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First Ride: Husqvarna Nuda 900R

Knobs, bells and whistles for £9,295

With a race track that's neither fully wet, nor fully dry all we can test in the first of the three sessions on the 900R is tooth grinding and breath holding. 

The R runs different mapping to the standard Nuda and a tooth off the gearbox sprocket for livlier acceleration. It's certainly keen to wheelie out of the second gear hairpins. Angular bits on either side of the fuel tank contain the air intakes for the airbox. Seat on the R version is longer and flatter than the base model allowing you to slide your weight backwards and forwards depending on where you want to position yourself.

You've got to be super-careful trail braking up to the apex of a corner. Especially when it's still patchy damp. Those Brembo Monoblocs - exclusive to the R - run pads that give vicious initial bite meaning the initial brake application is savage. It's a sensation exagerated by the massive fork travel.

Even when the track dried the Metzelers weren't getting much heat into them. A softer compound might have worked better but perhaps this harder compound is best to avoid any chatter? Had a few massive slides but didn't crash. Is this called 'good feedback?'

The Sardinian Mores track is ideally suited to the Nuda R - it's almost as if someone's set the gearing up especially as there's a perfect gear ratio for every corner. Surely they'd never do this in advance...?

Husqvarna upped the capacity of the BMW F800 engine from 798cc to 989cc with a 2mm wider (84mm) bore and 5.4mm stroke-job (81mm). The compression ratio has been raised to 13:1 with the use of a thinner, three-layer cylinder head gasket. Camshafts, pistons and con rods have all been altered to suit the new design of crankshaft. 

The F800’s 0-degree crank offset angle has been altered to 315-degree. Husqvarna claim this creates a 'dynamic new engine with a character and feel like no other'. Perhaps more tangibly, power and torque benefit from these modifications.

To improve breathing, 1mm larger (33mm) intake and 28.5mm exhaust valves are fitted. Husqvarna have also altered BMW’s balance rod mechanism to suit the new design of crankshaft while retaining the dry-sump lubrication system. 

It may only have a 13 litre fuel tank but through the use of its BMW-KP engine management and two 46mm throttle bodies, Husky claim the Nuda will do up to 160 miles on a tank - 55mpg.

Offset crankpins are responsible for a really distinctive new engine note. Obviously this has also massively changed the engine's balance factors (see below).

...so this feller needed some tweaking. The 'nodding rod' balancer principle was also used in Ducati's revolutionary Supermono racing single of the early 1990s. Gearbox is a constant mesh six-speeder. The sump may be dry but the clutch runs in an oil bath.

Engine spec on the R is exactly the same as the base model - just the fuel mapping and the lower gearing affect behaviour. The biggest dynamic difference between the two models is that the R version runs more front fork adjustement and a fully adjustable Ohlins rear unit which also carries a ride-height adjuster. 

We rode the R version on a tight, twisty supermoto track and it was a blast in this sort of environment. Really good fun, really easy to muscle around and fast enough to focus the attention. However, the Nuda's high speed stability isn't the best so I think a track day at Thruxton or Spa would be inadvisable. In the upper gears, just a brutal up-shift is all it takes to instigate a fairly healthy wobble and weave - the same can be said of a forceful third-gear direction change. Nothing too unruly but it lets you know fairly quickly that it's out of its comfort zone.

If you live somewhere with twisty, bumpy back lanes then this is where the Nuda R will be most suited.If you like riding, er, in a spirited fashion, the extra suspension quality and adjustement of the R model might be your thing.

If you do a lot of motorway miles, look elsewhere.