The 2023 Husqvarna Norden 901 Expedition is built for exactly what its name implies. It takes the capable Norden 901 travel enduro, bolts on a heaping dose of helpful touring accessories and, most importantly, features upgraded long-travel suspension to ensure wherever your dart lands on the map, you’ll have everything you need to get there.
The middleweight Norden 901 and the Expedition variant use the thoroughly trail-proven KTM 890 Adventure platforms as their starting points, giving quite a bit of credence to the rugged bones underneath the swish Scandinavian brand’s designs.
Of course, the only way to test a motorcycle with Expedition in its name is to actually embark on one. I headed off to rural Grabouw, South Africa, outside Capetown, where adventure of the highest order was in store. I would explore excellent paved sections like the unforgettable Franschhoek Pass, traverse countless miles of dusty hardpack dirt roads, and tackle challenging trails that would test this editor and the Husqvarna in equal measure. The Norden 901 Expedition passed with flying colors, and now, we’ll get on with the Fast Facts.
- Husky upped the standard Norden’s performance and touring ante by selecting components—mainly from the brand’s accessory catalog—that appeal to the more adventurous contingent of ADV riders. Starting with creature comforts, a tall touring windscreen offers ample wind protection, and is bolstered by a heated seat and grips. Meanwhile, a centerstand will surely come in handy for maintenance or road-/trail-side repairs, accompanied by a beefy 4mm-thick aluminum skid plate, GPS mount, and 18-liter soft Side Bag Set ticks the touring boxes. On the performance end, the 890 Adventure R’s lauded WP Xplore suspension imbues the Norden with 9.4 inches of wheel travel at either end, increasing ground clearance to an ample 10.6 inches. Lastly, the standard’s optional Explorer mode is standard. A hefty list of bolt-on bits collectively cost far more than the $1300 upcharge over the standard Norden 901, representing a serious value.
- 889ccs of pure fun power the Norden 901 platform. Yanked out of the Ready To Race brand’s stable, the proven parallel-twin engine features an alluring 270-degree crank that helps tease out a boisterous personality and accompanying exhaust burble. With claimed peaks of 105 horsepower and 74 ft-lbs of torque, the Norden’s mill hits the sweet spot. It is always enough thrilling punch to attack any road, pass at freeway speeds, or hit trails head-on without becoming excessive like many of today’s liter-class ADVs. User-friendly low-end and midrange power is highlighted in slower, technical off-road sections. When the opportunity arises on faster two-track trails or out on the open road, the silky counterbalanced engine has plenty of puff leftover at the top.
- An up/down quickshifter is standard on the 2023 Husqvarna Norden 901 Expedition’s six-speed transmission. Helping you explore the gears is a handy bi-directional quickshifter that offers sporty throw and trouble-free transitions through the gearbox. The harder on the gas you are, the more refined it feels, whereas cruising along at more reasonable paces can often result in a somewhat notchy sensation, particularly in the later half of the gearbox.
- Ride modes help tailor performance to the terrain and are backed by advanced rider aids. Four riding modes are on tap, beginning with the preset Street, Rain, and Offroad modes, which alter the throttle response, cornering ABS, and traction control settings. The Expedition also has the customizable Explorer mode. Street provides road-focused ABS and zesty full power. Offroad mode cuts peak output a tad, adds considerable throttle smoothing, reduces traction control intervention, and defaults to a front-only Offroad ABS setting that works like a charm on the trail. Together, the electronics tame the Husky in lower-grip situations, which was handy while negotiating a particularly intense, loose-rock-filled hill climb. Less power meant less wheelspin and more control. It’s a setting that riders across the skill spectrum can benefit from when the occasion arises.
- The Explorer mode’s versatility made it my go-to option. Explorer allows the freedom to choose any throttle map, ABS setting, and TC level (1-9) on the fly—TC can also be disabled. In addition, the uncompromising Rally map is unlocked. On the street, I stick with the Rally throttle setting, as its sporty attitude accommodates front-wheel lofts on demand, accompanied by a click or two of TC. On the trail, I pop it into Offroad, double-check I have Offroad ABS engaged, and oscillate between TC 1-4 depending on my needs. Dialing that configuring in for the dirt suits my skill level and works excellently on fast two-track routes, as well as rock-strewn trails or deep sand.
- If you switch to any mode with Street ABS as a default, Explorer’s ABS setting will follow suit. According to Husqvarna reps, this is by design, so it’s good to peek at the ABS setting when approaching a trailhead. With so much switching between tarmac and trail, I’d typically keep the bike in Offroad ABS and never deviate—unless I curiously ventured into Street or Rain modes, which unwantedly alter my preferred ABS setting. The solution: Dive into the slick full-color TFT dash and never deviate from Explorer mode. As a bonus, Explorer mode retains settings when the bike is keyed off.
- Fully adjustable, long-travel WP Xplor suspension comes to the 2023 Husqvarna Norden 901 Expedition. Beefing things up on the suspension front is the stiffer 48mm fork and PDS shock, sourced from the KTM 890 Adventure R, equipped with model-specific valving. The suspension is genuinely remarkable. The comfort-minded damping absorbs hits, big and small, in stride. Performance is undoubtedly bolstered by the tubeless 21-/18-inch wire-spoke wheel combo. Notably, the properly leggy beast doesn’t feel ungainly, though when you’re working with over nine inches of travel, some dive when hard on the brakes is expected. Using all that travel when off-road is sure to happen on a 503-pound motorcycle. The updated fork hyrdrostop and the linkage-less PDS shock work magic to make unremarkable affairs out of any bottom-outs that my average off-road skill level can muster.
- High speed and hardpack terrain did reveal one quirk. Our route saw us ripping down dusty, wash-boarded dirt roads that naturally saw some quick paces. As steady as the Husky is on the tarmac and trail, you can tease out an eye-widening headshake when hitting an unexpected rough spot. Luckily, the steering damper never lets it go beyond two or three rapid handlebar whacks. But, it’ll still wake you up in the morning. As I cranked things up from the baseline settings, the Norden reared its head less and less, indicating that we could fine-tune that out completely when on home soil. I can’t blame the chassis setup entirely, as the rocky terrain and constant switching from street to trail had Husqvarna techs running 34.8 psi in the tires— a bit high for my tastes, though it protects the wheels from getting bashed but can encourage deflection.
- Quick-witted handling is part of the Husqvarna Norden 901 Expedition personality. Despite gaining an additional 23 pounds, mainly carried low in the heavy-duty skidplate and centerstand, the Expedition feels light on its feet and maneuverable. Those traits carry over to adventurous settings, where it tracks through terrain without faltering. Of course, the low-slung five-gallon fuel tank earns appreciation for lowering the center of gravity, giving the Austrian ADVs a leg-up against competitors in technical terrain.
- Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR rubber is standard fitment. Pirelli’s popular ADV tire provides overall performance for whatever a budding adventurer might face. Undoubtedly, the Italian meats are more road-biased, resulting in impressive street performance. When the road ends, the STRs are still solid performers and purchase good grip in varied situations. Unfortunately, the rubber shows its limits when encountering sand or slick conditions. A knobbier tire would dig into dirt better, but that’d sacrifice road manners, and therein lies the tire compromise.
- Juan brakes return to the fold. Spanish-made dual-piston calipers clamp down on 320mm rotors with steel-braided brake lines leading up to an axial master cylinder. There’s plenty of braking force to haul this ADV to a stop tout de suite, though getting on the binders while on the street underscores a lack of feel at the adjustable lever. In the rear, a single-piston stopper works with a 280mm that provides great modulation when sliding around in the dirt, and the flappable brake pedal claw is a nice touch.
- Sit or stand; you’re good to go the distance. There are far worse places to be than the Norden 901 Expedition’s cockpit. Its neutral riding position, comfy heated seat and grips, and tall windscreen keep things quite cozy for my five-foot-ten frame. A two-position saddle stands 34.4 or 35.2 inches tall. While undeniably lofty, those figures are slightly less intimidating thanks to the Norden’s narrow waist and suspension squish. I can touch my boots on the ground with a 32-inch inseam. Though the buxom tank and sizeable seat can lock you in place while sitting, when standing, you have all the freedom to throw your weight forward and aft, reinforcing the off-road-ready feeling exuded by the Expedition.
- 36-liter soft panniers and accompanying racks are standard. The Givi-manufactured waterproof rolltop soft luggage boasts 18 liters of storage on each side. It’s enough storage for light packers on longer excursions and is more than suitable for weekend getaways. As much as I enjoy the functionality of the luggage, the upper seams attaching the bags to the backing plate were coming apart, which doesn’t appear to provide enough support for the bag itself; bouncing around off-road took its toll, as did the ultra-fine South African dust on the metal buckles. Husqvarna reps noted that we were running pre-production luggage. Cross your fingers that what ends up on dealership floors won’t have the same issues.
- The 2023 Husqvarna Norden 901 Expedition expands ADV potential in every direction. You don’t have to stare too long to see how the Expedition follows the well-beaten path laid out by many ADV owners who yearn to get dirt under their fingernails. Still, the new 901 isn’t without quirks—the ABS programming, fragile luggage, and brake feel—though the bike’s raw performance is beyond reproach. The top-notch WP Xplor suspension strengthens that narrative, while the other touring-oriented additions account for whatever a proper adventure has in store. The Expedition makes a compelling argument, but if that isn’t enough, you still have a wickedly fun engine, seriously capable chassis, and a potent electronics package to drive the point home. Certainly, ADV bikes talk a big game, but few are so well-equipped to back those claims right out of the gate as the 2023 Husqvarna Norden 901 Expedition.
Photography by Marco Campelli et al
2023 Husqvarna Norden 901 Expedition Specs
- Type: Parallel twin
- Displacement: 889cc
- Bore x stroke: 90.7 x 68.8mm
- Maximum power: 105 horsepower @ 8000 rpm
- Maximum torque: 74 ft-lbs @ 6500 rpm
- Compression ratio: 13.5:1
- Valvetrain: DOHC; 4 vpc
- Fueling: Dell’Orto w/ 46mm throttle body
- Lubrication: Semi-dry sump pressure lubrication w/ 2 oil pumps
- Transmission: 6-speed w/ quickshifter
- Clutch: Wet multiplate w/ assist and slip functions
- Final drive: 520 X-ring chain
- Frame: Chromoly tubular steel w/ stressed engine and chromoly trellis subframe
- Handlebar: Tapered aluminum
- Front suspension; travel: Fully adjustable WP Xplor 48mm inverted open-cartridge fork; 9.4 inches
- Rear suspension; travel: Linkage-free, fully adjustable WP Xplor PDS piggyback-reservoir shock; 9.4 inches
- Wheels: Wire-spoked w/ tubeless aluminum rims
- Front wheel: 2.50 x 21
- Rear wheel: 4.50 x 18
- Tires: Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR
- Front tire: 90/90 x 21
- Rear tire: 150/70 x 18
- Front brakes: 320mm discs w/ 4-piston radially mounted J.Juan calipers
- Rear brake: 260mm disc w/ floating J.Juan 2-piston caliper
- ABS: Bosch 9.1 MP cornering-aware; Offroad
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 59.5 inches
- Rake: 25.8 degrees
- Seat height: 34.4 or 35.2 inches
- Ground clearance: 9.9 inches
- Fuel capacity: 5.0 gallons
- Curb weight: 503 pounds
2023 Husqvarna Norden 901 Expedition Price: $15,799 MSRP
2023 Husqvarna Norden 901 Expedition Review Photo Gallery