As streetbikes go, the Nuda 900, the first full-on road machine from off-road specialist Husqvarna in almost 80 years, is an oddball. That shouldn’t be surprising, since the Nuda is an oversize, straining-at-the-leash supermoto made by the people known for smaller versions of such machines but with a nod to the practicality and reliability that parent company BMW does so well with its streetbikes.
Actually, the Nuda (“naked” in Italian) is heavily based on the engine and frame of the BMW F800GS, while the rest of the bike is the work of Husqvarna. The most significant differences are in the engine, which has had its displacement lifted from 798 to 898cc by a 2mm bore and 4.5mm stroke increase, and that now has a 315-degree crankshaft instead of the GS’ 360-degree unit. The result is an uneven, 315-405-degree firing sequence that provides a booming soundtrack and a smooth spread of power that delivers an extra shove between 7000 rpm and the 9-grand redline. Husqvarna claims 105 horsepower at 8500 rpm and 74 foot-pounds of torque at 7000. The engine is as happy acting the hooligan as it is having a bit of a quiet time when your brain gets frazzled.
So, too, is the chassis. I rode the Nuda on Sardinia’s beautiful ribbons of twisty tarmac in second and third gear during the bike’s press launch, and I believe you’d be hard-pressed to find anything quicker on those sorts of roads—except for another supermoto-style machine, perhaps. The tall, wide bars help you muscle the slightly heavy-feeling (Husqvarna claims a dry weight of just 384 lb.) 900 from side-to-side; and the Brembo brakes—dual radial-mount front calipers with steel-braided lines working on 320mm discs—stand up to endless bouts of hard braking without complaint. A deft flick of the clutch is all it takes to get the front wheel off the ground and crossed-up all the way to the next corner.
This Husky also delivers a pleasant ride. It has a comfortable seat, and despite having only a 3.4-gallon tank, it should get half-decent fuel range. If you opt for the touring accessories, you could feasibly do some serious distances. The engine is very relaxed at cruising speeds, the mirrors give good visibility and the ergos are roomy.
The Nuda is available in two versions: the standard 900 ($12,300) and the 900 R ($14,490), which is fitted with radial Brembo brakes, an Öhlins shock, a fully adjustable Sachs 48mm fork and a taller, flatter seat. The R is finished in traditional Husqvarna red, white and black, whereas the standard model is black with a white nose and tail. The engine and power output are exactly the same on both.
In either version, the Nuda 900 makes a lot of sense for the road. It’s good fun, has a character-packed engine, handles and stops well and, unlike a full-on supermoto, can be practical, too. So far, neither Husqvarna nor BMW has plans to sell the Nuda 900 in the U.S.; but if the bike is successful elsewhere, maybe they’ll see the light and change their minds.
Michael Neeves is Senior Road Tester for England’s Motor Cycle News.