KTM 690 OWNER REVIEW, KNOWN ISSUES & PROBLEMS

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by B1, Mar 29, 2017.

  1. Bitingdog

    Bitingdog That's not my dog

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    I'd forgotten about my "early 80's Chevy" quip. Seriously though, it was my very first thought after seeing the factory wiring job.

    If a fellow (or lady) was willing to spend the time and money, you can sort out all the problems.

    Even sorted, it's a hard bike to pigeonhole or typecast. My buddy Offworlder has owned three, and I'm sure he'll eventually own a fourth.

    I think my pal Anders called it the ultimate hooligan bike, and that may be the best description of all.

    Hope we'll see you in BC during your winter again this year.

    All the best,
    Bitingdog
    #21
  2. poppy

    poppy Slow and Steady

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    KTM 690R TEST REVIEW, ISSUES & COMMON PROBLEMS















    Saturday, April 21, 2012
    TEST REVIEW OF THE KTM 690R ENDURO & COMMON ISSUES/PROBLEMS

    We were keen to test KTM's 690R after reading rave reviews, and got our hands on a 2012 690R and 2009 690R to test the different year models. It certainly was an eye opener after reading almost nothing but rave reviews. Interestingly one of our riders absolutely fell in love with the KTM690R and bought one, the other didn't like the KTM at all. Given all the rave reviews, we'll start with the downside.

    NEGATIVE TEST REVIEW OF THE KTM 690R
    The KTM 690R was my official dream bike but I couldn't afford it, so I was ecstatic to get a week's test ride but wound up being disappointed and puzzled as to what KTM intended with the 690R. I believe one of the main problems is that the 690R has been adapted from a motard model and has a lot more work needed to make it a competent mid-sized adventure bike or decent dual purpose bike. Here are the key problems I see with the KTM 690R.

    KTM 690R close ratio gearbox
    The KTM EXC range is well known for their wide ratio six speed gearboxes that allow pottering around at walking speed but loping along on the highway as well if needed. Unfortunately, the 690R has a very close ratio gearbox more similar to a motocross bike. This was probably due to its motard heritage, and KTM neglected to change the ratios despite it being a common complaint - the 2012 is no different to the 2009 in this regard. In stock trim, first gear feels too high for dirt work, while it seems to be revving higher than needed on the highway. KTM seriously needs to rework the 690R gearbox for adventure or dual purpose riding.

    Also, there are false neutrals between fourth, fifth and six gears that are very easy to hit unless you do the very firm gear changes you would normally associate with old workhorses like the Suzuki DR650. KTM are renowned for precise gearboxes that respond well to fast light changes so there is a design flaw here somewhere that was present on both the 2009 and 2012 models we rode. This is also reported by other riders. Some say the problem eventually goes away but our 2009 model had over 6,000 miles up and the false neutrals were still easy to hit.

    Twitchy jerky engine at low revs
    It's a big thumper and will have heaps of low end grunt, right? Wrong. In stock trim, the 690R was unbearably twitchy and jerky at low revs, whether on a single track or negotiating city traffic. You can remap the ignition mapping with four different settings, we eventually opted for setting number one which took a lot of the 690R's power away, but made it a lot more manageable in the dirt. It's a common problem reported by 690R owners, and various solutions are proposed. Our other test rider wound up buying a 2012 690R and spent $550 on a complete dyno/remap and $350 on an FMF exhaust. While still a bit twitchy, it was vastly improved and felt a bit more like a solid thumper while still screaming away at higher revs. But why didn't KTM simply offer this mapping solution already? Also, other riders have used a G2 cambered throttle to ease into lower throttle openings. But when KTM charges so much for this bike, you would expect them to revise and update the 690R as they do with the rest of their bikes.

    Don't get me wrong, the 690R is a great engine once it's in full song, with probably far too much power for the average rider as it simply wheel spins in almost any gear. But it's not a comfortable bike to cruise on in standard trim.

    KTM 690R exhaust system
    I've always liked KTM exhaust systems and opted to keep them and ignore aftermarket ones. They aren't too restrictive, are quite light and keep the bike quiet enough to not piss off residents near riding areas. But the 690R pipe is a shocker; it weighs a ton and the catalytic converter means it runs so hot it melts the plastic sidecover - a terrible design they still haven't changed for the 2012 model.

    Seating position and ergonomics
    The footpegs are very high and all but the shortest riders will find themselves in a jockey-style position. If the KTM 690R was meant to be a serious dirt bike this would be fine as you shouldn't be sitting down very often and clearing obstacles is important. But this isn't the bike's purpose, so all but the shortest riders will probably be buying aftermarket pegs to feel less cramped on the bike. Tall to mid-sized riders will probably find they will need to raise the bars too; overall the 690R seems to be set up for very short people (although they won't be able to touch the ground).

    The seat is pure dirt bike style, so again this begs the question of what did KTm intend this bike to be? Interestingly, the 2008 model started with less suspension travel, then it increased for the 2009 to 2011 models although the seat height got even taller in the process. For 2012 they have decreased the travel again and brought the seat height down again, so it seems KTM is concerned about shorter riders getting their fee on the ground.

    What is the KTM 690R meant to be?!
    So why all the negative points? You'll find most reviewers give glowing reports on the 690R, probably because if they say anything negative they won't get access to any more bikes to "test". This review will hopefully balance their bias, and you will find that all the above points are discussed on various forum posts about the KTM 690R.

    KTM call the 690R their all rounder, but it's motard heritage is evident. I found when pushing the bike very hard offroad then it performed very well; the superb power kicks in and the jerkiness is left behind, the close ratio gearbox is still annoying but does keep the bike in the powerband, and the overly stiff suspension starts to work well. But the moment you are cruising along, back comes the jerky response and you feel every bump in the road or track with that suspension. A 12 liter tank seems far too small for this kind of bike too, and the Rally Raid or Safaritank options cost a fortune. I've owned a Husqvarna TE610 and ridden the TE630, and believe it would make a much better all rounder style bike at a much cheaper price.

    KTM needs to do some serious work to the 690R for it to match their claims on the website. KTM has a good reputation for listening to what riders are saying about their EXC models and updating them rapidly, but generally they are doing bugger-all to address the glaring problems with the 690R.

    POSITIVE TEST REVIEW OF THE KTM 690R
    It's amazing how differently the same bike can be viewed. As mentioned above, I liked the test bike so much I went out and bought a 2012 KTM 690R. Yes, it is jerky and twitchy in the dirt but I was happy to throw money at the bike to get it right, and an FMF pipe and full dyno/remap have largely cured that issue. The 690R now has a flat power curve and can pull from just above idle until it's screaming away. The power of these bikes is amazing, and unless you are a gung rider you will only use it's full power on bitumen as otherwise the bike is just chewing up rear tires!

    The suspension is probably too stiff for anyone but heavy riders, but backing off the compression damping a lot improved it a lot. It's still not plush but a change of springs would get it perfect. I found the steering a bit twitchy but this was improved a lot with a steering damper. I'm quite short but thought the footpegs were mounted very high and so I felt very crunched up on the bike, but a pair of lower pivot pegs solved that, along with bar raisers.

    The gearbox is a bit too close ratio for more liking, but I do like to rev my bikes a lot and don't mind lots of gear changing so this didn't prove to be a major issue for me.

    The KTM 690R has been beautifully designed, something most KTM owners can appreciate. I agree the KTM has quite a lot of design flaws that need attention, but in my opinion you are getting a better bike to start with. If you are going to fork out the big bucks for a good bike, it's worth paying more to get it right and have your dream bike.
    Posted by motarder at 2:29 PM No comments:
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    Is this a review you did back in 2012 Barry?
    #22
  3. cyclopathic

    cyclopathic Long timer

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    Interestingly I read a similar review of 2012 TE630 vs 690 (Scandinavian?) and their take was similar. They said that TE630 was much easier and more novice friendly to ride and while it got through everything they threw at with ease, 690 left impression of being able of alot more.

    IMHO writing is on the wall. 690 and 800 ADV are too close KTM will pull a plug on 690 when 800 takes off. It may survive as 701.
    #23
  4. NJ-Bill

    NJ-Bill Life is good

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    What year was the reviewer riding? I have a 14 and find the stock fueling better than the previous three FI bikes I purchased. They were all Yamahas, and all required mods to correct the ultra lean fueling. I loved each of them, and still own two of those bikes.

    I've ridden some tight single track with my 690. First gear is not too high. The fan was running but the bike never faltered and no plastic melted. In fact, I even picked it up by the rear grab handle just above the exhaust and did not notice excessive heat. Some people are just impossible to please.

    I don't know, maybe it is the old adage about the glass being half-full or half-empty.
    #24
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  5. cyclopathic

    cyclopathic Long timer

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    From what I understand it is pre-2013. I think he has a video of him and his friend going and riding a sh!t out of 1190 so he just didn't like the 690
    #25
  6. B1

    B1 Carbon-based bipedal

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    lol i could say the same thing about all the 690 riders who bag the shit out of DR650s, which personally i love.
    #26
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  7. Anders-

    Anders- 690R

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    Rally heritage, not motard.
    #27
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  8. tHEtREV

    tHEtREV Encouragement award recipient. tEAM iDIOT.

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    Sorry Anders, but the 690 enduro was released as a motard first, then they built the enduro based on the motard.

    It is motard based.
    #28
  9. tHEtREV

    tHEtREV Encouragement award recipient. tEAM iDIOT.

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    Funny reading that and remembering when they came out, I was sitting in an outback pub with a magazine editor, and mentioned that I wouldn't mind trading my 640 for one of those new fangled 690's, and he just says, "Don't".

    Then went on to say how twitchy it was that it was bordering on dangerous, and they pretty mush road there first test bike to the office and rang them to come and get it because no one wanted to ride it like it was.

    I decided to stick with the 640 (couldn't afford a 690 anyway), and went on to read a glowing report from that magazine about the 690.:lol3
    #29
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  10. Anders-

    Anders- 690R

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    Guess we disagree :lol3
    Ktm 690 rally 2007
    #30
  11. tHEtREV

    tHEtREV Encouragement award recipient. tEAM iDIOT.

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    Yeah, but I thought the SM was a lot closer relative than the Rally, as in, not many Rally parts fit the enduro (different frame, engine, etc,) but it shares the basics with the SM.

    Now as I have never owned one, I have never checked, but that is the impression I was always under.
    #31
  12. Anders-

    Anders- 690R

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    Are you thinking of the original 690 SM from 2007? (later on the SM-R with orange frame hit the market as well), this bike isn't so close to the enduro... But, the 690 SMC 2008-2009 (and later on the SMC-R) is.

    The 690 SMC and Enduro hit the market at the same time, so it's not fair to say the enduro is based on the smc.
    I'd say both 690 smc and enduro has more (frame, gas tank, etc.) in common with the 2007 690 rally than the 2007 690 SM.
    #32
  13. sprouty115

    sprouty115 Long timer

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    From what I recall reading (always a tenuous way to start a discussion), there have been "big single" street and off road models since the early 90's. And a quick search will show that the Duke was introduced in 1994 as a 620. So clearly that's the beginning right? Well actually that model had very little in common with today's motards except the LC4 engine designation - but even that engine was borrowed from the enduro line which had been in production since the late '80s. So in the end the question is sort of like "which one of your cousins is the prettiest?" - does it really matter?


    For me, the modern "690" starts with the first trellis-framed bike and that was, as far as I can tell, the 2007 "Baja Prototype".

    [​IMG][​IMG]


    Which was an extension, if not in component parts, at least in spirit of the 620, which pre-dated the 690 by a decade.

    [​IMG]
    #33
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  14. tHEtREV

    tHEtREV Encouragement award recipient. tEAM iDIOT.

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    What? The LC4 was introduced in 88 and besides some tweaks it shares a lot with the LC4 line up until it was dropped when the 690 appeared and they borrowed the name for that.

    Parts from an 07 640 can be used on an 88, but no parts (besides common nuts and bolts) can be shared between a 640 and 690, they have nothing in common.

    And while it does appear the 07 690 sm did have a noticibly different frame, it still shares a lot with the enduro, but I'm guessing less than I was lead to believe.
    #34
  15. sprouty115

    sprouty115 Long timer

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    I think we're saying the same thing - "...that model had very little in common with today's motards except the LC4 engine designation."
    #35
  16. Anders-

    Anders- 690R

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    Baja... :drool
    #36
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  17. sprouty115

    sprouty115 Long timer

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    Surprisingly good looking for a 10yr-old design.

    BTW, I think you did a good job offering counterpoints to the issues the OP stated. And in the end isn't really just a simple question of how you feel when you climb on the bike? Do you see the design choices as flaws to be tolerated, or are they idiosyncrasies that are to be celebrated because they make the bike what it is?
    #37
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  18. B1

    B1 Carbon-based bipedal

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    excellent summary, sprouty. as mentioned i think the majority of 690 owners love their bikes and are happy to overlook the issues. i simply wanted to offer the alternative viewpoint as a prospective buyer will never see it in the magazines.... and much as i love and prefer the old suzi DR650 it too is riddled with known issues which i've covered in a video and on forum threads. i figure it can't hurt to be a better informed consumer. :D
    #38
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  19. Albie

    Albie Kool Aid poisoner

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    I doubt any of those bikes will challenge the 690.
    #39
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  20. Anders-

    Anders- 690R

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    Of course they don't...
    #40
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