Despite Husqvarna claiming the 701 has plenty of low-down torque, it’s not exactly blessed with a booming bottom end. In fact it’s exactly as I remember the 690 - lacking stomp right off the bottom which seems strange for a big capacity single like this. No matter… the bottom end it possesses is more than sufficient, and with the 701 it’s all about the midrange anyway. This is a bike which enjoys eating up the miles whether they be on tarmac or tracks.
With that big piston hammering up and down the barrel you’d be forgiven for thinking the KTM would be quite vibey, but it really isn’t. There’s a counter-balancer working away to eliminate the worst of the vibes and KTM have done their homework in terms of taming any harshness, so that all that’s really left is a pleasant-soundingsingle-cylinder drone and sufficient ‘plonk’ underneath you to remind you that this is still a dirt bike at heart.
And as a dirt bike the 701 works a treat. It’ll handle anything from fast cruising stony tracks to slow-speed rocky steps (and all that on the stock dual-sport rubber), but I imagine it’ll become much more of a handful once there’s mud involved. I can’t say for certain, the tracks we rode were mostly dusty with puddles (a strange combo that’s for sure), and it never felt anything less than completely sure-footed at all times. Of course like any heavy(ish) trailie it shoves a bit more weight on to the front end, so you have to be more cautious before you go plunging into soft terrain, but it’ll cope okay, so long as you have your wits about you.
Husqvarna have sensibly resisted the urge to make this machine an out-and-out dirtbike. Whilst it’s not in any way wide, it’s still broader than a pure off-roader, and the size, weight and ground clearance - though doubtless class-leading for a trailbike - are one-step removed from your typical enduro bike. That makes it as good on tarmac as it is off it, although what it won’t do - at least not in the traditional way - is to break traction and power slide around all the loose-surface corners.
This chassis appears to have been designed to keep both wheels in line. If you want to get loose with it then you’ll need to be pretty brutal with the fly-by-wire throttle, and throw your weight around too; otherwise it just goes where it’s pointed. On the flip side of course it does mean that the 701 is super easy to ride - it rarely puts a foot wrong and instills a lot of confidence in the rider as you never find yourself fighting the power output.
Actually I think Husky have got the handling/power balance just right because the 701 is deceptively fast when you need it to be thanks to the fact that it hooks up and drives everywhere. The lengthy wheelbase no doubt helps, and actually I think most riders will find this pronounced stability a real asset. Certainly when it comes to riding in poor weather (and we rode in plenty of that), on iffy roads (likewise), the Husky never once put a foot wrong. At first I was slightly miffed that big handfuls of throttle didn’t instantly translate into big long drifts on the stony corners, but I understand why they’ve clipped this bike’s wings - It’s an adventure bike first and foremost, more than it is a pure dirt bike. Husky may disagree with me on that, but I think there are more people out there willing to invest in a fine handling, well-suspended, go-anywhere adventure bike, than those who just fancy the idea of a really big-bore dirt bike.