Can a KTM 690 Enduro replace a 790 Adventure R & 500 EXC?

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by spartanman, Jun 16, 2020.

  1. spartanman

    spartanman regret minimizer

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    I own a 2019 KTM 790 Adventure R and a 2013 KTM 500 EXC. Recently I had the 790 up for sale because I have too many bikes and not enough time to ride them all. I ended up withdrawing it from sale but am again considering selling it and the 500 and replacing both with a 690 Enduro. I realize the 690 isn’t as good of a dirt bike as the 500 or a better adventure tourer than the 790. It’s a compromise, but maybe good enough? Thoughts?
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  2. timeOday

    timeOday Long timer

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    Totally depends on how offroad your offroad is.

    Or if you are a little flexible in the rides you take, based on the bike(s) you have.

    I think I ride my 640 less than any of my other bikes - but if I had to keep only one, it would be a serious contender because it can do anything from moderate singletrack, to picking up a kid and some groceries on the way home from work.
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  3. levain

    levain STILL Jim Williams Supporter

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    690 has worked for me. It's a really good compromise bike. It doesn't slab well, and it doesn't single track well, but does everything in between acceptably. Recommended
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  4. The Cone of Silence

    The Cone of Silence Been here awhile

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    I've been looking into this for a year now and on paper at least, I'm convinced that the 690 Enduro is as close as one can get to the RTW trip 'Unicorn'. If you have to do long days on the blacktop with luggage it can handle it comfortably, reliably and with a really surprising lack of vibration. If you want to throw it about in the dirt then sure, it's not as nimble as a 500EXC but it's still going to be a LOT more fun than a 14-ton BMW R1200 GSA (a pig of a thing to pick up) or a DR650 or KLR650 (no grunt).

    It can be easily modified with a longer range tank, screen, more comfy seat and racks to take your bags. In Australia, one often needs to ride a long way on the blacktop to get to the fun stuff so the compromise is necessary, yet I want to tackle more gnarly tracks when I travel so I'll be signing up for one of these later in the year and selling the GSA. At the worst it'll be an experiment that's a whole lot of fun but points me to a more suitable rig, at best it'll be the bike I take around the world.

    I'm always keen to hear from current owners if you think I'm barking up the wrong tree though.
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  5. dolphins13

    dolphins13 orange rules

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    My 2019 690 does everything well. I haul ass on the street (shhhh) and it does better than I can in the dirt. Not for long rides on asphalt or the hardest single track. But neither am I.
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  6. Husky360C

    Husky360C Been here awhile

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    I've already changed my fleet of bikes in a manner quite similar to what you're considering.

    I used to own : KTM 950 Super Enduro, KTM 525 EXC.

    I now own : 2019 KTM 690 Enduro.

    I've put over 8,000 miles on the 690 in less than a year. My conclusion is that the 690 will work better on longer rides on paved roads than most riders will ; this is to say that the BIKE will do long rides on pavement just fine, it is the rider who will be the weak link because the 690 isn't going to be as comfortable as some other bikes will be. But if you can deal with the lack of comfort, the 690 will cruise at 80mph or faster with ease, and at highway speeds it still has a nice reserve of power compared to most other "dual sport" bikes.

    The more serious shortcoming for the 690 comes when riding off road. The more challenging or tricky the conditions, the worse the 690 will be. On fire roads, dirt roads, and non-hardcore singletrack, the 690 works fine. But when things get ugly you really need to be on a 500 EXC or a 350 EXC, not a 690.

    If you're willing to accept the 690 is not really a dirt bike, and not really a bike that's suited to day-long rides on pavement, I reckon you might well be happy with the 690.

    Bottom line : I've been riding for over 45 years. It's my opinion that the 690 is by a wide margin the best "one bike for all riding" motorcycle I have ever ridden. I am aware of the shortcomings of the 690 ( lack of wide ratio gearbox, heavier than a real dirt bike, etc. ) and I accept those shortcomings because even with those shortcomings the 690 is in a class by itself and no other bike from any other manufacturer is even close to being able to perform like the 690 does.

    The more I ride my 690 the more I like it. Earlier 690s were not nearly as good, but the 2019+ 690 or 701 are truly superb motorcycles. The only change I'm considering is selling my 690 in order to buy a Husky 701 LR ( long range tanks ) when it is available in the US.
    #6
  7. spartanman

    spartanman regret minimizer

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    Thanks for sharing your experience. It's what I'd expect from a bike that endeavors to be a unicorn. I've read about the common issues, some fixable and others not. Anyone know if KTM fixed the rocker arm issue on the 2019-2020 models? I realize forums act as issue magnifiers, but it appears that a number of rocker arms failed on the earlier models. This would be a deal killer for me. I don't expect a high-performance thumper to go 100K between rebuilds, but I'd never trust it with a known weak spot.
    #7
  8. Hedonist222

    Hedonist222 Been here awhile

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    I was in a similar situation the past year.

    I love motorcycles, I love a nice tarmac road to some technical terrain.

    I'd sacrifice a nice sporty enduro bike for a fat ass like 790 or 1190 or GSA if the company is right.

    Sold off my 2015 KTM 500 EXC because riding friends disbanded.

    Sold off my GSA because what was supposed to be a group of guys doing day trips to off road terrain on our GS bikes turned into just street. So I sold the GSA and got a buggy. I can still do trips with friends on my bmw s1000r. Yeah not ideal but not a huge issue either. Have done trips as long as 600km (375 miles) a day. We rest every hour - so that works as my brief panacea.

    Lately most of my off road has been by myself.
    Been craving a light weight enduro again.

    Decided if I'm spending from an hour to three to get to the off road area, I would much prefer to do the commuting in the comfort of my pick up (truck for you Americans).

    So I'm in the process picking a 2018 500 EXC.

    My story may help you, may not, but it is a perspective to consider.
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  9. Husky360C

    Husky360C Been here awhile

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    The Husky 701 and the KTM 690 which have the "new" engine have a completely different cylinder head design than pre-2017 Husky 701 or pre-2019 KTM 690 used.
    Thus the rocker arm failures are not an issue with the "new" engine.

    The 2019+ 690 and the 2020+ 701 come with the WP Xplor suspension, which is considered by many to be better than the 4CS suspension used previously. Also the newest 690 / 701 come with other desirable features such as lean-angle ABS brakes, traction control, quickshifter, and frame geometry which is markedly superior to earlier models of 690. The 2019+ 690 or the 2020+ 701 are the bikes to have, because of the "new" engine and all the other features.
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  10. VikingMoto

    VikingMoto Been here awhile

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    I replace my 2018 Africa Twin Adventure Sports with a 2020 690. Love it! Yeah, for adventure travel you have to invest in some upgrades, but, from my perspective, it's perfect for a combo of back roads and dirt.
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  11. spartanman

    spartanman regret minimizer

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    I understand KTM added another balance shaft to quell vibes, but I've found nothing from KTM or owners about a rocker arm redesign. I wouldn't expect it from KTM, though, because that would imply there was a problem to begin with. It’s one of a dwindling few reasons keeping me from buying one.
    #11
  12. Husky360C

    Husky360C Been here awhile

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    Pretty much every in-depth article on the new 690 mentions the cylinder head redesign, though some articles print incorrect descriptions of the valve train. Since I own a 2019 690, and I've checked the valve clearance myself, I have first-hand experience with the valve train in the "new" engine. It IS a completely different design when compared to the old design. ( I owned a 2010 690 which used the rocker arm design that was sometimes troublesome, so I am familiar with the old design also ).

    In the article found at this link :

    https://www.motorcyclenews.com/news/2019/march/ktm-690-engine/

    there's a good photo of the new cylinder head. The article INCORRECTLY DESCRIBES the valve train, claiming there is a "pair of rocker arms that drive the exhaust valves" when there is ONE and only one forked rocker arm that drives the exhaust valves. The article also botches the description of the intake valve drive, incorrectly claiming the intake valves are driven directly by the cam, but the intake valves are actually driven by small finger followers which are located between the cam and the top of the intake valves. The valve train is now an elegant and simple design, and I expect it will be quite reliable if properly maintained.

    The new design engine does NOT have the rocker arm problems. This new engine was first used in the KTM 690 Duke, and then it was used in the Husky 701, and then it finally was used in the 2019 690 Enduro. It is safe to say the "new" 690 engine is a well proven design.
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  13. Husky360C

    Husky360C Been here awhile

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    The new engine doesn't have the problems with the rocker arms which the old engine had.
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  14. georgian cliff

    georgian cliff Adventurer

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    I am looking to upgrade to Husky 701 LR. My 690 has served me very well and is my "go to" ride. The 1190 is just too big for many mountain roads and trails and the 500 EXC is too light for longer highway rides. Ride the 690 more than the other two combined. When the destination or the road is unknown, the 690 is the choice. Frequency of oil changes vs the 500 is another practical factor. If I was forced to a single bike, it would be the 690 / 701.
    #14
  15. Bitingdog

    Bitingdog That's not my dog

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    The 790 can do 90% of what a 690 can, especially if we're talking a late model Xplor fork equipped 690. A 500exc-f isn't much worse than a 690 for freeway use. The 500 has better dualsport gear ratios, and they seem to hold up better than 690's. Fewer glitches and gremlins.

    I loved the 620/640 bikes, but the 690 is no 640.

    It's not bad though
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  16. a2zworks

    a2zworks Trust me, I'm Pablo

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    The rocker issue was rectified back in '15 '16
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  17. Husky360C

    Husky360C Been here awhile

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    The 790 weighs 100 pounds more than the 690.

    ONE HUNDRED POUNDS.


    You can ignore the weight difference if you wish, but buyers would be well served to keep that weight difference in mind before choosing a bike.
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  18. Husky360C

    Husky360C Been here awhile

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    The above is somewhat true ( due to revised manufacturing techniques for securing the pin in the rocker arm ) but there have still been rocker arm failures even on the 2015, 2016 bikes. The rocker arm system on the pre-2019 690 is a bad design, and as such it is best avoided. There is not merely one problem with the rocker arm ( incorrect staking of the pin which leads to the pin drifting out of its hole in the rocker arm ), there is also a poor oil supply to the rocker arms and this contributes to a high wear rate for rocker arms and their bearings and rollers.

    Since the 2019+ 690 uses a whole different design for its valve train, with DLC surfaces on the rocker and finger follower pads and NO rollers, and has numerous other advantages as well, I could not recommend buying an earlier 690, especially since resale value of earlier 690s is going to drop further as buyers become increasingly aware of the shortcomings of the earlier 690.
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  19. Husky360C

    Husky360C Been here awhile

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    I disagree in the strongest possible way.

    I've owned both bikes and the 690 is FAR better for highway riding than a 500 EXC is.

    The engine power, brake system, added weight, and engine smoothness all contribute to the 690 with the new engine being a far more enjoyable bike for use on highways than the 500 EXC ( which was never meant for highway riding in the first place, so not surprise there ).
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  20. Uncle-roby

    Uncle-roby Been here awhile

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    Hi SpartanMan, I had a 2010 690 Enduro R and a 2012 EXC500.
    The 500 so much more fun!
    The 690, IMHO, is a wrong bike: too big, too heavy, too powerful, too complicated.
    If you ride it before an EXC, it is a great bike... After an EXC... you go wanna go back to your 450/500.

    When the 690 came out, I wished in a 550/600cc bike, close to an EXC but with a big block engine.
    Instead KTM came out with a bike ready to win the Dakar, thus if you use it in the desert, it is a great bike, in the woods... the 500 is much better.
    Then, why it is so complicated? the new model has: ride-by-wire, cornering abs, maps, traction control, ... Why?
    #20