You guys coughing upo mondo money for the XR650R really need to ask yourself what have we got out of the Honda Baja effort and compare that to what KTM are going to deliver in July 2008:
1. A 654cc (that's right the 690 is a 654cc motor) modern 64HP kick ass motor.
3. E start
4. 20 liter fuel cell built into the bike not bolted on camel hump style.
5. Ultra monda ergos.
6. The best european suspension you can but.
7. Big wattage stator.
KTM will win Baja very very soon. That will be a large challenge for Honda to overcome - espewcially trying to sell the 450X against the modern 654KTM. The 450X will have no Baja selling point as the KTM will mostly have it covered in all ways.
Don't forget the extra 40 lbs that comes with the KTM 690 If it was truly light years ahead of the 650R, then it would weigh the same or less. The XR650R is already heavy enough, I don't need more weight. Heck, for another 40 LBS over the KTM, I can ride a GSXR600 at 120 HP. Just get some 17" nobbies and I'm off to Baja.
I wasn't aware that the KTM 690 has an Ohlins Fork and Shock. Or is Ohlins no longer the best European suspension that you can buy.
I would want better engine protection than a piece of plastic hanging out front and under my motor. At least some bars to back it up like the 650R.
The XR650R has an Aluminum frame and the KTM has a Steel Frame. Aren't those getting old? Didn't steel frames used to have cracking problems over time...CR500?
I don't race Baja or have any crazy notion that I would even be competetive in Baja.
What I got out of the 650R is a bike that you can crash, pick up, ride and crash, pick up and ride again. I can go 500 miles without changing the oil. I can put-put through a tight rocky trail or rip through something wide-open at over 100mph. I don't have to use Motorex high-$$ synthetic oil. I don't have to complain about notchy shifting or not finding neutral. I don't have to complain about breaking random engine and transmission internals that are fixed on the next year's model.
Value & Price?? I bought two used XR650R's that are street legal in California for $1000 less than 1 new KTM 525 EXC. I would be tempted to buy a KTM 525 EXC if I had the cash.
BTW, the 525 EXC is not an out of the box performer. You have to disable some carbon cannister plug (so you can start the thing after you crash), rejet, cut part of the exhaust baffle, buy actual dirt tires, new sprockets, take off some hideous mirrors, remove the license plate holder and get a pre-2006 holder, remove the rear blinkers before you break them off then get good ones...oh and why is it leaking oil onto the exhaust header? The dealer says, "they just do that." Not acceptable. Is this going to be what it's like for the new 690?
Other than that, the 525 is a killer bike - fast, light, responsive, light, killer brakes, light.... Oh, did I say its light?