KLR650 vs. KTM 690 R

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by TrailCruiser, May 4, 2012.

  1. TrailCruiser

    TrailCruiser Been here awhile

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    I know, these bikes really aren't comparable, but I'm in a bit of a dilemma. I have a gen 1 KLR that I'm in the process of fixing up for dual-sport use. I have a Goldwing so I don't need this bike for street use other than to ride 20-60 miles each way to get the dirt roads and trails. My riding will be almost exclusively day rides so no hard bags needed. It's trendy to call this Adventure Riding but really it's just plain old dual-sport use. I'm in my late 50s but have been riding all my life. 170 lbs and in good shape for my age.

    Here's my dilemma: I bought the KLR right on craigslist with only 2700 miles on it but I'm spending all kinds of money on parts and accessories fixing it up. Then I see the glowing review on the 2012 KTM 690 R and wonder if I wouldn't be better off just biting the bullet and selling the KLR and popping for the KTM. It is SO much lighter and seems to have the best of everything already on it. If I could just go out and ride both I'm sure I could get clarity on the issue but that just isn't possible so I thought I'd ping those here who may have experienced both bikes.

    Anyone who's had experience with both that can give me some perspective? Finish the KLR and be happy with it knowing that I'm not 25 anymore? Or pop for the orange wundermachine and have the benefit of performance that's likely in another realm?
    #1
  2. byron555

    byron555 Lame Duck Adventurer

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    If you only plan on day rides, no hard bags etc. Why not look at something smaller? The KLR is heavy, and the KTM is expensive.

    There are a whole host of workable used bikes that would make great day trippers.

    I am partial to my wr250r. Yes it is only a 250, but I find it superior to my old xr650l in almost every way. The ergo's are far superior, the engine is smoother, the suspension is better, the stock seat is way better, it's a lot lighter and feels lighter than it's 299 lb wet weight would indicate.

    I thought I would miss the power/torque of the 650, and I actually don't... On the trail, the 250 is faster in almost every situation, easier to ride and at the end of the day I feel less worn out. It took a lot of energy to navigate that old 650 on single track. The WR cruises down the highway better too, it'll do 72 mph all day.

    If you have the money, the new 690 with an aftermarket seat (I hear the stock on is truly awful) would be nice I'm sure. Of course if you are new to dirt/dual sport, it might be a bit of a beast. (that suckers got a ton of power)
    #2
  3. Velociraptor

    Velociraptor TrackBum

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    I had a 2008 KLR 650 and did a ton of mods to it. Sold it. Got a 2009 KTM 690r. Soooo glad I did. The 690 is in a totally different league in terms of power and agility. Well worth the money for me. I hated the top heavy nature of the KLR. I just got back from 6 days in Baja on the 690 and that bike was perfect. Also the 690 is OK on the highway...a toss up with the KLR there.
    #3
  4. Kawidad

    Kawidad Long timer

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    I have the KLR and have a buddy who owns the 690R. The Katoom is a wonderful machine, but it requires work to dial it in, which equals money. The bike is in a different league from the KLR, but don't think it's turn key and go for your intended use. The gas tank is too small for a lot of riding conditions. The seat is dismal to say the least. Armoring up you investment, then racks, packs, and whatnot it all adds up to well beyond the already high buy in price.

    It seems to me, finish the KLR, ride it and then evaluate your needs and desires.:deal
    #4
  5. mrphotoman

    mrphotoman Long timer

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    :rofl Some people expect a "mostly" dirt bike to have a soft seat and suspension to make it ride like a boring cruiser. If you plan to use the bike mainly for off road use I would not go for the klr, it is underpowered and overweight. if you like to ride in the rough stuff the ktm will be great or look at the ktm lineup and pick which one fits your need better. the wr250r is nice, a drz400 would be nice, just see what kind of range you want, what kind of power, read up on the manufacturer websites and go with the one that fits you best.
    #5
  6. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    Depending on where you are I'd opt for a 400-450cc machine, lighter and easily will do the short commute to the riding area. If you are in an area with tighter trails like I am here in Ohio the 400-450 is about the biggest you really want for managability on the trails. Out west where the trails are more open the big bores are great. On a dual sport the idea for off roading is lighter is better, less complication is better, less "stuff" is better. The exception is if riding really wide open areas where getting lost could be seriously life threatening. Eastern Ohio is not so much that way, the western deserts and such are.

    Don't just go big because you think big is better. Here in Ohio I personally would go to a 250 if I had a 10-20 mile ride to the trails and that was what the bike would be used for a majority of the time. I might go to a 351 kit on a 250, but the 250 is much ligher and agile than the big bores. I would also tend to lean toward "the east" aka Japanese for the bike due to pure reliability factor with less maintenance and cost.

    The KLR is just too much road and not enough off road and the KTM is just too much race and maintenance than a comparable Japanese bike. I want to ride, not fiddle and I want a minimal engine maintenance interval.

    That's my take on it.
    #6
  7. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    Wow! Some great comments from a wide range of riders. I'm thinking the younger guys favor the KTM. Remember, the OP is in his a LATE 50'S, doesn't sound like a fast guy.

    I'm 62 ... by my late 50's I began to see the value of a 250 in more technical off road conditions. I've ridden the 690 briefly ... I liked it! But as mentioned, it will need set up ... as ANY bike does. The 690 is no feather weight either ... and not really great on technical trails compared to a 250 or lightweight 450.

    Really depends on how technical off road you want to go. The KLR can get mired easily in tough conditions. I owned one back in '98. Also ridden well set up ones, they are much better than stock. But still ... not a great enduro bike in more technical conditions for an older, conservative rider.

    That said, if you are only doing fire roads and mild two track, the KLR will work fine. Up grade suspension and go riding.

    I like the idea of the WR250R or DRZ400. Also consider the TE250 Husqvarna, a great little bike. Every bike needs some set up, which usually includes a better seat, suspension work and maybe a bigger fuel tank.

    I'd buy something used that is already set up. The 690R is a great bike, but over $10,000 new. But are you going to be riding that fast and that hard to really appreciate it? I crash much less on my 250 (WR250F) than on my DR650 off road. I'm more confident and HAVING MORE FUN off road on the 250. YMMV.

    I would go with a lighter, simpler and less expensive bike. :freaky
    #7
  8. Albie

    Albie Kool Aid poisoner

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    LOL, some of us older guys like fast bikes. :lol3 BTW, the 690 while a few LBS heavier then the WR and actually less then the DRZ carries the weight much better then the other two bikes. I've ridden my 690 back to back with a WRR and the 690 feels lighter. Picking them up when they are laying down on the ground is the only place you'll find the WRR feels lighter :lol3 That being said, there's no getting around that $10K price tag on the 690.
    #8
  9. Wallachian Spikes

    Wallachian Spikes Long timer

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    The KLR is the ultimate bargan bike. It does anything (except motocross) you need a motorcycle to do & you can pick them up all day used for $1,500-$4,000. The KLR is simple 25 year old technology which is both a plus & a minus depending what you're looking for.

    I've never ridden the 690 enduro but, it's one of my dream bikes. It is state of the art technology as far as big bore dual sport singles go. The 690 has better/modern components than a KLR from suspension to the motor & you have to pay for that. The 690 will run circles around a KLR in the woods. The 690 r makes 65 H.P. compared to the KLRs 37 H.P. so on the street the KLR will eat the 690s dust as well but, for long distance highway touring I hear that the KLR is more comfortable & less buzzy.

    Yes the KLR needs a doohicky upgrade & a Therobob but, you can buy the parts & pay the kawasaki shop to do both those jobs & you've still spent less than $400. You end up with an anvil solid reliable bike that probably feels like an anvil compared to the 690. Spend some time on the 690 wunderfest thread here on ADVrider & the 690 has issues just as all bikes do as well. feul mapping issues seem to be the biggest complaint with the 690 but there are less common problems that pop up on some guys bikes.

    The KLR is kinda like banging a fat chic. It's loads of fun & I truely enjoy it but, the 690 is more like a super model & you have to pay $$$$ accordingly.
    #9
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  10. beeks76

    beeks76 Your What Hurts???

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    They are not even the same bike, you seemed to answer your own question in your initial post. You said it, your not 25 anymore, go get the 690 before it is to late. I promise you will not regret it, but will most likely regret not buying it.
    #10
  11. Unstable Rider

    Unstable Rider Moto Fartografist

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    The KLR is kinda like banging a fat chic.

    Priceless.

    Just when I thought I had perhaps an ounce of any dignity or self respect left,

    you stole it...

    :puke1
    #11
  12. DCrider

    DCrider Live from THE Hill

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    I beg to differ, with a few good mods a KLR is more like banging a butterface :lol3
    #12
  13. crazybrit

    crazybrit Long timer

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    Is money tight? If yes, stick with the KLR.
    If no, who gives a !@#$ if you're too old, too unskilled, too whatever ...... you only live once.

    I sold my KLR maybe 5 years ago. Bought a KTM 625SXC. Had more fun on the SXC in the first ride than I did in the entire 18 months I owned the KLR :deal

    I went googling for pics of fat women riding bicycles with milk crates but came up empty, pfffft.
    #13
  14. Wallachian Spikes

    Wallachian Spikes Long timer

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    Sorry dude. I didn't mean to urinate all over your dignity & self respect. I like fat chics & I love my KLR. I do occasionally fantasize about skinny chics but, NEVER super models. I find them to be fake & high maintenance, which is probably why I like the KLR. It doesn't look like a super model but, at least it's very low maintenance & always ready to ride.
    #14
  15. Wallachian Spikes

    Wallachian Spikes Long timer

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    I actually like the look of the pre '08s. The quarter faring reminds me of my old GPZ 550 & that's a good thing. I don't care for the look of the '08 & up models. The KLR was always heavy but, now it looks bloated & heavy too.
    #15
  16. redbastard

    redbastard Long timer

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    http://www.mcnews.com/mcn/technical.asp

    Here's a good resorce for comparing the numbers of bikes. It shows the WR250R at 301 lbs, the DRZ400S at 319 lbs, and the KTM 690R at 336 lbs. Many times it's not the weight but how hard the power comes on that can make tight slow riding tougher on a tight trail . I've got a WR250F and a bmw650, one's fast in trails and can ride on the road, the other is great on the street and can ride the trails.
    I say if you wan the KTM and you can afford it you should buy one. The top notch suspention is easier on the body.
    #16
  17. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    I prefer the look of the new bike ...especially in black. But aesthetics are personal. I see the new version KLR as a more LD travel bike. It looks the part. Pack it up and go. Trail bike? Not so much! :D

    But there is more:
    The new version KLR was a minor upgrade mechanically and KHI should have done much more, like going to F.I. and a whole new motor. We know they know how ... look at the ZX-10 or KX450F. Both astounding performers. KHI did the minimum ... mostly a re-styling exercise.

    The new KLR did get better suspension and better brakes. Much better than the old stuff ... but still not close to what the 690 KTM's got. Unfortunately the new KLR also got a serious oil burning issue ... which still seems to persist today, after four years in the market. No excuse for that. Apparently from owners I personally know and ride with ... virtually ALL new KLR's use some oil.
    The early '08's were the worst, newer ones use less but you still have to keep you eye on oil level.

    But the KTM 690 has had plenty of issue as well. I won't get into it here, but if anyone cares to do the research ...plenty of documentation out there. Don't make me post a hundred links. :D
    #17
  18. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    Good stuff! :clap
    I ride a WR250F also. The main advantage riding fast trails on a 250 vs. a 650 or 690, is less crankshaft inertia. The relatively heavy crank on the 600 class really affects how the bike responds to rider input. They require more effort to turn. This is basic ... and obvious to anyone who's ridden both back to back. It's more than just weight ... its that inertia that you really feel.
    #18
  19. Canuck690R

    Canuck690R n00b

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    I own a 690R, but have not ridden a KLR650. I did not get a KLR because I thought it was too heavy. I considered and rode a couple of DRZ400s, but it did not have the down low power that I wanted.

    What I was looking for was:

    - lightweight
    - street legal
    - reasonable maintenance intervals
    - able to ride long distances (with some mods)
    - ability to loft the front wheel easily with throttle only (unfortunately, DRZ does not do this, in my opinion)
    - a good all round bike

    The DRZ meets most of these criteria. The 690R meets all of them.

    If you ride mostly tight single track, then the 690R will be more work than a smaller bike. There are always compromises. But, you know, the DRZ isn't that light for a 400, while the 690 really is light for a big bore thumper. If you don't ride mainly tight single track, then 690 will have no problems. (A strong rider will do just fine on tight single track on the 690.) On tight single track, a rider on a smaller bike will smoke me. And I am OK with that. But when we want to stretch our legs and put some miles in, then the 690 will be good.

    When I twisted the throttle on the 400 I thought, pretty good, but down low not so good.

    When you twist the throttle on the 690 it will make you giggle like a little child.

    I can always get a smaller bike one day, and maybe I will. But, for the foreseeable future, it is the KTM. The bike is a brute. I cannot get as excited about a KLR.
    #19
  20. blake716

    blake716 nine toes

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    This.

    Not that there's anything wrong with a KLR. In fact, my dad is wanting a new bike and my recommendation to him was to get the KLR. For the type of riding he's going to do, the KLR is perfect. It already comes with a rack and a big tank and it's probably one of, if not the most comfortable stock thumper on the market. It's also very reliable, which is why the technology has changed so little over the years.

    However, if you're questioning whether you should get a 690 or not, you probably really want it. I don't blame you.
    I'm questioning whether I should sell my 525 for a 690, for a better maintenance schedule, a little more comfort, and a little added range. But then I would have to sacrifice nimble handling and pep while in the tight stuff.
    If I could have a 690 motor on a 525 chassis with a big tank, I'd be thrilled.

    You could spend all the money you want on the KLR and it will never be the bike that is the 690. Never.
    Just so the KLR owners don't bash me, The KLR is a great bike, very reliable, very comfortable (for a thumper).
    Like I said, I even recommended the KLR for my dad, which hopefully he'll pick up within a few months.
    For me, I'd go with the 690 all the way.

    I'd say, if you've got the extra coin, go for the 690. If you want more performance and less weight, the 690.:deal
    #20