Typically motorcycle comparisons are done with very similar equipment. Engine displacement is close, weights similar, and so on. But I ended up comparing these two bikes basically based entirely on their usage, or to be a bit more specific, my usage of them. I own several motorcycles but I was in the market for a new bike and had fairly specific ideas on what I was going to use it for. In a nutshell, hooliganism. I was looking for something that was pure fun on the street yet still dirt capable. Not a true dirt machine, but one that's not shook on light trails and thirsts for turning down every gravel road that looks like it could potentially be turned into a racetrack. Touring wasn’t on the agenda (although I had ridden the FTR across the country before).

The odd couple does share a commonality - price point. The base model Indian FTR 1200 rings in at $11,500 and the Svartpilen at $12,500 (more on pricing later). I had spent quite a bit of time on the FTR as I rode an S model to Mexico and back last year on Biltwell's famed El Diablo Run. The Husky was new territory for me. I had been looking at KTM's SMR690 and eventually found myself looking at the interesting styling of the Svartpilen 701 that was powered by the same engine as the aforementioned KTM.

These bikes do actually have a few other similarities. Both have a flat track-inspired build and a trellis-style frame. The FTR1200's styling cues come from the dominant FTR750 platform and the Husky clearly leans in that direction with its wide bars, flipped-up tail section and faux number plate on the rightside of the bike. Outside of that, similarities stop.


The FTR sports a 1200cc liquid-cooled V-Twin while the 701 is a big single-cylinder thumper. The FTR puts down a claimed 123 horsepower at the crank while the 701 churns out 75 crank horsepower. Now, by the numbers it seems like a huge win for the Indian, but it's quite a bit more nuanced than that. For starters, the Indian is quite a bit porkier, weighing a claimed 508 lbs. wet while the Swede is a svelte 347 lbs. wet. Having said that, the Indian wins the horsepower-to-weight battle. You can feel the raw power of the Twin, especially in the mid-range and corner exit where the FTR is absolutely fantastic. But that’s where things fall off a little for the FTR. For starters, the FI mapping is pretty rough, especially when it's cold. Nothing that can’t be fixed with a tuner, but it does keep you on your toes. While the FTR1200 we tested has a single ride mode, S&S has a really trick piece in the form of its FTR ECM that unlocks all three FI modes for a few hundred dollars.

The base model FTR is also lacking in traction control, meaning it doesn’t have any. The S model I rode did have traction control but I recall it was in need of some finessing.  On the flip side, cruise control is a win for the FTR. I find it a little odd that a bike like this comes with cruise but it's definitely a nice option, one I put to use quite frequently on my trip to Mexico and back. The sound of the FTR's Twin is sweet music to your ears when getting on the gas and the mid-range grunt is heavenly, but the engine and electronics could use some refining.

The Husqvarna is a much different animal. The 693cc Single begs to be thrashed. Where you have to mind your P's and Q's a bit with the Indian, the Svartpilen 701 can sadistically be whipped into a frenzy and only asks for a gear change. Speaking of which, I have become very spoiled by the standard electronic quickshifter on the 701. It's incredibly slick and there is something super fun about pinning the throttle wide open and just banging effortlessly through the gears. Unlike the base FTR, the Husky is equipped with traction control that can be switched on/off. It's much smoother and user-friendly than TC on the FTR S, and although it does inhibit wheelies, it's barely noticeable outside of that. On dirt and gravel it's actually very usable and makes ripping gravel roads an absolute hoot. You can ham-handedly slam the throttle open exiting a slick corner and the bike finds traction and exits smoothly instead of spinning up the tire. The bottom line is that it comes down to riding style, I tend to enjoy thrashing the Single a bit more but wouldn't mind a few more ponies. I'll probably remedy that with a pipe and tuner. Overall the Husky electronics (specifically the traction control) are better than the FTR.


Both motorcycles sport a chromoly trellis-style frame, but again the similarities end there. Although seating position is relatively similar the Husky is a bit more neutral featuring more of an upright stance and wider flat track style bars while the FTR is a bit more of an aggressive seating position it does have a comfier seat compared to the 701's (although nice looking) rather stiff seat. The two big factors here are weight and suspension. The Svartpilen is over 150lbs. lighter and it's very noticeable, especially in the dirt. The weight advantage made it easier for me to enter corners faster and obviously required much less effort to flick the bike back in forth in tight stuff. On the dirt the lighter 701 is just much easier to handle and inspires more confidence, if the bike gets squirrely or off balance its much easier to correct the lighter machine. The FTR's weight was an advantage in touring situations though, where the 701 gets blown around on the highway the FTR can be cruised (literally) with no issues.

Suspension, Brakes and Tires

Both have 43mm inverted forks and rear mono shocks with 5.9 inches of ground clearance. The base model FTR has very basic suspension while the 701 sports KTM's WP APEX fully-adjustable front suspension giving it a definite advantage. Admittedly, I wouldn't hate it if the 701 was a but stiffer up front. The brakes on the Svartpilen are solid. It does just have a single radial-mounted Brembo up front, but it's more than enough. Having said that, the Indian's dual Brembos up front combined with a radial mount master cylinder are pretty phenomenal. Both bikes have ABS and both should  have an option to shut the rear ABS off...they don't and it drives me absolutely insane! The Indian is equipped with street-legal 19" front and 18" rear Dunlop flat track knock-off tires that I really don't care for. They are mediocre in the dirt and absolutely terrible on grooved pavement. One fun factor is that you can absolutely light the tire mid-corner if so desired. Ultimately, though, I think the FTR would benefit from a different tire choice.

The Husky is equipped with set of Pirelli MT60 RS's in the form of a 18" front and a 17" hoop out back. I had no experience with these tires and was absolutely delighted with them. I figured they'd probably be fine in the dirt but wondered about pavement grip. I was surprised a bit by both. They perform more than capably on the street. You can absolutely rail them through corners with confidence. Off the road in gravel and fairly hard-packed dirt they performed beyond my expectations. Combined with the traction control of the 701 you get really good rear grip. The front is not too shabby in the dirt either, not quite to the standard of a 50/50 tire but it'll get the job done.

Which is best for you?

Again this is going to come down to personal usage and riding style. As far as which bike is a "true hooligan" machine...for me it was the Svartpilen 701. It's like a flat track bike and a supermoto had a baby. It begs to be thrashed and encourages you to generally take every dirt road, jump every curb and basically turns every road into a race track. It'll have you throwin' out the ole stanky leg on those left-handers before you know it. Stylistically, for better or worse, it's kind of in a league of its own. Husqvarna adjusted its price for 2020 to a much more reasonable $9,500 which, considering the components that come standard like Brembos brakes, traction control and adjustable WP suspension, makes it a bargain. If you are looking for a bit more motor and are planning to do a bit of light touring, then the FTR is probably more up your alley. It's big ripping V-Twin, extra poundage and cruise control aren't as friendly when you venture off the beaten path but come in handy on a long ride. For $11,500 it's not terribly expensive either considering the braking system and pavement-devouring mid-range power. The classic muscle bike styling may be a bit more palatable to some as well. I ended up purchasing a 701 for my own stable of machines but the truth is these are two bikes that will put a smile on your face and maybe a few black marks on your driving record. Guess what I'm trying to say is that true hooliganism is in the right hand of whoever wants to attain it, now go ride your motorcycle.