Swedish model’s iden­tity cri­sis

The naked truth about the Husq­varna Nuda’s con­fused per­son­al­ity, by Paul Owen

South Waikato News - - RURAL DELIVERY -

There is al­ways a dan­ger when a mo­tor com­pany de­vel­ops a new prod­uct that blurs ex­ist­ing seg­ment boundaries. That said, rein­ven­tion-of-the-wheel will in­stead fall through the cracks be­tween those seg­ments.

Such is the fine line be­tween suc­cess and fail­ure, and the dif­fer­ence be­tween some­thing like the orig­i­nal Range Rover kick-start­ing a whole new genre of ve­hi­cle (SUV) and Suzuki’s star­crossed at­tempt at build­ing an off-road sports car, the X-90. It is hard to pre­dict which will be the fate of the Husq­varna Nuda 900, which is the first real road bike to emerge from the for­mer Swedish dirt bike brand un­der BMW’S man­age­ment. The Nuda is com­pletely dif­fer­ent from ev­ery other mo­tor­cy­cle on the mar­ket and I sus­pect Kiwi bik­ers will have to ac­quire a taste for it first be­fore it be­gins to sell in any sig­nif­i­cant vol­ume here.

BMW Mo­tor­rad said Husq­varna had the po­ten­tial to be to the com­pany’s bike di­vi­sion what Mini is to the car-mak­ing side of the busi­ness.

Sadly for BMW the Nuda ap­pears to be a bike that has yet to de­cide what it is. Is this par­al­lel-twin-pow­ered naked street bike a tourer?

The soft tune of the sus­pen­sion and the wide range of lug­gage-haul­ing ac­ces­sories sug­gest as much but the iphone-wide plank­like seat and mi­nus­cule 13-litre fuel tank say no. Is it a track bike, some­thing to take to non-com­pet­i­tive track days or race in the su­per­moto class? It is go­ing to take a lot of sus­pen­sion alchemy to get the Nuda track-ready and although the par­al­lel twin is a strong per­former it still does not set the world on fire.

Not that Husq­varna did not give this Ro­tax-made en­gine its best shot dur­ing de­vel­op­ment. Start­ing with the slightly-dull-yet-highly-

You can buy the stan­dard ver­sion only in black, and the $2500 more ex­pen­sive Rmodel, right, comes in Husq­varna’s tra­di­tional red and white. ef­fi­cient 786cc twin that pow­ers var­i­ous BMW F800 mod­els, Husq­varna elon­gated the pis­ton strokes by 5.4mm and added an­other 2mm to the cylin­der bores to cre­ate a new 898cc ver­sion.

It then re-ar­ranged the unique triple-con­rod crankshaft (the third is used purely to quell vi­bra­tion) of the par­al­lel twin so that the crankpins of the two that were topped with pis­tons were spaced 45-de­grees apart. It is the rea­son that the Nuda emits a V-twin-like sound­track that ev­ery Har­ley owner will im­me­di­ately recog­nise and love.

About this point in de­vel­op­ment, I sus­pect BMW’S mar­ket­ing stormtroop­ers vis­ited to en­sure that their Swedish-branded di­vi­sion was not de­vel­op­ing a prod­uct that would can­ni­balise F800 sales. That is the only ex­pla­na­tion I can give for the blurry fo­cus of the rest of the pack­age.

There are two Nuda mod­els, the $17,490 900, and the $19,990 900R.

You can buy the cheaper ver­sion only in black, and the R in Husq­varna’s tra­di­tional red-white liv­ery.


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