Huskies have trouble adapting to our climate. But can this one? Kartikeya Singhee finds out

Husqvarna is a name most Indian bikers would only have heard of vaguely. Many upheavals in the Swedish brand’s rich history now has their bikes built in Varese, Italy. ‘Huskies’ as this marquee’s products are popularly known are generally focused, top class off-road motorcycles. With the Nuda 900R almost here via Navnit Motors, we sling a leg over the Nuda for a few hours to check what it’s about.

Although it is outlandish in its entirety, the details on the Nuda are incredibly stylish. The attractive instrument cluster houses an analogue rev-counter in the centre with telltale lights stacked on the left, while the LCD display on the right shows the speed prominently. The slashed exhaust with its carbon-fibre end-plate, clamp and shield, the cast-alloy side stand, the black anodised handlebar, the vented sprocket cover, motocross-cum-street footpegs, and the slinky grab handles for the pillion are stunning details on a masterful blueprint.

Overall, the Husqvarna makes its supermoto intentions quite clear. It is a tall motorcycle with an upright stance and offers a narrow and flat seat running from the tank to the tail section. The exposed trellis frame, big motor and massive rubber sit denuded underneath.

The 798cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin engine has been bored and stroked to stretch the displacement to 898cc. Bigger-diameter valves have been used to cope with the added displacement. Finally, instead of a zero-degree crank as on the GS, the Nuda uses a 315-degree crankshaft to deliver the character and power befitting a Husqvarna. To mark the motor out as a Husky engine, the cam cover is painted red.

The Husky comes well equipped too. It gets top-flight radially-mounted, four-pot mono-bloc calipers for the twin 320mm discs, with 48mm Sachs upside-down forks for springing duties. At the rear, there is a completely adjustable Ohlins unit and a 265mm disc with two-piston calipers. Shod in Metzeler rubber, the Nuda 900R is brimming with confidence.

Once you’ve clambered onto the saddle and thumbed the starter, you are greeted by a fantastic exhaust note. Bass, volume and the howl of trapped power waiting to break free all burst through the slashed exhaust in just the right mix. Sure, 103bhp might not sound like much for a near-litre-class bike, but the Nuda is high on adrenaline. Throttle response is, quite simply, frenzied.

The mildest twist of the right wrist sends the Nuda 900R charging forward. Hang on harder as you near the 4000rpm mark. There’s always a sense of confidence that makes this motorcycle thrilling rather than scary.

The Nuda’s ECU has an alternate ‘MAPII’ engine map that softens power delivery significantly. Suddenly, stop-go traffic is no longer a bother and even ham-fisted inputs won’t cause the Nuda to misbehave.

Both versions of the Nuda use double discs at the front. However, the bite from the 900R’s mono-bloc set-up is ferocious enough to rival the engine’s performance.

The steel-braided hoses provide a crisp feel at the lever and it takes only a light tap to check city speeds. A harder pull is only for shedding serious speed. The front 120/70 R17 Metzeler felt confident and rock-solid too. However, for such an edgy motorcycle, an ABS system would have been of great help in the Indian environment.

The Nuda’s design, components and character come together and tempt you to give the supermoto style of riding a shot. Given adequate time and space, the Nuda will have you sliding into corners spinning the rear wheel, and popping the front wheel on the way out. It’s a motorcycle that will urge you to man up and hone your riding skills.

Surprisingly, apart from the high seat, the Nuda is a bike that can be used regularly. The slim seat is a bit firm, but the pliant ride keeps things comfortable. Despite Mumbai’s roads throwing their worst at the Husky, the long-stroke front suspension and well-damped rear allowed only a few sharp edges to filter through to the rider. The generous lock-to-lock steering movement also makes it quite manoeuvrable. Husqvarna claims that the 13-litre fuel tank is more than sufficient to cover 260km between refills. However, the high-compression motor does require a premium fuel diet to keep it running without any hiccups.

If you are willing to brave the tall saddle, the Nuda 900R (built under the tutelage of German automotive powerhouse, BMW Motorrad) is among the more exciting street-worthy introductions to the Husqvarna brand. However, its Rs. 18 lakh (ex-showroom, estimated) price will make it a high that very few will be willing to stretch for.