NORDEN ADVENTURE PROJECT: BEHIND THE BUILD
The Husqvarna Norden 901 started out as concept machine. It was based around the KTM 890, and its niche lays between the dirt-oriented KTM Adventure R and the street-leaning 890 Adventure. Shown at a European trade show, the public went nuts for it, and it leapt from inspiration to a reality in short order. Based on the KTM 890 Adventure, it has the same trellis frame and 889cc motor. There are multiple levels of managing the power, and you can choose one of the pre-cooked recipes: Road, Rain, Off-Road. All this is accessible on the fly through a handlebar switch and a TFT display.
The main differences between the Husqvarna and KTM are the bodywork and suspension. The fuel cell has a 5-gallon capacity and carries it down around the motor. The fairing is larger, the seat is wider, and the bike is designed more with comfort in mind. Husqvarna equipped this bike with WP Apex suspension, which is baseline WP stuff, but does have more travel than the KTM Adventure. The bottom line is that it targets the travel-oriented rider, leaning way more towards street than dirt.
Therein comes the rub. Our buddy BP "the Realtor" bought a shiny new Norden and immediately realized that while a full riot on the tarmac, it was spooky and nervous in the dirt. And so begins "Project Nasty Norden."
BP jumped into the ADV universe looking for a machine that would let him explore, feeling that a 60/40 street-versus-dirt bias was the goal. His first rides showed weaknesses in three zones—suspension, power and traction management, and protection. In the dirt the machine was phenomenally soft, with the slightest bumps bottoming the suspension and sending it off track. Also, at speed on loose surfaces the front end whinnied like a horse with a snake glued to its nose. This isn't good for a 465-pound, 100-plus-horsepowered steed.
Race Tech went through both suspension ends, firming up the bike's ability to stay up in the stroke, take the bigger hit and still retain enough comfort for the tarmac. Race Tech adds a compression base to the fork, which is important since the damper is significantly under-damped. The front valving provides added compression, and stiffer springs were fitted on. In the rear, the shock is similarly under-damped and under-sprung. The additional damping firms it up. It's equipped with a stiffer spring and additional rebound, making the action firmer, but it's far better equipped to hit obstacles and suck them up.
A Scotts steering damper proved to be a crucial mod for the Norden. It mounted to a BRP bar mount. This is an important upgrade controlling the front end's ambition to shake, rattle and roll. Without it, fire roads with the slightest layer of sand or loose dirt would get scary wiggles above 45 mph.
The Norden comes with three ride modes—Street, Rain and Dirt. BP had the Explorer mode downloaded into his machine, and this basically lets you customize the standard settings in nine levels. It gives you excellent adjustability on throttle control, traction, control and ABS braking.
On the exhaust, an Akropovic titanium slip-on muffler and Arrow De-Cat/mid-pipe were fitted on. Both additions save big time weight but really let the machine breathe. The power was enhanced, was still very manageable and all done quietly. The Akropovic muffler is 50-state legal, whereas the Arrow De-Cat/mid-pipe (www.rottweilerperformance.com) is not, but it does eliminate the heavy catalytic converter and resonator chamber, providing a power gain and a weight loss. Check to see if this is legal in your state.
Protection was also high on the priority list, as pushing the limits on this beefy beast was bound to lead to drops. An AXP skid plate (www.axp-racing.com) is a piece of art and crucial for clanking through rocks since there is a good chunk of the engine and tank hanging very low. BP found the upper crash bars from Europe to protect the gorgeous wraparound plastic. Cycra Pro Bend wrap-around handguards (www.cycra.com) replaced the flimsy stock plastic deflectors and Oury fat grips were added for BP's catcher mitt sized hands.
BP went to Rottweiler products (www.rottweilerperformance.com) for several mods, including their Transaver, a simple device that has an identical feel in both up- and downshifting when regular down pressure is applied. But, when over-stressed, it compresses the gas strut momentarily to save the delicate parts moving around in your transmission. Rottweiler's Power Plate secondary air filter shields the entire intake inlet system with oiled filtration and is a great mod since the stock setup is vulnerable in dusty conditions. Both the Rottweiler rear-brake ABS wire guard and master cylinder cover protect the parts from damage.
Vanasche Motorsports (www.vanaschemotorsports.com) provided the very clean Garmin Zumo navigator mount above the TFT, the monster-sized footpegs, and the case saver for the front sprocket to avoid any case damage in the event of chain breakage. Also, their kickstand pad is crucial for uneven dirt stops.
For storage, BP chose the Giant Loop (www.giantloopmoto.com), Diablo tank bag, Great Basin Rackless saddlebag and the massive Tillamook dry bag. For day trips, the big stuff is easily removed, and the Klamath Tail Rack pack can easily hold water, a toolkit and more.
OTHER CONVENIENCE MUST-HAVES
The Alt Rider (www.altrider.com) clutch-arm extender makes for an easier clutch pull (33 percent easier), while the Double Take ADV mirrors (www.doubletakemirror.com) allow for a much broader rear vision and are easily tucked away for tight trail riding. Quad Lock's (www.quadlockcase.com) suspension phone mount/charger protects the phone camera from vibration. And, a crucial mode for fanny comfort comes with the Seat Concept's (www.seatconcepts.com) Comfort seat that features a pocketed design in the rear of the seating area to help level out the rider platform and reduce the forward slope of the seat. Also, the seat was radiused for a smoother transition from the seating area to the forward seat edges for aggressive stand-up riding.
The final mod came with the wheels. In stock trim it's a 21/18 combo, which is good for the dirt oriented rider. He felt that the stock tires proved fine for the road, but BP wanted a set of street wheels and another for the dirt-heavy rides he envisioned. Dubya custom wheels with Hahn hubs provided a narrower rear wheel for dirt, which gives it additional sidewall flex. Dunlop 606 front and 908 rear tires were chosen for their excellent versatility.
THE FAT LADY SINGS
Yes, our buddy dropped some serious coin to set up his Norden 901. His take? The price tag to get into serious ADV riding is high, making him comfortable and happy with his investment, which was crucial. He calls it a long-term venture, so it was well worth the admission price. o