Back in 2008, KTM introduced the all-new 690 SMC model, a performance bike built for the track and yet which ended up being street legal and implicit available for the large public. But what precisely did this model offered we could only now find after getting the chance to take it for a spin. Meanwhile, it carried on as a 2009 model year, sells good despite the economy going from bad to worse and deals with the stiff competition ensured also by European manufacturers.
KTM’s only Supermoto model, the 690 SMC is still a relatively new introduction, but one that knows its way around to making people fall for it after a single twist of the throttle. That’s the case of most riders with all of their new acquisitions and we just happened to perfectly fit in SMC’s targeted public.
In this case, the fuel-injected 654cc motor is beloved for showing incredible numbers on the dyno (63 horsepower) and for the fact that it only weighs 305.4 lbs. Stop reading the numbers over and over again and try to imagine how this thing will perform on tight roads because street legality was a must while developing it. Not only it will leave behind all the supersports (only on the twisties) like most of these thumpers do, but you’ll be finishing your coffee before they even get to the point you’ve planned to meet.
The frame was designed with mass centralization and implicit handling in mind while the suspensions and brakes are all fancy performance units so, all around, the bike is ideal both for the track and the streets.
Aprilia is the incontestable leader of the Supermoto class not because they offer the biggest engine, but due to the smartest engine type. Their SXV 4.5 – 5.5 is powered by a 77-degree, four-stroke, V-twin engine and is available displacing either 450cc or 550cc, offering a whole different blast compared to single-cylinder engines. This sets Aprilia apart from the rest of the crowd when it comes to this motorcycle class and we can understand why.
The strongest competitor for the still new born KTM is without a doubt the Husqvarna SM 610. Also a 2009 model year, this is strikingly similar to the KTM and features a 576cc four-stroke, 4 valves, SOHC, Liquid Cooled Single which gets fed through an electronic fuel injection system. Husqvarna’s engine is known to be just a little bit weaker than KTM’s but still able to make a statement in the Supermoto class that both try to lead. Just check out the comparative results of the dyno. An aftermarket exhaust will sure get that curve closer to KTM’s.
You will also find the BMW G 650 Xmoto followed by the Yamaha XT 660 X and Aprilia Pegaso 650 Factory unimpressive when compared to the leader of the class.
One of the most aggressive styled KTM motorcycle destined to hit the roads, the 690 SMC has its own very good idea on how street super motards should look. Massive and yet refined! Every single exterior piece blends perfectly in with another, creating this way a compact looking motorcycle. But things would have been much simpler for designers if they wouldn’t have chosen to go for sharp edges all around this thumper, including the seat. Have you ever seen a top notch manufacturer to do any concessions? I haven’t and for KTM, the SMC is a good “go for it” example.
Colors combination is Black and Orange, just like on most KTM found in the lineup today.
Experience has thought us that some decisions simply can’t be wrong when choosing your bike. Just as you can’t do a mistake when turning to Harley-Davidson to look for the ideal cruising/touring motorcycle, you’ll never regret buying a KTM when it comes to motocross/off-road/supermoto/adventure motorcycles. It’s like a voice inside your head telling you to go for it and that was precisely what leads us towards KTM for a test run on their 690 SMC model.
Built around an LC4 engine which develops an impressive 63 hp at 7,500 rpm and 64 Nm at 6,000 rpm, our demands from it were the greatest and we must say that the SMC is always happy to provide. Powerful acceleration make your arms feel like being ripped apart especially in the first three gears of the transmission (a six-speed unit). This thing is built to provide instant power and torque at all times and the engine will never feel like not being up for the task as long as the task implies a supermoto track and not the open road. The greatest thing about the 690 SMC is that the rider barely finishes twisting the throttle and the exhaust has already released the burned gasses into the atmosphere. So throttle response is absolutely instant and, of course, it’s impossible to abstain yourself from doing wheelies on every straight patch of pavement that lays in front of your eyes.
The seat is pretty high mounted (35.43"), but the average sized rider will do just fine on the bike as the handlebars and footpegs arrangement allows for proper control at all times. The single-cylinder engine displacing 654 cc doesn’t transmit more than its small fair share of vibrations, but so do all supermoto engines.
Handling is absolutely sweet, but does require a little bit of getting used to. The supermoto style is pretty unique and inviting so each and every bike should be discovered gradually. Then, features such as the 48 mm WP USD forks and WP monoshock will stand out as being ideal for the specific model. Also, riding on a pair of 17-inch standard spoked wheels featuring extra grippy rubber, the SMC goes fast, secure and precise around all tight corners and doesn’t miss a chance showing how good that chassis actually is. Featuring a 63-degree rake and 4.41" trail, this works just fine on the unpaved sections of the track and although a little harsh, the suspensions won’t kill anyone.
The price is expected to be a little spicy so KTM fits the 690 SMC with expensive Brembo brakes featuring four pistons with a 320 mm disc up front and a single piston with a 240 mm disc at the rear just so that the buyer would feel a little spoiled, not that the high performance units wouldn’t be absolutely necessary or anything. Implicit, this thing benefits of as much stopping power as it does of acceleration and proves being a great all around performer as long as it is used according to the purpose of its creation.
Such a bike will never be sweet on long trips. In fact, it will turn into a killer for the back, arms and legs and the only sections where the rider and will feel ‘at home’ are the twisties. That’s where the throttle stays wide opened and even most supersport bikes will remain way back as they simply can’t go that fast around the corners. Yet, even those are more comfortable than the 690 SMC at long trips.
Dealers in the United States sold the 2008 model year for an MSRP of $9 grand which seems a little pricey and it’s expected to go even higher for the 2009 model year. Although KTM hasn’t yet announced the new starting price, this bike is never going to be a beginner’s first choice, as only experienced riders dare to pay the buck. A newbie would definitely consider going for the similar priced 600cc Japanese supersport bikes for obvious reasons, but every bike comes with its benefits and disadvantages, leaving the KTM feeling fun and a bit expensive.
No matter the category, manufacturers try to obtain the ideal power to weight ratio which most of the time reflects on the sales numbers. And, despite the price, this is exactly what sells the 2009 KTM 690 SMC. Featuring an extremely powerful KTM LC4 engine which proved successful not only in this case (690 Duke, 690 SMR, and 690 Enduro are three other models equipped with this engine), being light and looking damn good, the 690 SMC is one of the most tempting Supermotos out there.
Engine and Transmission
Engine type: Single cylinder, 4-stroke
Displacement: 654 cc
Bore x stroke: 102 / 80 mm (4.02 / 3.15")
Performance (homologated): 46.3 kW / 7,500 rpm
Max. torque: 64 Nm / 6,000 rpm
Compression ratio: 11.8:1
Starter/Battery: E-Starter / 12 V 8.6 Ah
Transmission: 6 gears, dog clutch engagement
Fuel Mixture Generation: Keihin EMS with EPT (Electr. Power Throttle)
Control: 4 V / OHC with roller rocker levers
Lubrication: Pressure lubrication with 2 oil pumps
Engine lubrication: Motorex, fully synthetic, SAE 10W-60
Primary drive: 36:79
Final drive: 16:42
Cooling: Liquid cooled
Clutch: APTC slipper clutch, hydraulically operated
Ignition: Keihin EMS
Chassis and Dimensions
Frame: Chromium-Molybdenum trellis frame, powder coated
Subframe: Self-supporting plastics tank
Handlebar: Aluminium, Ø 28 / 22 mm (1.10 / 0.87"), tapered
Front suspension: WP USD Ø 48 mm (1.89")
Rear suspension: WP mono shock with Pro Lever Linkage
Suspension travel front/rear: 275 / 265 mm (10.83 / 10.43")
Front brake: Brembo four piston, radially bolted caliper, brake disc Ø 320 mm (12.6")
Rear brake: Brembo single piston, floating caliper, brake disc Ø 240 mm (9.45")
Rims, front/rear: Spoked wheels with aluminium rims 3,5 x 17"; 5 x 17"
Tires, front/rear: 120/70 ZR 17; 160/60 ZR 17
Chain: X-ring chain 5/8 x 1/4"
Main silencer: Stainless steel silencer with regulated catalytic converter
Steering head angle: 63°
Trail: 112 mm (4.41")
Wheel base: 1480 ± 15 mm (58.27 ± 0.59")
Ground clearance (unloaded): 290 mm (11.42")
Seat height: 900 mm (35.43")
Tank capacity: approx. 12 liters (3.17 gal) / 2.5 Litre Reserve (0.66 gal)
Weight (no fuel): approx. 139.5 kg (305.4 lbs)