An Itch to Scratch - XT660 Tenere v KTM 690 Enduro for RTW

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by El Forko, Sep 6, 2013.

  1. El Forko

    El Forko On the road

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    Hi Folks,

    I'm 23,000km into a trip around S America on my 660 Tenere - heavily upgraded with Ohlins rear and Hyperpro front, Titanium pipe with upgraded filter and Power Commander V and loads of other nice stuff. I ride the dirt and gravel roads where I can, exploring up into the mountains and seeking out isolated spots to camp.

    She's a lovely bike and is doing a grand job on the rough stuff, soaking up a real battering. And I have many more thousands of km to go on her. But I can't help thinking about doing the same trip on a KTM 690 Enduro with RR Tanks and fairing and a few other mods. I want better handling off road, and I want LIGHTER.

    It's academic really, as I'm going to be on the Tenere for a while. But I need to scratch this itch, if only to dream away the long miles on the boring straight bits.

    I see RTW Paul has switched to an LC4 from his Ten. And I've been following Noah's progress on his 690(s). I'd love to hear from anyone with experience of both bikes on big trips. (I'm hoping the consensus is the Tenere kicks the 690's butt so that I can stop torturing myself, but I doubt it!!!)

    Gratias, amigos,

    Paul
    #1
  2. Superstar

    Superstar Been here awhile

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    Reliability would be my #1 concern in switching to KTM. Maintenance intervals would be #2...
    #2
  3. dallastx

    dallastx Been here awhile

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    Stick to your Tenere........or not, it´s all your choice. I´m a longtime XT and Tenere rider and still love these bikes. Simple, reliable, good fuel economy(very good EFI), strong and well build(good load capacity), smooth(for a thumper), lotsa possibilities to upgrade and farkling and so on.....and most important: fun to ride!!
    But hey, I'm biased....
    #3
  4. buddoggin

    buddoggin Been here awhile

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    Tenere = 470 pounds wet with 46 hp??? I'd look a little closer at the 690... I can't imagine riding a bike that heavy off road. I guess it really comes down to what type of riding your doing.
    #4
  5. dallastx

    dallastx Been here awhile

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    That´s really the most important issue: the Tenere is, out of the box, an allround allroad travel bike, which also performs very well offroad with the right tyres, despite its weight. Not compared to the KTM690, which is more offroad orientated and not so much as a travel bike. Actually they're both different bikes, hardly comparable imho.. It's all a matter of choice and priorities, isn't it?
    #5
  6. kyns

    kyns Long timer

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    The 690 has been in production now since 06/07 and still KTM has done nothing to fix the issues on the bike. Rocker roller bearings and Fuel pump/system issues are deal breakers for me. Some guys on this site are actually converting their 690's back to carb.:lol3 Such is the KTM EFI.:fpalm

    Yes the Tenere is a bit heavy, but at least you're riding, not wrenching it.:deal For the kind of riding you are doing, the Tenere is a good bike.

    If you want to dream about another bike, dream about a Yamaha WR250R. It's like 690, but better.
    #6
  7. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    I've not owned either bike but have ridden the 690. Great off road bike, but takes some doing to make it a proper travel bike.

    I've also been following RTW Paul on his Tenere and his current build up of his LC4. Paul did some serious exploring on his Tenere' and IIRC, had no mechanicals. I've followed Noah's ride as well. He has done well on that re-born 690 and he knows well how to travel light. :clap Will certainly be interesting to see how Paul does on the new 640 over the long term. I wish him all the best.

    Riding and exploring S. America are different than racing an Enduro or doing A level trail riding. I'd imagine most of your exploring goes from place to place, usually on some sort of road (dirt, gravel or paved).

    Even if you had an UNLOADED 690 ... would you be able to do serious exploring Solo on unknown tracks you are unsure of? If you hooked up with local dirt riders you might find such tracks ... but in general finding routes that actually GO SOMEWHERE may be hard to find ... and even harder to ride and make it through in unfamiliar areas.

    Certainly a very few have converted the 690 into a sort of travel bike ... but IMHO, doing this compromises the bike to some extent ... essentially putting you back into the "heavy" and "ponderous" category, just slightly lighter weight than your Tenere' and with a bike less good at carrying a load ... and less reliable and more maintenance intensive.

    As great as the 690 is off road, IMHO, it will never match your Tenere' as a long term, fully loaded up, dead reliable travel bike. But ... of course the Grass is always Greener! (Oranger ? :D ) on the other side.
    #7
  8. MartiniUp

    MartiniUp Long timer

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    Very good advice in this thread. My last totally reliable KTM was my original, a '75. The marketing is awesome now but something has been lost.
    #8
  9. El Forko

    El Forko On the road

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    So far so good guys!! You're putting my mind a little more to rest - like I said, I'm on the Tenere for a good while yet (and there is a few grand invested it lots of mods), so the best answer for me is "stick with it"!!

    Your responses have helped remind me that even if I want to spend all day every day on the dirt, that ain't the way these trips work out. As an example, I recently did a 3000km u-turn from Cusco back to Santiago in 6 days - 300km on great dirt roads coming off the Altiplano, 2700km on the somewhat monotonous Ruta 5 through the Atacama counting the km markers down.... Yes, I dropped the Ten a couple of times on a nasty loose decent in the mountains where a 690 may have been more at home, but she galloped down Ruta 5 without missing a beat. Maybe the trip would have been a bit more of a ball buster on a 690.

    But despite the logic, it's hard not to yearn for something a bit lighter and more managable when you are exploring a goat track high in the Andes or wandering the Altiplano looking for a place to camp in the middle of nowhere.... Know what I mean?

    Paul
    #9
  10. dallastx

    dallastx Been here awhile

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    There you go!!
    #10
  11. MartiniUp

    MartiniUp Long timer

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    Many times a tire that is a little more aggressive is better in loose/dirt surfaces. I always go one step more to the dirt side than what seems ideal. Good traction in dirt hides a lot of other faults a bike may have.
    #11
  12. SR

    SR Long timer

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    Forget about those itches. Every bike on earth will leave you with some kind of itch. Basic physics dictates that no bike can do every thing perfect. Enjoy what the Tenere does best and forget about the flaws.

    You can go shave 30 pounds off by buying a KTM but you will absolutely suffer in areas like comfort and reliability. The Tenere is a good solid bike. Broken down KTMs suck.
    #12
  13. duroturk

    duroturk Been here awhile

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    I have ridden many "most reliable" bikes in the past.

    And I say;

    Pick whichever you like the most.

    Service intervals, known problems (?).. These are nothing for the people like you who are already into such great trips.
    #13
  14. LukasM

    LukasM Long timer

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    30 pounds difference? That would make the decision much easier, but the number is completely off. In stock form the Tenere weighs about 120 lbs more, so even a fully kitted out 690 with Rally Raid fairings and tanks will be 80-90 pounds lighter.

    Combine that with the fact that the 690 has literally 40% more power and far superior suspension, and the bikes are in a completely different league in terms of handling and fun factor.

    Yeah the Tenere is the better allrounder and pretty reliable in stock form, but if you want to tackle more technical terrain than gravel roads, and have a ton of fun doing it, I'd pick the 690 over it any day. It'll cost you more $$, and it will require quite a few mods, but once those are done it's a very reliable steed with excellent quality parts (wheels, brakes, suspension, etc) stock. Only weak points remaining are the fuel pumps (replacement from CA Cycleworks is $129) and maybe the roller rockers (about $120 for the set, can be changed every 20k or so when you do a valve check).

    This is a really nicely set up example:

    [​IMG]
    #14
  15. GezwindeSpoed

    GezwindeSpoed Long timer

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    When speed is a necessity get a 690 otherwise stay with your Tenere. I had both, used the 690 for rally racing and driving off road, and the Tenere for traveling and commuting. Sold the 690 after 30.000km and the Tenere after 160.000km. Both bikes have their problems and advantages.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    #15
  16. El Forko

    El Forko On the road

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    Great timing for this thread to pick up again - only yesterday I went riding on a Honda Tornado (I'm on Easter Island with the Tenere back in Santiago) and had a blast on all the dirt tracks and forest trails. Similar weight the 690. I haven't ridden a small bike since setting off on my trip a year ago, and it reminded me in no uncertain terms how damn heavy (and high) the Tenere really is.

    Even with RR tanks and fairing (EVO2 weighs 5.8kg) the Tenere is 40kg (90lbs) heavier. For my skill level riding off road, 40kg less would make a BIG difference.

    Of course the old mantra of 'it depends on what sort of riding you do' is true. I ride relatively light and love getting away into the wilderness, and riding solo on a heavy bike limits where I am prepared to go. And I'd trade a bit of comfort on the long straight bits (which I only do if I have to) for the ability to get off road more, because it's that sort of riding that makes a trip special. No one remembers the tedious asphalt stretches.

    I get the KTM reliability thing. But is seems KTM are ironing out a lot of the issues the 08 and 09 690s had and the service interval is now up to that of of the Ten (10,000km). And it seems that with a bit of work and money, the other known issues can be resolved to a large degree.

    So am I talking myself into a 690 for my next big trip? Well, not yet. After Kyns's post I've been reading up on the WR250R - looks like a great bike and it is even lighter!!!

    Thanks for all the replies so far.
    #16
  17. Yellow Pig

    Yellow Pig Allergic to asphalt! Supporter

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    If you are comparing by Weight you need to do the Tenere <-> 990 comparison. :lol3

    Yamaha Tenere 470 lbs / 48 HP
    KTM 950 Adventure Baja Edition 462 lbs / 114 HP

    Which is not a comparison
    #17
  18. Pantah

    Pantah Jiggy Dog Fan Supporter

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    I ride a 2012 KTM 690 out east, and here in Arizona I ride a Yamaha WR250R. They are both set up for travel and weight about the same. I think the Yamaha is a little more comfortable. Doesn't have stonking power, but plenty powerful enough. I'd ride either bike long distances. I'll never RTW, but if I did, I'd probably ride the little Yammer. The Yam has a large tank, Cee-Baily screen and a soft luggage system.

    #18
  19. SR

    SR Long timer

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    I've been riding off road with guys with KTMs for at least 25 years. I've always been the guy on the Jap bike. If I had a dollar for every time a KTM broke down in that time, and if I had all the time back that I spend fooling around with roadside KTM repairs and towing KTM's out of the mountains, I'd take my family on a week long cruise around the Caribbean.

    IMO, KTMs are good for 100 km enduro races in Europe with the Austrian mechanic team standing by, but they are too delicate for hard core long distance riding in isolated areas.

    Two weeks ago on a 13 hour ride through the mountains of Mexico I saw one single 530 exc break a chain, loose the front counter shaft seal, blow the front fork seal and loose the rear wheel bearing while barely starting all day long and continually weeping oil from somewhere in the top end. Unless it was less than 3 years old, I wouldn't take a KTM further than walking distance from a trailer.

    Sorry KTM guys, I call it as I see it and I have been seeing this show for a long time :cry

    This thread is about RTW riding, so maybe the bigger KTM DS bikes are more reliable than the Enduro bikes but it is probably still the same design philosophy, KTM = lightweight and delicate.
    #19
    Alexander B likes this.
  20. mountaincadre

    mountaincadre Long timer

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    Not quite a 690, but my 640 does just as good as any other, "Big Trail bike" on the road, better than any other big bike off the road, and apart from servicing at 5k miles compared to 8.5k there is no other issue's. No offence but if your mates bikes keep breaking down through issues that are well known then perhaps they should just by a simple," no fuss" bike.:ear
    #20