The brakes are standard-issue KTM: strong and phenomenal. The front will easily throw the bike into a nose wheelie. Another thing that separates the 690 from the pack is that it comes stock with a slipper clutch. You don't feel it too much unless you get aggressive with the downshifts on the street. It cuts the wheel chatter to a minimum but still allows sufficient engine-braking. Its design allows the bike to use much-lighter clutch springs since the mechanism also locks up the clutch harder under power. Yes, the pull is feathery. On our rides the bike was getting more than 40 miles per gallon, as high as 48, which in these gas crunch times is a great thing, especially considering the power available.Is this the new one-bike-can-do-it-all machine? If you're way more high-performance street-oriented and not too aggressive with your dirt, then this KTM might be a good choice. It's better at doing both, with more emphasis on the street, than everything else out there except the BMW XChallenge, as it's the same kind of machine, just different. The KTM is a true dual-purpose machine, not to be confused with what dirt bike riders call dual-sport, meaning a dirt bike with a license plate. But if you've been counting the days that have gone by since the former king of the big off-road singles, the Honda XR650R went away, you should be very interested in this KTM motor. It's really that impressive.Opinions
I'm not really the do-it-all-bike kind of guy. I have a Honda motocrosser, a KTM 525 dual-sport/trailbike and a KTM 950 street/adventure bike. The 690 turns better in the dirt and feels lighter than the 950 but is heavier than the 525. I like how it felt skinny up front and the suspension was pretty impressive in the rough. It does handle well on the street and would make a great weapon in tight canyons if it had more street-oriented tires. If you're doing a lot of street, though, a windshield would be nice. I see the 690 as in between my two orange bikes, but I wouldn't replace one of mine with it. I ride the L.A. to Vegas dual-sport ride every year, and the 690 would be great for that, but my 525 does just fine. It doesn't have the high-speed planted feel and long-ride comfort (aside from the seat) of the 690, but my 525 also doubles as a serious trailbike for the rest of the year.
-Tom Wolf/5'9"/175 lb/B riderKTM's 690 is a very impressive machine with a brilliant engine and a chassis that's too street-oriented for my taste. The handling and suspension actually thrive on faster, stand-up single- or two-track. A few deep whoops in a row don't unsettle the handling, and bottoming isn't a big issue. Standing is great, since you won't want to spend a bunch of time sitting on this seat. The seat height is low enough to be attractive to riders of any size, and that's a target that the KTM 950/990 missed. As far as power goes, the only thing more awesome than a really fast big-bore thumper is an almost-silent one. What a cool engine. There's very little vibration generated, considering the size of the slug swinging around in there. For my taste, though, I want more sit-down comfort and dirt-road plushness or make the chassis lighter to become a serious dirt weapon. But either way, this is another case where KTM definitely stands for "Keep the Motor."
-Karel Kramer/6'1"/210 lb/B riderThe first thing I did when I left the KTM North America parking lot was leave a big black streak off the 690's rear tire. How irresponsible. But it was happening every time I left the line at a stoplight or coming off of slow- and mid-speed turns on the street. I thought I was on a MotoGP bike without traction control! Sure the stock knobbies are no match for the power on the street, but it was fun. I'll bet this bike will smoke my KTM 950 Adventure up to about 70 mph. Oh yeah, what about the dirt. It's a big dual-sport bike. It isn't as much of an off-road machine as my XR650, but it's capable. It's way better at jumping, actually. But it needs some protection and a gearing change before I'd get serious on the tough trails. For me this bike sits in no-man's-land because I'd rather have two cylinders and a windscreen on-road and don't need this much of anything (weight, power) off-road. But I wish I had one of these for the motor!
-Jimmy Lewis/5'10"/185 lb/A rider