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Choose: DesertX or Norden 901

February 3, 2022

Who buys an Adventure motorcycle?

In recent years, the medium Adventure motorcycle has rapidly gained popularity. The reason? Their versatility. Motorcycles such as the Ducati DesertX or the Husqvarna Norden 901, but also the Yamaha Ténéré 700 are ideal for your adventurous off-road rides, daily commuting and even fun rides on the asphalt.


We ‘limit’ ourselves in this comparison to the Huqvarna Norden 901 and the DesertX from Ducati. It is clear that both motorcycles are a feast for the eyes for the adventurous motorcyclist. The Huskie has a modern design, with clean lines and fresh lime-colored accents. It’s cliché, but we say it anyway: sleek Scandinavian design. But with a touch of retro. The round headlight and the width through the tanks along the block reminds us of the KTM 990 Adventure. The Duc has more conservative lines. The design is a nod to the Cagiva Elefant, an off-roader with a Ducati engine from the 80s, which even won the Dakar Rally twice. What immediately stands out about the Ducati DesertX are, of course, the round LED headlights, which the Cagiva also had.

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Now the specs. The Husqvarna Norden 901 has the same power source as the KTM 890, which produces 105 hp and 100 Nm at 8,000 rpm from an 899 cc parallel-twin engine. Ducati’s DesertX features the renowned Testastretta 11° L-Twin block, which is also featured in the new Monster 950. The twin-cylinder produces 110 hp at 9,250 rpm and the engine has 92 Nm. Both engines are water-cooled and have six gears. The differences are therefore minimal, but the advantage seems to be slightly in the hands of the Norden 901, as it has more power and torque, which is also available earlier in the rev range. The DesertX is also available for the A2 rider, with a lighter 35kW 48hp version.


In terms of power, the two engines are therefore evenly matched. Can a winner be determined by weight? The DesertX weighs 202 kg without liquids, making it 2 kg lighter than the Norden 901, which weighs 204 kg. When the bikes are filled with liquids, the Husqvarna has an advantage. This is partly due to the larger tank of the Ducati DesertX that can store 21 liters of petrol, whereas the 901 Norden can store 19 liters.


Where a digital screen was an exception a few years ago and was only reserved for high-end motorcycles, you are now no longer taken seriously as a manufacturer if you do not place a display on your motorcycles. The DesertX and the Norden 901 therefore both have a 5-inch digital TFT screen. More electronics can be found in the chassis of both bikes. For example, the Huqvarna comes with three different riding modes (Street, Rain and Offroad) where you can combine features from the modes in the optional Explorer mode. The Ducati has no fewer than six: Sport, Touring, Urban, Wet, Enduro and Rally. You also get of course LED lighting, bluetooth connectivity and navigation.


Not entirely unimportant for off-road bikes is the suspension and ground clearance. The Ducati has fully adjustable KYB suspension with 230mm in the front and 220mm in the rear. Using WP goodies, the Norden 901 has 220mm of front and 215mm of rear travel, and like the Ducati, fully adjustable. The differences are greater in the field of geometry. The Norden’s shorter wheelbase makes it appear to focus more on agility, while the combination of the DesertX’s longer wheelbase and 62.4-degree steering head angle tends toward greater ride stability.


The Husqvarna comes into your possession if you leave at least 17,400 euros at the dealer. The DesertX is available from 18,390 euros. That is also the price of the A2 version. Furthermore, the DesertX can be expanded considerably with various option packages, with which you can make the motorcycle with accessories even more off-road-proof or, on the contrary, allow it to perform better in street use. With the Norden you can order the accessories, such as skid plates and suitcase sets separately in the option list.

Which do you choose?

Whichever bike you choose, you won’t make a bad choice. Both engines are perfectly capable on both the dirt and the street. In terms of performance, the Ducati and Husqvarna hardly differ from each other. The Ducati will probably give you the real two-cylinder feeling with that wonderful Testastretta block, but the Husqvarna is again a mille cheaper and has the nice looks. Have you already made your choice?