Husqvarna Motorcycles

Husqvarna Motorcycles, a subsidiary of BMW, is a company manufacturing motocross, enduro and supermoto motorcycles. The company began producing motorcycles in 1903 at Huskvarna, Sweden, as a branch of the Husqvarna armament firm which had supplied the Swedish army with rifles since 1699. As with many motorcycle manufacturers, Husqvarna first began producing bicycles in the late 19th century. In 1903, they made the jump to motorcycle manufacturing. The first "Husky" motorcycles used imported engines, and it wasn't until 1918 that Husqvarna began producing machines built entirely in-house. Around that time they secured a contract with the Swedish Army and began entering cross-country and long-distance motorcycle racing events. In 1920, Husqvarna established its own engine factory and the first engine to be designed was a 550 cc four-stroke 50-degree side-valve V-twin engine, similar to those made by companies like Harley-Davidson and Indian. Although they once made motorcycles for street use, and raced at road circuits such as the Isle of Man TT prior to World War II, they are better known for producing world championship winning motocross and enduro bikes. Husqvarna competed in Grand Prix road racing in the 350cc and 500cc classes during the 1930s and was Sweden's largest motorcycle manufacturer by 1939. All of the racing bikes were based on a 50-degree V-twin prototype built by Folke Mannerstedt in 1931. They had solid-valve aluminum cylinders, an oddity at a time when most bikes had sodium cooling. The company team beat the Norton Works team at the Swedish GP in 1931 with a 1-2 finish by Ragnar Sundqvist and Gunnar Kalen. This and the next year's success led to a full commitment to the GP tracks with Stanley Woods and Ernie Nott joining the Husqvarna riding team. That year, Nott finished 3rd in the 350cc Junior TT and Woods ran out of gas 8 miles before he finish of the Senior TT. In 1935 the company withdrew racing support, but new bikes were still produced and raced privately, while the company focused on producing a new 2-stroke, 2-speed commuter bike. That year, Stanley Woods won the Swedish GP (marking the fourth year in a row that a "Husky" had won) on a 500cc Huqvarna motorcycle that weighted 279 pounds. In the 1960s, their lightweight, two-stroke engined off-road bikes helped make the once dominant British four-stroke motorcycles obsolete. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Husqvarna was a dominant force in the motocross world, winning 14 Motocross world championships in the 125 cc, 250 cc and 500 cc divisions, 24 enduro world championships and 11 Baja 1000 victories. In 1987, the Husqvarna motorcycle division (not the other arms of the brand such as chainsaw production) was sold to Italian motorcycle manufacturer Cagiva and became part of MV Agusta Motor S.p.A. The motorcycles, widely known as "Huskies"/ "Husky", are now produced in Varese. Husqvarna produces a diverse range of motocross, enduro and supermoto machines using their own two-stroke or four-stroke engines, ranging in capacity from 125 cc to 576 cc. Racing continues to be important to Husqvarna, competing in world enduro and world supermoto championships. Gerald Delepine, riding a Husqvarna SMR660, became supermoto world champion in 2005. In 2008, Adrien Chareyre took the title, riding an SM530RR. In July 2007, Husqvarna motorcycles was purchased by BMW for a reported 93 million euros. BMW Motorrad plans to continue operating Husqvarna Motorcycles as a separate enterprise. All development, sales and production activities, as well as the current workforce, have remained in place at its present location at Varese, in Italy. BMW intends to position Husqvarna as "the two-wheeled version of what Mini is to the BMW's car division".