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  1. In the early 50s, Husqvarna decided to produce folklore machines. New legislation opened up for cheap mopeds that at first were no more than bicycles equipped with an engine. The popularity of this new way of transportation grew quickly. It resulted in whirlwinds, such as the Novolette, the Roulette and the Corona, all Avantgarde pilgrim models… For those with petrol and oil in their veins, the moped can be a life-trigger when you're fifteen years of age. For many of these youngsters, the two-wheeler was much more than just passing time on a machine – it was more like a way of living your teenage years. If you like history, the moped can probably be traced all the way back to the vehicle of Gottlieb Daimler back in 1885, almost a century and a half ago. In that period, inventors and producers competed with their technical bravery. A power source enabling easy transportation could be installed in many ways; in the front or in the back... maybe in the frame or then again possibly above on the luggage-rack? The solutions were plentiful. Fascination and imagination were two decisive factors for a colourful choice, solving the transmission problem. It took decades before Husqvarna discovered the simplest means of transportation. Since its inception in 1903, the Swedish Weapons factory had manufactured motorcycles with a cylinder capacity ranging between 60cc and 994cc. Now, in the beginning of the 50s and thanks to recently introduced Swedish moped legislation, there was suddenly a need for cheap models. They would consist of engines with a capacity of a mere 50cc. Freedom for the people meant moving around with a bike doing 30 km/h without registration, tax, insurance or a riding license. These were the rules, which applied in Sweden for 15-year-old teenagers (and older) as of July 1st in 1952. Mind you, the vehicle had to be equipped with an engine of maximum 0.8 horsepower and two separate brakes. After a week, there were more than a dozen approved power sources around. A few months later the number had increased to more than 40 engines. According to knowledgeable sources, some 60,000 mopeds were sold in 1952 with yearly sales going up to more than 100,000 units. By 1957, it is estimated that there were 400,000 mopeds on the road, used only in Sweden - the fastest growing market in the world in those days! Husqvarna did not rest on previous laurels. In 1952 they introduced the Novolette model with a 40cc Rex engine, which was imported from Germany. As this novelty was launched, some 2,000 units were manufactured, and Husqvarna sold approximately 25,000 Novolettes in the two first years. Then, Husqvarna's in-house version was presented. A number of the factory’s moped models were sold during the 50s and in the beginning of the 60s. First out was the luxury machine Roulette, designed by the famous Swede Sixten Sason - a man who made his fame and fortune as a successful industrial designer. Sason had the ability to combine shape and contents into an art of teasing futuristic forms. So, also by working on the sophisticated Roulette, Sixten Sason strengthened his position within the automotive industry. All these machines came in double colours and the luxury edition was either painted in orange/black or then in yellow/black with a matching saddle. In 1958 the scooter Corona – Sweden’s only moped model with a free-wheel system – was a great success on the market. The vehicle with the Mexican beer name became very popular as it also had a decent price tag of 1,115 Swedish kronor (approx. 225 US dollars). A year later, it was time again for renewal. Husqvarna now came up with the debut of the Cornette model - with one wheel in the 50s and the other into the 60s. It cost 995 SEK and had the accepted, traditional "Egg-engine" of 50cc. The last fully own-produced Husqvarna moped was launched in 1960 with the simple name of "Lyx" - Luxury, or else the model figures 4012. By now, the factory had abandoned the slide-valve engine in favour of the new piston-controlled manifold. In 1961, the Swedes bought 80,000 mopeds in only one year. A year later, the Husqvarna mopeds were merged with other Swedish manufacturers. The results were traditional mopeds with little individual flair. The egg-engine was replaced by the "Flinta" (Flintstone) power source and this was the weapons factories last contribution to their moped division. It is said that this "Flinta" machine was developed in more than 60 different shapes. By 1964, more than 750,000 mopeds rolled on Swedish streets and roads. All in all, in the decade that the individual moped brand existed, Husqvarna produced a total of around 170,000 units. Compared with 1.8 million electric waffle irons and 12 million meat grinders, the 50cc two-wheelers were quite a humble production line in the company.
  2. Peace upon the world changed everything. Good Old Times had arrived, and people were drinking and dancing. The beginning of the 20s was a decade full of joy and laughter. On the streets you could see motorcycles and other vehicles moving freely. Husqvarna had just introduced their first in-house manufactured two-wheel machine, driven by a nice 550cc V-engine. But the most popular motorcycles were the affordable 250cc bikes, which sold like hot cakes… The background actually came from the war when it was decided that Sweden, as far as possible, should fabricate its own products. Deliveries from abroad could be a drain as raw materials were scarce in these days. So, everybody looked after their barns in order to stash and fill them up with adequate goods. Here is some more background to the evolution of Husqvarna's first own motorcycle. Engineer Gustaf Göthe was partly responsible for R&D, research and developments… “Riding comfort was a neglected factor in the beginning of the 20th century,” said Gustaf Göthe. “One of my missions included improving the riding characteristics of our motorcycles. Above all, we wanted a well-balanced bike that was neither too heavy nor too weak. It had to be strong for the roads that were not in the best shape in those days. The engine was supposed to be strong and elastic, dependable and free from vibrations. We considered that a gearbox with three speeds would do the job. “I made my first mistake by neglecting the importance of the wheel-base, which I had made too long. The machine wormed like a snake, so I had to do something about that. You know, a motorcycle can never grow longer than at its birth. But it can for sure turn shorter if you meet a car head on, or flatter if you should put it under a train at a crossing. “Developing a new power source turned out to be more of a challenge. Importing machinery from England was difficult after the war as goods were scarce at that moment. But I went over there and bought an AJS and some other bikes, with which I started experimenting heavily. My work was delayed as there was no test bench available at the factory. Instead I had to go to the nearby Klevaliden ascent, where machine tests could be performed in a hill climb. It was the second-best thing to do and worked well, save the fact that I could not carry out any brake trials here. This was a result of times in crises but would improve with the years. My initial two-cylinder model 150 resulted in a V-engine with the capacity of 550cc. It had solid cooling fins, side-valves and an Amac carburettor for maximum performance. The only parts that I was not allowed to change were the front forks as they were plentiful in our warehouse…” After the model 150 came the improved 160, which was put on the market in 1921. This version went through the mill during three seasons and was followed by model 170 two years later. Now, we are writing about the year of 1923 and Husqvarna's bikes are becoming more and more popular with each passing year. The 180 came in 1926 and next in line was the 190, which was launched in 1929. We are still talking about the motorcycle with the twin-cylinder 550cc V-engine at hand, but it was improved with each new version during this successful decade. Husqvarna also produced a sturdy 1000cc machine, which was presented to the market in 1921. Nicknamed “the Camel” by the factory employees, this sturdy machine was mainly meant for carrying passengers in its popular sidecar version. It was powered by a twin-cylinder V-engine with a capacity of 994cc and had model 500 as a benchmark from the start. One can easily hear rowdy pub people in the crowd, discuss this animal offspring, referring to the desert beast. Anyway, it was manufactured for three consecutive years before the 600 arrived in 1923 and then the 610 came into production by 1926. All in all, the one-litre power-camel existed in its initial layout until the end of 1928, when it would be abandoned by the factory. In the need for speed, Husqvarna also realised that there was a market for smaller bikes, which were affordable for most customers. In 1927 they presented the model 20, which soon became the 25. This outfit consisted of a 175cc side-valve JAP engine. It was nicknamed "the Kitten" and went through the factory until 1931 when it had turned into model 30 with a JAP side-valve 245cc power source. The 30 model was introduced already in 1929, being then manufactured for the coming six years. The 30 inherited the nickname of “Kitten” from its predecessor and was also equipped with the 250 JAP. The 30 had a performance of 7.5 horsepower at best. The cylinder, together with the cylinder head, was cast in one piece as this method was simpler and more economic for Husqvarna at the time. With a ride h of 64 cm the brochure promised customers a comfortable riding position on the machine’s Terry-saddle. In 1930 there was also a 490cc JAP-engined machine available and even a 496cc Sturmey-Archer motor was being introduced. Looking at the sales figures from Husqvarna, it was clear that motorcycling had caught many people's eye in the roaring 20s. According to factory statistics, the Swedes sold approximately 7,500 units in the decade from 1921 to 1930. Unfortunately, these motorcycle figures were not matched in the coming years. During the 30s and through the Second World War production declined severely for obvious reasons.
  3. After his 1969 world title, Bengt Aberg was convinced he would conquer the world again. He was Husqvarna-mounted and both physically and mentally ready, ahead of this gruelling season. 1970 turned out to be a strange one as Aberg's main rival was his neighbour Arne Kring who also had a contract with the weapons factory in Huskvarna. Fasten your seat belt folks – here we go with the bashful Swedes! The active race season for motocrossers had increased significantly after events in the USA were introduced during the months from October to December. It meant that an elite rider was on the go from March to the end of the year - practically all year around, crossing the globe. This happened by the end of the 60s, which was also a turning point for motocross in the USA. The interest for the sport grew immensely. “This was a big benefit to our sport,” said Aberg. “Payment increased and the status for motocross became much higher.” Husqvarna had introduced their 400cc engine for the 1969 season. It measured 81.5 x 76 mm in bore and stroke and gave 40 hp at 6,500 rpm. Its cooling fins were now longitudinal, and the magneto was also new. This four-speed machine was updated for 1970, although it still carried a similar performance. The season was peculiar by any standards, and as said, Bengt Aberg's main opposition came from his Husqvarna teammate Arne Kring. They lived as neighbours, just a few kilometres away from each other in Helsingland, and raced trying to beat each other since their yearly days. However, Bengt was initially the more successful rider as he won the national junior championship in 1963 on his bulky Triumph. Then the road was paved to the championship circuits. Bengt Aberg had a memorable show on his Métisse at the home Grand Prix in Hedemora in 1966. The spectators who saw him broadslide with his feet on the foot-pegs will never forget this unbelievable sight. At least I won't! As reported in a blog text from July 2014, Aberg won his first title in 1969 after a tremendous year. Now it was time to try and repeat his honour on his latest factory machine. He had already caught the fancy of the crowd. The Swiss track at Payerne was spectacular for its bumpy ride. The actors on their machines had to perform several circus tricks before they could fulfil one lap around this tricky circuit. Hence, the crowd loved it and came to watch by the tens of thousands. Also, this year when the battle for the rostrum began, all the elite had gathered to see what the competition was up to after the wintery off-season. By the end of the day, Husqvarna had a double win. Bengt Aberg crossed the finish line first while team rider from Belgium, Jef Teuwissen came home as the second man. A splendid start. The following week, this winning formula was repeated by Aberg in Sittendorf, Austria, and he now had a grand margin in the 500cc world championship standings. In the coming two Grand Prix rounds Aberg only managed to take three points. At that time, he was in second place in the championship after his neighbour Arne Kring, who in the meantime had prevailed twice. It was 42 points to 33 points. Razor's edge now. In the Finnish sand at Tikkurila, Kring beat Aberg fair and square making the table standings 57 to 43. Then came Sweden. In Västeras the two Husky riders fought side-by-side, lap after lap. Everyone was in ecstasy until the inevitable happened. Aberg and Kring were too close over a majestic jump and collided in the air. "I had to retire while Kring tried to continue with broken-off handlebars, which turned out to be impossible", said Aberg. Zero points for the two matadors, who were disappointed, but still in the lead. A month later all is forgotten in Holice, Czechoslovakia. Kring is faster than Aberg. Result: 72 - 55, advantage Kring. In Beuern, West Germany, things are the other way around. Aberg mastered his race and Kring finished in fourth place: 80 - 70 for the "Helsingland Hell Riders" as they were now nicknamed. "Helsingland" after their home county, "Hell" for their unforgiving pace. Unfortunately, Arne crashed heavily in Belgium at an international race and hurt his back quite severely. Bengt told me matter-of-factly, “Now the grounds were paved for me during the final Grand Prix rounds as he was a nonstarter.” Not the most comfortable way to win, emotionally. But Bengt Aberg secured his second 500cc world championship with his four-speed bike in the last event held in Ettelbruck, Luxemburg. A Champion full-page advertisement in the U.S. magazine Cycle World summed up the season well. It was published on page 125 in their March issue 1971 with the heading: "King of the Hill". The new World Champ is standing on top of a hill with his Husqvarna behind him. The bike has Starting Number One and the Champion sparkplug decal is glued to the tank. The contents of that magazine tell us how Bengt Aberg came to do the Phoenix event of the international Inter-AM series in 1970. Some local riders from Arizona walked up to the Swede in order to distract him. “They're watering the track. It's gonna be really muddy.” Aberg's answer: “That's good.” They continued trying to make him nervous. “Yeah, but it'll dry in an hour. It's gonna be really dusty.” Aberg replies calmly: "That's good, too." It speaks volumes.
  4. As the United States embraced the Husqvarna movement in the 60s, development and volumes played a major role at the Swedish factory. Now, the Motorcycle Olympics went from the International Six Days Trial to racing on most any surface. Enduro and desert riding changed motorcycling and paved the way for future Husqvarna success. On home grounds, the brand won almost all "reliability" races at hand… If you wanted to compete offroad during the 50s and early 60s, there were no race machines to buy at the local bike shops. Everyone relied on their own skills to convert a Silver Arrow to racing standards as best as they could. However, interest in riding fast offroad continued growing and Husqvarna reacted by further developing their now popular Silver Arrow models. There were a wide range of accessories to update this motorcycle. The engine was also tuned with a new and bigger cylinder, which became trendy among customers. Power was here to stay. At Huskvarna, the technicians started to make plans to produce a true racer on a bigger scale. As the 60s began, Husqvarna had fantastic results in the classic "Trophy of November". Rolf Tibblin had just won the European mx championship on his works machine, but now entered the gruelling enduro, which is the oldest and most well-known race in Sweden. Looking back, no other brand can claim as many victories in the "Novemberkasan" as Husqvarna. The feast of enduro to end all enduros began already back in 1915 when Swede Gunnar Enderlein won on his British machine. One of the more remarkable races was held in 1925 when Edvin Sagström became the sole competitor to reach the finish line. However, he was so late - more than a day - that the race was cancelled by the organizers and there was no winner appointed. In 1960, Rolf Tibblin started his winning crusade by taking overall victory. He then continued with four more victories in the coming years, which set a new "Novemberkasan" record. No one had been victorious for five years in a row in this staggering event. And he was close to winning also in 1965, but … In the summer of 1962, a reluctant board took the decision to manufacture a series of one hundred 250cc machines, to be sold in early 1963. These were motocross machines but could also be used for enduro with a little modification. As it happened, Torsten Hallman won his first 250cc title in the world championship then, which of course led to great interest in the purchase of a replica model. The orders kept coming to race manager Bror Jaurén and it turned out that more than 30 reservations surprisingly came from Norway and Finland while a single unit went to USA. The new 250 machine cost twice as much as the Silver Arrow and was sold at 4,500 Swedish Kronor (approx. 600 US dollars). The 1965 Novemberkasan winner was Olle Pettersson – a strong 250cc factory world championship contender for Husqvarna, who always did well also in enduro events. He fought hard with Tibblin, who finally had to give in to Olle at the end of this super-chilly “Kasa”. In 1966, Sweden hosted the International Six Days Trial event. It was run in mid-Sweden over 1,660 km with 287 starters in the "Blue Mountains" of Kilsbergen around the city of Örebro. The U.S. team was successfully represented by Bud Ekins and Malcolm Smith, both on Husqvarna. Swedes Hans Hansson won a gold medal on his 250cc while Curt Öberg managed to conquer in the half-litre class with his new 360cc Husky. Two years later, the same Hans Hansson was hired by Husqvarna to help develop a new 8-speed gearbox together with the technical engineers lead by Ruben Helmin. The 4-speed was OK for mx, but lacked speed range, revving too high in offroad competition. The complex solution was a high-ratio and a low-ratio gearbox where riders had to stop to shift from one to the other. The concept was a two-speed primary drive, controlled by a lever on the handlebars. Also, the installation of this kit was complicated and costly. The whole power plant had to be disassembled, which was time-consuming. With time, the pro's learned how to shift between high and low-range at speed, but Husqvarna never acknowledged shifting in motion. However, the result was positive and using the 8-speed Husky was more flexible than ever. When Hans raced in the "Novemberkasan" of the same year he took an outright victory with the new concept engine. In time for the new season, Husqvarna could finally introduce their first all-enduro machine for sale in 1970. In the US these machines were marketed as the Commando for the 250cc while the 360 C was simply called Enduro. The market reaction did not meet expectations and desert riders preferred the standard 4-speed version, changing sprockets whenever needed. But Husqvarna had a grand brand image at this stage and the U.S. customers stood in line to purchase a Viking product. The American racer John Penton was a true Husqvarna fan, racing the Swedish product to its first national enduro championship in 1969. He tried persuading the Swedes to make a 125cc version, but like many others who had tried convincing the Swedes he also failed at the time. Husqvarna declined stubbornly and so John set up his own brand, Penton, in 1968. He marketed the Pentons with great skill and was successful on the market with these 125cc machines, built in Austria. After some years the KTM factory bought the U.S. operations and renamed them KTM America. Since the Austrians previously only made mopeds and scooters – they suddenly had a new motorcycle name growing popular on the market.
  5. In Husqvarna's Golden Era of motocross, Bror Jaurén was the primary person responsible for handling the factory's tactics in their quest for success. Working as competition manager for the racing department, Jaurén’s leadership led to 14 motocross world championship titles from six different riders during his 33 years at Husqvarna. I met him in the late 70s. Talking to Jaurén, you hardly noticed him as being an influential man. He was quiet and reserved without big words or gestures. Bror had an eye for talent scouting and there was nothing wrong with his intellect or plans for future laurels. His calm manners often helped him make the correct decisions under difficult circumstances, for example when negotiating deals with factory riders. In 1953, Bror Jaurén came to the Husqvarna motorcycle company when sales took off as the two-wheeler became popular. However, he then already had experience with the company. After the war, he had ridden the company's new 118cc two-stroke machine in some races. But Bror Jaurén's everyday work was in Husqvarna's sewing machine division from 1946. While there, he carried on with his studies and eventually graduated with a technical engineer's degree. “My first task in the motorcycle division was to establish routines for the factory's competition agenda. It was first limited to enduro events such as the famous ‘Novemberkasan’, but later also included scrambling,” Jaurén remembered when I interviewed him during the late 70s. Bror was always accommodating to press people and never refrained from publicity. In August 1955, manager Bror Jaurén met with race rookie Bengt-Olov Wessman, when they both were attending an enduro event in Stockholm. Bengt brought a Silverpilen to race and Jaurén also had a Silver Arrow, which was raced by an unknown rider. “I told Jaurén about my machine and complained about the front forks’ rubber, which was too soft to give any good suspension,” said Wessman. Jaurén promised to get improved parts that would enhance the front suspension. A few weeks later, the Husqvarna engineer Ruben Helmin brought new rubber, but said, "If you're going to race with this machine, you have to blame yourself. The Silver Arrow is not made for racing." Consequently, in the middle of the 50s, people at Husqvarna did not realize what potential they had in the Silverpilen to be a competitive racer. “Our first title came in 1959 when Rolf Tibblin won the European championship (later world championship as of 1962) with our 250cc machine,” said Jaurén. “It was a proud moment. Then we had constant success for more than 20 years until Hakan Carlqvist won the 250 world title in 1979. Between these two remarkable achievements, there were another twelve titles from riders like the Swedes Bill Nilsson, Torsten Hallman, Bengt Aberg and the Finn Heikki Mikkola who all won several titles, as did Tibblin.” Husqvarna's success resulted in good sales. In 1961, 10,500cc four-strokes were made in the factory workshop, intended for sale. They immediately caught the eye of customers. The first 250cc mx replicas came in 1962 when the factory churned out 10 machines. Then, in 1963, a further 100 replicas were manufactured for sale. A little over 60% of these 250s went to domestic riders, while 40% of this batch mostly went to Finland and Norway. Bror Jaurén was an emotional man. It happened that he would support a rider with spare parts because he liked him, rather than considering his talent. Jaurén's favourite machine over his mx career was no doubt the 500cc four stroke in the beginning of the 60s. “It was a wonderful masterpiece of engineering,” marvelled Bror. “And also, a winning concept as we captured three world titles with Bill Nilsson and Rolf Tibblin.” The bike was state of the art and he kept one factory 500 for the Husqvarna museum, where it still can be observed today. In the old Golden Era, most riders were also skilful mechanics and understood well the technical side of the sport. There was a tremendous will to conquer and win at a time when money only played a supporting role. “Unfortunately, in the modern days, this fact has changed,” said Jaurén. The riders wouldn't go near their machines when they didn't race and suddenly contracts, money and fame became time's ruling order. He was formally elected Sales & Competition Manager in 1961, a position Bror held until 1971. “Contract figures weren’t nearly as steep as they are in modern days,” Jaurén told me. “Riders weren’t well paid and only a few had the benefit from our factory support then. You had to have one hell of a talent in order for me to take out the cheque book.” In the 70s, Husqvarna developed a light-frame for motocross constructed from aluminium. It broke at the Swiss 250cc GP with much negative publicity after Jaurén had rejected an American-made frame of titanium, which was banned by a FIM technical committee where Jaurén also was a member. “Not so much to brag about,” were his shy comments. After 33 years in the saddle at Husqvarna, Bror J decided to call it a day in 1979 and he withdrew from the paddock at the age of 61. “Things started to get complicated with the involvement of the Swedish conglomerate Electrolux and the future for motorcycles was uncertain.” Bror Jaurén proved to be right yet another time as the company was sold to the Italians eight years after he left for retirement. “Any regrets?” I asked him. “Oh, yes,” Jaurén stated. “I'd give anything to undo the fact that we let the Japanese technicians come close to our machines. Without scruples, they photographed every detail there was to copy. So, some years later, the big factories overtook the dominance in the motocross field. But we didn't understand that at the time of the Japanese arrival in motocross. Try taking a shot at their factory bikes today and you'll see what happens!” Otherwise, there is not much that Bror Jaurén missed at Husqvarna in his three decades. Unfortunately, Bror Jaurén passed away in 1985 at the young age of 69 years.
  6. When motorcycling was young, people took part in ‘reliability tests’ in order to prove themselves. A little over a hundred years ago, the International Six Days Trial was born. Husqvarna joined the games in 1922 and were successful at their first international event. In the 1950s, the Six-Days evolved into the Olympics of motorcycling. Here's when and how Husqvarna joined the movement of adventures. When the Swedish solo riders Gustaf Göthe, Bernhard Malmberg and David Senning each won gold medals aboard their Husqvarnas back in 1922, Sweden was put on the international two-wheel map. They came third at the fourth ISDT and gained the opportunity to organise the event on home ground the following year. Sweden said ‘thank you’ by winning the international trophy at this gruelling International Six Days Trial event, which was run under challenging conditions. The Husqvarna name was now already mentioned with awe on the continent. Thirty years later the riders had changed from wearing miserable leather gear to riding in effective Barbour suit protection. The ‘reliability tests’ had grown in popularity and offroad racing surged immensely in the early days of the 50s. It was a relatively cheap way of competing and most people could afford this kind of racing. The rewards often consisted of honour and trophies since there was little prize money involved in offroad competition at that stage. But it was a popular sport and got people involved in motoring. In the period before 1960, the international scene was mostly dominated by the Brits, but the German and Czech offroad riders were also very good. Besides being successful in the ISDT during this era, they also enjoyed good racing equipment in their respective countries. In Sweden, Husqvarna started to manufacture the ‘Dream Machine’ in 1953. This 175cc production motorcycle had an international design and stylish flair, incorporating a stamped-steel frame, dual exhaust pipes and effective front forks. In its first year of competition, the ‘Dream Machine’ won at several important venues and received accolades wherever the bike turned up. In the national 1953 Motoring Six-Days, a nine-man strong Husqvarna team captured seven gold and two bronze medals - talk about superiority! The ISDT was held in Czechoslovakia that year and the 281 Sports model, the Dream Machine, was very successful as the Swedish riders won six gold, one silver and two bronze medals. The only modifications to the production version were a revised rear suspension, sawed-off edges of the mud-guards, exchange of the handlebars and a switch to offroad tires. You could also note that a tubular cage was mounted to protect the head-lamp from impact. Consider a 115-kilogram beast with a nine-horsepower power band and you quickly understand that this machine made no thunder in the woods. But the machine was close to production standards and this impressed people in the trade. But despite good and reliable racing results, the Dream Machine never met any great popularity on the market among the young people. The performance was unimpressive and most of the youth now had their eyes set on buying a comfortable car for transport. So, Husqvarna had to come up with new ideas to indulge their future customers. 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. This newcomer had a three-speed 175cc two-stroke engine and the correct styling, which tempted youngsters to become motorcyclists. The model name consisted of the three tiny figures 282 and according to Swedish law, the machine had a weight less than 75 kilos, which was the legal figure for a lightweight bike. But the law was counter-productive as Husqvarna was forced to use inferior components to reach the weight limit. Consequently, the factory used two-ply tires, under-dimensioned brakes, a frame that was not up to standards for this engine and finally front forks that were like rubber bands with poor damping characteristics. The single-exhaust system trimmed weight. However, there was a later Sports model which used double pipes. With some minor modifications however, the Silver Arrow was a perfect competition machine. The front forks would be exchanged for leading links with rubber - in Sweden named ‘Earls-forks’. The rear frame was modified to accommodate more vertical shock absorbers and during the coming years, there were numerous accessories to update this motorcycle. The engine was also updated with well-tuned cylinders and new exhaust pipes – always popular among riders looking for better performance. If you wanted to compete in offroad races during the 50s, there were no ready-built racing Husqvarnas to buy from your dealer. Everyone relied on their skills to convert a Arrow to competition standards as best as they could. However, the sport to ride fast in the woods continued to grow and Husqvarna had to react in order to not lose out to their competitors. In 1957 the factory ordered a batch of 200cc cylinders from the German manufacturer Müller. It led to further developments with the two-stroke engine, which in pair with the new leading-link front forks worked very well. In June 1958, Husqvarna had achieved their very first 250cc competition machine. To the delight of Rolf Tibblin and Torsten Hallman, these bikes were competitive and the two of them won many important offroad events such as the famous ‘Novemberkasan’. There were also a number of international successes for these fine riders, who one day both would become motocross world champions. And the Silver Arrow was a tremendous success in the motorcycle industry with respectable production and sales figures. Once again, Husqvarna became famous on the international scene.
  7. After the great Saxtorp Grand Prix in August 1934, the racers went to the island of Gotland to participate in a Tourist Trophy event. It was a venue full of life - both on and off the track - where the representatives of Husqvarna vibrated with confidence after their success in the big C-class at their previous Saxtorp adventure. Now, the circus was open to new battles, with the Swedish arms factory being held as a favourite. But let's start this amazing story from the beginning... The people in Gotland had enjoyed a busy summer with many tourists. This popular island is still an attractive travel destination for both foreigners and Swedes who want to relax and enjoy the sun in the city of Visby. Therefore, in the 30s, there was no big fuss about a motorcycle race among the local inhabitants - it was said to be an interesting break from the daily work in the ‘City of Roses’. The parties started early in the week and were held within the old City Walls - defensive 3.4-kilometre walls from the 13th and 14th centuries. Visby is the best-preserved medieval city in Scandinavia. The riders did the cultural walk during the day and visited the local bars and restaurants after sunset. The most indulging food and drink venues were gathered near the ‘Gunpowder Tower’, which was erected by the harbour in the 12th century. So, no calm on the Savannah! The track was a 16-kilometre circuit on ordinary roads, which were only closed off during race day. But during the practice sessions, the riders had to take the risk of encountering traffic as the organisers took no consideration to formalities such as safety or risks. Mind you, officially, practice was not allowed, but who could afford not to learn this 10-mile circuit in advance? The island of Gotland consists mainly of limestone and consequently the roads were full of dust from lime deposits. The track was sometimes dusty as a true smokescreen, which hampered the riders’ visibility. It is also important to mention that the deposits from limestone were an effective power-source killer as the material tended to clog the breathing of engines. Consequently, it would be of great importance to be among the leaders when the flag dropped. The straights on this rectangular track were faster than those at Saxtorp, so it was full throttle for long periods, which was very demanding on the machines. The gear ratios were upgraded for higher speed and some of the 27 entrants had to go to the local blacksmith in order to manufacture a new sprocket for their transmission. Between 5,000 to 6,000 spectators turned up to watch on this sunny race day. Three classes were run with a collective start of all the riders. There were 18 laps to be covered among the 500cc machines, while the 350s did 16 laps. So, the race would not be too long, but was instead very demanding on both riders and machines. Ace Ragnar Sunnqvist took the start on his fast 500 Husqvarna, but slipped in the first corner and had a minor spill before he could re-join. It did not take ‘Ragge’ more than a good lap before he overtook the front-runner again – Finnish rider Raine Lampinen. On the third lap Lampinen set a new record time of seven minutes, which corresponded to a speed of 138.5 km/h. Meanwhile, Sunnqvist lay ahead and took it easy as he preferred safety before disaster. Some laps later, Lampinen came closer to the leader, who in turn would ride faster in order to keep his gap. Lampinen had to settle in the dust. On lap 11 Ragnar stopped in the pits to fill up his tank with fuel. It took 40 seconds before he was back on track - still in a comfortable lead ahead of the Finn. After over two hours of racing, Ragnar crossed the finish line as the day's overwhelming winner. In the B class, the fights were closer and more interesting to follow. The Swedish rider Sten Edlund had received Husqvarna's latest twin-cylinder 350cc bike, which had made its debut at Saxtorp. He encountered difficulties when running away at the start as the engine would not fire up. But being persistent, Edlund kept on pushing and finally he got away after the field could be seen in the distance. This did not bother Sten Edlund who was mounted on a fast machine. Therefore, he soon caught up with the leaders and took command on the ninth lap when the previous man in front, the German rider Richnow, went into the pits. It was thought that he was in for petrol, but instead the German retired with engine problems due to too much dust from the limestone deposits. So, Edlund was now on top of things and set a pace that no other rider could match. He crossed the finish line as the day's first winner having completed the distance of 16 laps. It took him two hours and five minutes with an average of 123 km/h. Husqvarna riders Helge Carlsson and Eyvind Eklund came third and fourth respectively, which summed up a fantastic race day for the team of the Husqvarna factory.
  8. An advertisement in the summer of 1951 had the following headlines, ‘Prolong your spare time with a Husqvarna – make the most of your evenings, weekends and vacation!’ Twelve years before, in 1939, the newly developed ‘Angel-Wing’ 118cc machine had been presented to the public. It would soon appeal to the masses and give many a rider some adventurous travel experiences. Stories of this multi-purpose machine are plentiful, some more outrageous than others. How about the young couple who in the beginning of the 50s set off from Sweden for a long European trip including the countries of Germany, Holland, Belgium and finally to cosmopolitan Paris in France? They were travelling with 35 kilograms of luggage on the rear rack. Middle-school teacher Karl Sundberg and his wife recalled their long trip. “We never encountered any problems with the machinery, nor did we have any spectacular incidents that could have slowed us down. During the entire journey, all I had to do was clean the spark plug from time to time. We had a wonderful experience and never regretted having made this 4,000-kilometre voyage.” From the beginning this 118cc Model 20 had become the average-salary persons dream. Most people had to work hard and dig deep into their pockets in order to be able to afford this small, but efficient luxury motorcycle. In the post-war period, the ‘Angel-Wing’ became a dominating factor on the fast-growing bike market. By 1946, Husqvarna had tooled up and introduced Model 24 of the 118cc bike. It was a three-horsepower machine and cost 960 Swedish kronor at a time when most people were making around 75 kronor a week. Husqvarna manufactured some 30,000 units of this model, now named the ‘Black-Mill’ (Svart-Qvarnan in Swedish), as it had been developed according to modern standards and in 1950 the Model 27 entered the market, again with a top speed of 75 km/h. The Black-Mill was also seen in icy regions like Antarctica and under preposterous sunburn in the middle of Africa. Swede Göte Widelund had only done 100 kilometres on his motorcycle when he started riding south towards Europe in 1951. This man from Stockholm intended to go all the way to northern Africa on his 120 Husky. He packed 75 kilos of luggage in his rucksack and on a reinforced rear rack, hoping that the strength of his wheels would take him all the way. Widelund wanted to test man and machine against nature’s elements. And what a way to do it for a bike rookie! He started his 8,000-kilometre trip encountering snow and icy roads when riding through his home country and also through Denmark. Conditions were more stable in northern Europe, where he met a friendly landscape. Widelund came to see winter again when passing the Alps and crossing some high-altitude passes in Switzerland. In sunny Spain, temperatures were enjoyable and despite serpentine road-ways, he managed to make good time through this vast country. Having passed the Mediterranean Sea by boat, he then crossed hot North-African roads on the way to Morocco. “My machine went like a clock and never once missed a beat nor let me down during my long trip. Actually, it was quite a nice feeling of accomplishment once I arrived in Casablanca.” So, finally, Göte could put the Tabasco bottle on the table and enjoy his extraordinary efforts with a spicy salsa meal, seasoned by a real dose of chili sauce. Caramba! A local postman, Valter Heinsjö of Anderstorp attracted attention after he recorded 113,568 gear changes upon his 26 months of duty in 1952. At the time the brand had some 600 dealers and every fourth biker in the land rode a Husqvarna. “The daily distance was on gravel roads in the woods and measured 15.2 kilometres, which took an hour to cover. I never had any issues with my bike during more than two years of working and the Husqvarna did not see a garage, nor did it give me any headache at all. It was a reliable machine all the way.” In 1954, we had gone from Model 24 to Model 30. In an advertisement, four versions of the 120cc were announced, the most expensive being the ‘30 Sport’. The catalogue now offered a red version, properly named the ‘Red-Mill’ and there was also an exciting ‘Blue-Mill’ outfit available. Model 32 was introduced in 1957 as the ‘32 Sport’, giving an output of six horsepower. It would prove to be the final version and in 1959, production was terminated. Calculations prove that close to 100,000 units were produced over two decades. In racing, this little creature found its way around many a track across Sweden, although it did not have the capacity to win big events. Top athlete Gunder Hägg liked to ride his Husqvarna – often without head protection. A photo of him on his 120 wearing trivial clothing, made headlines in the Swedish press. Seeing Gunder Hägg’s face and his riding style tells everything about having fun on a motorcycle. Speedway star ‘Varg-Olle’ Nygren was more than once involved in marketing of the 120-machine. In various magazines, you could read about broad-sliding Nygren and his favourite bike, of course being his 120. Once, he was promoting a lottery, while the next time, he tested the very same machine in one of the biggest motoring magazines in the country. “Varg-Olle” was quite famous in Sweden and his words on motorcycling were influential to most people. Finally, there was the fish dealer Nils Lindh from Alingsas, who had bought his 120cc back in 1947. Nils Lindh used his little machine commuting for his daily fish trading. Seven years later he praised his bike for never letting him down even once. “I used it regularly in all kinds of weather. Sometimes the motorcycle was heavily loaded and the roads could be merciless in our region here in western Sweden, but my Husqvarna was always up to the job.”
  9. The press release announced a novelty made by Husqvarna in Huskvarna. This happened back in 1939 and the machine was the newly developed ‘Angel-Wing’. This 118cc bike would appeal to the masses after it replaced the popular predecessor of 98cc – the small bicycle with a bolt-on power source was now an outdated model. The introduction of the Angel Wing could not have come at a worse time however. The second world war was around the corner and during the coming six years the factory only churned out a couple of 100 of these new motorcycles. However, in the postwar period things changed dramatically… So, the roots of this newcomer came from the 98cc machine and was initially nicknamed the ‘Angel-Wing’. Actually, the small 98cc-powerpack was a pre-evolution of the 118cc engine that was included in the new Husqvarna Model 20. It was a product from the factory’s Research & Development department. Gone were the days of the resemblance to a bicycle. Now, it featured a three-speed gearbox, a kick-starter and footpegs. The main reason for its introduction was the new motorcycle legislation – as of 1939, at 16 years of age, you could ride a lightweight bike that did not weigh more than 75 kilos. The vehicle had to be registered and as a rider, you had to have a valid license. Those were the criteria introduced before the war. It should also be mentioned that there was a Model 21, which had a speed limit of 40 km/h and was regarded as the baby brother of the Model 20. After the World War came to an end, the need for transportation was enormous and manufacturers met an insatiable market. But people lacked money, so a two-wheeled vehicle was the most suitable means for getting from A to B. Sticking to their guns, Husqvarna were adequately prepared as they had a well-working production logistic left over from 1939. They continued in the postwar period and fast became a dominating factor on the growing bike market in Sweden. Way back when – and still today – the first thing you notice while the engine runs is the smell of its two-stroke oil-mixture fuel. It affects your nostrils, but also reminds you of a time when the motorcycle wasn’t as sophisticated as it is nowadays. Husqvarna’s breakthrough came in 1946 when the factory tooled up and introduced Model 24 of the 118cc bike. Actually, it was also referred to as the 120 Husqvarna although the engine had a true displacement of 118cc. This was a high-quality machine with an engine that gave a performance of three horsepower. The Model 24 was inexpensive and cost 960 Swedish kronor at a time when many people were making about 12 kronor a day. However, the machine was less for fun, but mostly used for going to work. It was not for dignitaries, but rather affordable for daily travelers who had to commute on a daily basis. Still, there was a status to be able to afford a motorcycle in an economy that hadn’t yet contributed to Sweden’s future welfare. The sales figures in just three years were 30,000 units of the Model 24, now named the ‘Black-Mill’ (Svart-Qvarnan in Swedish). Details of the Black-Mill bike included parallelogram front forks, a rigid rear frame, a manual shift lever on the right side of the tank, painted rims striped in golden color, a small tool-box and a usable rear rack. In 1950 the Model 27 came on the market and was slightly improved from the 24, with improved quality and better riding comfort. The top speed was now rated at an impressive 75 km/h. Four years later, in 1954, the number of domestic dealers had increased to more than 800 sales outlets. We had now gone from Model 24 to Model 30 and at the time, there were close to 70,000 happy owners in Sweden. In a Husqvarna advertisement, it was announced that four versions of the 120 machine were available to customers. The most expensive product was the exclusive 30 Sport costing the proud sum of 1,618 kronor. And the catalogue now offered a red version, properly named the Red-Mill, while there was also a Blue-Mill outfit – made in an ocean blue color. The last Model 32 was introduced in 1957 as Model 32 Sport, giving the owner a performance of an adequate six horsepower. A couple of years later the production of the successful ‘Qvarna’ was terminated as there were new motorcycles in the Husqvarna pipeline. It has been calculated that close to 100,000 units of the 118cc model were manufactured between 1939 and 1959. As opposed to the American Mr. Ford, who only offered his T-vehicles in black during the 20s, at Husqvarna your choice decided which color would be preferred by the audience and by customers. In black, red or blue…
  10. A 10-year Husqvarna career started in 1965 when Uno Palm made his debut in the junior national championship in Sweden. Palm had a 250cc Husqvarna, a brand he cherished with a passion until his two-wheel professional years ended in 1978. By that time Uno Palm had entered the 250cc world championship in nine seasons with his best performance coming in 1972 where he scored fifth place in the final standings. Uno Palm raced for almost 20 years before leaving the MX expert stage. Uno Palm was born in Ulricehamn, mid-Sweden on the 3rd of May, 1944. As a young kid he was very interested in motorcycle sports and closely followed his idols in the motocross game. He bought his first moped at the age of 15 and then followed it up by taking his riding license a year later. He then bought a 200cc Husqvarna ‘Guldpil’, but soon got tired of riding on roads and instead looked at motocross. Uno started to practice as a teenager and entered his very first race at the age of 18. He also tried enduro riding and entered the famous ‘Novemberkasan’ - the November Trophy - both in 1962 and the following year. In 1963 Uno bought his first motocross machine, a 250cc Lindström. After three seasons in the saddle he was ready for the national junior championship race, which was arranged nearby in the town of Eksjö. There were two qualification legs and Palm had no difficulties advancing to the final stint of the day. Here he dominated together with another competitor and they changed positions during a well-fought battle. In the end Palm tangled with his fellow rider, which caused him to lose position. Palm had to be content with second place, 13 seconds away from the winner's time. This result made him advance from a junior to a senior class rider in 1966. “This was quite a leap forward,” Uno Palm remembered. “But it also meant that competition suddenly became more intense. I managed to win one run in the national 250 championship in 1967 and was also part of the team in the national series - coming second after having scored well in the season. It took me two full years before I was ready for the next big step in my motocross career.” The year 1968 was very successful for Uno Palm, who won several big races during the season. Not only did he conquer in individual races, but he was also part of a winning team that scored in the Nordic championship. He was third overall in the Swedish championship and Uno Palm also did his debut in the 250cc world championship in 1968. However, during this season, he had limited progress and only managed to finish 25th in the final 250cc chart. In 1969 Uno Palm improved in the world mx series and finished 17th overall while he was second in the national 250 series at home. The rider belonging to the motoring club in Ulricehamn, UMK, took a giant leap in his career in 1970. Not only did he win the Swedish 250cc championship on his Husqvarna, but he was also well ahead in the world motocross venues, being the best 250cc Swede coming home in 6th overall. No other Swedish 250-rider was as successful as Uno Palm was in 1970. But let's start at the beginning of this triumphant season. The year began in mid-April with the first world championship round in Spain. Uno Palm came well prepared but did not score. It wasn't until the second round in France that he took his first 1970 championship points. Here Palm came seventh, clinching four valuable points. May was a good month when Palm received points at home and on the continent. But it was in June that his best moment arrived - Uno competed in Poland and had a stunning ride, coming third overall at the finish line. In the national championship the same month he also came third, to lead the Swedish 250cc series after two rounds. By the end of August, Palm came fourth in the Swiss 250cc round which secured him the sixth spot overall. After a strong spurt Palm hit the top step on the podium in the local scene, winning his maiden national championship on his Husqvarna. Yeah, 1970 was really good and despite blisters on his palms, mister Palm was indeed very satisfied with his achievements. Uno Palm continued to be backed by Husqvarna in 1971, together with 250cc riders Hakan Andersson and Thorleif Hansen. Palm and Andersson rejected the new five-speed version and stuck to the four-speed from the previous season. Mister Palm spent his pre-season days by training harder than ever before – both practicing on his bike and by working-out physically. In better shape than ever, Uno Palm did well and was placing third in the championship before an incident that spoilt his world championship series. He was hurt and missed several rounds before re-joining. In the end Palm came sixth yet again. Palm was third in the national championship, and also took part in the Trophée des Nations - 250cc - in Holice, Czechoslovakia. The five members of the Swedish squad finished second overall behind the winning Belgian team. The following year became even more successful for Palm, who now went through the 250 series without injuries. He had a lot of confidence and was happy with his machine which resulted in his best world championship stint ever. With several podiums finishes, the ace finished fifth overall, being the best Swede in his class. The 1973 year was a turning-point for Palm after leaving Husqvarna for one season. But he came back to the Swedish factory in 1974, albeit with meagre results compared to his previous performances. Palm finished in 30th place in the motocross championship. The two following years were not much better although Uno P once again finished third in the 250 series at home. In a national championship chart of the 70s, Uno Palm turned out to be the fourth best rider of Sweden. Palm had clearly done his best before he decided to end his career after nearly 20 years of racing. On the 25th of August in 1980, Palm rode his last motocross race on his Ulricehamn home turf. On a muddy and soaked track, the 36-year old star left the scene on top of the podium. The crowd cheered and was pleased to see him conquer one last time. Thirty years later, in 2010, Uno Palm tragically left us way too soon, suffering from cancer, at only 66 years young.
  11. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.” 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!
  12. 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. 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.” 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. 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!
  13. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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! 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. 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! “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...
  14. 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. 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. 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. 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. “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. 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. 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.
  15. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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! 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.
  16. 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... 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. 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. 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. 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". 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. 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.
  17. 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. 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. 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! 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. 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! 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.
  18. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
  19. 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. 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. 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... 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. 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!
  20. 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. 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. 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. 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. And, 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. 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.
  21. 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. 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. 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. “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. “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. 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!
  22. 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. 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.” 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. 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." 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. 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!
  23. 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. 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. 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. 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. "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. 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’! 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). 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!”
  24. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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...
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