KTM 690 Enduro R


Julian Challis completes the UK portion of the Trans Europe Trail on his long-term KTM 690 Enduro R

So, it’s been a full four months with the KTM 690 Enduro R in the garage and the bike has fitted into the Challis fleet almost seamlessly. Its ability to cope with whatever I throw at it has been unexpected but particularly welcome, as has its constant grin-inducing acceleration and fondness for one-wheel tomfoolery.

But there was little time for wheelies and skids after my return from trail riding in Mid Wales with the TRF lads, as I was due to set off for the final part of my TET pilgrimage just a few days later.

Given the experience with the bike on the lanes in Powys, replacing the Mitas E07s with some more grippy and off-road biased rubber was the number one priority. First on the wish list was a set of MotOz Tractionators which I’d heard some very good reports about.

I’d tried to source a pair for my Yamaha XT660Z Ténéré prior to the Hard Alpi Extreme event back in September 2018, but a lack of availability for the Ténéré’s odd-sized wheels had scotched that plan.

Thankfully, the 690 Enduro R’s more conventional 21/18-inch wheels made things far simpler, and a swift call to David at Adventure Spec persuaded me to go with the RallZ rather than the originally planned hybrid tyres.

A few days later, my long-suffering postie delivered a box-fresh set of not only the fantastic looking hoops, but a pair of ultra- heavy-duty tubes – these bad boys were so thick they could probably run as tyres on their own! Wanting a ‘belt and braces’ arrangement to avoid punctures, I also got in touch with Bike Seal for a bottle of their kevlar-based tyre sealant which I run on all my tubed tyres.

Armed with a car boot full of goodies, a quick trip to Classic Enduro saw the new tyres fitted and tubes loaded with sealant, and a few hours later they were back on the bike and looking pretty damn fit for purpose. Next up was attempting to get some luggage carrying capacity for the trip, which on the 690 Enduro R turned out to be a bit of a tall order.

The 2019 models is substantially different to the 2018 version, a fact I only discovered when I drilled holes in the rear plastics to fit a luggage rack and nothing lined up – doh!

Using this particular KTM without a rack is not that easy as, firstly, there’s nowhere to attach any straps or bungees, secondly, you have to remove everything to refuel and, thirdly, when you do move everything to refuel, you have to be very careful not to inadvertently melt your bags on the unfeasibly hot end can!

Luckily, the SW Motech catalogue came to the rescue with a rather marvellous expandable tank bag, which combined with a front fender pack for tools, a Kreiga pack for my waterproofs and a Givi rucksack managed to accommodate everything I needed for the trip from pants to padlocks.

As a traveller prone to habitual overpacking, the limited space made me concentrate on prioritising the travel essentials rather than the usual unnecessary clutter. As to the TET trip, the 690 R performed its duties faultlessly. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it may well be the perfect TET bike.

Oh Man, I’ve really kicked the hornet’s nest now! But I’d stand by that view. It’s light enough to take on the worst of the off-road sections without breaking sweat, yet powerful and comfortable enough to gobble up the roadwork and make both equally enjoyable.

Add in a 160-mile fuel range, which isn’t far off what you want to achieve each day and a tall, commanding riding position, and I’d say the 690 is ideal for the job. And what about those MotOz tyres? Well I couldn’t fault the Australian hoops on every surface we encountered – when combined with the KTM’s effortless traction control system the drive on everything from polished rock climbs to snotty lanes was incredible.

Price: £9,599
Engine: 690cc Single-cylinder, Liquid-cooled 4-stroke, 50HC
Power: 146kg (dry)
Torque: 270mm
Suspension: 250mm
Gearbox: 13.5l
Seat Height: 910mm

I don’t think I span up the wheel unintentionally in over 450 miles from Kendal to Newcastle. And with equally sure-footed road manners and little signs of any wear, these are seriously impressive tyres. But for all the success of the trip, I definitely need to address some issues with the Katoosh.

First off is to get a rear luggage rack sorted and I’ve tracked down a beautifully made one from Perun Moto that is a straight fit to the 2019 model.

Next on the list is some different bars as I’m not a huge fan of the bend or the low rise of the stock Neken ones and, once changed, I’ll need some wraparound handguards to protect the levers. Oh, and maybe some better footpegs… Time to reach for the KTM Hard Parts catalogue, I think.