I decided to put this post together after being asked time and time again why I chose the 690 Rally and not a 690 Enduro R for ,Races to Places,. Where to start? First I’d like to point out that my adventure of ‘Races to Places’ is quite a bit different from most. Sure, I am riding around the world and that requires a good solid adventure bike, but I am also a racer at heart. I need a bike that can do both.
Looking at my bike, people get confused. They think my bike (Basil) is a 690 Enduro, modified for adventure/racing. In actual fact, it is far from that. Those who have been watching ‘Races to Places’ will know that the bike started life as a 690 Rally, but don’t be fooled into thinking you can just go and buy a 690 Rally Factory Replica and it’s good to go. A lot of time and hard work goes into making a 690 Rally truly adventure ready. I have to say, though, that in my opinion the 690 Rally is the best base platform for this.
Let’s talk about the advantages of the 690 Rally over the 690 Enduro or other production bikes on the market. I see this as breaking down into six categories:
1) Suspension and chassis set-up
2) Fuel Capacity
4) Simplicity of systems
5) Ergonomics and durability
6) Engine and options
I’ll finish off with a brief overview of the engine differences and give an indication of the price of a Lyndon Poskitt Racing (LPR) prepared machine.
The suspension units (forks and shock) are far superior on the Rally compared to the 690 Enduro and I’d go as far as to say are even better than the aftermarket options. I’ve ridden a 690 Enduro with a Tractive shock on the back and honestly, while an improvement on original equipment (OEM), it isn’t comparable to the Rally set-up and never will be. It is more than just a shock change that makes the improvements. The chassis set-up on the Rally is much more suitable for carrying weight, is stronger and is also way more stable.
The wheelbase is longer, obtained by a slightly longer swingarm and more suspension travel; the swingarm and suspension linkage is far stronger on the Rally with billet components and 17mm high tensile pins instead of the Enduro which has 14mm pins and cheaper cast / forged items. Finally the upper shock mount is not only in a different position to allow a longer shock to be installed for more control, but it is also stronger and offers different stiffness characteristics.
There were a few 690 Rally bikes produced with a cast upper mount similar to the Enduro’s but in a different position. I believe this was for a bit more flex/feel for shorter, tighter races such as Baja but I don’t want more flex on a bike that’s carrying luggage.
The front triple clamps are stronger for the longer forks and offer 20/22mm adjustable offset. You get a full 320mm race suspension package which is great; the downside is that you better have a good length inseam to get on it. I have delivered customer bikes with lowered forks, shocks and seats so you can get around this and still maintain the stability/feel without the longer stroke. But the more you lower, the more compromises you make. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can simply fit a lowering link. Technically you can but you will have a compromised setup. I keep it full length and this is a great potential Dakar-winning setup.
In the races, I often use the Factory Suspension setup with Cone Valve forks and Trax shock. For adventure riding I use the closed cartridge rally forks with minor modification and quite a heavily modified rear shock to allow me to ride fast over rough terrain and maintain stability with the additional luggage and weight. I tested many different spring rates and shim settings before getting it right.
For increased fuel capacity, I changed the rear fuel tank to a 450 RFR tank and added some bits to strengthen things up for the luggage (the nylon rear tank also doubles as sub-frame). There is no getting away from the fact that the Rally has 32 litres of fuel, in factory tested and produced tanks, bolted sturdily to the chassis with appropriate isolation, unlike many aftermarket kits I have seen. I have ridden with aftermarket kits and I have seen tanks fall off and riders experience significant vibration due to aftermarket tanks touching the chassis. I have even seen them break in a crash due to their design.
The Rally front tanks are designed with a huge chamfered leading edge to prevent them from catching debris in a fall; sure they can break but they are less likely to. I have crash tested them plenty of times. As for fuel range, I’ll come onto that in the next bit. The 450 RFR rear tank I use is the same 16.8 litre capacity one as the 690 RFR’s rear tank but is much narrower and also allows reinforced attachment of the LPR luggage rack that I use on R2P.
I appreciate the advantages of fuel injection (FI) and have even raced FI bikes in Dakar and elsewhere but the carburettor get my vote for an outback adventure bike. There are fewer things to go wrong, and when they do I can see what it is and fix it. I know you cannot get a carb to fuel as perfectly throughout the entire range of throttle openings and engine conditions but you can get them pretty damn close with a bit of knowledge and time (you really need to know what you are doing). With a good base setting in the carb I don’t need to change any jetting, I’ve ridden from 0-6000 meters altitude and yes, I have to ride around the characteristics at serious altitude but nothing that wants to make me stop and change jetting. You know what, I had the same issues on the race bikes that were FI: lets look at why.
Having raced the Factory FI bike in Dakar 2017 and 2018, I can honestly say that the slight benefit it delivers at altitude is not worth the additional systems, wiring and complexity for adventure riding. I rode similar altitudes on the carbureted and FI bikes and you cannot get away from the fact that the air is thinner and you loose a massive amount of power as a result. It is true that the fuel injection compensates better for this from an air/fuel ratio perspective. However, considering you will see, say, a 25hp drop at 5000m altitude on a carbureted bike (with a good average setting), you will still see a 23hp drop on an FI bike. For the most part, this difference will not noticeable. There is still a significant drop in performance on both machines.
Yes, if you have a poorly jetted carburettor you’ll definitely wish you had FI. But all my customer bikes are jetted on the dyno for an intermediate altitude and are adequate in all conditions, tested. I also don’t believe fuel economy is the real reason why people want FI bikes. I rode back to back with a 690 Enduro (FI) for months and every time we filled up the difference would be between -5% and +15% (more efficient for the Enduro) depending on conditions or choice of fuel map for the Enduro. So far, over the last 190,000km, I have averaged 47mpg (imperial) on my carbureted bike (including races!), seeing just over 62mpg if I ride how I, er, like not to. I’ve been on the road for four years now and not a single fuel related issue has seen me stranded. I change the external fuel filter every 50,000km and replaced the carburettor as it started to get slide rattle at 130,000km. That’s it.
Since we’ve just discussed carbs, this takes us nicely onto the electrics/systems side of the bikes and the welcome simplicity of the Rally bike. While the base components are the same (stator, regulator, rectifier etc), without the fuel injection system things are much simpler and there is far less wiring, fewer components/sensors and therefore less to go wrong. There is much less draw on the electrical system and its components on the Rally and should you find yourself with a flat battery in the middle of nowhere, you can bump start the bike. No problem. I’ve done it!
In Dakar 2017 I drained my battery running heated gear on the FI bike and was left stranded. No way to start the bike without the battery. For me, this is a big no-no for riding alone in remote places. Other features like the regulator rectifier being located in free flowing air on the Rally and not stuck behind the radiator the way it is on the E/R where it gets superheated air blowing on it all day, all make things that little bit more reliable.
Then there are the ergonomics of the Rally bike. Wider foot pegs are standard; higher and a more ‘attack’ handle bar position due to integrated risers in the top triple clamp to match the higher seat position; PHDS bar mounts as standard; a greater peg to seat distance to reduce rider fatigue from sitting or standing; and narrow fitting front tanks where your legs sit result is a very comfortable non-cramped feel.
The bike has a good, strong front nav tower and a proven fairing that fits well and works better than others I have ridden. I’m still on the original nav tower and fairing I left the UK with 190,000km / four years ago. Sure, the nav tower will bend in a heavy crash. But that’s the idea: bend and not break, you can just straighten it. I’ve seen some aftermarket ones just break and make it difficult to continue without all sorts of parts flailing around.
Moving onto the engine: the stock engine in the Rally is one of the first LC4’s with a capacity of 654cc. While it has essentially the same components as the 690 Enduro, the later Enduro models have a true 690cc motor with more compression and a twin spark head. They do make more power but I think the 654 motor has plenty for the average rider. With the smoothness of the carb low down, it has often out-tractored (hmm, it says that’s not a word but it beautifully describes tractor-like operation with much torque) a 690 Enduro when side by side on steep hill climbs at low revs. You do have to know how it likes to be ridden, though.
While the crank, rod, piston, cylinder and head are all essentially the same as on the Enduro, the gearbox is different. The Rally box is closer ratio, some 7.5% in top. I actually prefer it, both for racing and cruising around, but if you want to sit at high speeds, the Enduro box would be more suitable. There are also Nova Racing wide ratio gearboxes available from Lyndon Poskitt Racing.
The clutch in the Rally is a billet race clutch and while it is much stronger for racing, it does lack some long travel adventure features. It can be grabby and is hard on the pull at the lever. I fitted an Adler torque-lock / slipper clutch from a late LC4 and it is much lighter on the finger and seems like a way nicer solution for adventure riding. The clutch cover on the Rally is a 2-piece split cover which means you can access the plates should you burn them out, something I have never done but I guess it’s just nice to have. At £1200 GBP for the inner and outer Rally clutch cover, you can see partly where the price tag of the Rally comes from. A less expensive 2 piece clutch cover option is now available for all 690/701 variants from www.lyndonposkittracing.com.
My KTM 950 Adventure has 170,000km on the original clutch plates so I don’t expect I’ll be changing the clutch plates on my LC4 any time soon. Finally, there is the cooling system on the RFR. The radiator is larger than most production bikes and the Rally bike also has an oil cooler which really helps to keep everything at the right levels in extreme conditions and prevents overheating. It’s much more prepared for anything you might want to throw at it.
In Australia November 2015 I needed to install new piston rings in my bike after 75,000km of hard riding because of oil consumption was high. I opted to increase the size of the engine with the LPR 732cc kit (bore and stroke) and an LPR high lift camshaft. I also installed the Nova Racing wide ratio gearbox which has a lower 1st gear for technical situations and starting and a higher 6th than any production gearboxes meaning I can cruise at higher speeds with lower revs and get better fuel economy. My engines also run lower compression compared to that of the production models, which allows me to run much poorer quality fuel grades. Occasionally, 80 grade is the best you can get in some of the places I choose to ride. The 732 kit with camshaft, modified combustion chamber and ported head made a big difference and has now been in the bike for over 120,000km, along with the Nova gearbox. Tried and tested, more power and torque, more fun to ride and easier to ride in all situations thanks to the truly ‘adventure ready’ gearbox. Big smiles all around.
I completely rebuilt the engine in Cape Town, South Africa in July 2018 and fitted a new type LPR piston and rings, a newly developed camshaft to maintain more torque and mid-range and some inlet tract modifications to increase top-end performance. This is the motor I will race within Africa and ride all the way back to England. I also now have a completely new LPR clutch setup for this bike to deal with the additional power and torque it delivers. The Adler was no longer strong enough. The new setup is also available on the website. The complete engine builds and parts available here.
Now let’s talk about working on the bike. Working on the Rally is much easier from both a servicing and a maintenance perspective. Just accessing parts on the bike and removing panels, tanks etc. is definitely easier than working on the Enduro model. I know this from experience: I’ve worked on numerous adventurised 690 Enduros and Rally bikes over the years. The simplicity and design of the Rally win hands down over the Enduro and its aftermarket options. Let me tell you this also if you think everything is plain sailing on ‘Races to Places’, think again. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to stop and carry out maintenance or fixes on the bike since leaving the UK. It’s all part of the deal but I am confident of one thing: it would have been much harder if I had been on an adventurised 690 Enduro or any other bike that I put through the ringer like I have Basil.
Finally, protection. The aim of all the protection on the Factory Rally bike is to be lightweight and to protect against small impacts. For this reason, they use a lot of composite materials. For long-distance adventure this is not especially suitable. My first Carbon Kevlar bash plate/engine guard lasted about 50,000km before it was totally destroyed. I developed a super-strong aluminum bash plate for the 450 / 690 Factory Rally specifically for use on adventure travels, and for those wanting something a little more sturdy. It is more cost effective and stronger than the originals and it has one or two tool compartments.
As of 2018 there were more than 25 LPR 690 Rally/Adventure conversions out there and I often get asked about the price. It depends totally on the specification and would have to be discussed with the customer on an individual basis. Price varies dramatically and the price of the donor bike has a big influence; they are rare and the prices also vary dramatically. Remember also, the bike will be based on a 6-10 year old well used or raced donor bike which therefore has to be stripped and checked over thoroughly. Extra cost may be incurred at that point, depending on the condition of donor. Given today’s prices of used 690 Rally bikes and with a full strip, inspection and service of chassis, engine and wiring with a very basic conversion of rear tank and luggage rack (not all LPR upgrades), I suspect the cheapest we would see one roll out of LPR for would be circa £25,000 GBP but that’s just a guide. It is a difficult equation to solve.
Remember that the chassis has to be modified to fit the 450 RFR rear fuel tank, it’s not just a bolt on. The luggage rack and foot-rest hangers have to be manufactured, they are not an off-the-shelf part. I could go on, there’s a lot more to be done. As for the upper end of the price scale, with a full chassis up rebuild, every LPR modification (like Basil has), full treatments, paint and graphics kit, Woody’s wheels, Factory 52mm Cone Valve forks and Trax rear shock (you can even have an LPR 774cc, 85+rwhp engine if you so choose), you would be looking at a price tag closer to £50,000 GBP.
A couple of examples of bikes I have built: #minnabike was built for a customer in California USA and supplied fully road legal in CA. The bike was sold for over £40,000 GBP and more than 250 hours of my time went into building it. The bike that is currently on the website (black “ONIT” bike) has just sold for £44,000 GBP, fully ready for the world adventure it is destined for. It was built from an ‘as new’ 690 Rally. We are currently building a couple of mid-range price tag bikes in the UK workshop that will likely sell for between £30,000 and £37,000 GBP, both with 732 engines and optional transmissions but again specification requirements dictate final price tag.
The price tag is obviously a big deciding factor for most riders in the decision of what to go for. At this point you might appreciate why the new price of the 690 Rally Factory Replica was more than three times that of the 690 Enduro in its original state. It is also likely to cost you double the price of a new 690 Enduro to get hold of a 6-10 year old Rally donor bike. As always, though, you get what you pay for. For me, I had an ex-Dakar finishing KTM 690 Rally sat at home and always knew this was the bike I would use for ‘Races to Places’.
Well, I hope all this means that you now have a better idea of the differences between an LPR adventure bike (based on a Factory Rally bike) and a production bike. I’ve also attached a few images of my favourite bikes to roll out of LPR and, of course, a couple of Basil doing what he does best: visiting races and places! Please share my page Lyndon Poskitt Racing with your friends or followers if you think others might like to follow my adventures, travels, racing, videos, thoughts and more. Thank you.
Finally, if you’d like some LPR / R2P merchandise or Dakar memorabilia it is all available here.
Ride safe and enjoy the adventure, whatever bike you choose to do it on!
Lyndon & Basil.