Quantcast

Husqvarna Husqvarna Norden 901 (2022) on and off-road review

Husky-Norden-901-Visordown-Review

For the press riding launch of the new Husqvarna Norden 901, we set our compass for the southwest and the isolated islands of the Azores

Details
Manufacturer:
Husqvarna
Category:
Adventure
Overall
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

SINCE the concept was first announced around two years ago, the Husqvarna Norden 901 has been a bike that automatically drives conversation. For starters, it truly does look like nothing else in the adventure motorcycle world, and then there are the KTM underpinnings of the machine.

With KTM’s know-how and expertise in the adventure and off-road world, the pretty little Husky had to be a winner, didn’t it?

Husky-Norden-901-Visordown-Review

Husqvarna Norden 901 price

At the time of writing the UK price of the Norden has not been released. We managed to crowbar out of one of the Husky reps’ that the bike in most EU markets was going for between €14 and €15,000. While that is still no clue as to what it’ll cost here once taxes are added, it does sound like it’ll be landing for a hefty amount more than the bike it is actually based on - £11,000 for the stock KTM 890 Adventure and £11,999 for the off-road ready ‘R’ version.

The two machines are not totally the same though, with the Norden sitting slightly taller than the stock 890 yet lower than the R. The fuel tank is a litre down on the KTM and slimmed down at the bottom giving a slightly less bulbous front profile to the machine. The big news with the bike has always been the way it looked, and that contemporary styling is lovely, but it comes at a cost. 8kg has been added to the dry weight of the bike, taking the total before fuel and fluids to 204kg. And let’s not forget, most of that weight has been added above the seat height of the machine…

Husky-Norden-901-Visordown-Review

Husqvarna Norden 901 engine

Slotted into the frame of the bike is an engine that is fresh with updates for 2021 and 2022. The KTM group worked hard on the new 890 to improve on what was an already very capable unit. With 20% more internal mass, more torque and power, the latest generation parallel twin in the new Husky is a peach. Its delivery is smooth, with a gutsy low-end punch that means you can drag the bike out of pretty much any situation.

To help handle the extra grunt from the engine an improved slipper clutch is fitted along with a trick Motor Slip Control system that mitigates rear hopping through clever use of the throttle butterfly valves.

Husky-Norden-901-Visordown-Review

Power torque is the same quoted amounts as the bike’s orange cousin, meaning we have 105bhp and 74lb-ft of torque. In short, pretty much all you will need for any off-road and most of the on-road riding you’ll do. It has to be mentioned that if you were looking to do some proper long-distance touring, two-up with luggage, the 901 would probably begin to feel breathless. It’s a shame that at this moment in time there isn’t a bigger sibling waiting in the wings to scoop up any of those wayward customers.

The Norden gains a similaraly designed underslung fuel tank to the one found on the KTM 890 Adventure, although with one less litre of fuel capacity (down from 20 to 19 litres) it is noticeably slimmer and less bulbous in its styling. It does mean though that the bike loses out on the range front, and there is also a knock-on effect to the handling…

Husky-Norden-901-Visordown-Review

Husqvarna Norden 901 suspension, brakes, and handling

In creating the Norden the team at Husqvarna have pretty much split the 890 Adventure and Adventure R. It has more adjustability than the stocker and more travel, but less overall travel than top-spec R. The same has been done with the tyres, with the sleek looking Husky coming equipped with mediocre 70/30 road/off-road Pirelli Rally STR hoops.

Pulling out of the launch hotel for the first time and the bike felt a tad on the ungainly side. It was taking a bit of a heave to get it over into a turn, although once the initial moment of inertia was overcome it’d gallop over to one side. At the first photo stop I hopped off to inspect the rubber and, sure enough, it was a little squared off but not horrifically. I wouldn’t be reaching for my nearest tyre fitters phone number if it was my own bike. Something else was at work here…

Leaving the road behind and we hit the trails and it's fair to say I was extremely excited. I’ve always touted the 890 and 890 R as the best handling mid-weight adventure bikes on the market. They have all the off-road poise and balance of a big enduro, with all the comfort and range of a middleweight tourer. The same can’t be said for the Norden.

Husky-Norden-901-Visordown-Review

While the Norden can do all the things the KTM can, it's just with nowhere near the accuracy or finesse of its Austrian cousin. The suspension is super plush, although with the weight now carried higher in the bike, a top-heavy handling dynamic dominates the riding experience. The tyres also just didn’t feel up to the job. A vague front end didn’t inspire confidence to push on, something that would be helped massively by slotting in some Mitas E-09 tyres – although I don’t think that’d totally fix the problem.

Brakes for the bike are the same J.Juan four-pots as the KTM, and as you’d expect they are linked to the same Bosch cornering ABS system. The brakes work well on and off-road. And the KTM-designed electronics are stunning in how they operate. Would it be nice to see some sexy Brembo calipers fitted to the 901? In short, yes. Husky is marketing itself as a more premium brand than KTM. A hardware upgrade like some top-spec calipers would go a long way towards backing that up.

Husky-Norden-901-Visordown-Review

Husqvarna Norden 901 comfort

For those looking at chomping their way through a Euro tour on the Norden, the seat comfort won’t disappoint, although a little more weather protection wouldn’t go amiss. The rider triangle is lovely and relaxed while sitting down, and there were no aches or pains on that front. The neat front fairing isn’t very effective though, and even my five foot seven frame was getting buffeting around the shoulders.

The off-road riding position for this bike seems to have been altered over the 890 adventure though. The bars seem to feel lower and had even my diminutive body stooping over the front end every time we hit a trail. It not only made the off-road sections feel a bit awkward, but it meant to get any kind of balance on tricky sections I was pushing my bum back over the pillion seat in a slightly unnatural fashion.

Husky-Norden-901-Visordown-Review

Husqvarna Norden 901 equipment

With the hardware for the bike coming from KTM, Husky has worked on the software to differentiate the two models. The riding modes and settings are all still there (albeit now named slightly differently) although they are also subtlety different in how they are delivered. It’s tricky to put your finger on how one bikes' electronics work differently from another, although I’d say the Husky’s systems are slightly softer in their application and less hardcore in how they deliver.

Husky-Norden-901-Visordown-Review

With a clear and very easy to read TFT crowning the cockpit, the Norden features revised styling, colours and backgrounds to the unit found on the 890. It’s a nice touch and does make the Norden’s interface a pleasing thing to look at.

The test bikes we rode were all fitted with the up and down shifter and blipper, and the system worked very well on road and trail. I did find the position of the gear level a bit of an issue, as even while seated I’d have to heave my lower leg up to change gear. You might be able to get the lever closer to the peg with some linkage adjustment should you need it.

A nice touch on the Norden is the distinctive built-in LED foglamps mounted just below the LED headlight. They are a nice looking featuring, and certainly helped to make the bike stand out as we tackled some mountain tracks that literally ran into the clouds.

Husky-Norden-901-Visordown-Review

What we liked about the Husqvarna Norden 901

  • Styling is unique and very eye-catching
  • Riding/seated comfort is very good
  • TFT is clear and easy to use

What we didn’t like about the Husqvarna Norden 901

  • Handling has been impacted by the styling and suspension tweaks – negatively
  • Tyres are too middle of the road
  • For the price (expected to be more than the 890 and 890 R) it doesn’t perform nearly as well

Husky-Norden-901-Visordown-Review

Husqvarna Norden 901 verdict

With its contemporary looks, megastar (in the off-road world) badge on the tank, and KTM underpinnings, the Husqvarna Norden 901 promised to be a bobby dazzler of a bike. Husky has always been the more premium sibling of the KTM stable, offering ‘orange’ products with a boost in the spec that makes a tangible difference to the end-user.

Sadly for me, the Norden didn’t quite deliver on that promise. While it does indeed have more suspension travel, ground clearance and improved styling, each of those points has spoilt the handling of what is the best mid-weight adventure bike around.

As I said in my video review below, benchmarking a bike against its peers is key, and that can only be done when the official price for the market you are in has been released. With €14 or €15,000 being the number in most European regions (equating to around £13,000 before tax is added) I do struggle to see the je ne sais quoi, that unique thing this does better than the KTM.

Husqvarna Norden 901 (2022) Review | Is It BETTER Than The KTM 890 Adventure? 

Husqvarna Norden 901 (2022) Review | Is It BETTER Than The KTM 890 Adventure? | Visordown.com

For more information on this bike, head to: www.husqvarna-motorcycles.com