Husqvarna is celebrating 110 years and you get the presents.
When the first Husky road bike in 50 years was launched last year the Nuda 900 cost $13,995 and the R version with fully adjustable Ohlins suspension, carbon fibre extras, stronger brakes and smaller front sprocket cost $15,995.
To celebrate 110 years, Husky has axed the prices of its 2012 models by $3500 each, so the Nuda costs $10,495 and the R is just $12,495. However, the 2013 models now come with ABS as standard and prices are $13,995 and $15,995.
That still compares more than favourably with its closest competitors in the naked/super motard category – BMW F 800 R ($13,900), KTM 990 Supermoto T ($18,990) and Ducati Hypermotard ($15,990-$20,990).
The Nuda is based on the BMW 800 after BMW bought the formerly Swedish and Italian-made Husqvarna brand a couple of years ago to strengthen its off-road roots.
However, earlier this year BMW sold the brand to Pierer Industries AG – a company controlled by KTM CEO Stefan Pierer – which has also bought Husaberg, reuniting the two sexy Swedes.
The Germans’ stewardship was good for the company, tightening up production, improving quality and increasing the flow of spare parts.
It also produced their first road bike in 50 years, the Nuda 900 and 900 R.
It is powered by the BMW parallel twin but bored out from 798cc to 898cc with power up from 64kW to 77kW and torque from 84Nm to 100Nm. It also has new pistons, conrods, cam shafts, cylinder heads, valves and a balancer for less vibration and a totally different feel to the BMW bikes that use this engine.
Husky has developed a comprehensive instrument pod with a lot of useful information, rather than the basic cycle-like instruments we have come to expect from their dirt bikes. Even the base model gets Sachs shocks and Brembo brakes with braided lines.
Styling is more stick insect than the BMW with a lot of Husky’s off-road character, including a narrow girth, red cylinder heads and a high and hard seat. You can distinguish the R from the standard by the flash of racing red down its side.
They are 50mm shorter than the BMW with a steeper fork rake, combining for a sharp-steering machine and at 174kg it’s also 3kg lighter, further adding to its nimble nature. Its big air intakes and F1-styled front fender and “tank” area make it stand out from other naked bikes.
The base model gets a slightly stepped seat which is pure torture, while the flatter and higher R seat is surprisingly more comfortable … but only just.
Only tall people need apply. Nuda sits 870m high at the seat, but a low-seat option drops that 16mm, while the R is 875mm-895mm depending on rear shock adjustment. However, it’s a comfortable upright position with wide bars and familiar controls. Peak power is exciting, although not scintillating.
Most riders will enjoy the rush of speed from the brutish torque that lofts the front wheel with ease from low speeds and in the first three gears. You rush through the slick close-ratio box and just ride that wave of torque. Neutral is easy to find.
It steers quickly, yet the wide bars provide high-speed stability. The stiff suspension of the standard finds it chattering sideways across high-frequency bumps. Somehow the stiffer, yet faster-acting Ohlins suspension works much better.
Like the BMW, it has an underseat fuel tank to centralise the weight for better balance.
It only takes 13 litres of fuel for a claimed range of 250km.
It has ABS as standard but could do with a slipper clutch to avoid back-wheel lock-ups caused by the high engine compression ratio of 13:1.
The Brembo brakes are strong with the R maybe too touchy and powerful. Riders can also switch to a rain mode which softens the power delivery.
This is the sort of bike that puts the smile back on your face for commuting or short sprints to the local mountain-top cafe.