TECH: HUSQVARNA NORDEN 901 SUSPENSION UPGRADE - STAGE 2
BY: CHAD DE ALVA
In Upshift Issue 78, we detailed the first phase of our quest to give the Husqvarna Motorcycles Norden 901 more off-road capability by adding a WP Pro Components shock that was set up by Solid Performance. Long story short, the Pro Components shock proved to be worth every penny by making the Norden’s rear end amazingly plush, able to withstand all of the big hits, and fully adjustable for riding with or without luggage – in other words, exactly what you want for adventure bike suspension. Yet, the Pro Components shock had one downside that we knew we were going to have to address: it made the Norden’s stock forks the very obvious weak link in the system. The proper fix was to give our Norden a set of Pro Component Forks.
Pro Component Forks are a complete replacement set of forks, and there are versions available for most Austrian motorcycles. It’s important to note that Pro Component Forks, Cone Valve Forks, and Xplor Pro Forks all refer to the same thing in this case. Like the Pro Components shock of the same name, the forks can be set to a range of different strokes to match the rider and the bike. Common lengths for 7/890s and the Norden 901 are 240mm or 270mm stroke lengths. Wanting a set of Pro Component suspension that we could install on any 7/890/901 without having to replace the front brake lines, we opted to set our Pro Component suspension at 240mm, so only the side stand from a KTM 890 Adventure R was required to keep the bike from leaning too far over. Our shock had to be set to 240mm as well, so it was sent back to Solid Performance for a service and stretch to best match the forks.
Solid Performance handles more WP Suspension than anyone else in the United States, and as a result, they’ve come up with a few of their own parts to further enhance the performance of Pro Components Forks. For example, Solid Performance has developed their own spring tubes, which change the way the fork ramps up its damping rate as the fork moves through its stroke. These spring tubes create a more linear feel in rate where the stock forks have an obvious rate change when the fork reaches a certain point in its stroke. Another neat quality-of-life part that Solid Performance has developed for the Pro Components Forks are Finger Clickers for the Compression adjusters, which would otherwise require a flathead screwdriver to adjust the compression damping setting.
Just as when I purchased the Pro Components shock, I went through the entire Solid Performance suspension process: I filled out the setup form and then corresponded with the suspension tuner who would build my forks and set my shock up to match. This personalized process leads to much better results than other suspension outfits I’ve worked with in the past, where a simple suspension form is the only information gathered from the customer. Solid Performance carries serious amounts of inventory on all WP parts, so it took only a few days after my order was placed for my new suspension to arrive.
The Norden’s stock forks were certainly plush, but it didn’t take too much of a hit to get them to blow through their stroke and bottom out with a nice clang if you ran them into something with too much gusto. With stock forks, the name of the game was slowing way down for obstacles and large hits.
With Pro Component Forks, you now feel guilty for checking speed, and you always ride out of an obstacle recognizing that you could have gone faster and/or hit it harder. Yet Pro Component Forks are also incredibly plush, giving the rider the best of both worlds: all day comfort and all of the big hit go-fast capability. Our Norden is now so capable that it’s important to remember that just because you may have the same suspension as Chris Birch, you are in fact, not Chris Birch and should not ride too far over your head. That being said, the way you can ride an 890-platform bike with Pro Component suspension is like it’s a big enduro bike. Whether that means flying down a two track that has perfectly bermed corners and all of the bar ditches to air out, or trying to point and shoot up narrow shelf roads cut across scree fields, Pro Component suspension can handle all of the high horse power enduro bike antics you can throw at it. Pro Component Suspension has completely transformed the bike by providing all of the big hit absorbing capability, and simultaneously all of the plush comfort for long days with hundreds of Ks of corrugations and embedded rocks.
If you’re wondering how Pro Component Forks can make such a difference, the answer to that question is the cone valve inside the forks. A normal fork valve is a piston with thin metal washers called shims on either side that moderate fluid moving through the piston, which is how the fork damps compression and rebound movements. When riders talk about re-valving, they’re referring to changing how these shims moderate fork oil moving through the piston. Adjusting this valving is a compromise between comfort (plushness) and bottoming resistance (big hits). These shims can only allow so much oil to pass through the piston, and if you’ve ever smacked into a big obstacle and felt a harsh hit in the bars, that’s most likely due to you overwhelming the valving in the fork to the point that it can’t damp that impact, so it’s communicating some of that impact up into the bike. Compared to a piston and shim valve, a cone valve can allow much more oil to move through, making a cone valve much harder to overwhelm. This means that an impact that creates a hard jarring sensation with normal folks would be effectively damped and not communicated to the rider with a set of cone valve forks.
The bottom line is that Pro Component suspension is addictingly good, and you’ll be spoiled once you get your head around what it’s capable of. Solid Performance is a key part of getting the most out of your suspension, and given the cost of these parts, you’re doing yourself a disservice to buy Pro Components and just run stock settings. Think of Pro Component suspension as something you invest in – a fully personalized set of suspension that can be transferred from bike to bike to make any bike you install your suspension on perfectly set up for you. Doing this makes the bike that much more fun to ride, and that’s what it’s all about. The proof is in the performance, and thanks to Solid Performance built Pro Component suspension, our Norden is now an off-road weapon.
Solid Performance works on all WP suspension, meaning they can get you dialed in on everything from GasGas trials suspension to KTM 1290 Adventure R suspension. To learn more, visit solid-performance.com