Ride It To
Any double black
the local MX track,
the Baja 1000.
KTM 690 Enduro R
KTM’s 690 Enduro R isn’t so much a dual sport as an oversize dirtbike with lights and a place for a license plate. At $10,299, the Enduro is certainly expensive compared to the KLR and Terra, but the extra money isn’t wasted. The Enduro R embodies KTM’s “ready to race” mantra with fully adjustable suspension, top-notch brakes, real off-road rubber, a hydraulically actuated slipper clutch, variable engine maps, and oh so much style. For 2012, KTM increased the LC4’s stroke by 4.5mm, pushing displacement from 654 to a full 690cc. The Enduro also got a restyled tank and radiator shrouds and a lower, flatter seat. It’s still a board compared to the KLR and Terra perches, though, and at 3 feet off the ground even our tallest rider (at 6-foot-2) struggled to get both boots flat on the ground at stops.
That trellis frame is a thing of beauty, and the KTM’s 690cc engine produces plenty of bru
A light flywheel gives the KTM a much more aggressive personality than its companions, with a big hit off the bottom and strong top-end carry. The KTM isn’t remotely as good a commuter as the KLR and Terra, but it is fun. Twist the throttle and it’ll either wheelie or spin the rear tire, depending on where you’re positioned on the seat. Its Pirelli Rallycross tires have surprisingly good traction considering how intermittent the knobbies’ contact patches are, and the handling is light thanks no doubt to that wide bar and the bike’s 308-lb. wet weight, which undercuts the KLR’s figure by a massive 125 lbs. The engine has three power modes: normal, hard, and soft. We preferred soft since on/off response is smoother and the engine doesn’t hunt as much at constant throttle. The 3.2-gal. underseat fuel tank requires frequent refilling, but be careful not to overfill it or you may saturate the charcoal canister and pop the throttle body off the intake flange with a 690cc backfire. Don’t ask us how we know.
Big surprise: The KTM falls behind on the freeway. Not for lack of power—the 690 is the most powerful bike here with 48.9 bhp at 7100 rpm—but because anything above 65 mph makes holding the Enduro’s grips feel like you’re grasping a pair of palm sanders. There’s no wind protection for your torso, and since it’s so light, tall, and rolling on knobbies, the KTM sways and shimmies as it sails down the road. It’s actually amusing—for the guy following you.
But nobody would ever look at the Enduro R and expect it to excel as a long-hauler, at least not on pavement. Off road is where the KTM shines, and the faster, steeper, and more technical the terrain, the more you’ll appreciate this bike’s poise and power. The KTM encourages you to turn every pile of dirt into a jump and berm-shot every embankment. The fully adjustable WP fork and shock feel firm but never harsh, even when slamming through rocky sections at speed. KTM’s Enduro R is definitely exciting, but requires some focus to ride since it is so high-strung and sharp-handling. Steering is sensitive. Throttle response immediate. Power prodigious.
The KTM demands—and deserves—to be ridden aggressively, and we’re not too proud to admit that the 690’s off-road abilities surpass our own. This is a serious and uncompromising dual sport, best suited to the committed rider who wants to spend the majority of his time in the woods or desert. If you live at the foot of a trail-streaked mountain range, the 690 Enduro R is the dual sport for you.