2023 Husqvarna Norden 901 Expedition Overview – First Experience

2023 Husqvarna Norden 901 Expedition review

For miles, we rode right into a dense cloud of ruddy South African mud. These dusty roads linked rocky trails and selection stretches of pavement just like the famed Franschhoek cross which, on a Saturday, was paying homage to California’s personal Angeles Crest Freeway. We watched eclectic teams of open topped roadsters interspersed with an equally diverse slew of two-wheelers strafe from apex to apex whereas we made photograph passes. Husqvarna had invited the world’s press to expertise the brand new Norden 901 Expedition amongst epic terrain on the southernmost tip of the African continent.

The Norden 901 Expedition is little greater than the bottom mannequin with bolt-on bits from the accent catalog. The factor is, that “little extra” makes a giant distinction. Since its inception, I’ve been a fan of the Norden, in concept anyway. Admittedly, I hadn’t spent a lot time on the bike forward of this journey. That stated, the Norden is closely primarily based on the present KTM 890 Journey platform which I’ve spent lots of time with and discover myself gravitating towards as a fan of the pointedly off-road finish of the ADV spectrum. When studying Scott Rousseau’s (former EiC of Dirtbikes.com) tongue-in-cheek “letter” to me/assessment of the Norden 901, his phrases “gentlemanly character” struck me the improper manner. A gentleman, I’m not. Phrase of the WP Apex suspension’s limits off-road unfold and my curiosity feigned. A unbelievable avenue bike with a confirmed basis and its personal distinctive model, undoubtedly, however a redressed base 890 Journey merely didn’t sway me. 

2022 Husqvarna Norden 901 Overview – First Experience

The Expedition mannequin has since reignited my vigor. The Norden 901 Expedition comes commonplace with helpful fine details like a middle stand, taller windscreen, gentle baggage with the requisite rack, Bluetooth connectivity and heated grips and rider seat. All of this stuff are good to have, however the place my curiosity piqued was the inclusion of the uber-customizable Explorer journey mode (Rally in KTM converse), a considerable 4mm thick aluminum skid plate, and most of all, WP XPLOR suspension. Contemplating that the Expedition mannequin solely carries a $1,300 premium over the bottom mannequin – and that the equipment not together with the suspension retail for rather more than that quantity – the brand new Norden variant must be a wonderful selection for these seeking to eke out extra off-road efficiency from their Swedish-gone-Austrian journey bikes. 

Getting amped for an Expedition

Husqvarna as soon as once more introduced out the adventurous duo of Mike Horn and Cyril Despres to debate their more moderen voyage by Mongolia to advertise the brand new Norden 901 Expedition. Inspiring on their very own, skilled adventurer Mike Horn’’s accolades embody issues like crossing each poles, utilizing a hydrospeed to journey 7,000 km down the size of the Amazon river, and loads of crusing journeys across the globe. Mike is an inspiration and has a view of life and journey that has landed him motivational teaching gigs. In fact, Cyril Despres is perhaps extra acquainted to a motorsports viewers as a five-time Dakar champion with a tough enduro background who has now contested the famed race 24 occasions on two and 4 wheels. 

It’s arduous to not get excited listening to those two unlikely associates banter. Once I met Horn he almost crushed my gentle editor hand along with his grip power and I watched him do the identical to my compatriots as he made the rounds introducing himself. Watching Horn leap over bikes in the course of the presentation and listening to him inform tales from their expedition whereas additionally throwing gibes Cyril’s manner for utilizing pampers (whereas he raced, in fact), Mike exudes a youthful immaturity that lights up the room and will get you excited to be in it with him. 

Again on monitor… or path

Cyril and Mike can be with our chase riders throughout our two days of using, however after some enjoyable in the course of the technical presentation, it was time for the Norden 901 Expedition to shine. In the course of the morning of our departure we had been suggested that it could seemingly be fairly heat throughout parts of our journey since summer season had simply ended within the southern hemisphere. We solely wanted to pack for a night of glamping so the roll-top Givi-made 18L (every) gentle baggage hooked up to my machine was largely stuffed with GoPro gear, and later, further layers that I had peeled off because the temperatures rose.

Not solely does the five-gallon tank hold the bike’s CoG low leading to wonderful off-road dealing with, it additionally retains your toes from getting splashed when using right into a lake.

The 2-position adjustable seat top on the Norden Expedition might be set at 34.4 or 35.2 inches, a stretch for some, however being a mere  5-foot 8-inches tall with a 30-inch inseam, most of those bikes are a stretch for me – I’m simply used to coping with it. The seat is sort of large towards the rear which makes it comfy throughout longer stints, but in addition the curve from the entrance to rear permits you to securely maintain onto the bike together with your legs whereas standing as effectively. The windscreen is almost three inches taller than that on the bottom mannequin and it ended up being extra of a detriment when using off-road than it was helpful, in my expertise. That stated, I didn’t have any buffeting even whereas utilizing an off-road helmet.  At one level as I slipped into a middle rain rut and popped the bike up out of it on the opposite finish, I didn’t account for the windscreen top and smacked my helmet’s chinbar arduous. Additionally, as soon as the windscreen was soiled, it was arduous for a lil man like me to see across the entrance of the bike. 

The Husqvarna Norden 901 Expedition’s valves must be spec’d each 15,000 km (9,320 miles).

The 48mm XPLOR fork presents 9.4 inches of journey and is adjustable for compression, rebound, and preload whereas the 43mm Apex items of the bottom mannequin provided solely compression and rebound with 8.7 inches of journey. Out again, the XPLOR PDS monoshock additionally delivers 9.4 inches of journey with adjustability for top and low pace compression, rebound, and preload. The bottom mannequin’s Apex shock gives 8.5 inches of journey with rebound and preload adjustment accessible. Husqvarna and WP instructed us that whereas the suspension is much like the stuff on the orange-clad R bike, the Norden does get bike-specific valving, although higher hydrostop bottoming resistance has been labored in throughout the WP board for 2023. 

The Norden 901 Expedition can now deal with extra abuse because of its WP XPLOR suspension and beefy skid plate. That stated, it didn’t hold one of many guys in our group from bending his kickstand after a tough hit.

Regardless of the frame-mounted steering stabilizer, myself and quite a lot of riders complained of head shake at pace on the Expedition. I opted so as to add a little bit of preload to the shock to assist get some extra weight onto the entrance tire and slowed down the rebound a couple of clicks, too. Whereas this was a step in the precise route, it could have been good to spend a bit extra time working by the copious quantities of adjustment the suspension provided. Within the twistier highway sections, one of many greater guys on our journey ended up dragging his middle stand because the tempo heated up (his suspension was set within the “commonplace” settings). 

The LC8c motor is simply as a lot enjoyable on-road as it’s off. The identical might be stated for the tubeless Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR rubber which delivers a wonderful steadiness of efficiency in each eventualities.

On a most wonderful stretch of tarmac, Franschhoek cross, the Norden shined as the superb streetbike it’s able to being. With completely impartial ergos and a secure chassis, the punchy 889cc Twin engine and adjustable electronics made the Norden a unbelievable bike to leap between dust and pavement. It was one other reminder that the LC8c engine is simply as adept at slaying apexes à la Duke, as it’s ripping off-road. Husqvarna says the Expedition is supposed to be extra of a 50/50 bike in comparison with the extra avenue targeted base mannequin. 

Fork preload is adjustable on the prime of every leg whereas the separate operate damping sees compression on the left and rebound on the precise. Shock preload requires a 5mm allen wrench.

The J.Juan brakes present good chunk and loads of energy, even when they’ll really feel considerably imprecise. On highway, the fork does are likely to dive beneath arduous braking, however for a motorcycle pulling double obligation, it appeared like an inexpensive compromise. Talking of brakes, the dual-channel ABS modes (Avenue and Off-road) at the moment are linked to the journey modes (this will probably be commonplace throughout all Husqvarna and KTM fashions shifting ahead). Avenue and Rain modes use the Avenue ABS operate whereas Off-road makes use of, you guessed it, Off-road ABS which reigns in intervention on the entrance and disables the cornering operate in addition to fully disabling ABS on the rear wheel. The Explorer journey mode is the one mode that permits the rider to decide on between Avenue and Off-road ABS although it defaults to Avenue.

As anticipated, the suspension and Explorer journey mode – which helps you to tailor traction management on the fly between 9 ranges, provides you three choices of throttle response, and adjustable ABS – had been the Expedition’s options I discovered most helpful. The one factor I might actually really feel the necessity to change can be the windshield, so I might (hopefully) be much less prone to smack myself within the face off-road. 

Each bike in our group had a seam on the gentle baggage failing at the very same spot.

Sadly, the gentle baggage on each bike in our group had begun to tear on the prime seam. Clearly this wasn’t a one-off problem. The metallic buckles had been fairly slick of their motion initially, however maybe too intricate as they grew to become tougher to make use of as soon as they had been inundated with mud. I used to be instructed these had been pre-production, however they appear fairly much like Husqvarna baggage that was beforehand accessible for the Norden and I discovered opinions describing the identical points. We additionally had some digital bugs with journey modes altering after the bike was keyed off. Husqvarna reps instructed us all the things ought to stay within the chosen settings (TC and ABS included) when the bike is keyed off or turned off with the kill change and that our pre-production machines had been, simply that, pre-pro. “We’ll work out the kinks,” the reps promised.

Throughout my time on the #16 Husqvarna Norden 901 Expedition, I used to be fairly proud of the transmission and the up/down quickshifter. I had little to no points other than once I was being perfunctory with the lever. Issues largely labored as they need to, however nonetheless not so slickly snickety as the most effective of moto-trans nowadays. Extra worrying was one other rider echoing the identical transmission points I skilled in the course of the newest KTM 890 Journey check that noticed the bike being intermittently troublesome to get into gear and falling out of second when it could shift. Since everyone knows Pierer is sourcing elements from the identical pool, it wasn’t terribly stunning to listen to of the identical points I had beforehand, as the problems look like considerably sporadic. KTM talked about that it was seemingly the quickshifter calibration, however I can’t say for positive.  

Even with a couple of niggles, the Norden 901 Expedition is the Norden that I all the time wished – and apparently I wasn’t alone on this. Myself and like-minded dudes and dudettes are inquisitive about journey bikes for his or her off-road prowess, so bolstering that makes this mannequin extra attractive. The pattern in journey motorcycling of producers including touring accoutrement however then additionally off-road upgrades is considerably puzzling however, whaddya gonna do? This fashionable bike can now deal with the pains of some keen participant to smash his or her new $15,800 funding by terrain their talent can or maybe can’t money, whereas hoping the bike’s prowess will assist hold them upright. I feel the adv scene is all the higher for it, in any case, extra decisions is extra higher. 

We’re dedicated to discovering, researching, and recommending the most effective merchandise. We earn commissions from purchases you make utilizing the retail hyperlinks in our product opinions. Be taught extra about how this works.

Change into a Bike.com insider. Get the newest motorbike information first by subscribing to our e-newsletter right here.