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Which Bike? Comments and Questions on what is the best bike for YOU, for YOUR trip. Note that we believe that ANY bike will do, so please remember that it's all down to PERSONAL OPINION. Technical Questions for all brands go in their own forum.
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  #1  
Old 19 May 2009
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Talk me out of a new(ish) KTM 690

Hello,
I've planed a trip through the Balkans. The Idea is to go to Romania, do the Enduromania there, then head east to Ukraine and take the ferry to Istanbul. From there on I'll basically be going west towards the Adria, through Bulgaria and maybe Greece. Then it's northwards through Albania, (quick peek into Kosovo), Croatia and then back home to Germany. All together I recon it's about 8 to 10.000km (just guessing here).

The only problem is: My designated travel bike (TT600R) is falling apart on me. I'm not gonna dive into the specific problem here, but after having fixed it, I rather not use it for traveling any more as some major breakdown would mean the end of my trip and I have a bad feeling that exactly this will happen.

I want to do as much as possibly of my Trip on the smaller (unpaved) backroads, but I also need to be able to do a quick day on the highway, ride around Istanbul with my girl on the back (comes flying in, we'll not be going two-up), and be gone fast after insulting english football fans in the local pub.

Also this Trip (I call it Project Balkan ) will be my last long trip for the foreseeable future. After that I might get away here and there for a couple of days, maybe two weeks, but not months at a time and not much farther then say Morocco or Romania.

With that in mind: What I'm looking for is a bike to blow around Frankfurt (my hometown), take trips with, go off road in Romania, Morocco, France, Italy or god knows where and just have fun with.

What I'm not looking for is a Bike that can go round the world without any maintenance, can run 200km/h all day, is heavy like the GS or nimble like a 125.

In comes the new KTM 690. Lightweight, high powered, cute, lovable, 180kgs of max load and with the optional Touratech Boxes able to transport all my crap around. It seems just the perfect bike for me.

It's hard to reasonable when you're in love, but I'll try:

Good:
  • Oil Change every 5.000km, Valves every 10.000. Looks like KTM thinks this engine might be relativly solid.
  • Lightweight (about 150kg ready to go)
  • Fast!
  • Beautifull!
  • Extended Warranty cover's everywhere I'll be going for the next two years (except Albania).
  • Good for cruising on-road.
Bad:
  • Expensive
  • Engine is unproven so far (except for the Dakar )
  • Seemingly needs some kind of exotic oil (0W-60?).
I'll be heading to Romania at the End of July so I need to make a decision soon, start searching and buy the bike and all the stuff (basically a bashplate and a set of panniers).

So why not go to the KTM Dealer right now and just buy the thing?

Thanks!
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www.buebo.de - Der tägliche Wahnsinn

Last edited by buebo; 19 May 2009 at 08:24. Reason: typos
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  #2  
Old 19 May 2009
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same thoughts

The 690E takes 10w-60 for sure although I remember seeing a page of the latest manual which says 10w-50 as well.

I am in the same boat on this. The 690E is one of the few bikes that really ticks my boxes. I tried out the 690smc (same engine different wheels) and I was blown away. I tried it back to back with my XT660R and they felt like they were different forms of transport. The motor is just superb. I’ve also looked at BMW XChallenges but they have stopped production (you can still get the softer street version). In many ways it’s not so much that the KTM doesn’t have some potentially serious weaknesses for what I want to do (Russia/Asia) rather the other new bikes just aren’t going in the same design direction to really interest me.
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  #3  
Old 19 May 2009
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It appears that the KTM just has an oil capacity of about 2,6 liters. To me that would mean just to take about 3 liters of oil with me and do the change somewhere on the road.

Also 3 Liters of Oil would come up to about 3,5kg (or so). At least in Eastern Europe shipping should no pose to many problems...

I have a test ride scheduled for tomorrow

If anybody has any things I should ask the dealer, now would be the time. Personally I'm very interested in how the extended warranty actually works. As I unterstand it I could get the bike serviced in Greece and be good for the rest of the trip...
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  #4  
Old 19 May 2009
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Cheers,

the KTM 690 is certainly a good bike for such trips. However, if you'll visit the german HU meeting, you may see me talking about doing all these things with the bigger KTM 990 Adventure.

Stephan
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  #5  
Old 19 May 2009
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By the sound of things you're planning a lot of Km on paved roads for touring and possibly with a pillion.

A thumper even a KTM will vibrate and eventually tire you out. I have ridden a 650 thumper for many years and although still very much in love with it I am looking for something smoother with proven offroad ability (not extreme).

Take a look at the GS800 before you spend your cash.

I do think the 690 is hot and if your heart is set on it then there's no amount of reasoning that'll change your mind!

Cheers!
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  #6  
Old 19 May 2009
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yup i agree ktm do make a nice bike. i am however unsure of their low maintainence. yeah service schedules might be good but how long do they hold together. not sure. so my solution. xr650r with softluggage. its one hell of a travel bike considering its a big thumper and honda reliable. do a thread search and you will see the abuse it will take. and as for a ktm, well i bought a superduke for my road riding and it is bloody fantastic (if you forget the engine rebuild underwarranty and the leaking clocks)
do consider the xr, it may be old but it still is a fantastic bike
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  #7  
Old 19 May 2009
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Thanks for the advice so far, keep 'em coming!

Actually I'll be trying to avoid the big roads and take the smaller and ideally unpaved roads as much as I can. In my experience the thumper vibrations get really tiresome if you're doing motorways and such where you maintain the same speed for an extended period of time in the twisties it might be another story.

I test rode an old LC4 once and I'm certain that I must have lost some fillings in the process, just because of the vibrations. The newer design is supposed to vibrate a lot less. How much is 'a lot less'? Well I'll know tomorrow.

As for the XR650R: They are almost impossible to find here in Germany, at any given time there's never more than a handfull of them in used condition, not sure if they were ever officially sold here at all. It's probably possible to get one and order spare parts for it at the local Honda Dealership.

In theory I would be able to do routine maintenance myself but for the KTM there's a couple of dealers nearby, a lot of farkles floating round the net and more of a comunity (at least in Germany, Austria and the rest of Europe).

The bigger bikes (KTM 990, GS 800) are much better at eating up long distances - I agree - and seem to be the natural choice for such a trip. But they are bigger and heavier. I don't doubt that a better rider can take one of those beasts to places I would not get to on my own feed.

However for me a thumper just does it more. For one I'll be traveling alone for the most part and I need to be able to pick up my bike without relying on help, even with a hangover or while suffering from other tropic diseases.

Also after this trip I want to do some more dirt riding, maybe the Enduromania next year, maybe some trips in the Alps, maybe even morocco for two weeks. Not necessarily traveling maybe just having a basecamp somewhere and go from there...

So it just seems that more dirt and less street makes sense in choosing a bike (also I do have another road bike).

Cheers
buebo
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  #8  
Old 19 May 2009
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vibes

The 690 lump does vibrate less. I thought my xT660r was supposed to be pretty smooth, in a budget kind of way, but the 690 is better. I found the vibration less annoying everywhere and especially at 70mph on the motorway. My hands were blue at 85 and white at 95mph. On the 690 they were still perfectly pink at 95 (or so they felt) but by 110mph I was more worried about maintaining the link between my arms and my shoulder joints.
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  #9  
Old 19 May 2009
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I've had mine for a few weeks now although it has only done 600km. I want to keep it good for road use but improve it a little for off road. so far I've fitted rox risers, a metal bashplate, MT21 tyres and I've ordered a Wings silencer to try to cut the weight a little. The gearing seems to be the best compromise for road and off road but the biggest issue for road riding is the seat - I can't imagine what KTM were thinking but for me the seat is painfully uncomfortable after about 10km. I have and have had various enduro bikes that are ten times more comfortable. Once I've sorted the seat I will fit a small screen and a rack so I can use it for some weekend trips.

Warranty and service intervals were a major reason for moving away from EXCs as well as the improved road manners and I have to say I'm generally happy with it but a little disappointed that I'm spending more on aftermarket stuff to make it work for me than I would on an enduro bike.
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  #10  
Old 19 May 2009
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So far I'm annoyed with all of you. I just had a simple and reasonable request.

Talk me out of the new KTM!
Now I'm more into it then I ever was!



Let's see how that test ride tomorrow goes. Hopefully I can have the bike for some hours. I will report after that.
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  #11  
Old 19 May 2009
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well...

Get yourself over to advrider (KTM 690 Adv/Rally/Enduro/Duke/SM (merged) threadfest... - Page 516 - ADVrider) just reading the thread alone with take years from your life and you can take comfort from some of the poor 'inmates', as they like to be called, whose 690s have unceremoniously 'grenaded' and left them stranded in the middle of nowhere. Broken gearboxes that lay the blame on material defects, clocks that develop salt smears at 3,000km, airfilters that let dust through, fuel tank bushes that work loose, fuel fillercaps that capture mud and are fiddly to fill.

There, that should help redress the balance.
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Find out details of my 2011 trip to Siberia on a lightweight dirtbike:
www.brighton2expeditions.co.uk
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  #12  
Old 19 May 2009
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....ok then, here's one for you
Many KTM owners undergo a complete metamorphosis, acquire blurred vision and lose all sense of reason. Suddenly everything in their life looses meaning unless it comes in a shade of orange and this includes clothing, reading material, conversation and girlfriends.....with dire consequences.
I recently read about someone calling their KTM the Austrian Hooker. Apparently the reasoning behind this was that the bike was obsessively exciting and fun but always held “her” hand out for cash and attention i.e. maintenance.
You are risking the above.

Think carefully!
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  #13  
Old 20 May 2009
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690 E

Hi there,

I own it 1 year already! The bike is amazing...faster than any other compered to(even XR650R),perfect handling even for deep offroad,I'm sure not bother you.
I don't think you need to carry 10W60,there is a dealer in Bucharest and by your way back to Bulgaria you can find the Bulgarian KTM importer at A1 close to Plovdiv.If you need I can post GPS coordinates.

Enjoy!

Cheers,

Simon
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  #14  
Old 20 May 2009
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12 litre tank, are you sure there are enough gas stations on the "smaller unpaved roads" you plan to take? If you have to carry substantially more fuel in a can, how much original 'fun' of the bike you would have lost?
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  #15  
Old 20 May 2009
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Thanks for all the replies so far. I actually managed to get the bike for two days. Tomorrow is a national Holiday here in Germany. A fact both the Dealer and me realized after I took the bike and rode away with it. There simply was no way to return it this afternoon, so I have also have all of tomorrow to play with it.


A couple of impressions so far:
  • A lot of people seem to complain about the stock seat. For me it works fine. Granted, it's almost as hard as a wooden bench or life itself, but this is an upside for me. I'm a heavy guy (about 95kg) and most stock seats are way too soft for me, I just end up sitting on the seat mold which gets way uncomftable after a while.
  • The Enduro (without R) is no bike for posers. The suspension looks way too short for a serious offroad bike. "Looks like a 125", was the first comment of one of my mates. He looked quite stunned when I outgunned him (Kawa ZXR 600, 98HP) at the next traffic light.
  • The engine might be the finest piece of Austrian work since Elizabeth of Bavaria. When accelerating fun begins to start between 3k and 3.5k rpm and goes straight up even beyond the red line (not that I would do something like this to a rental bike).
  • Lifiting the front in first, second and third gear (!) is easy, almost too easy, especially at a traffic light with some idiots in a pimped up crap ride next to you (didn't do that either).
  • Comftable cruising speed seems to be around 120kph (just below 5500rpm). Over 5500rpm the bike begins to develop quite massive vibrations, which do get anoying and tyring quite fast. Why KTM didn't lay out the sixth gear longer is beyond me...
  • However you can take it up to 170kph, except for the massive vibrations at these rpms it feels suprisingly stable for such a lightweight bike.
  • I took it on a couple of bumpy, unpaved roads. It worked well (as expected). There's no legal offroading here in Germany (except for your local Motocross Club, which we don't have around where I live) so I can't really comment on how it will perform in the serious dirt.
  • Ergonomics is traditionally a strong point of KTM (or so I have been told) and this bike seems to be no exception. Everything is where it belongs and riding feels very natural.
  • I'm no engineer but build quality seems good, with these exceptions:
    • The fuel cap is just crap. I'm not sure if this is a general problem with the 690 Enduro but on my bike you need to push the key so hard, I'm afraid to break it when filling up.
    • The Odometer rots away, even on my rental bike. The German KTM forums suggest this to be some kind of chemical reaction. It looks like mould.
    • On the upside KTM seems to be handing out new Odometers without any crap, which then begin to rot and get replaced just like the first ones. In a couple of years there'll be a lot of 690s around with significantly lower Odometer counts then what they have actually run...
  • Fuel consumption seems to be between 4 and 5 liters. Which gives you a range of about 250km. With two liters carried in case of emergency I recon this to be enough for Europe. Africa might be a different story though.
  • Handling is like I would imagine a rocket powered bicycle. For the little weight there seems way too much power, I constantly find myself riding way too fast, too ruthless and having way too much fun. The weight also seems to be distributed very well. My TT600R weights about the same on paper but feels way heavier.



So far:
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Last edited by buebo; 21 May 2009 at 00:02.
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