KTM 690 Duke, SMC & Enduro - One Motor, Three Very Different Motorcycles - First Ride

By Roland Brown, Photography by Milagro

There's a whiff of dj vu about KTM's '08 LC4 launch, but for all the right reasons. A year after the 690 SM introduction, we were back in Spain to ride the 690 Duke, Enduro and SMC, all powered by the latest 654cc single with enough other changes to keep things interesting.

690 Duke
The 690 Duke gets a sharp new suit and more muscle underneath. It's the most powerful LC4, thanks to an airbox and exhaust system that bump peak output to an alleged 65 horsepower at 7500 rpm. Fly-by-wire injection fuels a riot of acceleration. Braking and cornering are equally fierce, and a vibe-canceling balance shaft means the Duke can be caned to an indicated 115 mph with minimal discomfort. The bolt-upright riding position is the big drag there. Better to make up some time in the bends, where the Duke's lightness, quick steering and capable suspension make for rapid, entertaining progress. The Duke can be thrown into turns with a tweak of that wide Magura handlebar with nothing on the deck but a boot toe and the sticky Dunlop Sportmax radials. Stopping is just as immediate. Brakes deliver instant bite, if not quite enough control, but that's the Duke: mad, bad and always entertaining.

690 SMC
If the Duke is eccentric, the 690 SMC is certifiably insane. Essentially the same engine in a lighter chassis on longer-travel suspension and sticky street rubber, the SMC is similar to last year's 690 SM, but with significant differences. Developed from KTM's Rally racebike, the SMC's airbox is above its engine. A self-supporting plastic rear subframe holds the bike's 3.2 gallons of fuel and forms a base for the dual seat. A fully adjustable 48mm WP fork delivers 10.8 inches of travel, almost matched by the 10.4 inches of the WP shock out back. The SM has just 8.3 inches front and rear. The SMC's 17-inch wire-spoke wheels wear Pirelli Supercorsa Pro rubber. Its front brake is a Brembo blend: 320mm disc and four-pot, four-pad radial caliper like the Duke's, but no radial master cylinder.

Straight-line performance is akin to the Duke as well. An equally exposed riding position gives a similar feeling of speed well below the 120-mph maximum. It's still big fun to ride, but less practical than the Duke. That's partly due to a narrow seat that towers 35 inches above the dirt or tarmac. The tank underneath carries 3.2 gallons and puts gas stops about 125 miles apart.

This one really came into its own on the supermoto track, where its lightness, agility and grip made it stunningly fast and controllable though a selection of bends tight enough to stagger most other bikes. Ridden in boot-out supermoto style or knee down like a roadracer, the SMC charged around at a surprisingly rapid pace. It tips into turns with a tweak of those wide bars, punches out quite smartly and then stops on a dime, all with near-limitless cornering clearance. Experienced supermoto pilots will appreciate the slipper clutch, as well as the new engine's robust feel and balance-shaft smoothness.

On the downside, the SMC is too focused for most riders, especially since it's pricier than the standard 690 SM. But as a competitive, street-legal supermoto racer that's huge fun on track days or twisty roads, KTM's craziest single makes perfect sense.

690 Enduro
This third 690 is bred from KTM's works racers, using the same LC4 engine and desert-developed chassis as the SMC. Its airbox also lives above the engine. The self-supporting plastic tank is below the seat with the battery. Wheels are 21-inch front and 18-inch rear, both wire spoke and fitted with wave-pattern brake discs and Metzeler Enduro 3 dual-purpose rubber. The Enduro's road manners are similar to the SMC's, at least in a straight line. Beyond that, the Enduro is a forgiving, capable off-road accomplice. Broad power spread, light weight and excellent suspension get you through all but the toughest sections. Like its brethren, the Enduro's EFI offers alternative fuel maps, including one to digest low-grade gasoline. There's little use for this on the others, but in difficult terrain, especially mud, the low-power option-30 percent less peak power and softer delivery everywhere-makes life easier. That's just one example of KTM's meticulous attention to practical off-road details. Accessories including a larger, 4.8-gallon Baja-style fuel tank will make it even more capable, too. The 690 Enduro may not always get you where you want to go. But when the going gets long and tough, you've got a better chance on this bike than on anything else.

Tech Spec
KTM 690 Duke
Evolution
The archetypal Austrian single gets new cam, fly-by-wire EFI and some fresh chassis bits

Rivals
BMW Xmoto, Husqvarna SM610, Husaberg FS650e

TECH
Price: $9498
Engine type: l-c four-stroke single
Displacement: 654cc
Bore x stroke: 102.0 x 80.0mm
Compression: 11.7:1
Fuel system: Keihin EFI
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate
Transmission: 6-speed
Claimed horsepower: 63.5 bhp @ 7500 rpm
Claimed torque: 49.4 lb.-ft. @ 5500 rpm
Frame: Tubular-steel trellis
Front suspension: 48mm WP inverted fork with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Rear suspension: Single WP shock, adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Front brake: Single Brembo four-piston caliper, 320mm disc
Rear brake: Single Brembo two-piston caliper, 240mm disc
Front tire: 120/70-ZR17 Dunlop Sportmax GPR
Rear tire: 160/60-ZR17 Dunlop Sportmax GPR
Rake/trail: 26.5/4.5 in.
Seat height: 34.1 in.
Fuel capacity: 3.6 gal.
Claimed dry weight: 327 lbs.
Color: Orange, white
Availability: Now
Warranty: 12 months, 12,000 mi.

Contact:
KTM North America, Inc.
1119 Milan Ave.
Amherst, OH
440.985.3553
http://www.ktmusa.com

Verdict
Nobody but nobody does one big cylinder better than KTM.

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