If Husqvarna is going to be BMW’s youth brand, it needs street products that are more than me-too KTM wannabes. Products like this Husqvarna Moab concept. With mechanical configuration and purpose loosely based around the idea of an updated ‘60s or ‘70s desert sled, the styling manages to reference motorcycling’s golden age without shamelessly copying bikes of old. Equipped with a 650cc single and wide, semi-knobby tires, it should go a long way to capturing those old bikes’ broad capabilities too.
Here’s the thing with straight-up retros: combining modern powertrains with classic looks is a great way to get the style with none of the headache, but something typically goes missing in the process. A modern Bonneville, for instance, will never have half the character of the original and, saddled with skinny tires and mechanicals chosen for their looks, it’ll never have half the performance of a modern bike either. By referencing history rather than shamelessly repeating it, Husqvarna frees itself of those burdens, enabling the creation of any bike it wishes.
And this Moab concept does reference classic bikes, specifically the H400 that some dude named Harvey Mushman used to race. But, despite the low-hanging-fruit nature of that choice, Husqvarna has successfully translated classic colors and conventions into something distinctly contemporary. This LED headlight/numberboard is fucking wonderful, for instance.
Of the design, Husqvarna states, “The lines are fluid but combine to create a decisive form. The
shape of the tank blends with the seat and rear section, creating a fluidity and immediately
distinctive style. This design feature follows the lead of the latest generation of Husqvarna models, such as the concave shape of the front and rear mudguards, and the front number holder. Tradition and high-tech innovation are successfully blended in the details of the new Concept MOAB: the digital instrument panel that is situated in the upper crossbar or the LEDs on the front number holder and the tail-light. The colour scheme, down to every last detail, both in bodywork and mechanics, is taken from Steve McQueen's immortal H400. The unique form and colours give the MOAB an exhilaratingly vintage look.”
The result is a bike with broad purpose. Equally at home parked outside a bar, on the commute or exploring fire roads. In short, what most motorcycles used to be before they got all hyper-specialized.
Big, comfy seat; big, white plastics; bright colors. This is how you reference and translate retro into something appealing and contemporary and unique.
“The riding position is comfortable and commanding, with high and wide handlebars, a bulky tank that the legs can hug with ease and the long seat that allows freedom of movement. The end result is a cool bike, ideal for use both in the city and on dirt tracks, which is easy to ride
and handle, even for female biking fans.”
While that’s a bit awkwardly phrased, the sentiment has a lot of merit. This is exactly the translation of classic attributes into modern forms and an accessible package that can really sell the romance of riding to a new generation of rider. Put this into production, give it an accessible price (hopefully the 650GS engine is an indicator of that), give it some actual marketing (for god’s sake, please, someone at BMW look up marketing in the Yellow Pages and call a professional) and it’ll sell like those proverbial hot cakes.