Test Drive

KTM 690 Enduro R

Do you want a motorcycle for off-road fun? Do you want a motorcycle to go to the office? Do you want a bike that satisfies your desires for adventure? Would you like all of them? Don’t worry, you only need one.

The concept of “dual” motorcycle has now been widely cleared of customs, its meaning is clear and obvious if associated with a motorcycle, indicates a means capable of being performed on any surface that is present. In terms of dual and performance, the first name that comes to mind today is certainly that of the KTM 690 Enduro. One of the few bikes that is truly effective both on and off-road.

The bikes currently on the market under the heading Enduro (not specialized of course) are mostly twin-cylinder large displacement and some single-cylinder whose vocation is certainly more shifted to the asphalt with vague references to the purely stylistic aspect of endurance. The bike from Mattighofen doesn’t, what it promises to do. Perhaps at the expense of a bit of comfort, especially over long distances, but its behaviour on asphalt reflects that of off-road vehicles, a perfect 50/50 thanks also to the tyres, the Continental Twinduro, which accentuate its potential. If you want to prepare the bike for the journey of life, a Cape Town / North Cape, no problem, the wide range of accessories available in the catalog Power Parts KTM, will be ready to meet every need and, why not, even some whim.

TECHNICAL

The 690 Enduro R’s lines of clear specialist derivation have now entered the hearts of enthusiasts and the restyling of 2012 has only accentuated the cleanliness and beauty of the whole. The very carefully crafted details and essentiality come directly from KTM’s experience in the racing world, where it is now one of the leading brands: the components are of the highest quality. The Mattighofen-based company has already been maniacally taking care of the chassis since the first models released in 2009, when the final name was still missing the “R” so dear to the racing models of the KTM road line.

The frame is a Chrome-Molybdenum truss strictly derived from the 690 Rally, a replica of a few years ago, and just like the desert special, the upper part of the tank replaces the classic air box for the injection system; the fuel tank, however, is moved to the rear in a structure that also acts as a rear frame and that revolutionizes the distribution of weights and lowers the center of gravity of the bike. The rear swingarm is very similar to that of the SX and EXC models in die-cast aluminium for good rigidity but also sufficient flexibility. The suspension department has a 48 mm upside-down WP fork and a rear shock absorber, also WP, equipped with a progressive link to the separate transversely positioned tank; both forks and mono are hydraulically adjustable in compression and return and in spring preload.

The Enduro wheels are Continental Twinduro 90/90-21 and 140/80-18 rubberized DIDs. The brakes are also properly sized for use. The Galfer petal discs of the enduro are very beautiful, the front 300 mm and the rear 240 mm; the horizontal position of the rear brake master cylinder mounted on a truly finished bracket is very particular. The bike is approved for two, but there is the possibility of not mounting the passenger footrests to give an even more racing touch to the vehicle.

The LC4 series engine is now one of KTM’s flagship engines and equips half of the road range; the 2012 implementation, which has brought all models the 690 cc full displacement, has given a further boost to this engine that was already the most powerful single cylinder road on the market. It is liquid-cooled, with SOCH distribution with a single overhead camshaft, four valves with an inclined head cover for easy maintenance. The fuel is injected with 46 mm ø throttle body, automatic cold starter. There are three selectable mappings: normal, soft and hard, managed by an under-seat switch with the possibility to choose also mappings dedicated to low octane gasoline. To increase comfort, the engine is also equipped with a balancing shaft to reduce vibrations; maintenance schedules over three years have gone from 5,000 km to 10,000 km, underlining its reliability. Great care has also been taken in the construction of the exhaust system, with a voluminous silencer but with a very accurate and attractive shape, catalysed and with an excellent noise reduction in terms of decibels, without losing the racing tone that characterizes these bikes and that the user cannot help but appreciate.

DYNAMICS

With the enduro R, KTM seeks the point of contact between the “racing” soul that has always distinguished it and the “soft” soul that wants to extend the range of users to all those who use the bike daily and not competitive. And this bike is the perfect combination between these two lines of thought; it is the typical bike to use to reach the office with the forks and the mono a bit ‘open and with the mapping “normal”, and then maybe on Sunday, with the registers closed and the control unit mapped “soft”, attack slimy paths of mud in the hills. Because it is precisely the sensitivity to registers and adjustments that makes this bike a vehicle with a double personality, a few clicks and you’re done.

This mono is a truly complete bike. The engine is first actor, powerful, but at the same time easy to exploit thanks to the injection, the delivery is clean, electric but full-bodied, the ability to vary the mapping helps those who want to change character to the medium, the soft is very “cut”, the bike even seems to have a smaller displacement, slow to gas response, useful only on very special occasions with very challenging funds or for those newbies who are not yet familiar with the medium or the bottom that you go to face. The “normal” is the right middle way, powerful but never aggressive, under clean, round to climb and with a decent lengthening, while the “hard” is the mapping adrenaline. It manages to give the pleasure that only the large displacements can give. The response is more abrupt, especially in the reopening, but when you open the throttle, the engine already asks for the next gear rising rapidly in rpm, increases the sensitivity and allows you to climb over the obstacle with ease, then stretching to an excellent value of final power.

The chassis then adapts perfectly to the character you want to give the bike, always maintaining a handling reference for the category, an excellent entry into the curve, great traction in off-road and great grip on asphalt. Strange and particular the weight distribution, with the tank that, positioned almost under the saddle, lowers the center of gravity and makes the bike more immediate, easy to handle and responsive, but also gives special reactions, especially on the control of the rear axle. Great traction, in fact, but also to be controlled in the most pronounced counter-steers where the bike tends to take a thread too much, carried forward by the inertia of the tank, the ability to customize the suspension at will, however, gives a range of choice to the user really wide.

Small flaws: the steering radius is not exaggerated; the assembly of the new plates has partly improved the problem of the previous model but has not solved it. The strange positioning of the rear brake master cylinder, very nice from a stylistic point of view, but a little exposed if you go off-road for real. The bike, however, is not designed for the extremes of the world, so, in the end, it’s fine. Finally, we would put the discomfort that you feel after a few hours on the bike, the saddle is hard and narrow as a racing and the back of the back is aware of it, then the passenger is definitely sacrificed. Surely it was not designed to do 600 kilometers a day on the highway, but a little more comfort would not hurt, but unfortunately would increase the height, another small flaw for those who are less than 1 meter high and 70.

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