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.
|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.|
|Classic tank shift. The gearbox is a 3-speed.|
|Last shot: a look at the nice decals on the tank. She's a beaut!|