KTM 690 Enduro review

Discussion in 'Australia' started by carmima, Jan 18, 2009.

  1. carmima

    carmima All Orange :-)

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    Fired in a quick 120k ride yesterday to get a feel for things prior to the Bendethera ride next weekend.

    First impressions (mainly based on back to back comparision with a 2008 DR):
    The bike is noticably higher at the seat than the DR but the balance of the bike is great - probably because the centre of gravity is lower with the under seat tank.

    The steering is very very nervous - don't know if this is based on tyre choice. I never test rode the bike with the standard fitment OEM tyres. I had the shop fit Michelin S12's (more on that in a minute).

    The ergonomics are great in relation to leg room and reach to bars - although I did move the bars forward to the maximum marked position (I'm 183cm tall) I couldn't ride in a standing position on the DR. I can stand riding the 690 and feel very comfortable.

    The power is fantastic - 20hp isn't a huge difference in a car or on a sports bike but the difference of 20hp when compared to the DR is pure grin factor. Using the power to get out of corners is amazing, the bike literally launches itself forward. Throttle control must be used or you'll quickly learn that highsiding hurts.
    I read an article on a US bike site and the Jurno was saying he could do roll-on burnouts just using throttle (no brake). I can confirm this actually works. Leaving St Alburns pub yesterday and performing a little show for the spectators, I was planning on just poping a wheelie as I was leaving. The wheelie turned into a wheelie-burnout as the rear broke traction (on tar) and had me power drifting and wheelieing at the same time :D .

    The gearbox is very slick - snicks into gears very sweetly indeed. It's very close ratio though, so be prepared for changing a lot. It's not dissimmilar to doing a track day at Oran Park - continually up and down the gears.

    The brakes are unreal on tar and hard packed dirt but trecherous on the loose stuff - it takes very little input on the lever - 1 finger braking is the order of the day on soft stuff.

    Back to the Michelin S12's. I've never used them before so don't know how they normally affect handling. One thing for sure, they howl like a banshee on both tar and dirt.
    I didn't check tyre pressure before setting off (:eek1) so don't know what pressure the shop decided on. What I can say is I didn't like it at all. The first half of the ride saw me leave St Albans heading north along Settlers Rd up to The Great North Rd then to Letter A and into the Watagans. I couldn't come to terms with the bike at all. As mentioned the steering is nervous but the tyres were making things decidedly worse. I couldn't get the front to hook up no matter how I entered corners and even on straight sections the feeling was vague at best.
    At the point I stopped for a comfort break and decided to head back, I thought I'd try reducing tyre pressure a little (particularly the front). I didn't have a gauge with me so just went by tyre feel. Instant TRANSFORMATION - I was on a completely different bike...now the bike made me feel like Stefan Merriman. I can't adequately describe how this changed the handling and feel of the bike. However it resulted in me punting along the lower reaches of Settlers Rd at 120k, feedback from the front was awesome and 100+ through those great sweepers on the flood plains was a breeze.

    Getting home I checked tyre pressures!!
    8psi front
    16psi rear
    Leaves me in a bit of a quandary on what pressures to run in the future. Given how much air I let out (seat of the pants guess) I'd say pressure was set around 22psi from the shop and for my riding style this was way too hard.

    I might try it at 16 front and rear although any feedback on S12's would be appreciated.

    Well that's about it for now.
    #1
  2. ADVJake

    ADVJake ***** dweller

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    Nice review mate

    Those michy S12s wont last long on the back of that bike, thats for sure :D
    Soft terrain tyre for mud, sand, deep gravel etc. very nice on the front, i'd stick something harder on the back.


    Offroad I'd be using 14 psi front & back if the wheels have rim locks.
    #2
  3. KTMatt

    KTMatt Been here awhile

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    I ran S12's on my VOR 530 and KTM 620 SC and they are shit on hard packed as they walk around on the long knobs but in the soft stuff they are great but then you would expect that from a soft terain tyer wouldnt you.

    Glad you like the new toy they do look nice .

    Cheers Matt
    #3
  4. kiwipeet

    kiwipeet Uber Cyber Loafer

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    I had a wee test ride on Hotdogs 690E yesterday... And rode a BMW G650 today... really didn't know quite what to think about either of them. Both had things i liked and disliked.

    Hotdogs is a shorty so he's pulled the bar clamps back as far as they would go, and he'd dropped the front forks by about 20mm playing around with geometry.

    We stood the 690 side by side with the DR, and the wheel based is about the same, the handle bars are the same height (I have bar risers and high bend renthals on the DR), but the KTM seat is a few inches higher.

    To me this made the KTM feel really small, like I was too close to the front of the bike and it turns really sharp into corners. But I think that may also have a fair bit to do with the forks being dropped. I loved the motor, but thought the suspension was maybe too harsh.

    By comparison the G650 feels roomier. The motor felt lazier than the 690, and the suspension was way too squishy. Just pulling up to the lights had the front diving and back lifting, and then once you'd stopped you rock back as the rear settles... but otherwise i preferred the G650 for handling.

    I'm undecided about each bike. I want the 690 motor and rear shock in the G650 frame... with slightly stiffer front.

    I mentioned this to the BMW saleman, who said... yeah 9 out of 10 G650's we sell the owners replace the rear shock.. well Mr BMW, if they're such crap, why don't you do the honourable thing and ditch them and put a decent shock in there?

    Maybe i'll have to wait until the 690R gets here...
    #4
  5. carmima

    carmima All Orange :-)

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    Hey Pete

    dropping the forks that far will definitely affect the steering as it changes the rake considerably. Not a good comparison.

    I mentioned in my report that the steering of the stock bike is nervous (a damper will fix that) but it steers nicely into and through corners.

    Standard suspension is on the harsh side although nothing that can't be tuned out with a few clicks off the compression.
    Although that's one of the reasons I bought the 690. I love firm suspension and always set my bikes a little on the firmer side...gives me the feedback I need.

    cheers
    #5
  6. hotdogs

    hotdogs Expert daydreamer

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    My experiments with trying different fork levels in the triple clamps
    are over. Today I reverted the forks to their original position . I find the standard height offers the best of both stability and steering response .

    I have never found my steering to be nervous except for when I pulled the forks though the clamps by 20mm .If anthing the 690e feels rock solid in a straight line and requires a lot of physical input to tip it into a corner .( hence my experimentation with fork height ) It has awesome power and loves to be steered from the rear wheel which unfortunately is beyond my ability .

    I feel any nervousness could be a result of the hard compression dampening which causes the front end to want to skip on rocky terrain and hard edges such as potholes .

    Apart from that my 690e has best engine I have ever owned . It is so tractable and grunty and will chug up the gnarliest hills without effort and yet when you let the revs build up it turns into a fiery beast with powerful acceleration that you have to experience to believe. The six speed gearbox has close ratios but the standard gearing is spot on enabling you to both get up the steepest terrain as well as purr along on the highway at 120kph with the engine smooth and free of vibration with plenty of power left in reserve to overtake that convoy of road trains if needed.

    I have done 2000kms on the bike now and the engine has freed up from when it was new and returns about 20kms per litre of fuel .Around 240kms from my 12 litre tank is average and much better than I anticipated from such a high performance engine .
    #6
  7. Bronx

    Bronx Bronx

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    Hotdogs, what sort of tyres have you got on the bike, are they the originals? I was looking at the 690E last year and took one for a test ride but only on the tar. It felt very responsive and handled twisty tar roads easily. The centre of gravity felt low as well. I wish I had taken it on the dirt. I like the idea of the 690 R as well and I will take one for a test ride if they ever get to Australia:D I am very tempted to buy one next year. I will keep my KTM 950 SE as well but I want two toys:clap


    Bruce
    #7
  8. hotdogs

    hotdogs Expert daydreamer

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    I ran a set of Metzler MC5s on one of my wet dirt riding weekends but now as I ride dualsport type rides I have reverted to the standard Metzler Saharas . The Saharas have lots of grip on the black top as well as adequate level of traction in the dirt. I would thoroughly recommend them as an all purpose tyre .
    #8
  9. Bronx

    Bronx Bronx

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    I am currently running the Metzler Enduro 3 Sahara on my 950 SE. They are great on the tar and acceptable on the dirt.

    I was running the Dunlop 908 RR before and these are good tyres particularly for off road stuff but I was not happy on wet tar roads:cry


    Bruce
    #9
  10. carmima

    carmima All Orange :-)

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    It sort of forces you into a situation of having 2 sets of wheels. I've been debating whether I'll head this route but for now I'll use the Rocket for the daily commute and leave the knobbies on the 690 full time.

    I bought it more for off-road anyway. It's way more dirt oriented than the DR and given the lack of seat ergonomics it'd hurt to do long hauls on tar.
    #10
  11. K_N_Fodder

    K_N_Fodder Long timer

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    Hey man, give us an update now that you have some more time on the 690. I may have been bitten by an Orange bug on a recent trip... unfortunately (or fortunately?) my wallet can't support the disease :D
    #11
  12. davecambo

    davecambo Adventurer

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    Can some owners of a 690 enduro please let me know a few points here. I love the idea of this bike, but currently have two bikes, a TTR 250 for off road, and a 2009 ducati multistrada 1100 for road riding.

    1) will this 690 enduro replace both of my bikes. Is there finally a bike that will do both off road and on road well, instead of compromising one or the other.

    2) obviously it will out perform the TTR, and obviously it wont outperform the ducati speedwise, but will the 690 be able to tour? is there a new seat option that isnt shit like the OEM 690 one. Id like to be able to go for a ride for a few hours without wanting to get off due to being uncomfortable or the bike vibrating all the nuts and bolts off it. I would definately be wishing i hadnt got rid of the ducati if i couldnt go for a couple of hour ride on the tar on the 690 comfortably. Im not too concerned about the speed, i dont go more than the speed limit on the highway often anyway and im sure the 690 will be able to have overtaking power left in it at 110km/h anyway so thats not an issue. what is the top speed with standard gearing by the way?

    i hope i havent asked rediculous questions here, but my main concern is i love my ducati, but dont ride it too often, probably once a month. so im thinking about cutting down the rego/insurance from two bikes to one.

    VEEEEEEERY big decision.....
    #12
  13. ktmpunter

    ktmpunter Explorer

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    #13
  14. Cruz

    Cruz Lost but laughing.

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    Hey Catman, have you used the Tractionator on the rear yet?

    I found it should have been called the Non-Tractionator on my xch, especially on wet bitumen or clay. Least traction of any rear tyre I have used and the transition from centre to side lugs was always very sketchy and obvious. Tough as nails though.
    #14
  15. Mudguts

    Mudguts when in doubt GAS IT

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    Looks to nobody has bothered to change there offset on there triple clamps There are adjustable ppl and overlooked and its free , best of all alone time in the shed just you your bike and a beer or two
    #15
  16. davecambo

    davecambo Adventurer

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    im sorry but unfortunately no matter how hard i search i can only find the 15 page thread on the ktm 690 enduro. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

    ktm punter what did you ride prior to the 690 enduro mate?
    #16
  17. Rus

    Rus Been here awhile

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    If you are considering the 690R you should also test ride the Husky TE630. In the past I've owned both a TT250R and a DRZ400E but have been on the Husky since last July and done 6,000+kms. It's a terrific bike on which I love every ride, but it is still a compromise betwen dirt & road. I chose it over the 690R because:

    1. I'd read of reliability issues with the 690R, which may or may not be fact;
    2. The Husky's transmission is a wide range 6 speed and I'd read 690's was narrower; and
    3. Price - the 690R was around $16K-$17K on road vs. $13K for the Husky with quite a few farkles (bash plate, heated grips, hand guards, longer shift lever, rear rack etc).

    The 690R has more power, probably better suspension, is more modern and weighs less, I think around 139kgs vs. 150kgs for the TE, and I suspect it would be better off road. However both bikes weigh a lot more than a DRZ at 119kgs and are really a different class of bike. The DRZ was designed as an enduro bike, the TE and 690 as large dirt bikes/light adventure bikes, so you need to choose a bike that suits your intended riding.

    The Husky doesn't feel like a 150kg bike and the only place I notice it is in very tight going or when things go wrong. Once she starts to topple it can be hard to catch. Its suspension, power, transmission and overall refinement are miles ahead of the DRZ and I would prefer to be on it any day except for extremely tight offroad work.

    Onroad the TE will cruise all day at 120kmh with stock gearing, but it was overgeared. I dropped 1 tooth on the front (to 14) which made it far better offroad and 110kmh is still a comfortable cruising speed. It will easily sit on 120-130kmh if you want and it hammers from 110kmh to 140kmh, then more slowly to 150kmh and I haven't gone beyond that but there's not much more to come.

    The TE was choked up terribly in stock form so I added Arrow pipes & ECU plus a JD EFI tuner, so its got heaps of go now. For long distance adventure touring you would need to:

    1. Replace the seat with a Seat Concepts aftermarket, about $300;
    2. Reinforce the rear subframe, which can crack if too heavy a load is carried on rear rack over rough terrain; and
    3. Consider fitting a small touring screen.

    A 26L Safari tank and Wolfman rack & bags are available if you need them.

    It's been a trouble free, reliable and fantastic bike for me, but don't expect it to replace the Duc on the road (I owned a 900SS for 10 years). It's still a big single that vibrates and will take its toll over longer rides, but anything under a few hours at a time is no problem.

    Unfortunately the word is it's going to discontinued shortly and it's no longer available in the US, so looks like only a 2 year model run which is a real shame, as it's such a good bike.

    Having said all the above, I think the 690R would also be an awesome bike, but unfortunately I haven't ridden one. However one of my mates has a new 300EXC 2 smoke and was riding with a 690R recently and had difficulty keeping up, so that says plenty to me as he's a good rider.

    Regards,
    Rus



    .
    #17
  18. zoki1

    zoki1 Been here awhile

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    :ear SO ........KTM 690 OR ........ELSE !!!! WHAT !!??
    #18
  19. El Ponkin

    El Ponkin Bloodrunner

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    I moved from a 990 to the 690 like KTM Punter and haven't regretted it for a minute. The 690 faults are well documented and mostly fixable, some people haven't done a thing and their bikes have been perfect, its like anything you can be unlucky and buy a lemon.
    With the Rally Raid Kit on mine it feels like the 990 but handles like a dirtbike should, it tracks much better, steers where you want it to go and can be manhandled over obstacles and popped over logs. I have gone back to standard gearing and it will cruise at 120 comfortably, if you want to cruise faster then go to the 16t front.
    I loved my 990 but when I weigh up what I have lost and what I have gained I am more than happy with the 690 for my level of riding ability. 990 and the big beemer's can be ridden like motorcross bikes by the highly skilled so it depends how good you actually are opposed to how good you think you are.
    I run Pirelli Scorpion Extra or Michelin Starcross MH3 Front tyre and the Tractionator Desert HT or Dunlop 606 Rear.
    The Tractionator has had mix reviews and I think Motoz have developed the tyre over time as the latest ones are DOT approved so I think it depends how long ago that person tried one. I agree with earlier comments that they are slippy on wet tarmac but that is because they are a hard compound which makes them last for ever and tough as nails, swings and roundabouts, for $132 over $260 ish for a Dunlop Rally Raid its a no brainer. The 606 is softer and better all round but will only last half as long.
    Andy
    #19
  20. KTBen

    KTBen Barrrp!

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    Sounds like the 690 would be far better :D
    I just downsized from a 950 to a 690 and so far the 690 is a weapon.
    #20