Euro Trip – Touring Sweden With Husqvarna

Photos and story by Brendan Lutes
THIS FEATURE HAS MULTIPLE PAGES

This was ultimately the main reason for my trip to Sweden--shredding deep Swedish sand aboard the 2015 Husqvarna machines--however, there was much more to the trip than just riding dirt bikes. PHOTO | Courtesy of Husqvarna

After working as a motorcycle journalist for 10 years now, traveling can get a little old, but when a trip like the one I just returned from comes up, I just couldn't pass it up. Getting the chance to ride new bikes, travel to a country I've never been to, and experience a Grand Prix while getting the VIP treatment is something that doesn't come along too often. So when Husqvarna invited TransWorld Motocross to head over the Sweden for a week to experience all of this, I jumped at the chance to be the one to represent our magazine--even though I'd return home only days before my wedding. Before I knew it, my fiancée Emily and I had packed our bags and prepared for an unforgettable trip, using it as a "working" pre-honeymoon.

The dinner following the 2015 Husqvarna intro was incredible and took place on a lake not far from Lulea where we were staying. For those sore from riding, there were hot tubs nearby. PHOTO | Courtesy of Husqvarna

The trip began with a flight to Stockholm and then on to Lulea, Sweden, where the new bike introduction was to be held. Lulea is so far north that it doesn't get dark, remaining completely light outside even through the night. It's a quiet little town and sits roughly one hour from the track where 24 other journalists and I got to ride the new Husqvarna motorcycles. The entire event in Lulea was amazing. The track itself where we tested the new bikes was a deep sand track that was unlike anything I've ever ridden before. And on my fourth lap, I decided it would be a good idea to attempt a big tabletop for the first time. To make a long story short, I landed off the track, went over the bars, and splashed into a mud hole. The crash left me soaked and muddy, and forced me to head back to the pits to change into my spare set of gear. It was a little embarrassing, but I'm never one to take myself too seriously. The rest of the day was filled with riding as many bikes as my body would allow. And by the end, I could barely walk after riding every single motocross bike in Husqvarna's line up, as well as a couple off-road bikes for good measure.

Following the intro, we headed to Stockholm for a couple days. Click through to the next page to find out about that…

Read all about the intro day HERE.

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SWEDISH SIGHTSEEING

Stockholm was highlighted by tooling around the city on these rad rental bikes. As you can see, I don’t take myself too seriously, and yes, I did manage to crash once. Turns out the smaller front wheel makes bunny-hopping a little more difficult.

Following the bike intro, we showered off at the track--yes the facility had full showers and a sauna--and headed to an amazing dinner located at a retreat on a lake just outside of Lulea. The proprietor of the property made sure we all had a great time, shooting guns, jumping in hot tubes, and eating great food. And between Emily and I, we referred to him as the Swedish version of The Most Interesting Man In The World. If there was a Swedish beer that needed a spokesman, he would be perfect, "I don't always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer..."

Stockholm is a beautiful city. On our first day, we toured the Royal Palace (not pictured here), and on the second, we rode the bikes around a lot. There was plenty to keep busy with in Stockholm.

The next day, we woke up to head straight to the airport in order to return to Stockholm for some sightseeing for two days--both of which were an unforgettable time. We rented bikes and explored the city, found an ice bar where the drinks were served in cups made of ice, and got to see the Royal Palace. The city is beautiful and rich with history. Emily also managed to find herself some nice designer shoes, because like most girls, she can never have too many shoes. Kind of like us guys can never have too many bikes. After the stay in Stockholm was complete, we met up with Husqvarna's U.S. Brand Manager Steve Lawler for the next leg of our journey.

There are a ton of really cool ships and boats in the Stockholm harbor.

The drive to the Husqvarna Museum took us about two hours after flying to Gothenburg, but with scenery like this, neither of us complained at all. Click the next page to get to the good stuff--the Husqvarna Museum and Uddevalla Grand Prix.

HUSQVARNA MUSEUM

The Husqvarna Museum is housed inside the company’s old factory, which sits in the shadow of the huge modern manufacturing facility where sewing machines, chainsaws, and other home goods are produced. The Husqvarna motorcycle brand was licensed to KTM, and the bikes will be produced in Austria where KTM motorcycles are manufactured.

After flying to Gothenburg, Sweden, where we would be for the Uddevalla Grand Prix during our final weekend, we hopped in our rental car and drove to the Husqvarna Museum in Huskvarna, Sweden, the city where Husqvarna began back in the 17th century. The drive took us through the picturesque Swedish countryside and eventually into Huskvarna.

If you’re a fan of old motorcycles, the Husqvarna Museum is a must see. There are countless Husqvarna motorcycles on display at the museum and all of them are very interesting.

New bikes just aren’t the same as the old ones.

Guns are what started it all for Husqvarna, as the company first manufactured guns at the start of the 1600s. In fact, the current logo is derived from what how a gun sight appears when you’re looking down the barrel of a gun.

The museum was incredible. Husky began manufacturing guns back in 1609 for the Swedish army and much of the company's heritage is palpable inside the museum that is housed in the original factory. As we walked in, we were greeted by a display of the original guns manufactured by Husqvarna, which then led into the history of how the company came to eventually produce sewing machines, chainsaws, and of course motorcycles. The entire first floor of the museum is full of Husqvarna motorcycles that date back to the early 1900s and span the century to today's bikes. If you ever find yourself in Sweden, take a trip to the Husqvarna museum. You won't be disappointed.

Some modern bikes were also on display at the museum, highlighting Husky’s success during the mid-to-late ’90s. Click through to the next page to read about the Uddevalla GP.

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UDDEVALLA GRAND PRIX

The Uddevalla GP is arguably one of the most picturesque tracks on the circuit. Fans climb to the top of the surrounding cliffs to garner a 360-degree view of the track--perfect for watching racing. We hiked up on Sunday to get the full experience.

After wrapping up our tour of the Husqvarna Museum, we jumped back in our rental car and headed back to Trollhattan near the Uddevalla track for the Grand Prix. After arriving at our hotel, we went downstairs for a welcome dinner with the entire Husqvarna team, as well as other media guests. After dinner, and a few libations at the bar, it was time to hit the hay.

The weekend in Uddevalla began with a welcome dinner for the factory Husqvarna teams and media guests. I was awarded a jersey from MX2 rider Romain Febvre, as a memento of the trip. On race day, Febvre finished fifth overall aboard his FC250 in the MX2 class. PHOTO | Acevedo J.P./Husqvarna

The following morning, Emily and I arrived to the Uddevalla track ready to experience the Grand Prix as VIP guests of Husqvarna's. I've been to a few GP races in the past, but at all of them, I've worked my ass off covering the race, shooting photos, and reporting on anything and everything that went down. This time was different.

Both of Husqvarna’s MX2 and MXGP teams are full factory, receiving total support from Husqvarna.

What’s a Grand Prix without some interesting Euro fans? These guys had this portable stereo/trashcan that they were pushing around everywhere with them. They were clearly completely sober at 10:00 AM when this photo was taken…

Inside, the factory rig is much different than those in America, however, it is very plush. This was the lounge area for the team personnel and riders.

Throughout the course of the two-day event, we were treated to lunch on both days, overlooking the start straight and entire track. And by no means was the lunch a typical hotdog or hamburger. We had steak and fresh fish along with wine and beer--yes, it was tasty. We were also treated to tours of the Red Bull/Ice One Husqvarna MXGP team rig and pits, as well as the Wivlo/Nestaan Husqvarna MX2 team set up. Both teams are very professional and the amenities and resources available to both are second to none. Each team is headquartered in Lommel, Belgium, which to put it into perspective, is the European equivalent to Corona, California--numerous European race teams call the small Belgium town home.

We felt pretty special in the plush VIP viewing area. It isn’t every day that you get to sip on wine, eat some fresh salmon, and watch a Grand Prix race.

Before the main racing got underway, Youthstream gave media a tour of the live television compound. This was inside the main TV rig where the live broadcast is cut together. In the U.S., the Grand Prix racing is broadcast on CBS Sports.

Australia Dean Ferris was drafted up from the American Red Bull KTM team to fill in for injured team rider and fellow Australian Todd Waters. Ferris arrived in Sweden only one week before Uddevalla and had only four days of riding aboard the FC350 he competed on. In spite of that, he was still very fast, posting competitive lap times and running near the front.

Throughout the entire trip, both Emily and I had an amazing experience. The 2015 model introduction was second-to-none, the fact that we took some time to sightsee was a nice filler between events, and the VIP treatment at the MXGP in Uddevalla was incredible. As I type this, though, my jetlag is kicking in, and I'm already looking forward to when I get to ride one of the 2015 Husqvarnas in the U.S. The bikes truly are a blast to ride, and the company as a whole is one anyone would be proud to be associated with. Now, on to arguably something even more important... our wedding.

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