Exploring the Husqvarna Norden 901: A Detailed Review

So let’s start our review of the Husqvarna Norden 901 with a quick recap …

When KTM bought the Husqvarna brand from BMW back in 2013, they were only interested in one thing. Although the German manufacturing giant had developed some interesting and innovative motorcycles in the six brief years that they owned the historic Swedish marque every single one of them was dropped as soon as the Orange giant took possession. They had the name and that was enough.

Ten years later, the iconic brand has been revived in a way that only KTM could have done, with race success across the world both on and off-road and an increasing stable of individual and unique road bikes. 

From a company that was founded back in 1689 to make muskets – a history that is still referenced in their logo that represents the sights on the barrel of a gun – Husqvarna has come a long, long way, and the journey is far from over. 

Reviewing the Husqvarna Norden 901 on tour in Namibia
Reviewing the Husqvarna Norden 901 on a Ride Expeditions tour in Namibia.

THE NORDEN 901 - HUSQVARNA'S FORAY INTO THE ADVENTURE BIKE MARKET

But back in 2021, Husqvarna took their first foray into the adventure bike market. OK, so the 701 Enduro had come out way back in 2015, but was clearly far more a big trail/enduro bike rather than a true adventure bike, just like the KTM 690 Enduro R on which it was based and shared almost all its components. 

With the success of the KTM 790 Adventure and Adventure R launched back in 2019, and the subsequent upgrade of those models to the larger 890 engine in 2020, it was inevitable that a Husqvarna version of the adventure bike was coming. The brand had already shown off a prototype version of their new baby at the vast EICMA show at the back end of 2019 and the reaction to the bike’s fresh yet retro design cues were nothing but positive. 

We could hardly wait.

Husqvarna Norden 901 Review
The latest 'Expedition' model of the Husqvarna Norden 901. Image credit: R Schedl

THE HUSQVARNA NORDEN 901 & KTM 890 ADVENTURE - SAME SAME BUT DIFFERENT

When it was launched some two years later, Husqvarna inexplicably chose the Azores as the destination to reveal the Norden 901. For an adventure bike whose name actually means North, and which serial racer and adventurer Lyndon Poskitt had tested and ridden extensively in the beautiful snow-dusted landscapes of Norway, the decision to reveal the bike on a remote set of islands way down south in the middle of the Atlantic was bizarre to say the least.

But either way, the new Norden looked fantastic. Little changed since the production bike, the 901 oozed Scandi-cool just as much as the Husqvarna enduro bikes. With its sleek black flanks and tastefully understated grey graphics, the minimal yellow accents, big round headlight underscored with super bright fog lights either side and, of course, those gleaming white plastics, this was clearly a country mile from the angular looks and familiar orange of a KTM. 

But, of course, under the surface, behind all the different packaging, it was just a KTM 890 Adventure. Or was it?

Riding the Husqvarna Norden 901 in Botswana
The Husqvarna Norden 901 in Botswana during our Victoria Falls - Cape Town tour

FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE HUSQVARNA NORDEN 901

So, you’ve hopefully got the idea that we’re impressed with the looks, but how does the Husky feel? Well, pretty good! When we were reviewing the Husqvarna Norden 901 for the first time, it was clear that the wide and relatively low seat is more plush and accommodating compared to the fairly harsh padding of its orange counterpart. 

Husqvarna have pitched this bike as a long distance travel option, and achieving this looks a degree more possible on the two-piece perch. At 854 mm seat height, or 874mm on the high setting, it should fit the average motorcyclist well, although clearly the soft and low seat is less well suited to off-road shenanigans than a one-piece perch. Adventure bikes always have plenty of compromises …

A review of the Husqvarna Norden 901 adventure bike
The Husqvarna Norden 901 on tour with us in Namibia

As expected, there’s a TFT screen in the centre of the wide and open cockpit, the 5” unit taken straight from the KTM 890 Adventure but with some yellow details added in to keep the colour theme going. Thankfully, there are not hundreds of display options to scroll through. Just a white display on a black background. Again, fitting in with the now expected technology on adventure bikes, the Norden 901 adventure bike comes with three stock riding modes, so you can toggle between Street, Off-road or Rain according to conditions, but if you feel you need more off-road choices, there is an optional Explorer mode. 

Toggling between each mode on the simple to use switch on the left-hand side varies the traction control, throttle response and power –  so that, for instance, in Rain mode, power is low, traction control is high and throttle response is very gentle. If you do buy into the Explorer mode option, you can vary these options as you ride.

Riding modes, especially on bigger bikes, are here to stay and if you are riding through a rain drenched British landscape on a cold winter’s night, that cornering traction control and ABS may just prove to be a life saver. 

No route is too tough for motorcyle rides with the Norden 901.
The Husqvarna Norden 901 offers you the chance to explore without limits. Image credit: Rudi Schedl

What you also notice on the Husqvarna Norden 901 is the lightly tinted and relatively low screen that surrounds that big round headlight. The screen has no adjustment at all, which for a travel-oriented machine seems an odd choice. To get any more wind protection for those long trips, you’ll need to reach for the accessory catalogue and invest in a taller option – not exactly ideal. But in all honesty, we don’t feel that’s necessary…

On the upside, when you are off-road and on the pegs, a low screen is a definite bonus, reducing the possibility of clouting it with your helmet on the rougher sections. Having nearly lost a nose on a high screened Yamaha Tenere on the infamous Hard Alpi tour, we know all about that!

The wide bars are a comfortable bend when seated and, as for most bikes in the KTM stable, their position can vary to six different positions back and forward. For serious off-road use, a set of bar risers to move your weight away from the front of the bike and give a more comfortable position would be a smart choice, but for mixed road and off-road on most of our African motorcycle tours, the setup works well.

The relationship between bars, seat and pegs feels neutral which is a good thing. And if you are going to be doing a lot of off-road riding, the foot pegs have a removable rubber pad to give your boots a lot more grip.

Want to ride the Norden in Southern Africa?

We provide the Huskie on our tours across Southern Africa, from week-long trips along the Garden Route to epic journeys from Victoria Falls to Cape Town. We'd love you to join us!

FRAME GAME ON THE HUSQVARNA NORDEN 901

Although the Husqvarna Norden 901 may look pretty different on the surface, underneath all that new plastic, the bike takes the majority of its components straight from the KTM 890 Adventure – and as that’s an adventure bike that all at Ride Expeditions love so much, that’s no bad thing!

The frame is, predictably for KTM, lovingly crafted from chrome moly steel and uses the motor as a stressed member, the frame rails arching over the engine down to the long swingarm with its exposed internal bracing. Although covered by all the bodywork, there’s a steel trellis style subframe, Husqvarna like many manufacturers favouring the strength and repairability of steel over a lighter weight aluminium option. When you’ve got full panniers and a pillion back there, you’ll appreciate the thinking here!

In terms of weight, the Husky 901 adventure bike does initially sound positively sylph-like at 204 kg, until you realise that the cunning chaps in the marketing department are quoting fuel-free figures, a state that your 901 bikes will never be unless you’ve seriously miscalculated your journey! Fill up the tank with the 19 litres that it will take – one less than the 890R – and the Norden comes in at just a tad under 225 kg – pretty average within this class of adventure bike.

The lower capacity of the tank is again a curious choice for the 901. OK, it’s still got the same initially controversial saddleback style tanks that were first used on the KTM 790 Adventure and Adventure R, but the lower tanks are a bit slimmer with more of the capacity held in the more conventional part of the tank between your legs, making the profile a bit wider than the equivalent KTM. This change in weight means that, while the Husqvarna Norden 901 is still pretty sure footed on and off road, it does tend to drop in on the bends a bit more than its tangerine siblings. Swings and roundabouts.

Norden 901 front side design showcase
The 901 looks very different from its tangerine sibling. Image credit: Kiska GmbH
Norden 901 design showcase
Sleek and Scandi cool lines abound. Image credit: Kiska GmbH

REVIEWING HUSQVANRNA NORDEN 901s ENGINE

Central to the Norden adventure motorcycle is that wonderful 889cc powerplant that it shares with the 890 range. Initially developed alongside the road going bike in the 790 Adventure and Duke, the stunningly compact engine got an upgrade in 2020 to the larger capacity and seemingly impossible levels of power. For a unit that weighs just 54 kilos to punch out 105 bhp and 100 nm or torque is truly impressive, and the performance of the motor is what makes this adventure bike and every bike with this motor so enjoyable. It’s no wonder that bikes from the Yamaha Tenere to the Aprilia Tuareg and now the Suzuki V Strom 800 DE all use a parallel twin format.

Add in a quick shifter and Husqvarna’s buttery smooth power-assisted slipper clutch – PASC – if you get bored of just how this adventure bike performs, you might as well give up motorcycling and take up crochet.  From buzzing through the twisties, powering along the straights, or cruising on the endless gravel roads in South Africa, the Norden’s motor is a joy from sunrise to sunset.

If you do opt to take this bike on those long-distance jaunts, things like cruise control as standard, big handguards, massive round mirrors, optional heated grips and a catalogue of hard and soft luggage options will soon have you on your way.

This is a bike that likes to travel – just like us.

Up close with the Norden 901 clutch.
The engine on the Husqvarna 901 is a thing of beauty. Image credit: Kiska

Want to ride the Norden in Southern Africa?

We provide the Huskie on our tours across Southern Africa, from week-long trips along the Garden Route to epic journeys from Victoria Falls to Cape Town. We'd love you to join us!

SUSPENSION & BRAKES ON THE NORDEN 901

While many were hoping that the parts team at Husqvarna would have raided KTM’s parts bin for their top spec Xplor units to grace the Norden, the 901 gets the same Apex units as the 890 Adventure rather than those from the Adventure R. The 43mm USD forks with separate fork function adjustable for rebound and damping on each leg give an acceptable 220mm travel up front, and the single linkless shock delivers 215mm at the rear, the unit adjustable for rebound damping and preload using a side mounted turn wheel. 

As standard from the factory, the suspension units give a decidedly soft ride. This is fine for the road, but can quickly find its limits off road if not set up correctly, so it’s worth adjusting particularly the rear preload as without the luxury of compression damping, the rear shock can give regular clunks of protest once you decide to turn up the wick. The 2022 KTM 890’s Apex suspension is much improved and this improvement will doubtless carry across onto new iterations of the 901.

For the brakes, the Norden 901 comes equipped with J-Juan four-pot radial callipers on a set of 320mm discs at the pointy end, with a two pot unit and 260mm single disc at the rear. Both have the impeccable Bosch ABS technology, the IMU units linked and wheel sensors linked into the bikes traction control and MSR – motor slip regulation – systems to keep you safe on the sketchiest of surfaces. You can still turn off the rear ABS for more control off road, but the front remains on. Frustratingly, as with most bikes in this class, the ABS resets once the ignition switches off and if you are still off road when you restart, you may well find yourself going into a tricky descent with the rear brake pulsing on and off like a defective traffic light!

OK, now rubber – the Norden 901’s 21 and 18 inch spoked wheels come with different tyres depending on which country you are in. For the UK market, the ‘soft road’ Pirelli Scorpion Rally STRs come as OEM kit and perform well in their dual sport role, offering sure footed control on the black top and good performance on dry trails and light off-road work

For anything more serious away from the tarmac, the Husqvarna Norden benefits enormously from an upgrade to something with a bit more block separation and a less rounded profile, especially if there is even a hint of mud.

Norden 901 Shock Review
The shock could do with compression rebound adjustment. Image credit: Kiska
Norden 901 Fork Review
The Apex forks work well, but not as well as the Xplor versions. Image credit: Kiska

REVIEWING THE HUSQVARNA NORDEN 901 - OUR VERDICT

Norden 901 interior design
You'll be doing plenty of this on the Husky! Image credit: Rudi Schedl

For it’s first foray into the adventure bike market, the Husqvarna Norden 901 is a mighty fine start, and the adventure motorcycle has found plenty of fans across the world and indeed in the Ride Expeditions team. Well, we went and bought some in South Africa!

Great ergos and a comfortable ride mean it’s ideal for long expeditions taking in both on and off road sections, pretty much what most of our adventures are about. Sharing many elements of the extremely competent KTM 890 Adventure R that we use on our World’s End Tour in South America, the Husqvarna Norden 901 makes a great addition to our line up. 

Now where are those keys? We’re going riding …

HUSQVARNA 901 NORDEN - A TOUR GUIDE'S VIEW

Henk Kotzee – Ride Expeditions Tour Guide

“ We’re really happy to be bringing the Husqvarna Norden 901 onto the fleet for our African tours. With endless gravel roads to enjoy in this part of the world, the Husky is going to be very popular with our guests. 

“With the chassis and motor from the KTM 890 Adventure R that we already love and use, wrapped up in that cool bodywork and the super comfortable seat, long days exploring on the 901 just got that much more enjoyable. Can’t wait to get them out on the tours!”

The Husqvarna Norden 901
We're happy to have the Husqvarna 901 Norden in our fleet!

Husqvarna Norden 901 Specifications

TitleDescription
Engine889cc, 4 stroke parallel liquid cooled DOHC twin
Transmission6 gear, with optional quick shifter
Power105 bhp @ 8,000 rpm
Torque100 nm @ 6,500 rpm
ClutchPower Assist Slipper Clutch with anti-hopping mechanism, mechanically operated
FrameChromoly Steel frame with detachable steel subframe
Front Suspension43 mm adjustable WP Apex USD forks, 220mm travel
Rear SuspensionCentral mounted PDS Apex adjustable shock, 220 mm travel
Front brake2 x 320 mm discs with 4 piston radial calipers
Rear Brake260mm disc with 2 pot caliper
ABSBosch with cornering ABS and off-road mode / disengageable
Wheels21” / 18” spoked
Fuel Capacity19 litres
Weight204 kg, without fuel!

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