Yamaha dropped jaws at EICMA 2016 when it unveiled the T7 Idea. By plopping its extensively revered CP2 parallel-twin engine right into a rally-inspired chassis, Crew Blue virtually rewrote the middleweight ADV playbook. The prototype’s acquainted but refreshing neo-retro Dakar styling solely accelerated the paradigm shift. Even when Iwata dragged its ft with the manufacturing mannequin—lastly releasing the Ténéré 700 in 2021—the T7’s affect nonetheless ripples via in the present day’s middleweight journey class.
Within the wake of the T7’s reputation, Husqvarna showcased its Noden 901 idea at EICMA 2019. Ducati adopted go well with the very subsequent 12 months with the then Scrambler-based Desert X prototype. By the 2022 mannequin 12 months, each newcomers joined the rising neo-retro ADV contingent.
Leaning into rally roots could attraction to customers, however Husqvarna and Ducati needed to again up that lineage with real off-road efficiency. Neither the Norden nor the DesertX takes that project evenly. With the 2 middleweights vying for a similar plot of the journey bike panorama, it’s solely becoming that the contenders face off in our newest Spec Showdown.
|2023 Husqvarna Norden 901||2023 Ducati DesertX|
|Engine:||Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 889cc Parallel Twin||Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 937cc L-Twin|
|Bore and Stroke:||90.7mm x 68.8mm||94mm x 67.5mm|
|103 hp / 74 lb-ft||110 hp / 68 lb-ft|
|Weight:||450 kilos (dry)||445 kilos (dry)|
(Barely) Totally different Paths
Each the Husqvarna and Ducati flip to confirmed powerplants to anchor their bikes. The previous defaults to KTM’s versatile 889cc LC8c parallel twin whereas the boys from Bologna leverage the 937cc Testastretta L-twin but once more. Within the Norden, the LC8c prizes steadiness with 103 horsepower and 74 pound-feet of torque. Although Ducati’s Testastretta primarily powers road-going fashions, the L-twin holds its personal on the path with torque peaking at 68 lb-ft and output climbing to 110 horsepower.
Engine structure additionally informs on these energy figures. Whereas the stroke numbers are practically equal, the DesertX enjoys a 4-millimeter bore benefit. That over-square configuration not solely advantages the Testastretta with additional displacement but in addition yields further ponies. Nonetheless, the Norden counterpunches with torque, leveling the enjoying subject but once more. With each middleweights touchdown blows, the primary spherical ends in a draw.
After all, each the LC8c and Testastretta nestle into adventure-ready frames. Husky clings to its Chromoly metal building and Ducati employs a tubular metal trellis unit. Whereas these two skeletal buildings share many qualities, completely different suspensions set the 2 fashions aside. The 901 dons a 43mm WP APEX fork and an APEX rear shock. The setup presents 8.5 inches of wheel journey on the fore and eight.7 inches aft; laudable measurements by most ADV metrics.
Ducati ups the ante with a 46mm KYB entrance finish and a totally adjustable KYB monoshock. These preparations raise the DesertX to 9.1 inches of entrance wheel journey and eight.7 inches of journey out again. Then again, these lengthy legs additionally increase the seat top as much as 34.4 inches whereas the Norden’s perch rests at 33.6 inches.
Nonetheless, the 2 neo-retro adventurers could have extra in widespread than not. Each go for a 21-inch entrance and an 18-inch rear wheel wrapped in Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires. The identical goes for the braking techniques, with twin four-piston calipers clamping down on twin 320mm discs on the entrance. The DesertX boasts a barely bigger 265mm rear rotor (in comparison with the Norden 901’s 260mm unit), however the two rivals every spring for a two-pot caliper.
With a lot widespread floor shared between the Husky and Duc, the bout stays neck-and-neck. Though, given the DesertX’s slender victory within the suspension division, we should award one level to Ducati.
The X Issue
Delivering on Husqvarna’s futuristic styling, the Norden’s digital suite options three commonplace experience modes (Road, Rain, and Offroad), however prospects can unlock 9 ranges of rear wheel slippage with the non-compulsory Explorer mode. All of the whereas, lean-sensitive traction management preserves security on the pavement, and switchable cornering ABS with Offroad mode makes off-road transitions seamless.
Ducati solutions the decision with multi-level cornering ABS, traction management, anti-wheelie, engine braking management, and a bi-directional quickshifter. Trip modes embrace Sport, Touring, City, Moist, Enduro, and Rally, whereas 4 commonplace energy modes (Full, Excessive, Medium, Low) additional tailor the expertise. Once more, the competition stays a lifeless warmth, however Ducati ekes out some extent by the pores and skin of its enamel.
We all know that the DesertX caters to long-haul vacationers with a 63.3-inch wheelbase and 27.6-degree rake whereas the 901’s 59.5-inch wheelbase and 25.8-degree rake prioritize nimble maneuverability. As you guessed, one other moot level. Nonetheless, additional mileage goes a great distance when exploring off the crushed path. To that finish, the DesertX’s 5.5-gallon gasoline tank already eclipses the Norden’s five-gallon unit, however Ducati permits homeowners to develop the gas capability to 7.6 gallons. With that slender win, the DesertX escapes this spherical with one more level.
Ducati and Husqvarna entered the neo-retro ADV class with rapid contenders. Confirmed efficiency, off-road pedigree, and classy aesthetics place the Norden 901 and DesertX on the forefront of the rising class. Just one can prevail, although, and Ducati escapes this knock-down, drag-out brawl with a well-earned victory.
Nonetheless, we will’t overlook to take every mannequin’s price ticket into consideration. With the Norden 901 beginning at $14,499, customers save $2,596 on the $17,095 Ducati DesertX. The Duc could have emerged triumphant in our Spec Showdown, however prospects might want to decide whether or not the DesertX’s benefits warrant that worth hole.