Husqvarna Nuda 900 Tested
By Trevor Hedge
Dirtbike specialist Husqvarna has taken to the streets for the first time in 50 years with the launch of the Nuda 900 and it’s a machine that refuses to be pigeonholed.
Minimalist styling combine with an upright riding position and wide bars to give the impression of a Supermoto machine but in reality the Nuda is essentially more true to the Nakedbike way of life. Not a soft squishy pared down to a Nakedbike from a sportsbike sort of Nakedbike (the Japanese way of doing things), but a pukka Nakedbike more like Ducati’s Monster/Streetfighter offerings, KTM’s SuperDuke/SMT pairing, or Triumph’s Speed/Street Triples. The new Husqvarna can also hold its head high among those competitors and with pricing from $13,990, arguably offers the best value of the lot.
Powering the Nuda is a highly modified version of the 800cc parallel twin utilised by BMW across a variety of on and off-road models. In Husqvarna guise this engine makes the donor powerplant feel soft and dull, even in BMW’s highest F800R spec’; the Nuda engine is in another league entirely. About the only thing they share are the crankcases and gearbox.
New crank, rods, piston, cylinder head, cams, valves and more compression along with a 100cc hike in capacity from a 2mm larger bore and 4.5mm longer stroke give the Nuda not only a lot more balls, but also a lot more attitude. The clincher is the switch to a 315-degree crank which gives an uneven firing order and injects a huge level of charisma that the BMW clearly lacks.
Thumb the starter button and the Nuda settles down into a gruff idle, with a surprising level of bark from the twin-outlet muffler. A twist of the throttle produces a unique note, a cross between a Ducati and a well-tuned Harley Sportster perhaps…?
Twist the throttle in anger and it is clearly more Ducati than Harley, but with better manners and a more urgent surge of torque down low than the Italian bike. And I am not just talking the slapped in the face with a soggy lettuce M696, or the M796, the Nuda donk is a match for the Monster 1100. And with both bikes on standard pipes, I reckon the Husky sounds better.
Winding the throttle on and off through the bends of the Gold Coast hinterland was immensely satisfying with the engine not only providing the acoustic goods, but also enough torque to really push the tyre into the tarmac off the turn and provide a pleasing slingshot to the next corner. This type of riding is really the essence of motorcycling and the Nuda really comes alive and delivers a gratifying experience for all the senses. Yep, Trev likes it…
Ample drive off the turn was available in any gear if you wanted to take the graceful approach to riding. If coming out of low-speed turns with the front wheel crossed up is more your game then spin it a bit harder. The motor delivers its best above 5000rpm with a claimed 100Nm torque peak arriving at 7000rpm and 105hp at 8500rpm. A rain map can be selected to quieten things down for slippery conditions but I never got around to trying it, was having too much fun in the regular mode.
Shuffling up and down the six-speed gearbox to keep the donk pulling hard in that sweet spot is certainly no chore thanks to an impressively positive shift action that I couldn’t fault. The clutch did seem to have quite a long take up point that I struggled with at first but quickly adapted to.
The R has one less tooth on the front sprocket which shortens the gearing a little and sees it turning 4500rpm for 110km/h while the base model is ticking over a touch above 4000rpm.
Both machines hunt and surge a little around 3000rpm while lugging around in the city but it is only a very minor annoyance in an otherwise perfectly fuelled package. A few vibes are felt at consistently high rpm but they are not of the high frequency unpleasant variety and thus do not cause much discomfort.
While the drivetrain and geometry is the same in both the base Nuda and the $2000 more expensive Nuda R, the suspension package is not.
Both machines share 48mm USD forks from Sachs but only the R model offers adjustability via preload, rebound and compression. With 210mm of travel there is a little pitch under brakes but overwhelmingly the impression given by the forks of both machines is more taut than spongy. The test bikes had only 100km on the clock when we started our sojourn and the forks noticeably became suppler as they bedded in but lighter testers were still looking to soften up both ends on the R model. The front end is well planted and the machine very stable.
At the rear of the machines Sachs provide a preload and rebound damping adjustable shock while the R scores a fully-adjustable Ohlins complete with variable length. Again, neither set-up could be described as soft but the base model was a little more compliant and thus favoured by some testers. Hard-core scratchers will demand the full adjustability of the Ohlins equipped R with its freedom to jack the rear end up for more ground clearance at trackdays.
There is certainly nothing wrong with the radial Brembo calipers on the base model but the R model scores higher-spec monoblock calipers that really are quite ferocious. These provide genuine one-finger braking that takes some getting used to. In fact, they seem like overkill on a 174kg motorcycle that runs out of gearing before 200km/h. Both models have Brembo master-cylinders along with adjustable brake and clutch levers.
The R also gets tasteful lashings of carbon-fibre, while painted surfaces are treated to the traditional Husqvarna red, white and black. In comparison, the base model is dressed in a simple black and white colour scheme and the rider perched on a slightly more cosseting seat. While the seat looks minimalist on both machines I found both were padded very well and only after 250km on the Nuda R did I start thinking about some buttock relief.
Ergonomically the reach to the pegs was perfect for my 178cm frame. The same can’t be said for the bars however as it took me nearly 200km before I got comfortable with their extremely wide stance. The bars are also quite thin in diameter and thus the grips are also quite small which will please those with small hands but if you have overly large mitts I reckon some thicker bars and grips might be in order. Surprisingly, considering the minimalist screen and wide bars opening my chest to the wind, I never really suffered any significant wind buffeting.
We never got to test the fuel economy of the machine but in BMW guise we know the parallel twin is amazingly frugal. Let’s hope that’s also the case in the more gratifying Nuda orientation as with only a modest 13-litre fuel cell one might need to keep a careful eye out for the low-fuel warning light that comes on when there is three-litres remaining. Still, I wouldn’t expect anything less than a 200km range out of the Nuda as gone are the days when twin-cylinder machines (Aprilia excluded) drank alarming amounts of fuel. Technology is indeed a wonderful thing.
If Husqvarna has learned anything from BMW, and they clearly have, it is to offer plenty of accessories to help lighten your wallet as much as possible before you walk out of the showroom. Despite the Nuda only going on sale this week, Husqvarna already have an amazing array of accessories ready to go with the new model. Soft or hard luggage packages, titanium muffler, adjustable CNC rear-sets and even a full range of textile or leather clothing.
The Nuda is another very worth option in the popular nakedbike market and one that I am quite enamoured with. At $13,990 the base model offers fantastic value and in reality you only need to stump up the extra 2k for the R version if you are a true hard-core scratcher or just can’t resist the tasty carbon-fibre bits. The base machine is hardly a soft option, is just as pleasing to ride as the up-spec model and for some, will actually prove the better mount of the two.
Specification – 2012 Husqvarna Nuda 900 & Nuda 900 R
- Displacement – 898cc
- Engine Type – Liquid-cooled four-stroke, parallel twin-cylinder, dry sump
- Bore x Stroke – 84 x 81mm
- Claimed Power – 105hp @ 8500rpm
- Claimed Torque – 100Nm @ 7000rpm
- Compression Ratio – 13.0:1
- Induction – EFI
- Transmission – Six-speed
- Final Drive – Chain
- Frame – Tubular steel trellis
- Dimensions (LxWxH) – 2,190 x 895 x 1220mm
- Wheelbase – 1,495mm
- Seat Height – 870mm (R model 875mm – A 16mm lower seat is an optional extra)
- Fuel Capacity – 13 litres
- Kerb Weight – 195kg with fuel and fluids
- Dry Weight – 174kg
- Front Suspension – Telescopic forks (fully-adjustable on R) – 210mm travel
- Rear Suspension – Single shock, preload and rebound adjustable (R gets Ohlins) – 180mm travel
- Front Brakes – 320mm disc rotors, Brembo radial four-piston calipers (R gets monoblock)
- Rear Brake – 265mm disc
- Warranty – Two years, unlimited kilometres
- RRP – $13,990 + ORC (R is $15,990)
– Grunty engine
– Great sound
– More comfortable than expected
– Taut suspension
– Strong brakes
– Perhaps too taut for some
– Seat a little high for short folk