But, like all dreams, it had a few nightmarish elements.
First, I had to fly 11,000 miles round trip. Second, every
minute in Sweden would be spent on a motorcycle.
Third, I only had 36 hours to get the assignment done
before I had to be back in SoCal. I wasn’t about to
complain. I’d never been outside of the United States
before I came to work at MXA, and this was my second
trip to Europe in a month. In fact, Sweden is only a short
boat trip across the Baltic Sea from Denmark, where I
was a few weeks ago.
After the long transatlantic fight, I had to drive an
hour to get to my hotel at the Stenungsbaden Yacht
Club—about 300 miles west of Stockholm, but only 30
miles north of Gothenburg. I arrived just in time to sit
down for dinner with my hosts, where they introduced
the new bikes and talked about the history of the
Husqvarna brand. As the introduction went on, I started
to have a sense of connection as I learned about the
long legacy of the Husqvarna firm.
Swedish-born Husqvarna was founded in 1689 as a muskets and weapons manufacturer. It wasn’t until 1903 that
they made their first motorcycle. In 1918, Husqvarna made
its first dirt bike, although many of the Swedish roads in
1918 were dirt anyway. Throughout the 1960s and ’70s,
Husqvarna won 14 World Motocross Championships, 24
Enduro World Championships and 11 Baja 1000 victories.
In the 1980s, Husky started to unravel. After it was
bought by household appliance giant Electrolux in 1978,
motorcycles were no longer the priority for Husqvarna.
Electrolux unloaded the motorcycle division in 1987, and
it was moved to Italy, where it was folded into Cagiva.
In 2007, BMW bought the brand to try its hand in the
dirt bike business. The BMW engineers tried to reinvent
the wheel with the atrocious TC449. The bike was a flop
and hurt the reputation of the Husqvarna brand. When
the recession hit and dirt bike sales declined, BMW tried
to turn Husky into a street bike manufacturer. In 2013,
BMW approached KTM CEO Stefan Pierer about the pos-