2019 KTM 690 Enduro R Review

The smallest option in KTM’s travel lineup of motorcycles.

The KTM 690 Enduro R has an updated engine, new suspension components, a new chassis, and revised styling in 2019.
The KTM 690 Enduro R has an updated engine, new suspension components, a new chassis, and revised styling in 2019.Jeff Allen

Adventure bikes are as popular as ever, but the 2019 KTM 690 Enduro R proves you don't need multiple cylinders or fancy electronics to comfortably log hundreds of miles a day and have a great time doing it. We spent a couple of weeks riding the 690 Enduro R and became very familiar with the orange machine's qualities both in the dirt and on the street.

2019 KTM 690 Enduro R Engine And Horsepower

Navigating a sandy berm feels effortless thanks to the LC4 powerplant’s plenitude of low-end grunt.
Navigating a sandy berm feels effortless thanks to the LC4 powerplant’s plenitude of low-end grunt.Jeff Allen

For 2019, the 690 Enduro R receives the latest version of the LC4 engine, which is updated with two balancers for an extremely smooth ride throughout the entire rpm range. KTM has placed one balancer in front of the crankshaft as well as one on the cylinder head that is driven by the timing chain all in an effort to reduce vibration while riding.

The 690 Enduro R is spec’d with a WP Xplor fork and shock for MY19. The latest version of LC4 engine features many updates including dual counterbalancers for an extremely smooth ride and a quickshifter for seamless upshifts and downshifts.
Left: The 690 Enduro R is spec'd with a WP Xplor fork and shock for MY19. Right: The latest version of LC4 engine features many updates including dual counterbalancers for an extremely smooth ride and a quickshifter for seamless upshifts and downshifts without the use of the clutch.Jeff Allen

While riding at highway speeds the bike feels more like a twin than a single; its smooth character is capable of slaying comfy miles. Another new feature is the addition of a quickshifter, which allows for seamless upshifts and downshifts without the use of the clutch. KTM also added a full electronics package offering two levels of traction control—one for off road and the other for pavement—switchable, lean-angle-sensitive ABS, and a map switch mounted on the left side of the handlebar.

The first thing we did upon taking delivery of the 690 Enduro R was run it on our in-house dyno, where it churned out 59.2 hp and 43.4 pound-feet of torque. This updated LC4 engine proves to be the best yet with its plentiful torque, smooth delivery, and extremely tractable power. It has an exhilarating engine character that is capable of third-gear wheelies and cracking triple-digit speeds. The map switch and traction control (TC) button share space on the same housing.

With traction control turned off, the 690 Enduro R really comes into its own.
With traction control turned off, the 690 Enduro R really comes into its own.Jeff Allen

The two maps are consistent with most KTM and Husqvarna motocross and off-road models in recent years where map 1 has stronger bottom-end power and map 2 is more aggressive up top. Map 1 proved useful in sand and tacky dirt where the aggressive low-end character allowed for quick surges of power to navigate the deep terrain. In comparison, map 2 was helpful on hard-packed dirt and gravel roads where the soft low-end allowed the wheel to track well before spooling up into the higher rpm and allowing the rear wheel to slide.

2019 KTM 690 Enduro R Suspension

With the stock suspension settings, the fork feels soft in relation to the relatively stiff shock setup. This is compounded by the slightly higher rear end stance of the bike.
With the stock suspension settings, the fork feels soft in relation to the relatively stiff shock setup. This is compounded by the slightly higher rear end stance of the bike.Jeff Allen

KTM took the initiative to spec the updated 690 Enduro R with a WP Xplor 48 fork and WP Xplor shock, both of which are fully adjustable for a personalized ride. The stock settings are clearly set for aggressive riding. The rear is set up fairly stiff, which puts more emphasis and weight on the front end, making the fork feel somewhat soft and causing the bike to feel slightly imbalanced with its high rear end stance. This is compounded by the fact that the handlebar is low and sits at your hips.

Despite this, I was able to find a setting I was more comfortable with by going three clicks stiffer on the fork compression. This held it higher in the stroke, especially when riding aggressively, hitting the front wheel on small obstacles and under hard braking. While the shock is slightly stiff in relation to the fork, a heavier rider would benefit from the stock spring rate as they would get more movement out of the rear. The firm shock setting may also prove its worth when strapped down with luggage.

2019 KTM 690 Enduro R Chassis And Handling

This dual sport feels right at home on any paved road.
This dual sport feels right at home on any paved road.Jeff Allen

In the chassis department, the 690 Enduro R is all-new for 2019. The frame is constructed of chrome-molybdenum steel tubing with different thicknesses strategically distributed for torsional rigidity and longitudinal flexibility. Similar to its predecessor, the 2019 version is fitted with a rear gas tank, which according to KTM is the main structural element of the subframe. This concept of weight distribution takes weight off the front end, which I can say from experience makes wheelies that much easier.

Despite the fuel being held at the rear of the bike, the 690 Enduro R has more of an emphasis on the front end than I anticipated, which has more to do with the suspension setup than the chassis itself. The bike's high rear end stance first robbed me of confidence in the dry, dusty conditions I tested in while riding off road. However, once I got the suspension dialed to my liking by going firmer on the fork compression to balance out the bike, it improved and felt more dirt bike-like. As time went on and my confidence in the front end grew, I became very pleased with the 690 Enduro R's attributes. The nimble yet stable chassis encourages the rider to push the bike hard.

Returning to the pavement, I found the 690 Enduro R to be an absolute blast, including the twisties where I figured knobby tires and a 21-inch front wheel might slow me down, but such was not the case as the orange machine more than willingly carved canyon roads with ease. I will admit the large front wheel is a little heavy to steer and you do have to be mindful of knobby tires, but the enjoyment of bouncing back and forth between dirt trails and twisty roads outweighs any flaw.

One of the few complaints I have with the bike is the protruding side panels below the seat, which make for an uncomfortable contact patch when gripping the bike as well as making it feel wider than it actually is. It just creates a slight disconnection between rider and bike. Another criticism I have is that spotting traffic through the OEM mirrors is nearly impossible.

2019 KTM 690 Enduro R Brakes

As for the ABS system, the switch is mounted next to the odometer. It only offers the rider two choices—on or off. However, KTM has shared that a dongle, which is available in the PowerParts catalog, can be added to the bike; it allows for the ABS function to only be active on the front wheel (single-channel ABS) while leaving the rear system off. Although I spent most of my time with all of the electronic systems turned off to avoid any safety interference when wringing the heck out of this extremely versatile machine, the electronics package is a testimony to how roadworthy the bike truly is.

Adventure is what the KTM 690 Enduro R seeks.
Adventure is what the KTM 690 Enduro R seeks.Jeff Allen

The off-road ABS setting disables the rear wheel interactions while simultaneously disabling cornering sensitivity, leaving only the front wheel engaged. The off-road ABS setting is quite noticeable when getting hard on the front brake for you will notice a small amount of back pressure in the lever and the front wheel will stutter. Although the off-road ABS setting works very well, I believe experienced off-roaders will spend more time with the setting off to allow them to experience maximum braking in a variety of conditions as well as lock up the front wheel when necessary.

How Does The KTM 690 Enduro R Ride?

The 690 Enduro R is a jack of all trades and a master of none, which is my favorite characteristic of the bike. Capable of slaying miles both on the pavement and in the dirt with a fender full of luggage, a sophisticated electronics package, and an abundance of aftermarket accessories available to dress it up, this KTM is the simple man's light adventure bike.

Gearbox

The 690 Enduro R is fitted with a ride-by-wire system, which offers amazing throttle response all the way through the powerband.
The 690 Enduro R is fitted with a ride-by-wire system, which offers amazing throttle response all the way through the powerband.Jeff Allen

TECH SPEC

PRICE $11,699
ENGINE 690cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder four-stroke
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE 6-speed/chain
MEASURED HORSEPOWER 59.15 hp @ 8,230 rpm
MEASURED TORQUE 43.36 lb.-ft. @ 6,810 rpm
FRAME Chromoly steel trellis
FRONT SUSPENSION WP Xplor 48mm fork adjustable for compression damping and rebound damping; 9.8-in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION WP Xplor shock adjustable for spring preload, high-/low-speed compression damping, and rebound damping; 9.8-in. travel
FRONT BRAKE Brembo 2-piston caliper, 300mm disc
REAR BRAKE Brembo 1-piston caliper, 240mm disc
WHEELBASE 59.1 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 35.8 in.
FUEL CAPACITY 3.6 gal.
MEASURED WEIGHT 346 lb. wet
AVAILABLE Now
CONTACT ktm.com