To say that it’s important to BMW for Husqvarna to succeed is something of an understatement. Not only have the Germans plowed a considerable sum of money into the Swedish/Italian/German company, they also need the new customers it should attract. In much the same way as BMW took the Mini name and created a whole new image around the car, BMW Motorrad is planning on making Husqvarna its fresh and slightly wild brand to appeal to a different sector of the bike market. Having spent four years planning how to achieve this goal, the first road bikes of the new collaboration are now ready to go to market — the Nuda 900 and the Nuda 900R.
The Nuda models naturally take their influences from Husky’s off-road heritage, but a lot of the technology is directly from BMW, which saves not only costs but also development time. The BMW F800R’s parallel-twin engine has been sourced, although Husky has increased its displacement to 898cc plus fitted 1mm larger intake valves, new camshafts, pistons and con rods. The Husky’s crankpins are set at 315 degrees for a sportier sound, whereas the BMW’s are set at 180 degrees to replicate a Boxer’s engine note. Power is a claimed 105 horsepower while torque is 73.8 foot pounds, and the traditional red cam cover illustrates this is a Husky, not a BMW engine.
The Nuda’s chassis is based around an F800GS trellis frame, although the wheelbase is shortened 50mm to increase the agility of the new bike. The wheels and fuel injection are from Munich as well, but the bike isn’t just a re-badged BMW; while much of the running gear is markedly German, Husky has been given a free hand with the styling, which is what really sets the Nuda aside from an F800.
Husky brings attitude to BMW and to stamp this home the Nuda comes in two forms: an aggressive 900R and a less extreme 900. Both bikes share a common motor and chassis, but the R gets an Öhlins shock, 48mm fully adjustable Sachs fork, Brembo monobloc calipers, a few carbon details and a sportier (harder!) seat with a slightly increased height.
The Nuda 900 and Nuda 900R...
The Nuda 900 and Nuda 900R look identical to the BMW F 800 R’s engine, but actually runs a heavily revised head and altered crank offset along with other changes. Displacement has been bumped to 898cc.
The first bike to be tested was the Nuda 900R, which Husky launched at Autodromo di Mores in Sardinia. The track was damp in the morning, but the exactness the wet surface required highlighted the plus points of the new motor. The parallel-twin engine feels totally different to the BMW lump it started life as, with a nice smooth bottom end, a more solid midrange and a slightly rawer exhaust note. There’s a good chunk of grunt at around 5000 rpm and powering out of damp corners I found the throttle’s pickup suited the relaxed nature of the engine as it didn’t deliver any nasty surprises such as an abrupt jerk of power.
The Husky is not the fastest bike out there, but under track use the Nuda R performs admirably. The wide bars allow the bike to be thrown into corners and the chassis responds well. Ground clearance quickly becomes a concern however, and the Brembo monoblocs are possibly a little too ferocious in their initial bite for such a light machine. While I would have liked to have fiddled with the fully adjustable suspension a bit to take out some of the pitching on the brakes due to the long forks compressing and the shock being a touch soft, time was limited so I concentrated on putting a few laps together instead.
When the track stint was over, we departed onto the streets of Sardinia aboard the standard Nuda 900. Despite having the same chassis and motor (albeit with a one-tooth-larger front sprocket) as the R, the basic Nuda gets a 48mm preload-adjustable fork and a shock with adjustable spring preload and rebound only. The less-equipped model also gets a softer seat and less ferocious, standard-design Brembo brakes.
The Nuda 900 demonstrated the same pleasant engine characteristics as the R when carving through Sardinia’s twisty roads, but the suspension does feel a bit soft when bumps are encountered mid-corner or during turn-in. Considering the bike is aimed at a more relaxed rider who may wish to take the bike touring, the soft suspension will likely be a non-issue. The slightly firm seat and lack of wind protection on the other hand may be — I tried a Nuda already equipped with an aftermarket screen and it too offered nothing in the way of wind protection.
Another concern is that the Husky is fitted with a diminutive 3.4-gallon fuel tank under the seat which may limit its range. Husqvarna staff does claim, however, that the bike will manage a reasonable 150 miles per tank. A fuel consumption display on the dash gives a “real time” reading in liters of how you are progressing on this front.
Despite looking quite aggressive (Husky has a marketing campaign that says “Mistreat the street”), neither Nuda is really an aggressive motorcycle. The bikes’ engine is smooth with a nice spread of power and the handling is easy and non-threatening. If you think however that the Nuda will perform like a proper Husky supermoto then you will be disappointed — the bike is more show than go and is very much a road bike, not a fire-breathing racer. The key to the Husky then is the fact it has BMW’s backing and reputation behind it but all dressed up in a far cooler looking product, just like the Mini in the four-wheeled world. Yep, the Nuda is the two-wheeled Mini, just cooler and better at wheelies!
At the moment Husqvarna is in the process of homologating the Nuda for the American market, a process that has delayed the bike’s launch compared to Europe, where the bike will be on sale by Christmas. The bike is definitely coming to the States though and is slated to be available towards the end of 2012. SR
2012 Husqvarna Nuda / Nuda 900R
Type: Liquid-cooled parallel-twin DOHC four-stroke, 4 valves/cyl.
Bore x stroke: 84 x 81mm
Compression ratio 13.0:1
Induction: EFI, single injector/cyl.
Front tire: 120/70ZR-17
Rear tire: 180/55ZR-17
Rake/trail: 24.5 degrees/3.98 in. (101mm)
Wheelbase: 58.9 in. (1495mm)
Seat height: 34.3 in. (870mm) /34.5-35.2 in. (875-895mm) via shock length
Fuel Capacity: 3.4 gal. (13L)
Claimed Wet Weight: 429 lb. (195kg)