Another highly anticipated adventure bike is on showroom floors for 2022, this time from Husqvarna. It was only a matter of time before Husky joined the quest for adventure, and they came out swinging with the introduction of the 2022 Norden 901.
Sweden is the original home of Husqvarna and one of the northernmost places in the world where you can ride. Scandinavia’s rugged terrain and harsh conditions are some of the things that made the Vikings so tough, and the Norden 901 follows suit. The word “Norden” is Swedish for “The North.” Husqvarna chose to name this bike Norden not only because of the location of the company’s origins, but because it represents a bike that can do anything and take on the toughest of challenges. This important step for the brand is a sentimental link between their past and a promising future. Just as the Vikings ventured into the unknown and conquered new lands, so too does the Norden 901 and anyone who chooses to mount it.
To test the Norden’s ability, we went to the middle of the Atlantic ocean and the island of Sao Miguel on the Azores. The Portuguese Azores Islands are a volcanic archipelago that feature a rugged landscape and a mix of twisty pavement, cobblestone, and every kind of off-road terrain you can think of—slick mud, dirt, sand, rocks, and more. There’s not a straight road on the island, and this gave us a chance to test the bike in every riding condition imaginable—except snow, ironically. To make it an even more inclusive assessment, the island was being whipped by the tail end of Tropical Storm Wanda, so roads and trails were especially mucky. If you want to see how well the traction control system works on a new motorcycle, try kicking it over wet cobblestone and you’ll have your answer.
As the old Nordic saying goes: “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.”
The Middle Child
First, let’s answer the question that most of you are likely asking—how does the Norden 901 differ from the KTM 890 Adventure? As most would expect from sister companies, the base of the Norden is indeed the proven KTM 890 Adventure platform. The 890S variant is oriented toward road and light off-road touring, with a lower seat height and minimally adjustable 43mm WP Apex suspension. Meanwhile, the 890R is a bit taller and aimed at more serious off-road riding conditions with the fully adjustable 48mm WP Explor suspension.
The Norden 901 falls right in the middle, both in terms of features and price tag. The quickly adjustable seat height (33.6 to 34.4 inches) sets riders right in between the 890S and 890R. This trend continues with the selection of suspension components. The Norden is equipped with a fully adjustable version of the 43mm WP Apex suspension used on the 890S, giving you a finer degree of control where needed for your chosen riding conditions.
The most noticeable difference, of course, is the styling of the 901. It takes cues from the older rally-styled adventure bikes, which I personally love. This is something that KTM has somewhat strayed from with the 890 platform. Similar to the elite Viking warriors, its berserker styling means the Norden’s vitals are tucked away beneath a skin composed of a rugged fuel tank, fairing, and skid protection. It will take more than a simple off-road trail to scathe this beast.
With The Might of Magni
Similar to the KTM 890, the Norden produces a mighty 105 hp and 73.8 lb-ft of torque with its DOHC 889cc parallel twin engine. The fueling and throttle response on the test bike was perfect, allowing smooth and controlled low-rpm first-gear coasting through trails and parking lots alike. It is truly an easy bike for anyone to get on and ride, and to make it even easier, they’ve added a quickshifter (or easy shift, as Husqvarna calls it). Plus, quickshifters are just plain fun.
Power delivery on the 901 is linear and consistent throughout the rev range with no hesitation or flat spots, which makes this a very predictable firebreather of an engine, especially when in the appropriate ride mode settings. Given the high performance characteristics of the engine, it was surprising that the regular service intervals are 9,300 miles apart and valve inspection intervals only at every other service—there is a lot of adventure to be had in 18,600 miles.
The Courage of Tyr
Any modern adventure bike is going to come with some degree of electronic aids. The Norden is no different, as it comes standard with three ride modes, ABS, and traction control. Street, Rain, and Off-road modes allow you to modulate traction control and ABS depending on the riding conditions.
However, there is an optional Explorer mode, which can be purchased for a couple hundred dollars that allows you to customize your settings. In Explorer mode, you can quickly adjust cornering-sensitive traction control through nine levels when conditions change suddenly. This was extremely nice riding in the Azores, where roads would change from pavement to slick cobblestone to dirt in a matter of minutes. You can make these on-the-fly adjustments using up and down arrows on the left side of the handlebar without stopping or slowing down.
Switchable cornering-ABS with the off-road mode also gives plenty of adjustability for your riding style. As someone who rides a completely analog KTM 950 Adventure on the daily, the off-road ABS mode was especially welcome as it allows the rear wheel to slide while keeping the front steady. These electronic aids inspire courage and confidence when riding such a large motorcycle in adverse conditions.
The optional Connectivity Unit allows you to connect a smartphone via Bluetooth and control music, phone calls, and—most importantly—turn-by-turn navigation, which is displayed on the TFT dashboard. Hello 2022, it’s nice to see you.
As Swift as Svaðilfari
The 901 comes standard with fully adjustable WP Apex suspension that has 220mm travel in front and 215mm in the rear. The ability to adjust your pre-load, compression, and rebound is critical on bikes that see real off-road use or frequently travel with luggage or passengers. When jumping cobblestone water breaks while going downhill, I quickly realized I could have used a few extra clicks of compression dampening, as the bikes were set to the standard mode for the test. Having the ability to fine-tune the settings makes a world of a difference.
The Norden weighs in at 450 pounds dry, and while it is a midsize ADV-style bike, it feels light and very well balanced. The fuel tank holds five gallons of go juice, but the low-slung design keeps you from feeling all that weight. Plus, you’ll get around 240 miles out of that tank.
Howling with the Wolves
The Norden 901 will inspire confidence even in newer adventure riders, yet allows a fully customizable level of analog control for the seasoned vets who want to embrace their inner hooligan. And that’s not something that has happened much since the end of the KTM 990 era. The Norden is indeed a bike to be excited about. Thanks to the well balanced chassis characteristics and ride modes, I was able to have a blast sliding the rear around on the tighter dirt roads. With a price tag of $ 13,999, it’s comparable to most modern +900cc motorcycles, but in this case you get a lot for those dollars.
Without a doubt, Husqvarna equipped this bike for the toughest challenges the world can throw at it. No matter who swings a leg over the Norden 901, adventure will be easy to find. Just head north.
2022 Husqvarna Norden 901
+ punchy yet predictable power delivery, on-the-fly traction control, tool-free seat height adjustment, plenty of factory accessory add-ons
– Explorer mode costs an extra $ 189.99, run-of-the-mill plastic hand guards
Distributor: Husqvarna Motorcycles
MSRP: $ 13,999
Engine: 2-cylinder, 4-valve, DOHC, liquid-cooled, transverse parallel twin
Power: 105hp @8,000rpm; 73.8lg-ft @6,500rpm
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated slip/assist wet clutch
Wet Weight: 481lbs (claimed)
Seat Height: 33.6/34.4in
Fuel Capacity: 5gal
Fuel Consumption: 52.3mpg (claimed)
Fuel Grade: premium