Dual Sport Duo

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690 enduro r 2017 KTM 690 Enduro R any good?

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Bryan Bosch

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With approximately 450 miles of back-roads, jeep trails, and even some sandy, whooped out single track, what's the verdict on the 2017 KTM 690 Enduro R? Is the new bike honeymoon over? Did it live up to rather high expectations? I'll cut to the chase and say that I absolutely love this bike and have zero regrets on my purchase! Why? Keep reading and I'll do my best to explain. Currently the engine, suspension, and brakes are bone stock. Mods coming? Oh yes... There WILL be mods! :goofy:

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Bryan Bosch taking a mid morning break from the sand whoops - Croom OHV Brooksville, FL

That Motor!

The 690 Enduro R power plant in many ways defines this machine. It makes BIG boost from bottom to top in a very linear fashion that always puts a smile on my face. On the street, whack the throttle wide-open and the front tire lofts as you row through the gears. You're not trying to wheelie, the bike just pulls that hard. If you're a wheelie guy, this bike makes it easy. From the factory, there is a sticker that warns you not to exceed 100 mph, but my guess is that it will pretty easily. My buddy has the 701 Husqvarna and we dragged on a flat, long, deserted dirt road. We decided to back 'er down in the mid 90s, but both bikes had more legs left.

Off-road, the gearing is a little high for tight single track, but this bike really seems to be the most at home in more open, flowing terrain. In ski racing terms, it's more at home on the giant slalom course. Not that it's not nimble or capable of tighter terrain. The bike has tons of low-end and a 'butta smooth Magura Hydraulic Clutch, so I find myself in 3rd a lot, just rolling on the throttle. But, a surge of power is a clutch pull away. I'm more of a short-shifter, so this torquey motor suits my style. Where we ride, it's just about all sand and even in tighter, slower sections, the bike is hard to stall, even with lazy clutch skills.

Is the motor buzzy or vibey? Sort of a tough question because that's personal perception. I will say, before I bought it, this was my biggest worry. I've had Carpel Tunnel surgery on my throttle hand with mild nerve damage in both wrists, and things like string trimmers cause my hands to tingle after 10-15 minutes of use. I even had some issues with my ultra-smooth Triumph Tiger 800XC in-line triple. Maybe it's certain resonance frequencies, but I'm not having any issues with the 690. So, very, very relieved. And, word on the street is that after a couple thousand miles, the motor smooths out a bit more. For back-road dualsporting on the stock DOT knobbies, vibes are pretty mild, but as the speed picks up, so do the vibes. If you want to pound freeway, I'd suggest different tires. The stockers are happiest below 55, maybe 60 mph @ 20-25 psi. Not a fan of highway slabbin', so I'm keeping these tires.

Suspension

I really have no complains here. It's never harsh or chattery and always feels planted. Keep in mind that in central Florida, you couldn't find a rock if your life depended upon it. Most of our trails are soft sand, but there are plenty of sections with exposed roots. On Memorial Day, we rode an area called Croom and despite the unrelenting, deep sand whoops, this bike surprised me. For its 326 ready-to-ride pounds, it tracked through the whoops straight and both ends stayed pretty poised. However, I'm not going to say that sand whoops is where the bike shines. Most purpose built off-road race bikes would be a better choice, but I wanted to see how she'd do and it was surprisingly well all things considered. But, I hate to ride sand whoops all day, so not high on my list of performance criteria. Still nice to know what the bike can do.

Brakes

The over-sized Galfer front wave rotor and dual piston Brembo caliper with ABS offers plenty of initial bite & power, enough to tax the grip of the Pirelli MT21 DOT front tire on dry pavement. When the pavement is wet, this is where the ABS rocks. Off-road, ABS is easily turned off by pushing and holding a single button on the gauge cluster. However, it sucks that every time you turn the bike off, it defaults to ABS on. The aftermarket has options to fix this, but I'd prefer my last setting to be remembered. I'm sure a KTM lawyer will disagree with me. At least there is a button vs. having to nav to sub menus to turn ABS off like my last bike.

Handling

When compared to a dirt bike, say the KTM 500EXC, the 2017 KTM 690 Enduro R is a big girl on paper. However, I think it rides a lot lighter than the numbers would suggest. With the rearward fuel tank mounted low and relatively central to the bike's mass, it's slim in the mid section like a 450 and remarkably light on its feet. Even in tighter terrain, weaving the bike through the trees is easy and overall, the bike feels pretty nimble. About the only time you feel the mass is when you get the bike crossed up in deep sand and mistakenly grab a handful of big bore. For me, the most fun is rippin' down a sandy trail, power sliding from corner-to-corner. This is very easy with all the power the 690 has on tap and the handing is very predictable. Around town and on back-roads, the bike is a sweet heart.  It will do freeway speeds without issue, but without a windscreen, longer runs would be a chore IMHO.

All Kittens and Rainbows?

Hmmmmmmmmmm.... no. Where do I think KTM came up short with the 2017 KTM 690 Enduro R? Here's my list so far (not in any particular order):

1.  How tall do they think most of us are? This bike is tall! I'm 5' 10" and it's still tall. With boots on, I'm still just slightly better than on my tip toes. Thank God for the strong steel kickstand for getting on the bike. At the lowest point of the seat, it's 37".

2. For almost 11k before taxes & registration, no fuel gauge? This is a premium dual sport KTM. You made the tach sweep up and back at start up like a race car, but no fuel gauge? Booo! But, at least there is a low fuel light, just before you run out.

3. KTM, you still can't make a comfortable seat? I know you love your sporty, sharp angles, but they create pressure points that don't feel good on the ass after a few hours. Can't you compromise a little aesthetics for comfort? For 11k, I shouldn't have to immediately order a functional dual sport seat. And even worse, the seat pan rubber bumpers? I have extras in my garage b/c they fall out if you look at them wrong.

4. Handlebars are too low for standing. I understand that we all come in different shapes & sizes, but I'm much closer to the average that otherwise.

5. No power port for my phone or navigation? I appreciate the power with key on Accessory 2 wires in the loom behind the headlight, but again, premium dual sport. For the money it should come with this. But then again, dummies like me pay what you ask, so...

6. The shifting action is good, but if you're not very deliberate, a missed shift is pretty easy. I happens to me a couple of times on every ride, mostly upshifting into higher gears. There is an aftermarket fix that I might install if it really bothers me. 

My Bottom-line

My biggest regret is the two year detour riding a 500lb. ADV bike. The 2017 KTM 690 Enduro R has re-lit my fire for dirt biking. I'm once again excited for the next ride because this bike is just so much fun to ride. All of the gripes above are either completely livable or fixable in the aftermarket and none are show stoppers. I think that the 2017 KTM 690 Enduro is an amazing dual sport and for my needs, I absolutely made the right choice to sell my 2013 Triumph Tiger 800XC. I was a little worried that the 690 Enduro R might be a dirt bike with a license plate (had a plated KTM 450), but there is no question that it's a purpose built dualsport that is better on the road than a dirt bike and far better than a big ADV bike off-road. For me, I've found the middle ground that I was looking for. Fathers day is this Saturday and when my wife asked what I wanted, the answer was easy, "I'm going ridin' hon!" :ride:

Bryan Bosch & Steve Claus
#dualsportduo

 

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Got sand? We do and plenty. - Croom OHV Brooksville, FL
 

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Richloam General Store - Withlacoochee National Forest

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Exploring some sandy single track - Withlacoochee National Forest

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Lunch on the way home at a fav BBQ pit - Zephyrhills, FL

 

If you have any question for me, hit me up in the comment section below. I'd appreciate hearing from you. If you want to follow our blog, click the "follow" button up top.


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27 Comments




I could see having one of these some day. My 450 is plated, but really for connections and trips out and back from the trailer. Your point about 500lb adventure bike puts a lot in perspective why to get a 690.

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Do you know what changed to make it taller ? i think it was around 34 or 35 inch before .

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48 minutes ago, habs said:

Do you know what changed to make it taller ? i think it was around 34 or 35 inch before .

The KTM site says 35.82" (910mm), but this is my measurement from around the lowest part of the seat. Sag was set by the race shop at the dealer I bought it from. Not sure the bike is perfectly straight up/down, but it's very close.

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Yes , i tried one the other day at dealer and found it very tall , DRZ is 36 on paper , 690 was taller , i'm only 5,6 but still love this bike , maybe next year , with longer links for a few month , thanks . 

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11 hours ago, habs said:

Yes , i tried one the other day at dealer and found it very tall , DRZ is 36 on paper , 690 was taller , i'm only 5,6 but still love this bike , maybe next year , with longer links for a few month , thanks . 

Did you mean to say, "lowering links"? That's what guessing. Otherwise when you stopped, you'd have to stand on one leg and leave your thigh on the seat. I had a buddy a bit shorter than you that rode a YZ450F and that's what he had to do.

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27 minutes ago, Bryan Bosch said:

Did you mean to say, "lowering links"? That's what guessing. Otherwise when you stopped, you'd have to stand on one leg and leave your thigh on the seat. I had a buddy a bit shorter than you that rode a YZ450F and that's what he had to do.

Yes that's what i' m doing right now with my drz , one foot down only , other option is lowering links but not the best of options , thanks for your review on the 690 . 

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Love mine like no other!!! Here we are when I first got her at the Tail of the Dragon summer of 2015. If your on the fence, don't be. This bike is the best of alot of worlds.

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Yeah, not a fan of lowering links myself. Better off having the suspension professionally lowered like a lot of supermoto guys do.

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Ooops... forgot to mention another whine about the bike (added above):

Quote

6. The shifting action is good, but if you're not very deliberate, a missed shift is pretty easy. I happens to me a couple of times on every ride, mostly upshifting into higher gears. There is an aftermarket fix that I might install if it really bothers me. 

Factory Pro makes a supposedly improved shifter detent and spring that solves the issue:

690_shift_kit_copy_4_1024x1024.jpg?v=147

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On ‎6‎/‎14‎/‎2017 at 8:42 AM, Bryan Bosch said:

Yeah, not a fan of lowering links myself. Better off having the suspension professionally lowered like a lot of supermoto guys do.

Tried a lowering link on my DRZ and didn't like it.  The link changed the linkage to shock ratio which resulted in having the rear suspension wayyy too soft, ended up pulling the lowering link.  Now I have a DR650 set on the factory low setting and love it.  Looking into seeing what it would take to lower the 690's suspension by 3" on both ends, I would never ride a bike this big on single track at speed and dirt two tracks seldom need 12" of suspension.

BTW nice job on the review!  I heard that some of the older 690's need to have the throttle position sensor "adjusted" to get the bike to run good, is that still true?

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Throttle feels as natural as a cable to me. Haven't touched anything or feel the need.

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My XR650L seems better on the road. My dads has a 2017 KTM690R enduro, i have a 2017 Honda XR650L so my 5 gears has better ratios then his 6 gears. I think my Honda has a higher top speed? We both were going 95-90mph and i was going a bit faster then him. I had it pinned but stopped after i passed him. I stopped(had little more power @90mph but not much) and my dads 690R said he had a little more power also. When race he beats me to like 60...but not by much. Once i get my 20+ year exhaust on im sure i will beat him, along with my ReJet kit.

The XRL is better on road and has the Honda reliability but the KTM has the KTM tech. He also had a 500EXC which the 690R is better for ADV riding. (My XRL my be better at 65-75+mph because of my stock tires...his stock tires are more for off road)

20170528_144133.jpg

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6 hours ago, DavidsXR650L said:

Bottom line i would get the honda and spend the extra 3k in upgrades to be better the the 690R

What did you spend the 3k on?

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10 hours ago, DavidsXR650L said:

My XR650L seems better on the road. My dads has a 2017 KTM690R enduro, i have a 2017 Honda XR650L so my 5 gears has better ratios then his 6 gears. I think my Honda has a higher top speed? We both were going 95-90mph and i was going a bit faster then him. I had it pinned but stopped after i passed him. I stopped(had little more power @90mph but not much) and my dads 690R said he had a little more power also. When race he beats me to like 60...but not by much. Once i get my 20+ year exhaust on im sure i will beat him, along with my ReJet kit.

The XRL is better on road and has the Honda reliability but the KTM has the KTM tech. He also had a 500EXC which the 690R is better for ADV riding. (My XRL my be better at 65-75+mph because of my stock tires...his stock tires are more for off road)

So you're saying the 15 odd years old tech that Honda uses in his xr650 which is pretty much the same bike/engine since the nineties beats modern day tech? So the xr is faster, more reliable and you will beat him with your ReJet kit. Thanks for the info!

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On ‎6‎/‎17‎/‎2017 at 3:57 AM, blackSP said:

So you're saying the 15 odd years old tech that Honda uses in his xr650 which is pretty much the same bike/engine since the nineties beats modern day tech? So the xr is faster, more reliable and you will beat him with your ReJet kit. Thanks for the info!

Hmmm, I hope he's not saying that.  We all know that the KTM has about 50% more power than a XR650 (and my '03 DR650), even with a jet kit.  And even with a 3k savings he's never going to get the smoothness of EFI and a 50 pound weight loss.  Like my DR he can love his XR for what it is but make no mistake performance wise the KTM is worlds better.  Trust me, if I had the budget I'd buy the 690 "today".

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On 6/13/2017 at 8:25 PM, habs said:

Great ride report!  Now tell us how that cool new 690 compares to the Husky 701!  I know the spec differences but how is it to ride them back to back and does much or anything stand out? 

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13 hours ago, mxengineer4 said:
On 6/13/2017 at 8:25 PM, habs said:

Great ride report!  Now tell us how that cool new 690 compares to the Husky 701!  I know the spec differences but how is it to ride them back to back and does much or anything stand out? 

Biggest diff is the power delivery. 690 R has more low end and is very linear. The 701 has more hp, (67 vs. 74) but is a little softer down low with a noticeable power surge from the mid range on up. That's where the extra ponies show up. 

On Saturday, my buddy on the 701 was ripping a sandy sweeper, kept it absolutely pinned after the apex, got some unexpected traction, front wheel came up, and when it came down, he was off his line. Hit a small log, bounced over it into a stack of 3 fallen trees, and down he went. No broken bones, but badly bruised. Not that the 701 is a handful, but it has a bit of a wicked hit, so better be on your game. I joke with my buddy, "Respect the 701!"

Outside of how they deliver power, they feel quite similar. I prefer the KTM's power delivery as more of a short shifter, but if you're a revver, the Husky is probably a bit more to your style. Both have tons of power everywhere and are an absolute hoot to ride.

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On 6/16/2017 at 5:26 PM, DavidsXR650L said:

Bottom line i would get the honda and spend the extra 3k in upgrades to be better the the 690R

No doubt the Honda is a simpler, likely more reliable, and more cost effective to own. I've ridden one and it's a good machine, but for me personally, the 690 is simply a lot more fun to ride and that's pretty high on my list if not the top.

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On 6/16/2017 at 3:22 PM, DavidsXR650L said:

My XR650L seems better on the road. My dads has a 2017 KTM690R enduro, i have a 2017 Honda XR650L so my 5 gears has better ratios then his 6 gears. I think my Honda has a higher top speed? We both were going 95-90mph and i was going a bit faster then him. I had it pinned but stopped after i passed him. I stopped(had little more power @90mph but not much) and my dads 690R said he had a little more power also. When race he beats me to like 60...but not by much. Once i get my 20+ year exhaust on im sure i will beat him, along with my ReJet kit.

I think your dad is being nice to you......  No way an air cooled xr650L is going to best the liquid cooled KTM ( I have an 08 honda that's been piped, filtered and properly jetted and fitted with an oil/air cooler ala xr400)  Last time I did a top speed run it was about 93 on the Garmin gps and nearer 100 on the speedo, no slouch but no speed demon by a long shot.

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On 6/14/2017 at 7:55 AM, Bryan Bosch said:

Ooops... forgot to mention another whine about the bike (added above):

Factory Pro makes a supposedly improved shifter detent and spring that solves the issue:

690_shift_kit_copy_4_1024x1024.jpg?v=147

I was hoping you got one that didn't have the false neutrals that mine has. Maybe they all do it.

 

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Just now, wielywilly-g said:

I was hoping you got one that didn't have the false neutrals that mine has. Maybe they all do it.

 

It's not horrible, but worth noting. If it happens, it's typically on the road when I'm just relaxing. When riding hard, especially off-road it's good. I just think the bike likes deliberate shifts.

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I was blaming myself a little for racing my buddie on a DR650 during break in when I got my first high revs when a speed shift from 4th to 5th resulted in neutral. I wondered if I damaged something.  I get one about once a month now.

It must be a design flaw if they all do it.  Think warrenty will cover it?

 

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I'd ride it and see. Probably didn't damage anything. Will they warranty it? MAYBE if you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that their designed caused the condition that resulted in damage. I'm not a transmission tech by any stretch, but most dirt bike units are pretty tough. I'd bet you're good.

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