Husqvarna Norden 901 Review - A New Standard? (2022)

Written by Justin W. Coffey | photos by Husqvarna. Posted in Bikes

Does Husqvarna's new 2022 Norden 901 live up to the hype and set a new standard in adventure touring? We travelled to São Miguel, 1,500 km off the coast of Portugal and punctuated by the Sete Cidades Massif, a polygenetic volcano, to find out. Much like the volcano itself, Husqvarna’s introduction of the Norden 901 at the 2019 EICMA show was met with an eruption of enthusiasm from the adventure motorcycle industry and its patrons. Was this the new standard for a mid-sized ADV machine? Could it be the rebirth of the much beloved KTM 990 platform that ceased production in 2013? Or would it be something else entirely… adventure riders waited with bated breath.

At first glance, I saw an 889cc parallel twin wedged inside a frame that was familiar, and a chassis outfitted with equipment also found on another notable ADV offering, the KTM 890 Adventure. But while it appeared similar in many ways, I wondered how the Husqvarna might be different from what was already available from the Austrian OEM. And so, after thirty hours of travel from the west coast of the U.S. to the volcanic archipelago of the Azores, I was ready to pull the sheet off the Norden and find out what, if anything, differentiated it from its brethren.

Husqvarna Norden 901 Review - A New Standard? (1)The Norden 901 comes equipped with an LED headlight and twin LED fog lights from the factory.

Is the 2022 Husqvarna Norden 901 a KTM 890 Adventure in a black and white cloak? Yes, essentially. Is that cause to not be excited, though? I think not. This is a first for the storied Swedish brand, expanding their footprint from purpose built off-road and enduro machines to the adventure motorcycle market. Husqvarna (Husky) believes the Norden is a direct connection to both their past as a brand, and their future in the industry, guided, as many adventurers before them, by the North Star.

The Norden is an important addition to the ADV market for a variety of reasons. It's a shift for the Husky nameplate, from pure enduro to venturing farther. It connects the dots between the KTM brand and Husqvarna. On paper, the Norden 901 is not something new. With the same LC8 powerplant as the KTM 890 Adventure and Duke models, and equipped with Apex WP suspension components, Husqvarna-branded Brembo brakes, and the same chromoly frame utilized on the KTM Adventure models, it has lots in common with those bikes. But what the Norden 901 has accomplished is finding its place between the standard 890 Adventure and the 890 Adventure R models.

Husqvarna Norden 901 Review - A New Standard? (2)The Norden's prototype and production model are eerily similar (and that's a good thing).

• Specifications and Details

The Norden’s seat, which is adjustable from 33.6 to 34.4 inches, is only slightly higher than the standard 890 Adventure, but lower than the R version. The same goes for the Apex WP suspension. The standard 890 Adventure offers 7.9 inches (200mm) of travel both front and rear, while the R model provides 9.5 inches (240mm) of travel at the front and back. The Norden, however, slides right in-between, with 8.7 inches (220mm) in the fork and 8.5 inches (215mm) at the rear. The fork is fully adjustable for rebound and compression, while the rear shock is rebound-adjustable, along with a handwheel to tweak preload. It’s a happy medium.

Husqvarna Norden 901 Review - A New Standard? (3)This is the same powerplant you'd find in KTM's 890 Adventure.

The Norden 901’s engine, like its KTM siblings, produces 105 hp at 8,000 rpm and 74-pound-feet of torque at 6,500 rpm. It’s a stressed member of the chassis is mated to a six-speed gearbox with a factory quickshifter fitted standard. The 889 cc powerplant requires major servicing every 15,000 km (~9,320 miles). Husky claims the Norden tips the scale at 450 lb. dry. Like the 890 Adventure, the Norden 901 features an injection-molded five-gallon fuel tank, re-shaped slightly to fit the Husqvarna aesthetic, but still offering a super-low center of gravity, one of the key features that makes the 890 models so popular amongst off-road riders. And while the fuel capacity is a fraction less than that of the 890, the Norden is still good for 250 miles on a full tank, in theory.

Husqvarna Norden 901 Review - A New Standard? (4)The Color TFT Display was fairly intuitive, and allowed riders to navigate between ride modes on the fly.

Like all proper, modern big-bore ADV bikes, the Norden comes standard with a plethora of electronic aids and top-shelf tech, which puts the 901 in a different class than its biggest competition, theYamaha Tenere 700. There’s a five-inch color TFT display on the dash, LED foglamps and headlight, a Bosch IMU providing cornering ABS, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, and a 12V socket next to the GPS mount to charge devices. The TFT offers turn-by-turn navigation via a forthcoming Husqvarna app. There are three riding modes: Street, Off-Road, and Rain, each of which alters the throttle response and traction control settings to accommodate the conditions. There’s also a fully customizable mode—Explorer—available via a firmware update at dealerships. This allows riders to set the traction control system from nine possible levels and will save the custom settings so you don’t have to change modes when the ignition is turned off and then on again.

Husqvarna Norden 901 Review - A New Standard? (5)Dual-disk in-house branded Brembo brakes brings everything to a halt in a moment's notice.

The Norden draws its aesthetic characteristics from bikes that competed in the Dakar Rally in the ’80s and ’90s. Its fixed windscreen, pronounced front fairing and massive round headlight remind me of the Cagiva Elefant, which Edi Orioli raced across Africa in 1990 and 1994. There’s a 21-inch wheel at the front, and an 18-inch in the rear, both wrapped in tubeless Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires. The bike is aggressive, but also practical in its appearance, and sits in stark contrast to the sharp, insect-like aesthetic of the KTM iteration. And while the Norden may look a bit like an old rally bike, what it really is, is the future.

Husqvarna Norden 901 Review - A New Standard? (6)Sao Miguel provided an epic backdrop to test ride the new 901 Norden.

• The Ride

Our test ride took two days, bookended by more than 30 hours of travel each direction to get to the island of São Miguel. The weather was ominous upon our arrival, with gray skies and massive clouds swirling about the volcano above us. The Norden 901 waited in the lobby while the local news predicted precipitation the following day. Both of our riding days were a mix of paved and off-road riding, an effort by the Husqvarna team to showcase just how capable the Norden is on just about any surface. We departed our accommodations on the northern part of the island and headed east, the start of an eight-hour adventure ride around one half of the island. Like the Canary Islands to the southeast, the tarmac roads in the Azores are basically a paved rollercoaster. Domed to ensure ample runoff from torrential downpours, they’re fast and narrow and edged by metal guard rails intended to keep you out of the caldera.

Husqvarna Norden 901 Review - A New Standard? (7)Even in a sketchy water crossing, with surprise hard edge ledges, the Norden ate up all the obstacles with ease.

The rain held off until we hit elevation, where a dense layer of fog and precipitation had settled in overnight. And while the roads were wet and a light rain had begun to fall, the paved surface itself provided ample grip. To be on the safe side, I switched the Norden into Rain mode, cutting the available 105 hp to 80 hp, and increasing the traction control settings to avoid any “off bike incidents.” Still, with 25 less horsepower, the Norden provided more than enough performance given the circumstances, as we ascended and then rapidly descended one of the many mountain peaks on the east side of the island. Under braking, the Norden’s massive radial-mounted four-piston calipers squeezed the dual 320mm discs and saved my skin more than I care to admit, with the ABS and traction control lights flashing on the TFT. When the pavement dried a bit, I could hear the rear ABS working overtime as I stabbed at the rear brake pedal coming into a corner too hot. Butt, saved. The initial off-road section on the first day was a mellow dirt road, lined on either side by luscious bushes and tropical trees.

Husqvarna Norden 901 Review - A New Standard? (8)The four-panel control on the handlebar allows you to switch between riding modes quickly and easily.

The pace was predictable, and with the Norden switched into Off-Road mode, my confidence level was high. Something to note, however, is that you must deactivate the ABS at the rear wheel independently of Off-Road mode, and when you switch back into Street, the rear ABS will remain off unless you turn it back on manually. This feature, as we discovered, caused a few of the riders to lock up their rear wheel on the pavement unexpectedly when transitioning from a paved to dirt section of our ride. That said, I am a fan of keeping the rear ABS deactivated until I decide to turn it on, as many other models will activate the ABS at both wheels by default when the ignition is cut, forcing you to fiddle with the ride modes to turn it back off after a quick trailside bathroom break.

Six hours passed before we stopped for sandwiches. The weather had been temperate, albeit wet, and our pace was notably slower than what it might have been. That said, I was still thrilled to be riding the Norden, and had begun to do some mental math to see if I could afford one. Like I said earlier, the Norden seems to be a black, white and neon yellow version of the KTM 890 family, however its aesthetic updates definitely put the Husky in my favor. I was impressed, to say the least, and kept thinking about a conversation I’d had prior to my departure. Is this the modern day 990? Perhaps it’s the handsome cousin?

The second day of our test ride was a gift from the gods. As if Poseidon himself had lifted this little Portuguese island up out of the sea, above the rain-soaked clouds and windy weather, that second morning was nothing short of amazing. The paved roads were nearly as perfect as the Algarve International Circuit where MotoGP titans would clash the following day, and the off-road riding was a treat I’ll be forever grateful for.

Husqvarna Norden 901 Review - A New Standard? (9)The ergonomics on the 901 inspire an aggressive stance, on the pegs and out for blood.

With an Austrian Husqvarna employee leading the ride, I settled in behind a few friendly, fast faces to see just how good the Norden really was. Leaving our oceanside accommodations, we headed west that morning, edging the coast for the first hour or so. The roads were truly phenomenal―fast, with deep dives into corners and late apexes on the way out. The parallel twin snarled and spit flames, never once feeling inadequate, even on the long stretches where I may or may not have seen triple digits on the dash.

The power is, for lack of a better phrase, truly linear. Third gear, from low RPMs through redline, the Norden pulls. Gear changes are lightning fast with the standard equipped quickshifter, and the bike always felt settled, even when I’d accidently downshift mid corner. Technology, I’m telling ya! The seat and riding position on the road are a major improvement over the KTM offering and its race-inspired seat. 500-mile days would be easy to do aboard the Norden, no doubt. With an accelerated pace, the first half of our day flew by. We managed some rocky hill climbs and stone-laden two-track before lunch, but the best was yet to come.

Husqvarna Norden 901 Review - A New Standard? (10)This time around, the Norden is only available in one, albeit Husky handsome, colorway.

Assuming the weather permits, when you’re standing on the edge of the Caldeira do Alferes, you’re provided a panoramic view of Lagoa das Sete Cidades, the twin lakes situated in the crater of the dormant volcano on the west end of São Miguel. The view is breathtaking, and the elevation you just gained on your ride along the volcano’s rim is evident. The second half of our ride took us on a wild off-road tour of the volcano, climbing rapidly on a mix of wide dirt and rocky two-track. This is where the Norden proved to me that it is truly a modern day KTM 990. The 9.9 inches of ground clearance meant the Norden never slapped its belly on large boulders, and the 8.5/8.7 inches of suspension travel soaked up everything I encountered. Our pace was fast, and the surface was ever-changing beneath the bike. Logged into Off-Road mode with the ABS switched off at the rear wheel, I tried to find both my limit, and the limit of the new Husqvarna. On two occasions, I struck the bump stops, one of which was crossing a deep creek with a square edge on the exit. The other was after overshooting a cobble stone ramp on a winding downhill stretch of dirt and sand. Both scenarios were just friendly reminders from the Norden that perhaps I should slow down a bit. Noted, Mr. Norden.

Husqvarna Norden 901 Review - A New Standard? (11)An adventure on the Norden wouldn't be complete without a set of factory luggage to haul your essentials.

Honestly, I think this was the thing I liked most about the 901. It was more than enough in every category I’d measure a motorcycle in, without being over the top and without leaving me wishing for a bit more. The technology is top shelf, the suspension components and powerplant are tried and true pieces KTM has been hammering away at for years now, and which the ADV community has come to love. It fills a space which needed to be filled. More advanced and well-groomed than what Yamaha has to offer, better looking and a bit more approachable than the Adventure R, and leaps and bounds above just about anything else. Is it a KTM 890 Adventure dressed up in a Swedish aesthetic? Yeah, it is. Could you call it a modern interpretation of the beloved KTM 950 and 990? Absolutely. But what it really is, is more than what lies beneath the plastic and cast aluminum parts. It’s the future, for Husqvarna, and for us adventure riders. For more info visit:Husqvarna-Motorcycles.com

• PROS:

  • Basically a KTM 890 Adventure, but better looking and with better ergonomics and seat
  • Goldilocks suspension setup
  • Not too much (or too little) tech
  • The fairing and windshield offer substantial wind-protection
  • Easy on-road maintenance
  • Superior braking ability, front and rear
  • Offers way more technology than other bikes in this category

• CONS:

  • Slightly less than desirable suspension for the serious off-road rider
  • Center of gravity is a bit higher than the KTM 890
  • $4,000 more than its counterparts

Husqvarna Norden 901 Review - A New Standard? (12)

• 2022 Norden 901 Specifications:

• MSRP: $13,999
• Engine: DOHC, liquid-cooled parallel twin
• Displacement: 889cc
• Fuel Capacity: 5.0 gal.
• Claimed Dry Weight: 449 lb.
• Speeds/Drive: 6-speed/chain
• Claimed Torque: 73 lb.-ft. @ 6,500 rpm
• Claimed Horsepower: 105 hp @ 8,000 rpm
• Front Suspension: 43mm WP Apex USD fork, fully adjustable; 8.7 in with (220mm) travel
• Rear Suspension: WP Apex monoshock, rebound and preload adjustable with 8.5 in. (215mm) travel
• Front Brake: 4-piston, dual 320mm discs w/ cornering ABS
• Rear Brake: 2-piston, 260mm disc w/ cornering ABS
• Wheels, Front/Rear: Tubeless aluminum spoked wheels; 21 x 2.50 in. / 18 x 4.50 in.
• Tires:Front/Rear: OEM Pirelli Scorpion Rally - 90/90-R21 / 150/70R-18
• Ground Clearance: 9.9 in.
• Seat Height: 33.6 in. (adjustable to 34.4 in.)

Top Articles

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Fr. Dewey Fisher

Last Updated: 08/23/2022

Views: 5972

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (42 voted)

Reviews: 89% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Fr. Dewey Fisher

Birthday: 1993-03-26

Address: 917 Hyun Views, Rogahnmouth, KY 91013-8827

Phone: +5938540192553

Job: Administration Developer

Hobby: Embroidery, Horseback riding, Juggling, Urban exploration, Skiing, Cycling, Handball

Introduction: My name is Fr. Dewey Fisher, I am a powerful, open, faithful, combative, spotless, faithful, fair person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.