2017 KTM 690 Enduro R | Long-Term Ride Review

2017 KTM 690 Enduro R
Nelson-Rigg’s light-but-durable Sierra Dry Saddlebags are attached to KTM’s tubular Case Carrier System. Even holding just a spare tube, the Front Fender Bag makes the fender flex a lot over rough terrain. Photos by Kevin Wing.

We’ve got a soft spot for the hard-edged KTM 690 Enduro R dual-sport. As we reported in our December 2017 review, the 690 is light, powerful, agile and imminently capable, a bike that steps up anyone’s off-road game as long as you can get a leg over its 35.8-inch seat. But the KTM’s 67-horsepower single is buzzy, its seat is rock-hard and its 3.2-gallon tank limits range. We kept the 690 in our long-term fleet to see if we could address these issues.

2017 KTM 690 Enduro R
KTM’s Progressive Handlebar Damping System reduces vibration in the grips; we wish a taller riser was available.

To counteract buzz felt through the grips, we installed KTM’s Progressive Handlebar Damping System ($199.99), a CNC-machined handlebar mount with vibration-damping rubber inserts. Vibration hasn’t been eliminated, but it’s been reduced enough to prevent fatigue and hand tingling, especially at the end of a long ride. Comfort has been further transformed by a Seat Concepts saddle (starting at $294.99), which is wider in the back and has denser, more supportive foam without increasing seat height. With a gripper top, faux carbon-fiber sides and orange stitching, it’s a perfect match for the KTM, and I did a 300-mile day with no discomfort.

2017 KTM 690 Enduro R
The Seat Concepts saddle is remarkably comfortable.

Auxiliary tanks are complicated and expensive, so I carry extra fuel in a 1-gallon RotopaX container ($59.95), which fits perfectly in Nelson-Rigg’s Sierra Dry Saddlebags ($199.95), rugged, waterproof soft bags that hold 27.5 liters in each side. Since they’re designed to attach to a tube rack, we installed KTM’s Case Carrier System ($359.99), which required drilling holes in the bodywork since passenger grab handles (and footpegs) were dropped from the 690 Enduro a few years ago. We also installed KTM’s Touring Windshield ($64.99), a Nelson-Rigg Front Fender Bag ($34.95), tough, infinitely adjustable Doubletake Mirrors ($96) and, from Black Dog Cycle Works, an Ultimate skid plate ($249) and wider, longer Traction footpegs ($229).

2017 KTM 690 Enduro R
Black Dog Cycle Works’ Traction pegs provide a larger platform for stand-up riding and include screw-in traction spikes (not shown).

Our local dealer, Thousand Oaks Powersports (805-497-3765), took care of the 690’s first service ($257.15), and at 1,886 miles, the original Pirelli RallyCross tires are still hanging in there, but the rear will need to be replaced soon. The only mechanical issue we’ve had is a broken return spring for the rear brake lever ($2.35), which was an easy fix. With more comfort, more protection from wind and damage, ample luggage capacity and extra fuel, we’ve greatly expanded the 690 Enduro R’s functional bandwidth both on- and off-road. And we’re having a blast!

2017 KTM 690 Enduro R
Doubletake Mirrors and KTM’s Touring Windshield add to the 690’s versatility.

Resources:

Black Dog Cycle Works blackdogcw.com
Doubletake Mirror doubletakemirror.com
KTM PowerParts ktm.com/ktmpowerparts
Nelson-Rigg nelsonrigg.com
RotopaX rotopax.com
Seat Concepts seatconcepts.com

7 COMMENTS

  1. The 2019 model vibrates even worse. It’s caused me to have a need for orthopedic surgery. This is not a joke. The vibes in the ‘new’ engine are far worse with respect to what the vibes actually do to the human body – the higher frequency vibes have caused nerve damage in both my hands and wrists, and the surgery to remedy this will exceed the cost of the bike.

    KTM USA has refused to discuss this with me. I’ll never buy a new KTM again, and this is after literally 50 years of riding and racing. KTM USA is run by a bunch of people who have no sense of honor or accountability. Spend your money with this in mind.

    • While I’m not sure the comment section of a 690 long term review is the right place to discuss this but KTM USA is correct to not have had that discussion with you.

      I work as a Physical Therapist and if you’ve been riding (and racing!) for FIFTY YEARS you know doubt have hundreds of thousands of miles of strain and vibration on your wrists and hands as well as several injuries over the years (any dirt racer has had an off or two) and when you do, instinct says you stick your hand out to break your fall. I’m sure for you maybe a few dozen times over 50yrs? Nerve damage in the hands without a specific injury is often repetitive in nature. The frequency of vibes on your 690 may have finished the job, but it’s likely you started down that road 50yrs ago.

      Congratulations on 50yrs of riding – I can only hope I get to ride that long myself. But I would suggest that the accountability lies with you Sir, and that your chosen hobby might have more to do with your condition than the buzziness of KTM’s 2019 engine or their Honor as a company.

    • Rubbish. I’ve had the 2001-640, 2014-690, 2016-690 and now the 2019-690.
      The 2019 variant is a serious improvement over the rest of them. New engine design made a serious improvement.
      Only real complaint about all of them is the seat height and seat design.

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