I set off on a few-day adventure with my husband and two of our mates – Nick and Noni. It was my 'Goodbye Norden Tour'. I've had the Norden for about 7 months and have LOVED IT. I ran my Fancy Ladies Road Ride on her, then did the Husqvarna Trek, we enjoyed Maschines’ Great Divide Ride Stage 2 together and I have also squeezed in a good number of one and two-day rides locally on the big girl. But alas, she was to be returned to Husqvarna (whilst I await the arrival of the new Norden Expedition!) so I wanted one last venture with her...
We set off on a Sunday and our first stop was the iconic Dayboro Pub. I posted a pic on socials and immediately got a call from Rosie (you all know and love her as the Marketing and Events Manager of the KTM Group. I know her as my boss and an epic problem solver – as you are about the see) saying, ‘Jemma! How long is this 'Goodbye Norden Tour'? Hope it ends tomorrow, as that’s when the rego does!’ Luckily, I was half an hour up the road from Rosie’s. So, I went straight there with the plan to swap Norden’s with one that had more rego.
However, that Norden was due to run out too! Rosie offered me her car which I flatly refused as it would be pure torture having to drive my pals' bags around whilst they rode, and then the epic idea of asking Rosie’s Dad if I could borrow his FE 501 was thrown out there. Gordy said 'yes' instantly and the 901 for 501 switch was done...
I rode back to where my crew was patiently waiting for me (undercover, whilst I had just ridden through a massive storm) with a shrunken motorcycle. We finished out the day with 100 kms of slick, leaf-covered tar to Hidden Vale. I LOVE the Norden. It is so comfortable on surfaced roads and so much fun on trails. I instantly missed the cushy seat, the cruise control, the temperature gauge, charging points, and all the other little aspects that make an adventure bike and adventure bike. But, I can assure you, that I fell in love with the 501 over the next few days.
Gordy’s 501 has had a few modifications to make it the coolest little adventure bike. These are:
1. Now running 15/48 sprockets.
It made for a nice ride on the bitumen and I could happily sit on 100kms an hour on the tar sections, but it was still really good on single track. It took a little bit of getting used to as sometimes I would find myself in too low of a gear but the next one up felt too high.
2. Suspension professionally lowered by Motolab Coffs Harbour.
Then softened more by reducing the fork oil volume by 25ml, and the rear high-speed compression has been turned out 2 full turns and clickers adjusted.
I am 163 cm tall and have been running lowered bikes for the past 5 years. So, I really appreciated this lowering and softening. I felt very at home!
3. Genuine Husqvarna bags with DIY back mount.
The genuine Husqvarna saddle bags are a really nice size and the way that Gordy has them mounted is really user-friendly. Nothing worse than a bag getting in your way when you’re moving around on the bike in a tricky section.
4. Other mods included: KTM 890RR handlebars, wheels balanced, handlebar weights, head stays removed, under handlebar folding mirrors, Penrite M/C oil and 60/55 headlight bulb.
These are all modifications I personally didn’t even realise were made, except for the mirror (the under-the-bar setup is the BEST!) but I did know that I enjoyed riding the bike and felt very comfortable and happy in all the different types of riding we did over the 5 days.
5. Very effective theft deterrent.
The first morning that I had the 501 Jon quickly chucked the GPS on the 501 before breaky.
And then… the bike didn’t start. We rang two mechanics we know and trust and ran through all the possible things that it could be whilst plugging in and unplugging all the things for more than an hour! But… nothing. We bubump-starteder and she went! But I did not want to have to bump start a 501 for the rest of the journey.
I didn’t want to annoy Gordy with a call about the bike not starting, as he was kind enough to let me use it. But eventually, I had no choice. I called Gordy and asked if by any chance he might know why it’s not starting.
It took 2 seconds for him to answer with, ‘Yes. There is a little theft deterrent that you must have bumped!’ He told us how to reset it, and we were all set for a day of adventure with a bike that would start.
As I said, the Norden is a true adventure bike but I am totally sold on the 501 as a dirtbike that you can adventure on. The size, height, and weight difference mean that I can manoeuvre the bike easier than an adventure bike. It also means that I can pick it up easily if and when I fall. I did only have 400ml of fuel left in the tank at one fuel station (I had to lean the bike over to get every dribble to make it to the station too) but a bigger tank is an easy fix if you’re planning on doing long distance.
So, if you’re newer to adventure riding and the idea of the super huge bike is daunting, if you’re small like me (and Gordy!), or if you’re after a less expensive adventure model, the 501 is for you!
P.S. I would love to tackle the Simpson Desert on a 501. It would be the perfect sand surfer!
P.P.S Want to see all the fun we had? Check out my recap over on YouTube.