Julian Challis says a fond farewell to his long-term KTM during a final ride.
It’s been a busy end to the summer with the KTM 690 Enduro R in terms of saddle time and workshop time to get the most out of this very capable motorcycle. Prior to the rather wonderful ABR Festival in July, I’d been looking to upgrade the cockpit and bars to make the bike a bit more trail friendly. The solution came in the form of a set of my go-to handlebar choice, Renthal Twinwalls, in a suitably orange hue from the KTM catalogue.
The bars are a more comfortable bend than the stock Fatbars, although if I were to own this bike, I’d add a set of 25mm bar risers also to make standing a tad easier. With the bars sorted, I needed to look at the luggage carrying capacity of the bike, as balancing things on the back of the seat isn’t very satisfactory, nor is the 690’s total lack of any single attachment points at the rear of the machine. I also needed to get around the fact that once you have eventually managed to strap a bag securely in place, you have to remove it at every fuel stop thanks to the rear mounted fuel tank and cap.
The solution to both these problems came in the form of an exquisitely made rear rack from Perun Moto. Fitting was incredibly simple and I now had somewhere to hold my luggage on longer trips. Thanks to the design that goes around the filler cap, I could leave it there all day long, and in the new KTM 38-litre roll bag it would be dry too. Bonzer!
The final bit of the jigsaw to improve the bike’s adventure credentials came with upgrading the footpegs. KTM does fit pretty good pegs as standard, but I was keen to try a set of Pivot Pegs on the Enduro R to see if they made a difference over a long trip, and whether the pivoting action was as useful as the manufacturers made out. Swapping over was relatively painless, which if you’ve ever refitted footpeg springs, is a recommendation in itself.
My chance to try all these upgrades came initially with a few days out on the local lanes with the TRF Bristol lads, followed by a trip to the Dorset coast and back. The forecast suggested we’d be riding in heavy rain for a full 48 hours. The lanes were predictably drenched but thanks to the new bars and pegs the riding was a blast, even if a tad harder than the halcyon dry days of summer.
But, for all its prowess on the lanes, the 690 Enduro R does have an Achilles heel, and that’s its ability to get over fallen trees on wet lanes. The 690 is far heavier than the trail bikes I was riding with and with that bloody linkage, it gets stuck really easily. It’s also hard to shift without help, thanks to the rear mounted fuel tank, the lack of any easy lifting points, and the super-hot exhaust end can getting in the way.
But, misplaced forestry and design flaws aside, the Enduro R completed the 300 mile, two-day trip with ease, my hands comfortable and protected by the new bars, my feet cossetted by Pivot Pegs, and my luggage held secure and dry in the KTM Bag on the new rack – I love it when a plan comes together.
So, with summer turning to autumn, the KTM 690 Enduro R has been recalled to Orange HQ at Silverstone and our brief summer affair is over. Over six months, it’s taken me all over the UK on and off-road with a near constant smile on my face, and I’m genuinely sorry to see it go. It’s a fantastically enjoyable bike.