KTM presented the all-new 690 Enduro at the Paris Motor Show and although it attracted a fair crowd, it didn’t had the same effect as the SMC, which determined many enthusiasts to make their deposits and wait for the bike to arrive in the United States.
KTM made an important first step before unveiling the 690 Enduro to the motorcycling public: it presented the 690 Baja as a truly competitive off-road motorcycle which was to be ridden at the famous race by Cyril Depres, winner of the 2007 Dakar Rally, podium-familiar Chris Blais and Davis Pearson. This way, the racing success that is about to come will determine the average rider to get a feel of the machine that takes everyone on the podium.
In order to satisfy the rider’s expectations, the Austrian manufacturer had the bike fitted with one of their best performing engines, the LC4 and kept the weight down for easy handling.
2007 Honda XR650R
Even though the KTM attracted famous names along its side, everybody knows the leader of the Baja 500 as being a Honda. The XR650R is unfairly considered to be dated. It doesn’t mean that if a manufacturer hits jackpot from the first time, like Honda did, other models after it will necessarily be better and with the 690’s listed dry weight being 28lbs heavier, having 2 inches less suspension travel and 0.2” less ground clearance, the KTM 690 Enduro isn’t quite the bike that would dethrone the King of Baja.
Even less able to do that is the Kawasaki KLR650 which although strongly revised and implicit new for 2008, it is more of a dual-sport that adapted to the “good life” offered by the highways and even though it offers sufficient off-road performance didn’t manages to make a statement in the fight with the Honda or the KTM.
2008 Husqvarna TE610
I find the Husqvarna TE610 more suitable for the fight with the 690 Enduro, not just because the two manufacturers compete since they found out one about the other’s existence, but because the 576cc 4-stroke, 4 valves, SOHC, Liquid Cooled Single engine is incredibly strong-pulling and comparative to KTM’s LC8. The only thing I don’t appreciate at the Husqvarna and I reckon you don’t either is the $7,398 suggested retail price comparative with Honda’s $6,349.
2008 KTM 690 Enduro
Although it doesn’t manage to perform better than the Honda XR650R, the KTM 690 Enduro looks far better. Basically a 690 SMC without the supermoto wheels, suspensions and stature, it looks easier to handle as its center of gravity is much lower.
Like a true dual-purpose motorcycle, the headlight and mirrors couldn’t have missed, but their design is stylish and attractive, proof of the fact that KTM is dedicated to delivering attractive motorcycles, not only good performing ones.
The bike’s front end is dominated by the Orange of the mudguards, fender and headlight fairing which makes it easily identifiable out on the trails. Just like on the SMC, the Enduro’s exterior features are far from being rounded as a rougher appearance was approached. The narrow seat is also a testimony of this successful attempt.
KTM prefers to individualize its models form the Japanese ones and the rest of the European offering so the exhaust system is positioned on the rider’s left side, having the muffler attached underneath the rear mudguards.
Wheels are 18” and dressed up in off-road rubber. Apart from the engine’s protective shield, there aren’t many things to set this bike apart from its close cousin, the 690 SMC.
Orange and Black are the dominating colors on this new released KTM.
Offered for the MSRP of $8,898, the subject of this review is the among the cheapest KTM’s featuring the LC4 engine and one of the most expensive bikes in its class.
By fitting it with the new 690 engine, KTM intended on creating an incredibly versatile motorcycle that would not only compete in the Baja 500 race across the desert, but offer true excitement to all riders who will swing a leg over it. As soon as this exciting looking bike will be available for a test drive we will have the opportunity to see if this goal was accomplished or not.