ASK THE MXPERTS: WHAT IS THE CONNECTION BETWEEN GUNS AND BIKES?
I was surprised to read in an MXA test that Husqvarna makes guns. That seems like a very strange collaboration in this era of political correctness. What kind of guns do they make?
They weren’t as politically incorrect in 1689 when Husqvarna first started making armaments for the Swedish military. In 1757, the Husqvarna factory was privatized, and for the next 240 years made rifles and shotguns. Although built in Sweden, Husqvarna’s rifles bore a close resemblance to German Mausers, and they even made pistols that were close copies of German Lugers; however, Husqvarna Vaporfabrik is no longer in business, and even if it were, Husqvarna motorcycles are now made in Austria by KTM (who never produced a gun).
The link between gun manufacturing and motorcycles is not a strange collaboration at all. Birmingham Small Arms, which we know as BSA, started as a gun manufacturer in 1861 and didn’t start making motorcycles until 1911. The tooling, machining, milling and metallurgy used to make guns gave gun manufacturers a leg up in the making of motorcycle engines and parts.
Royal Enfield, like many early motorcycle manufacturers, has its origins in bicycles, but it also supplied firearms parts to the British government’s Royal Small Arms Factory. In 1901, the Royal Enfield motorcycle got its name by combining “Royal” (from Royal Small Arms Factory) with the name of the town where the factory was—Enfield, England. Royal Enfield made motorcycles in Britain and had a subsidiary in India to supply the large Indian market. When the British Royal Enfield operation went bankrupt in 1971, the Indian factory continued to produce motorcycles. Royal Enfield sold 60,000 motorcycles last year.
There are many more motorcycle and gun collaborations. Ffor example, CZ made and still makes guns, but not motorcycles. The famous FN (Fabrique Nationale de Herstal) motorcycles of the 1950s and 1960 swas a gun manufacturer. Rene Baeten won the 500 World Championship on an FN in 1958. Benelli, the Italian motorcycle manufacturer, now better known for bicycles, is a gun manufacturer.