Husqvarna Norden 901 Expedition: Unmasked First Look
It would be easy to think of the 2023 Husqvarna Norden 901 Expedition as just a re-skinned KTM 890 Adventure R. Since KTM’s takeover of the Swedish brand, many have wondered how Husqvarna’s models would be different from their orange counterparts.
But in this case, the Norden actually breaks the mold. Where the 890 Adventure is a focused off-road weapon, the Norden 901 Expedition feels more gentlemanly and mature.
Why? Because, in short, the Norden is essentially a touring version of its KTM cousin—and yes, it’s also wearing different clothes. In this preview of the Husqvarna Norden 901 Expedition, we’ll go into a little more depth about what the Norden is, what it isn’t, and why you should care.
What it is
As we already explained, the Norden 901 Expedition is the KTM 890 Adventure for those wanting a little more civility with their adventure. You still have the bones from the KTM, like the frame and obviously the 890 parallel-twin engine, but the difference is the Husky’s long-distance accouterment like a taller windscreen, heated grips, heated seat, and center stand.
Those are all options on the KTM but come standard here. All of those features make life just a little easier, even on a good day. The added wind protection and heated elements will keep you comfortable when the weather turns, but having that center stand will make roadside repairs a lot easier if you get a puncture or even if you’re just taking care of some maintenance at home.
Adding to the touring tilt of the Husky is the included soft luggage with 18 liters capacity per side. They are advertised as waterproof, but reports from users and testers have said that while this is mostly true, one of the seams in the luggage has been known to get compromised and let water in. This may be a manufacturing defect and will hopefully be corrected going forward.
As we see already, the Norden 901 Expedition is taking optional parts from KTM’s catalog and making them standard. Since this bike is still intended to be a serious off-roader, it comes with WP’s Xplor suspension instead of the lesser Apex suspension used on the base Norden.
With the Xplor you get full adjustability (including high- and low-speed compression damping), 48mm fork tubes (compared to 43mm), and 9.4 inches of travel front and rear. More travel also means more ride height – 1.5 inches higher than the standard Norden, to be more precise.
Combining this touring and adventurous spirit, the Expedition comes with a 5-gallon fuel tank, using the low-slung design we first saw with the KTM middleweight adventure bikes. Clearly, since the Norden uses the same frame and engine, this is one of the carryover pieces that makes sense.
Apart from having a generous amount of fuel for touring rides, the Expedition also wears a hefty skid plate as standard (again, another optional bit on the KTM side). It’s 4mm thick aluminum, not some cheap plastic cover, meant to withstand some decent abuse.
On the electronics side, the standard Rain, Street, and Off-Road riding modes are the same as before, with a fourth mode—Explorer—also included with the Expedition.
Safety features like traction control, cornering ABS, off-road ABS, engine brake management, cruise control (and others) are, of course, part of the deal, and an IMU helps ensure the operation of all those features runs as efficiently and accurately as possible – which has practically become standard for any serious machine.
What the Norden 901 Expedition is not
Really, it’s hard to see what the Norden 901 Expedition isn’t. For the adventure touring crowd, this bike has all the right pieces—at least on paper. The 890cc LC8c is a proven winner in basically every bike it’s put into.
There’s no reason to believe it would be any different in the Expedition. Fully-adjustable, top-of-the-line WP suspension also raises the bar here, giving the rider confidence to go practically anywhere. And all the travel accommodations and niceties dull the hard edge that the KTM 890 Adventure can sometimes be, giving the Husqvarna a more well-rounded purpose.
However, as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. In this case, weight. Obviously, adding components also means adding weight. While those might be worthy tradeoffs to some, they may not be to others.
And if your preferences lean more towards the adventure spectrum over the touring side, then there’s an argument that maybe the KTM is the better bike for you (although that argument isn’t necessarily a strong one).
Why you should care
You should care because this could be just the bike many of you have been waiting for. A middleweight adventure tourer that seems to have no compromises (other than a leaky saddlebag) and can hang with many of the heavyweight bikes in the category.
We’re going through a period where our priorities are changing. Heavyweight bikes, as capable as they are, can be big, wieldy motorcycles that aren’t for the faint of heart or meager in their skills. With the Husqvarna Norden 901 Expedition, you have a fully competent adventure tourer, right around 500 lbs, and narrower than the big boys, which should make many riders feel more comfortable and confident. Isn’t that the name of the game?