Hands up all those who’ve heard of SWM motorcycles. Yeah, thought not. But if you were a keen follower of off-road competition in the 1970s, the name would have been as familiar as Bultaco, Maico, Montesa and Husqvarna. Sadly, like many other interesting marques, Speedy Working Motorcycles went bust in the 1980s, living on only as something of a historical curiosity. Until 2014, that is, when Ampelio Macchi, ex-Technical Manager for Cagiva, Aprilia and Husqvarna, set about resurrecting the brand in the former Husky plant in Lombardia, Italy.
The Superdual shows this lineage most clearly in its engine, with its distinctive ‘Red Head’. It’s the motor from the 2009 Husqvarna TE630 Enduro bike. The frame and swingarm are the same too, though the forks and geometry up front are different. The net result is an Adventure style bike with genuine off-road roots that’s also designed to work on the highway.
Quirks ‘R’ Us
The twists and turns in the story of Husqvarna, and its sibling Husaberg, defy any summarisation. Add in the tale of how SWM took over their old models and the factory where they were built, and it becomes a saga. Let’s just say that the many changes of hands have done nothing to round off the odd rough edge, iron out the quirks and make the SWM a faultless, polished performer.
It shows in irritating details like the placement of the ignition barrel directly under a stiff, braided brake line. Or somewhat home-made aspects like the side-stand cutout switch being zip-tied to the frame. The off-road competition roots show through in the cold-start lever, too. None of them are deal-breakers, though, and they do add to the machine’s character, which ends up being rather endearing.
Some of the Superdual’s charm comes from its unusual identity. Few have heard of SWM, and some might even pick it as a Chinese brand. But who cares, when you can have this top-of-the-range machine, engineered by Husqvarna when it was under BMW ownership, for under $12k? And that includes the far-from-cheap Givi luggage. Knowing it is actually an Italian brand, with serious competition heritage, gives a warm feeling inside.
With only a single piston and a LAMS-compliant 35kW on tap, there’s no expectation of rip-snorting performance. Instead, wafting around enjoying the view from the high riding position takes precedence.