NEW Husqvarna Norden 901 Review 2022

 

This is a hugely important bike for Husqvarna as it enters the highly competitive adventure market for the first time with the all new Norden 901. Under joint ownership with KTM, it will come as no surprise the new Norden shares many similarities with KTM’s highly acclaimed 890 Adventure, which is a fantastic base to start from. Husqvarna has aimed the Norden 901 between KTM’s base 890 Adventure and off-road purposed 890 Adventure R model. Is the Norden the best of both worlds or have they missed the mark? Husqvarna is clearly confident in the new model because BikeSocial’s ‘Chad’ spent a couple of days of extensive testing on and off road on the stunning Azores islands. This was a true test of their global adventure bike in every condition imaginable, from tough off-road mud and sand to stunning switchback mountain passes in the wet and dry.

 

For and against
  • Comfort
  • Off-road ability
  • Individual image and styling
  • Brakes are a little wooden
  • Lack of engine braking
  • Confusing clocks
Husqvarna Norden 901 (2022) - review
Husqvarna’s all-new global adventure bike, heavily based on KTM’s 890 Adventure, tested on and off road over a couple of day in the Azores.

 

Husqvarna Norden 901 (2022) Price

How much is the 2022 Husqvarna Norden 901? £12,349 and it’s available in just the one colourway – grey/yellow/white. Even though it’ll be classified as a 2022 model, it should be in dealerships in the next couple of weeks although PCP data won’t be available until mid-December.

 

Power and torque

The 889cc parallel twin is taken directly from KTM 890 Adventure and Husqvarna don’t try to hide this fact. And why should they? The lightweight engine is impressive, housed not only in the Adventure, but also the 890 Duke as well as KTM’s racing RC 8C. Power and torque are therefore identical to the KTM’s 77kw/105hp @ 8000rpm, and 100Nm/63.8ftlb at 6500rpm.

The 890 KTM engine’s capacity was increased from 790 at the start of 2021, as a relatively simple way to become Euro-5 compliant without losing any power.

Instead, it gained 20% more rotational mass which, according to KTM, improves rideability, while a beefed-up clutch and strengthened gearbox deal with the extra grunt.

 

 

Engine, gearbox, and exhaust

Our test bike was fitted with an aftermarket Akrapovič silencer, which is Euro-5 compliant and adds a little bark to the already charismatic Norden, but with no extra power or torque so it’s all about the aesthetic and aural pleasure.

The up-and-down quickshifter comes as standard and despite wearing semi off-road boots I never had a problem with changes, just occasionally finding neutral by mistake while riding off-road. However, there were a few complaints by some riders in heavy looking off-road boots. The shift on the road is effortless and smooth, backed by that pleasing ‘woof’ from the aftermarket Akrapovič exhaust.

Controlling the power are multiple riding modes: Street, Rain, Off-Road and the optional Explorer mode fitted to our test bike. Each mode is set, changing the throttle response, traction control level and peak power. The specialist Off-Road mode delivers full power but turns off the lean sensitive rider aids (ABS and TC), allowing some wheel rear wheel slip and effortless wheelies, while significantly changing the bike’s behaviour.

The optional Explorer mode allows you to personalise the settings, adding or reducing rear wheel spin or turning off the rear ABS, which is done automatically in the Off-Road mode.

Husqvarna were clearly confident of their new Norden 901, giving us two long days of testing around the Azores islands, which means we encountered every type of road and weather imaginable.

Street mode, as you’d expect, delivers a perfectly well-behaved motorcycle. Power is smooth, with lovely drive from low down, and you can feel the rider aids controlling first and second gear wheelie attempts. For most riders this is all you really need. However, we encountered some tough road sections featuring wet cobbles covered in moss but, with a closed throttle via the KTM switchgear on the left bar, I could quickly shift into Rain mode (which is clearly highlighted by the full colour TFT dash).

Throttle response is considerably softer in the Rain mode with power capped at 82bhp, and I was thankful of the increased intervention of in rider aids in such slippery conditions, too. In normal riding I rarely touch wet weather modes, but on wet cobbles I was thankful for the option.  Both traction control (TC) and ABS are lean sensitive, and a reassuring light is illuminated when the TC is activated (which was almost continuously in the treacherous conditions). However, despite the heavy intervention, there isn’t any backfiring or jolting, just smooth, uninterrupted drive.

The Explorer mode allows you to trim the electronics to match the conditions and the way you ride. For example, I reduced the TC, which allowed effortless and useful off-road wheelies, but I could have opted to reduce or turn off the cornering ABS. In the Explorer mode you can also change the power output and throttle response.

Off-road the power delivery is easy to live with and the throttle isn’t sharp, while its progressive torque output allows the rear Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tyre to find taction. You can tickle the throttle around tight turns without any snatchiness or, just as easily, spin the rear to tighten your exit (or rooster your close-following mates with mud). Peak power isn’t limited as it is in Rain mode.

 

 

Handling, suspension, and weight

Husqvarna has pitched the Norden in between the two KTM 890 Adventure models. This means it has more suspension travel – 220mm front and 215mm rear – than the more road-focused 890 Adventure, but less travel than the 890 Adventure R. The Norden is controlled by 43mm WP APEX forks and a WP APEX shock (both fully adjustable) and, as useful nod to its role as a tourer, the Norden also comes equipped with a remote, easy-access preload adjuster.

As you’d expect from Husqvarna which, like WP, is owned by KTM, the suspension is inspiring – and lower too. Crucially, you don’t have that on-tiptoes feeling as you do on the KTM 890 Adventure R, which, off-road especially, gives the impression it’s on stilts. The 901 is much closer to the road biased standard KTM 890 in this respect.

The test threw every type of road conceivable at the 901, but from smooth, 120mph sweepers to pothole-riddled lanes and some challenging off-road terrain, at no point did I want the suspension changing or altering.

During fast, flowing cornering the Norden was incredibly stable for a bike with long-travel suspension. Aerodynamic bodywork has been designed to enhance stability while the off-road looking Pirelli rubber was always reassuring on tarmac. At times I had to remind myself I was on an adventure bike capable of taking on the rough terrain, and while the 901 is clearly no sports bike there’s obviously lots of travel under heavy braking and acceleration yet suspension movement is always well controlled and neatly predictable. That is the key.

The Norden is eight kilos heavier than the KTM 890 Adventure but such is its comparative narrowness and compact feel (the fuel tank, for example, is slightly smaller) that extra weight isn’t noticeable, and only a back-to-back test with the KTM would reveal if there’s any real world difference. I certainly didn’t finish the Norden ride thinking it was heavier than the KTM, even off-road.

Off-road handling is eye opening. In extreme situations the Norden 901 lacks the sophistication and suspension travel of the KTM 890 Adventure R – but for this 45-year-old dad from Yorkshire who’s never ridden the Dakar and who simply enjoys weekend riding off-road there’s little to fault. There were a few moments, due to me picking the wrong line, when the forks and shock bottomed out. And I’m sure if you ride hard, with big air, you’d want to tailor the fully adjustable suspension or even fit beefier springs to suit. But for me and 90% of the buying public the standard suspension on these tyres was forgiving and reassuring.

I could feel what was happing; the bars weren’t jolting. Loose hands allowed the front to find its own route, and the rear did its best to manage the grip. The 901 compliments the rider, boosting the confidence of less experienced hands especially.

 

 

Husqvarna Norden 901 (2022) Comfort and economy

Okay, it’s no Honda Goldwing and I didn’t test for pillion comfort but compared to some 21-inch front wheel global adventure bikes the Norden scores highly. The 854mm seat is comfortable for this type of bike (not too narrow and hard) but still narrow towards the fuel tank allowing shorties like me to get two feet on the ground.

The non-adjustable screen (a missed trick in my opinion) is adequate, the standard hand guards do their best to keep hands dry in the heavy rain and cruise control comes as standard. The fuel tank is one litre smaller than the KTM 890 Adventure’s, but they run the same frugal motor. Husqvarna quote 4.5l/100km or 62.7mpg, and I managed 5.1/100km or 55.39mpg, which should deliver over a 250-mile range.

 

Brakes

This is my only real criticism of the Norden 901 and, looking at my old notes, I wrote the same about the KTM 890 Adventure. The brakes are more than adequate for off-road riding at my level, but on the road lack the sharpness you normally associate with KTM’s sporting siblings. They felt wooden and lacked feel and bite. At times I had to use four fingers rather than gently using two.

Again, a degree of this may be down to personal preference and exaggerated by the long-travel suspension, but once or twice, braking heavily downhill into a slow, dry corner I wanted more bite and urgency. More engine braking would have helped, too (more on that later).

However, the Bosch lean-sensitive ABS is impressive, particularly in the Rain and Off-Road modes. As mentioned, some of the road conditions were very sketchy and I was grateful for the cornering ABS. Off-Road the ABS is deactivated from the rear (the front can’t be switched off), and ABS is no longer lean sensitive. I was a little worried at first, as it was hard to feel the ABS working – it’s that good, and a bit like bungee jumping without looking to first see if your legs are tied on. But the more you trust the off-road capability of the ABS the safer you feel; it’s incredible for an average rider how heavy you can brake off-road.

 

 

Rider aids, extra equipment, and accessories

Three riding modes come as standard, but the Explorer mode is an optional extra. There’s lean sensitive ABS and TC, which has a specific off-road setting. The up-and-down shift is standard, as is the cruise control. Last year KTM upgraded the Adventure’s IMU, which essentially measures the movement of the bike, to a six-axis component, and the Norden benefits from that technology, too.

The modes and rider aids are accessible via the quadrant of buttons on the left bar, which interact with the new 5-inch full colour TFT dash. I’ve ridden the KTM extensively in the past and I’m up to speed with the switchgear, and like the KTM, the new clocks are informative with clear colour graphics. They are relatively easy to navigate, although not initially intuitive. But, by the end of day one it felt like second nature to quickly flick between Rain and Off-Road settings. However, the clocks change with the modes, which I found confusing: sometimes the gear position was clearly displayed, sometimes it was the TC… but I’m picking at detailed points only discovered after two intense days of riding.

I would have liked to have had the ability to change the engine braking, which for me was lacking and is the same in every mode. The Norden would sometimes rush into corners, almost two-stroke like, with very little engine braking. More would help during steep descents and take the pressure of the front tyre.

As you would expect for a bike ready to take on the world, there is a huge list of travel accessories, from luggage, crash protection and heated grips to the aforementioned Akrapovič silencer. The dedicated adventure riding kit is also worth noting, looks good and, according to the guys who rode with us, waterproof.

 

Rivals

Here’s a high-level comparison chart with a handful of competitors in this adventure class – we’re talking ‘middleweight’ here instead of the larger 1200s, 1250s and 1290s from the likes of KTM, BMW, Triumph and Ducati:

Make/ model

Engine

Power

Torque

Weight

Seat Height

Price

KTM 890 AD

890cc parallel Twin

105hp (77kw) @ 8,000rpm

100Nm / 73.8 lb-ft @ 6,500rpm

196kg dry

850mm

£10,999

KTM 890 AD R

890cc parallel Twin

105hp (77kw) @ 8,000rpm

100Nm / 73.8 lb-ft @ 6,500rpm

196kg dry

880mm

£11,999

Honda Africa Twin

1084cc parallel twin

100.5hp (75kw) @ 7500rpm

105Nm / 77.4 lb-ft @ 6250rpm

226kg kerb

850/870mm

£13,049

Aprilia Tuareg

659cc parallel twin

80hp (59kw) @ 9250rpm

70 Nm / 51.6 lb-ft @ 6,500rpm

187kg dry

860mm

£10,600

Note: KTM and Honda prices are 2021 not 2022 prices

 

Husqvarna Norden 901 2022 Review Details Price Spec_048

 

Husqvarna Norden 901 (2022) Verdict

The Norden sits between the KTM 890 Adventure and the more off-road biased Adventure R model, and you could argue it’s the best of both worlds. Road handling, comfort, technology and rider aids are excellent, and equally it can cut it off-road. If you’re serious about your off-road riding – making deep river crossings and riding wide open in 5th and 6th gears – then the KTM’s R version would be a better option. But, for the other 99% of us, the Norden 901 does it all.

Okay, the brakes are adequate rather than stunning, and I’d want more engine braking while some might want the ability to turn off the front ABS. But other faults aren’t really faults, just personal and minor niggles. If I was to repeat this test, I’d probably take the Husqvarna Norden 901 over either KTM 890 Adventure.

 

Husqvarna Norden 901 (2022) Technical Specification

New price

£12,349

Capacity

889cc

Bore x Stroke

68.8 x 90.7mm

Engine layout

Parallel Twin

Engine details

Liquid cooled, 4v per cylinder

Power

77kW / 105 bhp @ 8000rpm

Torque

100Nm / 73.8ft lbs @6500rpm

Top speed

135 mph(est)

Transmission

6-speed, chain drive

Average fuel consumption

Claimed: 4.5l/100km (62.7mpg)

Tested: 5.1/100km (55.39mpg)

Tank size

19 litres

Max range to empty

Claimed: 250miles

Rider aids

Standard 3 rider modes, Bosch Cornering ABS and TC

Frame

Steel trellis

Front suspension

WP APEX 43mm 220mm travel

Front suspension adjustment

Fully adjustable

Rear suspension

WP APEX 215mm travel

Rear suspension adjustment

Fully adjustable

Front brake

2 x 320mm radial 4-piston

Rear brake

260mm 2-piston

Front wheel / tyre

90/90 21 Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR

Rear wheel / tyre

150/70 18 Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR

Wheelbase

1513mm

Seat height

854mm

Ground clearance

252mm

Weight

204kg (no fuel)

MCIA Secured rating

Not yet rated

Warranty

2-years

Website

www.husqvarna-motorcycles.com

 

Husqvarna Norden 901 2022 Review Details Price Spec_036

 

What is MCIA Secured?

MCIA Secured gives bike buyers the chance to see just how much work a manufacturer has put into making their new investment as resistant to theft as possible.

As we all know, the more security you use, the less chance there is of your bike being stolen. In fact, based on research by Bennetts, using a disc lock makes your machine three times less likely to be stolen, while heavy duty kit can make it less likely to be stolen than a car. For reviews of the best security products, click here.

MCIA Secured gives motorcycles a rating out of five stars, based on the following being fitted to a new bike as standard:

  • A steering lock that meets the UNECE 62 standard
  • An ignition immobiliser system
  • A vehicle marking system
  • An alarm system
  • A vehicle tracking system with subscription

The higher the star rating, the better the security, so always ask your dealer what rating your bike has, and compare it to other machines on your shortlist.

 

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