petrol tank contained four liters of fuel, it was possible to cover a distance of approximately 150 kilometers without filling again. But in fact, the final product was more like a pedal bike with an added power package. And the transmission from engine to wheel was made by a leather-belt. In the book of instructions you could read: "There are no obstacles in learning how to operate this engine-velocipide. Nor does it take any technical knowledge for the purpose. However, you do have to take care of this machine carefully and see to the fact that it functions impeccably. If not, this vehicle will not perform to the satisfaction of the owner". It was furthermore added as a tip on the starting method of this power source, should it be difficult to get it going: "If the petrol is too cold, you can warm up the carburator by holding a burning newspaper or other sheet underneath it. Do not under any circumstances use a welding torch to heat it!" The Husqvarna logotype was painted on the tank and the machine was manufactured on a small scale between 1903 and 1906. The initial price tag was set at 700 kronor, SEK (approx. 150 US dollars). In the book of instructions, it was furthermore stated that the weapons factory did not give any warranty on the FN-engine, but instead took full responsibility for the velocipide itself. In the last season, the original power source from the FN was increased to the tune of 2 3/4 horsepower.

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There are no sales figures available from this era. But, the "Motorvelociped" had dual purposes being both used for transportation as well as for racing. A year after - in 1907 - Husqvarna made a test using a NSU engine, which gave an output of 3 1/4 HP, but the German-made power was only used for two years. However, as of 1907, a magneto was standard on all power sources handled onwards in Huskvarna. Still, a generator for the battery lay a long way ahead in time.

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From 1908 the first manufacturing figures are known to the public. The weapons factory churned out and sold 14 units of its product. At the same time the Swedes initiated a co-operation with Motosacoche in Switzerland. This company was based in Geneva, but also had a factory with 300 employees in Genova, Italy, where both engines and motorcycles were manufactured. The Motosacoche power sources were then sold to more than a dozen different two-wheel producers all over Europe. The Swedish collaboration with the Swiss lasted for almost four years. In the following year, Husqvarna took a giant step towards making a two-wheeler that looked like a motorcycle. Using the single-cylinder Motosacoche No 58 they made a nice looking machine that had an aura of the weapons factory. All in all, 23 units were sold during 1909. The sales doubled in the coming year when a new collaboration was introduced. This time, it was again a Swiss company, by the name of Moto-Rève - the Motorcycle Dream. The power source of the model 65 had a capacity of 298cc and a performance of 2 HP, but the main feature of the 1910 model was the configuration of this engine - a dual - cylinder v-twin.

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In their initial eight years - 1903-1910 - Husqvarna had made a giant step in engineering, but only sold approximately one hundred units. Soon enough the market would be attracted by the new models from the next pioneering Husqvarna era - 1911 to 1920.


Dementor

In the beginning of the 1950s, not many people had travel on their mind. But some people strived for adventure. A Swedish military lieutenant by the name of Kaj Wessberg and his wife Mary set off on an American trip in the summer of 1954. They travelled 2,000 kilometres through 10 countries, on their Husqvarna ‘Dream Machine’. The model 281, as it was also known by the greater public. Here is the second episode of their fantastic story…

Being adventurers, the married couple were keen on broadening their horizons and wanted to experience the sights of North and South America. But it would take more than a holiday to conquer these vast continents on a motorcycle. There were no purpose-built touring machines around in these days. After receiving support from the Husqvarna factory, the ‘Dream Machine’ was shipped to the west coast of the United States. In New York, the start of this epic trip began with a time-consuming visit to the American Customs authorities. The Wessbergs had arrived to pick up their machine in the harbour, which proved to be all but simple. The Customs officials asked a lot of questions and were keen that the Swedish machine would leave the USA and not be resold here.

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“The worst nightmare was to find our way out of this Metropolis,” Kaj Wessberg told the reporters who covered this long-lasting event. “We had troubles finding the right way out of the big city.”

Heading southward, after some delays, the couple were on their way and rode towards Florida, which would be their first stopover. Having completed this distance without troubles, it was nice to experience the hot summer winds of the Florida coast. The couple enjoyed the sun before continuing to Texas. After this big state, they once again turned south heading into Mexico and on towards Guatemala.

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“The roads were often very bad and we struggled along, sometimes physically exhausted.” Mary wrote home. But camping life worked out well since the Wessbergs had been thoughtful, bringing adequate equipment for their tour. One of the less pleasant experiences occurred in Mexico when the couple were staying with the Swedish Consul General.

“When we woke up in the morning, everything had been taken away from us,” Mary told in a sad voice. “The theft meant that we had no money, no passports, no binoculars, no camera, and so on. It took us two weeks to replace everything and be on our way again. Very frustrating!”

The media had a keen interest in the adventurous voyage and followed the progress closely.

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“It was of great value having press clippings when we had to contact local authorities for help,” said Kaj Wessberg. By the time they reached Nicaragua, the political situation was in turmoil. Luckily the Husqvarna mount received military escort through parts of the instable country. It was ordered by Nicaragua's leader himself, Anastasio Somoza! The tour went on through the Central-American countries of Costa Rica and Panama before the next objectives Colombia and Ecuador.

“The people in the countryside were overwhelming and supported us all the way,” Mary told. “They were spontaneous and often took their instruments to entertain us with their local music. Despite camping during the entire voyage, we were never molested in any way.”

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During the journey, the couple also came to conquer the Andes on their Husqvarna Dream Machine. The 175cc engine was a bit weak in higher altitudes and Mary sometimes had to get off the bike in order to continue by foot. It was sometimes necessary for her to push in order to make the steep hills. At Pico del Aguilla they reached an altitude of more than 4’000 meters where the gravel roads were almost non-existent. Oil-mixed petrol was sometimes scarce, but in the end, there was always a local farmer who had fuel available. A full tank contained 13 litres of fuel, including a one-and-a-half litre reserve. Generally, petrol was extremely cheap.

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On one occasion, the Husqvarna was pushed onto a trolley and they rode on the railway from a banana plantation in Colombia to the final destination of Venezuela. After ten long months, the adventure was over and it was time to return to Sweden. The Husqvarna and its riders had covered more than 2,000 kilometres before the bike was shipped back on a container ship. It went from Caracas to its home country and was immediately shown at the Swedish Fair in Stockholm, where visitors could admire this precious gem at the factory's own stand.

“The only mishap with the Dream Machine came after a small crash when the throttle cable was damaged and had to be replaced with a new wire,” Kaj and Mary Wessberg stated with pride. “Otherwise it was full throttle all the way.”


Dementor

DREAM MACHINE

At the beginning of the 1950s people were still rebuilding after the second world war. Most had their thoughts on productivity and looking for an improved standard of living. There were exceptions however – some people were striving for something to happen. A Swedish military lieutenant by the name of Kaj Wessberg, and his wife Mary, set off on an American adventure in the summer of 1954. They travelled 2’000 kilometres through 10 countries on their Husqvarna ‘Dream Machine’. But let's start from the beginning…

Being adventurers, the married couple were keen to broaden their horizons. They wanted to experience more and set their sights on North and South America as their dream goal - but how would they fulfil this unusual idea? It would take more than a holiday to conquer these vast continents and the two were aware of the transport problems. How would they move around freely and cover long distances without delay, and how about the risks and obstacles the couple would encounter on their trip? Kaj and Mary were used to their home in Smaland - a southern county of Sweden - where they lived a safe and uneventful life together, with high living standards.

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The answer came from unexpected help. Kaj Wessberg had good contacts with Husqvarna and mentioned his plans to the directors at the factory. They showed interest in this adventure and offered to provide the couple with a motorcycle, should they prefer to go on two wheels. The offer was of course tempting and also economical as the factory support would lower the cost for their journey substantially.

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The bike would be delivered to the port of New York free of charge, but should in turn be given back to Husqvarna for publicity reasons. An opportunity like this was most exclusive and would provide good advertising material for the factory, who were trying to strengthen their market share. In the beginning of the 1950s, Husqvarna had more than one Swedish competitor on the market and also faced opponents from overseas manufacturers.

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The motorcycle at hand during this after-war period was the ‘Dream Machine’, with the internal code Type 281. The colourful ‘Drombagen’ (the domestic name) was a totally new model and had only a little carry-over from the previous Black and Red-Qvarna 118cc models. The Dream Machine had a brand new 175cc engine, which was designed by Olle Edlund. He developed a reliable and robust power source that would turn out to be unbreakable. The power package had a performance of seven-and-a-half HP at 5,000 rpm and would last a lifelong period.

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In the 1950s the big four-stroke singles dominated the market, but this was a two-stroke engine, evolved with a small displacement capacity. The motorcycle gave young people an affordable alternative and the bike proved to be successful. The Dream Machine weighed in at 100 kilos, and was capable of running at a top speed of 100 km/h. It was introduced in 1953 after the prototype had been shown a year earlier. Sales started in the spring of 1953 and it cost approximately 2,000 Swedish Kronor at the time (around 400 USD). The production lasted over six years, during which time Husqvarna managed to wring out more than 6,000 units.

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There were actually two models of the Dream Machine – the Tourist model and a Sport version with dual exhausts and more power. Both were supplied with a three-speed gearbox. However, it was the Tourist model that appealed to the Wessberg couple and it was decided that this machine would serve as transport for the adventure. Details of their Dream Machine included a tubular and stamped-steel frame, advanced front forks with leading link together with rubber links, while the rear suspension consisted of tubular shock absorbers including coil springs and rubber cover for safety. A streamlined headlight and two stylish side-covers completed the design, which made it look modern. This motorcycle was the image of European styling.


Dementor

Swede Christer Hammargren never dominated the motocross world, but he was an avid racer with several championships and titles to his credit. The lanky rider from the Smaland district had his best seasons from 1967 until the middle of the 1970s, during which time he mostly enjoyed factory support from Husqvarna.

From a young age, Hammargren had an early interest for the motoring world. He was born in Vaggeryd on October 5th, 1944. Living a mere 30 kilometres away from the Husky factory, Christer soon took an interest in offroad racing, which at this time of course was dominated by motocross.

In his teenage years Hammargren went from being a keen fan idolising the country's most well-known names such as Torsten Hallman, Bill Nilsson & Rolf Tibblin, to starting to race himself. He soon found that one of his specialties was racing in deep sand. Hammargren felt at home on most kinds of circuit and was always capable of good lap times on any ground. There was just something special about his pace in the challenging and gruelling sand.

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After a few years of competition, Hammargren had gained some experience and had a go at the national junior championship. The year was 1964 and the event was organised on the very famous Ulricehamn motocross track. On a muddy circuit Christer had the upper hand already in the early stages of the race. He was being chased hard by his opponents but managed to hold them off, winning his first big victory.

Happy and content, he went on training even harder than before. Unfortunately, he had a bad crash which resulted in severe back injuries.

Doctors told him it would take considerable time before he would be back in the saddle when they learned that Christer was determined to make his comeback in motocross. After several months in plaster, Hammargren could finally start practising again, but it took a lot of determination and a long time before he was back on track.

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I went to my chiropractor maybe fifty times before my back healed and recovered,” Christer remembers.

Christer Hammargren's international breakthrough came in 1967 when he managed to finish second in the Swedish 500cc Grand Prix round. As ever he was riding Husqvarna, who by this time had opened their eyes and closely followed the talented rider from Vaggeryd. In Hammargren's first world championship season the Swede managed to finish in seventh position overall in the final 500cc standings.

His biggest success came when Hammargren took part in the 250cc team championship, this year held in Payerne, Switzerland.

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I was teamed up with Bengt Aberg and Bengt-Arne Bonn and we managed to beat all other nations,” told Hammargren. “It was quite a feeling being able to say that I was a world champion.... sort of...”

In the following season Christer had a really good year in the national 500cc championship. Always smiling and never far from telling another joke, Christer was a popular face in the paddocks among his international competitors. He now enjoyed full support from Husqvarna, which together with a good performance rendered him second place in the national championship standings. In the world series, he came home 10th.

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Despite his breakthrough two years earlier, it was in 1969 that Hammargren really got noticed in the world of motocross. Not only did he win the Swedish 500cc championship, but he also came eighth in the top international series (the World Championship). The season started at the right level and Christer won a spring race held in Strängnäs, 80 kilometres from the capital of Stockholm.

“It was a tough race,” said Hammargren afterwards. “The muddy track made me almost blind and my shirts and riding-pants were so heavy that my trousers almost fell off!

“My girlfriend Ann-Charlotte would have some work to clean the equipment,” he laughed.

25-year old Christer won both motos in grand style, well ahead of all his competitors. He had a good season to look forward to.

In 1970 Hammargren made his best ever world championship performance coming fifth following top rider Bengt Aberg, who won his second outright 500cc title for Husqvarna. Both riders, together with Arne Kring and Ake Jonsson, also took the prestigious win in the MotoCross des Nations in the team 500cc class. The event was organized in the town of Maggiora, Italy. Christer Hammargren was at the top of his career, but it did not end there.

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In 1971 he was once again selected to represent Sweden in the big-bore class team race. This time the motos were held in Vimmerby, not so far away from Christer's home turf of SMK Värnamo. Again he was teamed up with Aberg, Jonsson and Olle Pettersson, the latter usually a 250cc rider. In Vimmerby the quartet were victorious in front of the Swedish crowd, who were cheering for their home team. Once again Christer also won the national championship for Husqvarna. This was his second local 500cc title in just three years.

Before retiring, Christer Hammargren competed for another five years on other machinery, but he never gained any bigger success before packing up his career. Later on in his life, Christer began racing in veteran motocross.

“This was of course just for fun,” said the lanky rider from Smaland, who can now look back at many successful years for the Husqvarna factory.


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