Monday, April 28, 2014

Initial impressions: 2014 KTM 690 Enduro R

To date, I have put just 50 Kms on my brand new KTM 690 Enduro, but here are some observations. Also, note that I have only ridden it in the city (I haven't done any Dakar Rallies with it yet, no Baja races, no SuperCross events, and no RedBull Romaniacs competitions).

The good:

1. Engine power is very strong, and delivery is linear. Silky smooth, especially for a single cylinder.

2. Engine vibration is noticeable but not excessive.

3. Fuelling is spot on: no flat spots, hesitations, surging, backfiring, or exhaust popping whatsoever. Just quick and responsive throttle action.

4. Brakes are awesome. From what I've seen on the street, the anti-lock system is excellent.

5. Ride-by-wire throttle is smooth & precise.

6. Handling is light and nimble. A very agile bike to ride in the city. Suspension is soft and plushy, yet firm at the same time.

7. Headlight output is better than I expected. This is a pleasant surprise.

8. The gear shift indicator is a nice feature. It's new for 2014.

The bad:

1. The seat is absolutely terrible. Or, maybe I have delicate buttocks. This will need to be upgraded very soon.

2. The radiator fan comes on frequently in medium city traffic. My right boot and pant leg were wet from occasional shots of engine coolant coming from the radiator overflow hose. I plan to swap out the OEM 102°C fan temp switch for the 88°C Suzuki LTZ400 unit as discussed on While this won't prevent the fan from coming on so often, it will hopefully prevent coolant from shooting out the overflow hose.

3. Gearing is a little short for sustained highway riding (4,500 RPM @ 100 Km/h seems a little wound up to me). I can't imagine slabbing it for more than 30 minutes @ 120 Km/h (at which point the engine is revving ~6,000 RPM). The stock 15/45 gearing is probably just fine for two-track and fire roads, and also for city riding. But for highway riding I'd want to drop 2 or 3 teeth on the rear.

4. The front end weaves around in the wind at highway speeds. While some people find this scary, I've had this with other dual sport bikes. A steering stabilizer might fix it, but I'm sure I won't be bothered by it in the long run.

5. The OEM muffler throws a lot of heat -- even 20 minutes after the engine is turned off. Also, the sound of the factory exhaust system is rather wimpy. I'd like something a little more manly sounding (not loud, but something with a slightly deeper growl).

6. The fuel cap is a piece of junk. I can't believe the engineers at KTM haven't done something to improve this inferior design. KTM should issue a factory recall to replace this crap cap. I expect it will break within 5 fill-ups at the gas station. I guess I'll have to choose between the billet filler necks and caps offered by CJ Designs or Rally-Raid-UK.

7. Nowhere to carry the tool kit? What the fuck is up with that? Maybe the engineers at KTM feel the bike is so reliable you shouldn't need to carry the tool kit. But then, why did they include it?