Husqvarna Motorcycles GmbH designs, engineers, manufactures and distributes motocross, enduro, supermoto and street motorcycles.
The company began producing motorcycles in 1903 at Huskvarna, Sweden, as a subsidiary of the Husqvarna armament firm. Today Husqvarna Motorcycles GmbH is owned by Austrian KTM AG.
Husqvarna was founded near the town of Huskvarna in Sweden in 1689. The company started out as a maker of muskets, and the Husqvarna logo still depicts a gun sight viewed from the end of the barrel.
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 was not 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 races. 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.
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. 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 third in the 350cc Junior TT and Woods ran out of gas eight miles before the 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 two-stroke, two-speed commuter bike. That year, Woods won the Swedish GP (marking the fourth year in a row that a “Husky” had won) on a 500cc Husqvarna motorcycle that weighted 279 pounds (127 kilograms).
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. A group of the company’s managers and engineers were not willing to move to Italy and therefore founded Husaberg AB – which was acquired by KTM AG in 1995. Husqvarna motorcycles were then produced in Varese, Italy.
In July 2007, Husqvarna motorcycles was purchased by BMW for a reported €93.000.000. BMW Motorrad planned to continue operating Husqvarna Motorcycles as a separate enterprise. All development, sales and production activities, as well as the workforce, remained at the Varese location. BMW intended to position Husqvarna as “the two-wheeled version of what Mini is to the BMW’s car division”.
On 31 January 2013 BMW Group announced that Pierer Industrie AG has bought full stake in Husqvarna AG for an undisclosed amount. Pierer Industrie AG CEO Stefan Pierer was also the CEO of Cross Industries AG, then the main shareholder of KTM-Sportmotorcycle AG parent KTM AG, and the CEO of KTM AG. Later in 2013, direct ownership of the Husqvarna company was transferred and license rights were sold from Pierer Industrie AG to KTM AG, making the newly established Husqvarna Motorcycle GmbH part of the KTM Group. Husqvarna motorcycle production at Mattighofen in Austria started on 7 October 2013. At the same time, Husqvarna-spin-off Husaberg was re-united with Husqvarna, terminating the existence of the Husaberg brand.