One of the most important parts of a successful motorbike company is heritage, and Husqvarna certainly has a lot of history. Founded in 1689, the Swedish company came from humble beginnings and developed into one of the most long-lived motorcycle manufacturers in the world. Husqvarna started life as a weapons manufacturer and we’re looking into the history of the company to see how far they’ve come.
From muskets to motorbikes
Husqvarna was founded in the Swedish town of Huskvarna. The company began making muskets and military hardware. In the 1800s, Husqvarna transitioned into sewing equipment, stoves and household appliances. Eventually, the company started producing bicycles in the original factory near the Huskvarna river.
Engineers experimented with different drive trains and decided on a Belgian Fabrique Nationale 225 cc single-cylinder engine. This led to the first Husqvarna motorbike being developed in 1903. It was an encouraging start and Husqvarna started producing other kinds of motorbikes.
The company started off small, building up their experience. In 1908, they built and sold 14 motorbikes and secured a partnership with Motosacoche of Switzerland. The firm owned a factory in Italy and engines and motorbikes were manufactured. Husqvarna gained momentum in 1918 when they started producing machines entirely in-house. Around the same time, the company gained a contract with the Swedish Army and started entering motorbike racing events.
Husqvarna competed in various events throughout the 1930s, including the 350 cc and 550 cc classes at the Grand Prix. The racing bikes were based on a 50-degree V-twin prototype designed by Folke Mannerstedt. The Husqvarna team beat the Norton works team at the 1931 Swedish GP, which set the bar for future victories. When motocross was introduced in 1953, Husqvarna motorbikes became a popular off-road vehicle.
In 1959, Rolf Tibblin became the first Husqvarna motocross world champion after he rode a 250 to victory. Throughout the 1960s, Husqvarna became even more popular, growing to be a dominant force in World Motocross. The 1970s involved Husqvarna being in corporate demand and catching the attention of one of Sweden’s largest companies, Electrolux.
The next milestone for Husqvarna came in 1987 when it was bought by Cagiva and became part of MV Agusta. This was the case until 2007 and Husqvarna passed on to BMW. The company intended to position Husqvarna as “the two-wheeled version of what Mini is to the BMW’s car division.”
2017 saw Husqvarna unveil a new range of enduro motorbikes that featured a self-developed two-stroke fuel injection system. Have you ever owned a Husqvarna machine? We’d love to see photos and you can post them on our Inside Bikes Facebook page.