Thursday, September 1, 2011


Along with the bicycles in my collection I also have a couple of motor bikes, one of which  is the subject of today's post: my little Rödqvarna.  The Rödqvarna is a small (118cc), single cylinder bike which was manufactured by the Husqvarna Vapenfabriks Aktiebolag.  In English HVA translates into Husqvarna Weapons Company, Incorporated.  The company, which in the US is best known for dirt bikes, chainsaws, and sewing machines got it's start in 1689 making muskets for the Swedish army.  Over the years demand for weapons fell in Sweden, and in order to keep it's skilled work force busy HVA branched out to make many other products ranging from cast iron skillets to highly complex items such as sewing machines and one of my personal favorites, microwave hot dog vending machines: a great idea which was a little to ahead of the times; you put in a few coins and a minute later out popped a hot dog complete on a warmed bun.

Among the items produced was a range of motorcycles, which started in 1903 by the addition of a motor to a beefed up version of the pedal bicycle which Husqvarna already had in production.  During the 1930s Husqvarna raced their bikes in a number of the Classic race races such as the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy. The well known British racer Stanley Woods was HVA's main works rider.  In the years leading up to the second world war HVA introduced a series of pedal assisted light motor bikes with 98cc engines. After the war the engine size was increased to 118cc and the pedals were deleted from the design.  Although in later years Husqvarna motor bikes are best known in moto-cross competition, the early two-stroke singles like my little bike were envisioned as cheap road transport.  HVA start the 118cc series with the all black painted "Svartqvarna" ("black-qvarna") in 1946.  My bike is a later "Rödqvarna" or "red-qvarna" and dates to 1952.  The red painted Rödqvarna is also called the "Rödmyra" (red ant) which is also a good description based on the color of the paint and the size of the engine!  I acquired my Rödqvarna from my Swedish in-laws when they were preparing to move from Sweden to Australia for three years to work for an Australian mining company.  My father-in-law told me I could have the bike provided I was willing to pay the costs of shipping and custom duty.  So, lets take a look at this fiery red ant.

Here she is, viewed from the left hand side.  The bike dates to 1952 and was the working man's go to work vehicle for those well off enough not to ride the bus or walk to work in the immediate post-war years.  To me she looks very much like a scaled down Indian road bike.  Note the fat fenders and "fishtail" exhaust.  The engine is a 2-stroke single that displaces a lusty 118cc which was rounded up to "120" for the purpose of advertising.

Zooming in on the left side of the engine.   K. L. G. spark plugs are getting very hard to find.  I think I'll keep this one for show and use a modern plug when I ride the bike.

A close up of the "fishtail".  I need to tidy the wiring for tail lamp!  Yes, that's XENOPUS in the background.
The right hand side of the Rödqvarna. For my Swedish viewers, the registration plate reads "P5600" and is the original one issued when the bike was new.  The cycle in the background is my BSA b25--almost 20 years newer  Remember that you can click on the photos to enlarge them for better viewing.
Classic tank shift.  The gearbox is a 3-speed.
The right hand side of the engine.  I love the script cast into the side cover.  Language lesson:  the company spells its name "Husqvarna" using antiquated Swedish spelling conventions.  The town, which incidentally diaristwoman hails from, spells its name "Huskvarna" which conforms to modern day spelling rules.  A "hus" is a house and a "qvarn" is a mill.  So Husqvarna started out as a mill house around which a town grew.
Last shot:  a look at the nice decals on the tank.  She's a beaut!


  1. Hej George !
    What a very fine Rödmyra you have. The pictures
    is perfect, but my English is bad, sorry.
    Have a nice day !
    Joh. Gripencroona

  2. Hej Johannes: Roligt att du tycker om bilderna på min blogg. Jag ska be om lite hjälp, om du inte har nåt emot det. För ett tag sen visade jag en bit från en gammal svensk långfilm. Se här:
    Filmen och MG'n är ung. från 1930-talet, och jag undrar om du kunde visa den på din blogg. Du har betydligt flera svenska läsare än jag, och jag skulle vara väldigt tacksam om någon kände till filmen och skådespelarna i denna film. Jag undrar om denna filmen har överlevt genom alla dessa år, eller om denna biten är allt som finns kvar.
    Jag har bett min fru, som är svensk, översätta min "svengelska". Jag tycker väldigt mycket om din blogg. Många fina bilder, och jag uppskattar all ev.hjälp jag får!
    Tack på förhand. Hälsningar,

  3. Sjovt billede. Jeg anede ikke, at de lavede motorcykler. Kender dem kun fra græsslåmaskiner. (Lawnmovers).

  4. Yep, over the years Husqvarna made world famous moto-cross bikes, chain saws, lawnmowers, automatic hog dog vending machines, my little red bike, you name it. The firm got it's start making rifles for the Swedish Army over 300 years ago. My bride comes from this town.

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  6. Hi!
    Nice bike.
    Much better condition than mine :-)
    Just want to tell you that what you have is a Rödqvarna NOT a Rödmyra.
    Rödmyran was a NV (AB Nymans Verkstäder) with a 128cc JB engine (NV JB).
    Later they changed to 125cc DKW engine (NV11 / NV12 )