You have a lot of options when it comes to ADV bikes in the middleweight category.
One that especially stands out is the KTM 890 Adventure. A stunning bike that can do it all, it was only a matter of time before Husqvarna – a KTM-owned brand, in case you forgot – did their own spin on it.
And here it is: the Norden 901. But is it just an 890 Adventure with a different paint job? Let’s look a little deeper.
The Norden 901 Bones
There’s no getting around the fact that the Norden shares the same frame, subframe, and obviously the engine as its KTM cousin.
Where Husky took a different turn is with the styling of the bike. Where the KTM is basically a glorified and bulked up dirt bike, the Norden is inspired by rally raids.
You can see those design touches in the upswept windscreen, faintly reminiscent of a rally bike’s.
Dig into the details and you notice the round headlight flanked by two little fog lights, and a larger lower fairing opening compared to the KTM – presumably for better airflow or to move hot air away from the rider better.
At 5.0 gallons, the Norden’s fuel tank is slightly smaller than the KTM’s (0.3 gallons, to be exact), but that’s probably not a deal-breaker for most.
The adjustable seat height and narrowness of its leading-edge should make it comfortable both riding down the road or standing up in the dirt.
The stated power from the engine are the same between both the KTM and Husqvarna, so if horsepower was a criteria for you, this won’t make the decision any easier.
A relatively standard feature these days, the Norden sees a slipper clutch and what Husky calls its “Easy Shift” quickshifter. Whatever you want to call it, know you can change gears without using the clutch.
Another standard feature on motorcycles these days, you can select from three different ride modes depending on your mood or the conditions.
There’s also a fourth mode, “Explorer,” which lets you customize power output and traction control settings, among other things. You’ll have to buy that separately, but if you see yourself taking a Norden in the dirt much, it’s a good idea to include it with your purchase.
Ever-tightening regulations have meant certain electronic rider aids have become standard on motorcycles, much to the detriment of performance.
We’re talking mainly ABS in this case, and while the Norden uses Bosch’s 9.7 MP Cornering ABS, which is great for road use as it takes lean angle into consideration, it can be a hindrance in the dirt.
Thankfully, the Norden includes an Off-road mode that shuts off ABS to the rear wheel (and doesn’t pay attention to lean angle), for better dirt performance.
Norden 901 vs 890 Adventure: What’s The Difference?
And while we’re on the subject of dirt performance, this is where we find the primary difference between the Norden and the 890 Adventure.
The Husqvarna wears a 43mm WP APEX fork instead of the 48mm XPLOR-USD used on the KTM. As such, the fork travel is also less on the Husqvarna compared to the KTM. Also, there’s a direct link shock with only preload and rebound adjustability.
These are lower-spec items compared to the KTM, but it signals that the Norden isn’t intended to go as deep into the unknown as the 890 Adventure. This gives the Norden a little more civility on paved roads.
But don’t get it wrong – the Norden can still venture pretty deep. Especially with the right set of tires. The 21-inch/18-inch wheel combo gives you plenty of tire options.
Another difference is the seating position and the ancillary pieces around the saddle. As mentioned before, the Norden’s seat is adjustable in two steps.
This alone is a nice feature to cater towards various riders’ legs, but it’s also padded with a different density foam than the KTM piece.
Does it sound silly to talk about seat padding? Maybe, but don’t overlook rider comfort on a bike designed to shred miles, either on-road or off.
The reshaped fuel tank, while still funneling down low towards the mid-section of the bike, narrows where it meets the seat so your legs have somewhere to rest when seated, but also so your thighs have somewhere to squeeze when standing.
And when you’re simply cruising, its wide profile at its trailing edge helps give you some protection from the elements. J.Juan brake calipers and 320mm discs complete the package, and the aforementioned modes and electronic functions can adjust how they operate.
So, we come back to the original question posed at the top of this story. Is the Husqvarna Norden 901 the ADV bike we’ve all been waiting for?
Maybe – if you’re looking for a KTM 890 Adventure that looks a little more sophisticated and is ever-so-slightly biased towards the roads. Otherwise, it’s just a slightly different flavor of a product we already know and love.