Faced with ever-increasing adventure touring competition from KTM and Ducati, BMW is ramping up new model development at subsidiary Husqvarna with a view to developing more dirt-orientated large capacity off-road and semi-off-road models that will not be in direct competition with its class-leading R1200GS.
Several new models will be unveiled at EICMA in November, all based on the Rotax 800cc parallel twin engine used in the BMW F800R. The Rotax engine, for those not familiar with it is a pearler, with throttle response so acutely calibrated that it can be ridden like this, so the newly developed 900cc variant can be expected to be even better.
The target for the big Husqy vertical twin is the adventure touring market share dedicated to lighter weight and more precise handling in the dirt.
Husqvarna's owner, BMW, originally defined the marketplace with the 1200 GS and holds the lion's share still, but with new machinery from Honda, (Crossrunner), Yamaha (XTZ1200 Super Tenere), KTM (990 Adventure), Ducati (Multistrada) et al., the adventure marketplace is now one of micro-niches and by developing the extraordinary Rotax vertical twin, it aims to take on KTM and Ducati with more focused models.
Speculation is already rife as to the expected performance of the new engine with figures being bandied around in the vicinity of 95 bhp and 70 ft-lb torque.
The new Husqvarna 900 will shown at EICMA in both soft and hard enduro models, with a tarmac street-fighter and supermoto versions to come in 2012.
The new 900 is claimed by BMW/Husqvarna to be remarkable in terms of engine characteristics, with a power delivery both linear and smooth at low rpm, but robust at high rpm.
The new bikes will be designed by Raffaele Zaccagnini, who was responsible for the design of Aprilia motocross bikes and the latest Husqvarna motocross range, not to mention the prototype Mille3 three cylinder bike which surfaced at EICMA 2010.
One thing is certain - the bikes will be going head-to-head with KTM's range, with pricing directly aimed at the Austrian ready-to-race manufacturer.