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ADV News2022 Husqvarna Norden 901 First Ride Review

2022 Husqvarna Norden 901 First Ride Review

The much-anticipated Husky Adventure Bike is finally here. Was it worth the wait?

Published on 11.15.2021
Husqvarna 901 adventure bike review

It’s been two years since Husqvarna first revealed its exciting new Adventure Bike concept to the public, a category first for the brand. With its modern design that nods to the past, the new machine quickly gained a throng of fans, all eagerly awaiting news of when it would be released from concept purgatory and what final form it would take. Now the highly-anticipated Norden 901 has finally been released as a production model for 2022 — staying mostly true to its original concept design.

To build the Norden 901, Husqvarna began with the tried and tested KTM 890 Adventure platform and got to work finding new ways to improve on it for those who are looking to travel. Certain things remain unchanged, like the 889cc parallel-twin engine with an output of 105 horsepower and 74 ft-lbs of torque, along with a steel frame that uses the engine as a stressed member, 21”/18” tubeless spoked wheels, and state-of-the-art electronics featuring a full array of lean-angle sensing, customizable rider aids.

Left: Original concept; Right: Production model.

Some changes to the breed would come in the form of unique styling, with more premium details, as well as additional wind protection. Significant time was also spent on ensuring the 901 is an even better travel companion with upgrades like a more-comfortable saddle, a plushly-tuned and adjustable WP APEX suspension, plus standard equipment like integrated LED fog lights, cruise control, and a quick shifter.

Husqvarna 901 adventure bike review
Husqvarna 901 adventure bike review

To keep the Norden as accessible as possible, Husqvarna gave it a reasonable seat height of 33.6 inches, despite having a decent amount of ground clearance at 9.9 inches, and suspension travel of 8.7 inches in front and 8.5 inches in the rear. All of these numbers put it right in between the specs of the standard KTM 890 Adventure and 890 Adventure R. However at 450 pounds without fuel, weight increased by about 18 pounds over its KTM cousins due to the additional bodywork and equipment it carries. Also, a re-shaped fuel tank that is wider up top and slimmer below than the 890’s, provides more accurate fuel gauge readings but holds 0.3 gallons less fuel at 5.0 gallons total.

Husqvarna 901 adventure bike review

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Hand guards, skid plate, rear rack, an on-dash GPS mounting point, side panel storage, and a 12-volt charger help round out the included touring amenities. While Bluetooth phone connectivity, heated grips, heated seat, TPMS, a taller touring windscreen, hard or soft luggage, and slip-on exhaust are just some of the options that will be made available for those who want to customize it. What you won’t find are a set of upper and lower crash bars like those seen on the Norden 901 concept. Husqvarna engineers maintain that their fuel tank is so strongly built, that it doesn’t need them, and replaceable aluminum protectors on the sides help avoid unsightly scratches in the paint.

Husqvarna 901 adventure bike review
Husqvarna 901 adventure bike review
There are a number of premium finish details that help differentiate the Norden 901 from its ready-to-race cousin like the cool pin-striping paint, bronze-colored side covers and fuel cap, aluminum tank protectors, and powder-coated brake calipers.

The Norden’s suite of electronic rider aids mirror those found on the KTM 890 Adventure, including a Rain, Street, and Offroad modes, each of which have their own pre-set combination for Throttle Response, Traction Control and ABS settings. A fourth ‘Explore Mode’ lets you customize settings to your taste and make adjustments on the fly. Regardless of the mode you are in, you can disable Traction Control completely or set ABS to its Street or Dirt configuration.

Husqvarna 901 adventure bike review

First Impressions

The press launch for the Norden 901 took place in the Azores, an archipelago off the coast of Portugal and one of the greenest places I’ve ever seen. Although, the only reason its vivid green foliage exists is because this is a place that gets lots of rain, which we weren’t lucky enough to miss. The roads are even slicker than usual because they were often covered with patches of moss and sometimes cow dung. But the slickest surface had to be the wet cobblestone roads in town that felt like riding on ice. All of which gave us a perfect opportunity to test maneuverability in low-traction conditions and the Norden’s extensive electronic rider aids. However, we did get some breaks in the rain for a little dry testing too.

As we got our first up-close look of the Norden, it appeared just as eye-catching as it does in pictures, no doubt helped by a backdrop of waves crashing on a black-sand beach. Nevertheless, the smooth sweeping bodywork is a far cry from the typical angular designs that are a KTM hallmark and you can tell Husqvarna put a lot of thought into designing something that looks unique. 

Often, it’s the small details that give a bike a premium feel like the Norden’s stitched suede seat, aluminum tank protectors, bronze fuel cap with matching bronze engine covers, and the pinstripe topo lines on the fairing and tank that carry over to the optional luggage. And of course, there’s the iconic round headlight and windscreen that somehow looks more reminiscent of the KTM 990 Adventure than it does the 890 it shares much of its DNA with.

On The Road

Jumping on the bike for the first time, I could already tell the saddle was more comfortable than any KTM I’ve ridden. Husqvarna says they spent a lot of time testing it to try to find the ideal seat foam and shape. Not only is it a wide and comfy perch, but it also tapers in the front to give it a lower standover height. Seat height can be moved up about one inch as well if you are a longer-legged rider.

Husqvarna 901 adventure bike review

With the seat in the high configuration, there’s plenty of legroom in the cockpit and the bar reach feels ideal for longer-duration rides. The tank is noticeably wider between the legs than the KTM 890 Adventure’s but it’s still designed to carry much of the fuel down low for better weight distribution. Other ergo adjustments include a brake pedal with a height adjustment, adjustable hand levers and handlebar clamps that can be reversed to move the bars forward or backward.

As far as blocking wind, the full wrap-around bodywork, wider tank, hand guards, and nicely-sized windscreen give your body extra protection from the elements compared to the KTM. The screen shoots wind to just about eye level on my helmet at 6 foot 2 inches tall, while also guiding the air around the rider’s body on the sides. That extra wind protection definitely paid dividends on this trip by keeping the majority of rain deflected at higher speeds.

Husqvarna 901 adventure bike review

While it does have the feeling of being a slightly larger motorcycle than an 890, the rush of acceleration and whine for the LC8c engine is very familiar. It’s quite the motor, with the ability to pull second and third gear power wheels with relative ease. Power is excellent throughout the entire RPM spectrum, something the original 790 Adventure engine lacked. Its peak power feels more similar to that of the KTM 990 Adventure, but with a flatter torque curve and much smoother fueling.

Husqvarna 901 adventure bike review
Husqvarna 901 adventure bike review

Leaning it into turns is also great fun, with ample road grip on wet or dry pavement, along with a high clearance that makes scraping pegs unlikely. This bike would be more than happy just being a dedicated sport tourer, but that would be a shame considering its versatility.

Contributing to the bike’s versatility is its electronics package. A nice 5” color-TFT display is the interface used to set up the bike to be either a panther or pussy cat. Those who’ve ridden a modern KTM will find the menus familiar and there is an amazing amount of detail they fit on the screen. However, you can change the display to show the full selection or just the bare minimum information.

Husqvarna 901 adventure bike review

Setting it up in Rain Mode during a downpour, the Norden was very confidence inspiring. Rain mode cuts the power down to a manageable 82 horsepower, slows down the throttle response and kicks in aggressive traction control. The lean-angle sensing technology applies only enough power for the available edge grip. As you come out of a turn on the gas and start to straighten up the motorcycle, you can feel the power begin to match what your throttle hand is doing. The operation of the TC was always smooth but perhaps a bit on the conservative side with how much power it doled out.

The lean-angle sensitive ABS works similarly if you try to stab the brakes in a turn. It smooths out the action to ensure you don’t inadvertently lock it up. The technology allows you to ride at a faster pace more safely, which is all the more appreciated when you are traveling on unfamiliar roads, far from home, in slick conditions.

Husqvarna 901 adventure bike review

Once the roads dried up, I gave the Explore Mode a try to unlock the full adjustability of the settings. Putting the slip control on level 1 (lowest intervention) allows for some wheel spin out of turns and the throttle response is punchy in the ‘Rally’ setting. This gives you the full force of power, which can feel violent at times. For those that just want to set it, forget it, and get down to business, Street Mode is a good option for most on-road situations.

As the roads began to dry, I was able to get a feel for the impressive braking performance from the four-piston, radially-mounted front brake calipers on 320mm discs. They stop the bike easily with single finger pressure. The 260mm floating rear disc brake was also equally effective. And despite its plush, long-travel suspension, the Norden always seemed to keep fairly level under braking or acceleration.

Husqvarna 901 adventure bike review

We also got a chance to try out the dash-integrated navigation feature that works with an App on your iPhone or Android device. After installing the App and connecting it to the dash wirelessly with Bluetooth, you can get turn-by-turn directions displayed on the screen along with audio commands if you have a Bluetooth headset. This offers a simple interface that’s been optimized for navigating on a motorcycle and it keeps your phone in your pocket where it’s less of a distraction. I was able to use it to get halfway across the island back to basecamp on my own, although I did notice the text was a little hard to read for my old eyes when riding in rain.

Husqvarna 901 adventure bike review

In The Dirt

While it excels on the street, the Norden 901 is also a capable off-road machine. Many of the dirt roads we rode in the Azores were fairly smooth, but wet, slick mud created new challenges and it was often difficult to gauge traction on this unfamiliar terrain. For instance, some trails were covered with small volcanic pumice stones that were particularly slippery. And when we did hit sand, it was the wet and soupy type. Not the light, fluffy, dried out stuff we get out in the SoCal desert. At times, we were riding trails that were completely covered in a foot of water, with who knows what lies beneath.

Husqvarna 901 adventure bike review

Navigating the slippery, rock-strewn trails was best done in the standing position, and thankfully the 901 does that well. While some taller riders might prefer a higher bar position, for me (at 6’2”) it felt just about right. However, I did notice the seat felt wider between the legs than an 890 Adventure. I could feel the seat bulging out slightly on the sides, rubbing on my lower legs. Not that it was a problem, just something to get used to.

Husqvarna 901 adventure bike review

Aggressive riding on smooth dirt roads while sitting wasn’t as confidence inspiring though. The seat/tank junction makes you feel like you are more in the bike than on it. It’s also not easy to get your weight forward from the seated position, plus the wide tank is harder to squeeze with your knees. This is definitely a bike that prefers to be ridden standing.

Handling is good for a bigger bike, but I noticed the extra weight compared to a KTM 890 Adventure. It has a harder time keeping a tight line than that bike, although the street-oriented Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires no doubt had an impact on the heavier steering feel. Not only that, we were running street pressures on the tires, so the grip was not as good as it could have been off-road. Even so, the bike seemed to recover well when the front tire began to tuck in soft terrain.

Husqvarna 901 adventure bike review

As far as suspension action, it’s silky smooth and responsive over small to mid-sized bumps in the road. The Norden keeps tires planted over rough sections and doesn’t get upset easily in choppy turns. Its springs are clearly on the soft side, but it feels well dampened and never wallowed around.

Despite the good damping, on my first jump it did bottom out the rear shock rather easily. I immediately cranked up the preload to raise the rear end up for my 210-pound body plus gear. This seemed to keep the bottoming at bay for the most part. Other than preload, there is a rebound adjuster on the shock. But what it really needs is compression damping adjustment to help with the lack of hold up at the top of the stroke. 

Husqvarna 901 adventure bike review

On the other hand, the front suspension was much less likely to bottom out and it does have both compression and rebound damping adjusters conveniently placed on the top of the fork tubes. I only felt it topping out on a couple of occasions when bouncing the 21” front wheel off big rocks at speed.

As far as the electronics, the Offroad Mode does a good job for most situations. Offroad Throttle response is more aggressive than Rain but less than Street, and you get a low amount of intervention on the traction control. Also, the front ABS is tuned for dirt, the rear is free to slide, and lean-angle sensing gets disabled in Offroad Mode. In any of the rider modes, you can turn off Traction Control completely but ABS can’t be disabled on the front wheel. Even so, it works pretty good on the front wheel and I never had a sketchy ABS moment on descents. 

Husqvarna 901 adventure bike review

For aggressive riding, I liked the Rally setting with the full throttle response. Then you can dial back some of the wheelspin by setting Traction Control between 1 and 9 (1 being the least amount of intervention). I preferred levels 2 to 4 depending on how slippery the trail was. Turning Traction Control off seemed pointless though. With this much power on tap, it just spins way too easily. Even Dakar racer, Lyndon Poskitt, said he preferred level 1 or 2 over turning Traction Control off completely. And when TC does kick in, it operates so smoothly you hardly notice it doing its thing. It’s also surprising how well the slip-control system works, even on level 4 in loose terrain.

The Bottom Line

Husqvarna has done a good job of developing a well-balanced and capable travel machine with a unique style and loads of character. It’s a bike for those who want to put down the miles on a comfortable motorcycle with all the latest electronics and touring equipment. And when they arrive at the trail after a long haul, they’ll be fresh and ready to explore off-road with confidence.

Husqvarna 901 adventure bike review

At the same time, it’s a bike for riders who do it more for the joy of exploring rather than the thrill of traversing difficult off-road terrain. It has a plush suspension designed to absorb most bumps in the ‘Adventure Range’ but is a little soft for rougher trails. Sure, it still has that KTM DNA and you can run it flat out if you don’t mind a little bottoming here and there. And unlike some adventure bikes, it always seems to stay under control when you push it. But there are other bikes out there better suited for that style of riding if you do it regularly.

All but the most aggressive adventure riders will likely find the Norden 901 more than capable for their off-road adventures. Keep in mind, a plush suspension is less taxing on the body and allows you to keep riding longer too. So, you really have to ask yourself if you push your adventure bike hard enough that it’s worth giving up that comfort for more performance.

Not everyone is looking for a hard-edged, no-compromise off-road bike. And for those riders, the Norden 901 fits the bill. Other riders may like the look of the Norden and the capability of a KTM R model, but aren’t ready to join Team Orange yet. For those riders, the WP XPLOR Pro forks and shock are a direct bolt-on upgrade if you’ve got the inseam and cash to do it.

The one thing I think Husqvarna might consider adding in the future is compression damping on the rear shock. This would allow riders to make adjustments for more aggressive riding. The fuel tank size is also a bit of a concern for a bike that is designed for traveling. I averaged 45 mpg during my test in mixed riding conditions, which would mean you are looking for a gas station at around 175 miles.

Husqvarna 901 adventure bike review

As a new offering in the mid-sized Adventure Bike segment, the Norden offers more premium travel and comfort features than the standard KTM 890 or 890R. It comes with more power and technology than the Yamaha T7 but it’s a bigger and heavier machine. Probably its closest competitor in the mid-sized adventure category is the Triumph Tiger 900 Rally with its similar focus on premium details, unique styling and character. With an MSRP of $13,999, the Norden 901 is priced competitively as well when you consider all the standard equipment.

According to Husqvarna, the Norden 901 will be manufactured in Austria and comes with a 24-month warranty. Valve check intervals after the initial service come every 15,000 miles. The grey, black, yellow color scheme is the only one available for this model year. We hear that the white, blue, yellow color scheme shown in the Marc Coma Iceland promo video was just a one-off for the film. Keep an eye out for the Norden on US showroom floors starting this month through December as they begin to arrive.

Husqvarna Norden 901 Specs

ENGINE TYPE:2 cylinder, 4 stroke, DOHC parallel twin 
DISPLACEMENT:889 cc
BORE/STROKE:90.7 / 68.8 mm
COMPRESSION RATIO:13.5:1
POWER:105 Horsepower (Euro Model)
TORQUE:73.8 ft-lbs (Euro Model)
STARTER/BATTERY:Electric starter/12V 10Ah
TRANSMISSION:6 gears
FUEL SYSTEM:DKK Dellorto (Throttle body 46 mm)
CONTROL:4 valves per cylinder / DOHC
LUBRICATION:Pressure lubrication with 2 oil pumps
PRIMARY DRIVE:39:75
FINAL DRIVE:16:45
COOLING:Liquid cooled with water/oil heat exchanger
CLUTCH:Cable operated PASC Slipper clutch
ENGINE MANAGEMENT/IGNITION:Bosch EMS with RBW
TRACTION CONTROL:MTC (lean-angle sensitive, 3-Mode, disengageable, Explorer mode optional)
FRAME:Chromium-Molybdenum-Steel frame using the engine as stressed element, powder coated
SUBFRAME:Chromium-Molybdenum-Steel trellis, powder coated
HANDLEBAR:Aluminum, tapered, Ø 28 / 22 mm
FRONT SUSPENSION:WP APEX-USD Ø 43 mm
FRONT ADJUSTABILITY:Compression, Rebound, Preload
REAR SUSPENSION:WP APEX-Monoshock with linkage
REAR ADJUSTABILITY:Rebound, Preload
SUSPENSION TRAVEL FRONT/REAR:220 mm / 215 mm
FRONT BRAKE:2 x 4-piston caliper, radially mounted, brake disc Ø 320 mm
REAR BRAKE:2 piston floating caliper, brake disc Ø 260 mm
ABS:Bosch 9.1 MP (incl. Cornering-ABS and Offroad mode, disengageable)
WHEELS FRONT/REAR:Tubeless Aluminum spoked wheels 2.50 x 21”; 4.50 x 18”
TIRES FRONT/REAR:Pirelli Scorpion Rallly STR 90/90 R 21; 150/70 R 18
CHAIN:X-Ring 520
SILENCER:Stainless steel primary and secondary silencer
STEERING HEAD ANGLE:25.8°
TRIPLE CLAMP OFFSET:30 mm
TRAIL:106.9 mm
WHEELBASE:1,513 mm ± 15 mm / 59.5 in ± 0.6 in
GROUND CLEARANCE:252 mm / 9.9 in
SEAT HEIGHT:854 / 874 mm; 33.6 / 34.4 in
TANK CAPACITY (APPROX.):19.0 liters / 5.0 gallons
WEIGHT WITHOUT FUEL (APPROX.):204 kg / 449.7 lb
ABS MODES:Street (cornering sensitive) / Offroad
RIDE MODES:Street, Rain, Offroad (Explorer – optional)
ENGINE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS:MTC, MSR, Easy Shift
CRUISE CONTROL:Original Equipment
CONNECTIVITY:Turn-by-Turn Navigation, Call-In, Music Selection
TECHNICAL ACCESSORIES:Connectivity Unit, TPMS, heated grips & seats

 Gear We Used 

Photography by Marco Campelli and Sebas Romero

Author: Rob Dabney

Rob Dabney started a lifelong obsession with motorcycles at the age of 15 when he purchased his first bike – a 1982 Honda MB5. Through his 20’s and 30’s he competed in off-road desert races, including the Baja 250, 500 and 1000. Eventually, his proclivity for exploration led him to dual sport and adventure riding. Rob’s never-ending quest to discover what’s around the next bend has taken him on Adventures in Mexico, North Africa, Europe, and throughout the American West. As a moto journalist, he enjoys inspiring others to seek adventure across horizons both near and far.

Author: Rob Dabney
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20 thoughts on “2022 Husqvarna Norden 901 First Ride Review

  1. “However at 550 pounds without fuel…”. I was shocked, if KTM&Co can’t keep the weight down, who can? But the specs below list a more reasonable 450lbs so I assume just a typo you may want to fix. Good looking bike!

    • Hey Asah, yes as mentioned in the review front ABS is always on for the front. However, in offroad mode it is an off-road specific ABS that allows for a small amount of lockup and has much less intervention than the street ABS setting.

      • Thanks Rob for the reply. I thought that was the case. I find it interesting that they chose to do that with this model when both the 890 S and the R if I’m not mistaken have the ability to disable both front and rear ABS. I believe that adds some versatility to the motorcycle when navigating difficult terrain. Not sure I would want an ADV where I can’t completely shut off ABS front and rear. I do appreciate they have an off road setting that allows for more slip abs has less intervention.

        • Hey Asah. The old 790 had the ability to turn off ABS completely but not the new 890. Here’s what the KTM/Husqvarna rep had to say about it: “The 790 ADV had the ability to completely disengage ABS, but the 890 ADV and the Norden do not. They have Offroad ABS to remove ABS intervention in the rear with limited ABS in the front. R&D and the test riders preferred Offroad ABS to no ABS, with this new generation—launched on the 890.”

  2. re: your comment on the seated ride position not being confidence inspiring, not being able to get weight forward and seat/tank junction feeling like sitting in not on the bike. Hopefully the 901 is better at this than the AT.
    I ride gravel and rain-rutted double track a lot and prefer standing unless conserving energy.
    Can you comment on the standing seat-peg-bar relationship for a dude my size (32″ inseam)? I now ride with POD-K8 braces which has made the ability to knee-clamp much worse on the AT. Moving feet back on pegs helps but puts the brake pedal out of reach.
    The 890R I rode just felt perfect in corners and power slides. Deposit made on a 901…

    • It’s fine sitting down on the 901 offroad, but it prefers standing when you are trying to haul the mail. If memory serves, it’s probably a little better than the Africa Twin in the seated position. Also legs are less cramped. The 890R has a different seat/tank junction and I felt that bike allows for more-aggressive seated riding. Another rider on the launch who is your size felt the ergos of the 901 were excellent either sitting or standing. Congrats on the deposit!

  3. Great review! They have differentiated this bike from KTM 890 Adventure with some good features however lack of dealer network and reliability will be a factor. I would probably choose the Tiger Rally Pro over the Norden 901 however this would be a unique/ cool bike to own.

  4. Low weight and long fuel range. Those where the main arguments for me to buy a 790R, even that I am not a racer guy but an explorer. Sadly the Husky looses in those two respects.

  5. 4 questions, 2 about night riding. 1. Are the handlebar switches backlit/illuminated at night like the 390? ; and – 2. are those small spotlights much chop or just too small to be fully effective in the pitch black ink? 3. Wheelie control ? I like doing wheelies so is the pitch axis sorted with the IMU – can you pop a wheelie to get over obstacles on the trail, or does TC need to be off or set to 1? Cruise control – what is the lowest gear/speed for cruise?

    • I did not ride the bike at night so I wouldn’t be able to tell you about the power of the auxiliary lighting. They are using the standard KTM handlebar switches so they should also be backlit. No wheelie control adjustment. However, off-road and street modes do allow for some wheel lift. Also, if you have it in the lower TC modes (1-4), it allows for some lift. If you want to do 12-oclock wheelies you probably need to turn it off though. I played around with the cruise control in 4th and 5th gear at slower speeds of around 40mph and it still was working fine, but I’m not sure what the limits are.

  6. I really hope they address the #1 known weakness of the KTM Adventure bikes: the fuel pump. I have heard that many people swap out the fuel pump as soon as they get the bike – or even have their dealer do it before taking delivery. It is becoming the equivalent of the KLR650 “doohickey” issue, and that’s not cool.

  7. Hey Rob. Can you please give us your thoughts on how this bike compares to Triumph’s rally Pro 900. It appears the Tiger might be more capable in the Dirt? Perhaps i am reading into it incorrectly. I would really appreciate your your feedback and color here. (Terrific Review BTW)

    Many thanks and Ride and Arrive*

    Maurice Haroche (aka Vida)

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