Thursday, 28 January 2016

KTM 690 Enduro vs KTM 640 Adventure - RTW choices...

Out of interest from a discussion I was having with some mates, I recently popped this thread onto Horizons Unlimited FB page to see what people thought and had found out personally.

 Ok so I'm having a debate about what to buy... KTM 690 Enduro or KTM 640 Adventure. RTW trip, lots of miles in remote places carrying luggage and lots of dirt planned... 690 has electrics and they fail! fuel pump issues are common, plenty of stories from friends around the world cursing them for reliability but loving the weight and the fuel range plus of course the KTM off road ability... they also cost a lot to prep for a trip as KTM don't seem to get the fact that there is a market out there for an upto date overlanding bike. 640 is a land of vibration, but it's carbed and has limited electronics.. its cheaper to buy and is virtually ready to tour with few minor mods, but its heavier... thoughts please folks... Oh and not really interested in debating other bikes, I've looked at them, rode them, narrowed it down to these two for my personal choice... interested in others thoughts on these two models though from folk actually using them... 

Here are the responses I got back... 

I've had the KTM LC4 640 supermoto, same chassis engine gearing... It shaked allot! My hands went numb after 80km! Single cylinder engine also didn't like long hard ridings, boiled over several times. Now i have the older africa twin (93) and this is much comfier. But i sure miss the accelerating power, sound and weight of that LC4!
I tour with my buddy on his 690 and me on my 640 for many 2-4 day trips. So far he has spent many thousands more to make his bike as capable for touring as mine is and he is getting close. Here is my opinion.
640 Pro's- range is built in at 400+ Km's. Suspension on the 640 is superior to the 690 and. Sub frame is built for panniers and bags. The 640 weighs a bit more but I have gone places where he has trouble (but that is probably rider ability)

Pro's for the 690 would be more power and fuel economy. That's about it

My boyfriend has the 690 and he loves it... Just watch the air filter box! He rode through the Simpson desert and by the time he got back, his engine was dusted with sand in the oil. We now know of 4 bikes with the exact same problem, people are cable tying their air boxes down or re-bolting them which is ridiculous imo on such an expensive machine. His seat has now also broken.. Plastic snapped. He still loves it and it is a great fun bike to ride... But he's not sure if he'll take it on our south America - Alaska trip due to all the issues.
Checkout 690south here on FB. He chronicles his trip through C. & S. America on his 690. Seems to be a strong bike, but a troublesome top end.

690. 65k km and going strong.
Changed the fuel pump and 1 set of rockers.

A 690 engine on a 640 frame could be great smile emoticon

690 Rally, best of both worlds. 690 with a Carby. There are 300 of them out there somewhere.
My son and I rode from Alaska to Terra de Fuego together. Against my advice he chose the 640. It defined the trip causing us to divert to every big city along the way either to pick up parts or repairs for his bike. Starter clutch, carburetor issues etc. the one positive thing I will say about is it kicked my GS ass off road!!
If you got a really cheap 690 and do mods mates even change the wiring loom £500 a hard choice
Was in the same dilemma. Went with 690 and nv looked back. 3 years on and 79k km she is still running fine. No fuel pump issues yet, just sent her for a servicing changing all the seals, gaskets and piston ring.
That's a good debate. I owned a KTM950 before buying the 690. The 950 was great, but it was a bit too heavy for me when the going gets rough. Also, the carbs can really be a chore to get set properly and manage. I've had the 690 for a year now. I completely redid my bike with the KTM Basel rally replica kit. It takes a LOT of effort to make the bike really ready for an adventure trip, but it's a great compromise once you have it all together. The bike is really light even with the rally kit on it. I take mine everywhere. It was great riding up to 13K feet in Colorado this past September and not having to worry about whether the bike would run at altitude. The FI really did work where carbed bikes sometimes struggle. I carry a spare fuel pump and filter along with all the tools needed to change out the pump in the event of a failure. The other thing that goes south on the 690 are the rocker arms. I carry spares of those as well. This is a known flaw that KTM is starting to address with a new head design in the latest 690 Dukes. By the way, that new engine design has an extra balancer in the head. Reports are that you cannot even tell that it is a single, and it puts out something like 94 horses. Crazy stuff. If they or Husky ever put that engine in an Enduro bike, that will be great.

Oh, I rode through Colorado in a small group which included a good friend on his 640. That bike did the same route without any problems at all. Yes, the bike is more vibey than the newer 690 thumper, but the 640 is a great bike.

With both bikes, understand that they are more Ferrari than Chevy. Like all KTMs I've ever seen, they like to run and run fast. They hate to sit in stop-n-go traffic. And, I think a good KTM owner is someone who is also a decent mechanic . . . or close friends with someone who is. 


640A pros:
Comes ready with the big tank and fairing
Strong subframe for luggage
Simple (even has a kick start)

640 cons:
Vibrations. I grew up on a '94 DR650 (before they became "civilized") so I am used to them.
Service intervals: valves every 3K miles - easy to do but a hassle nonetheless. Also, depending on how far you go, you will need to be doing water pump rebuild every 25K miles or so.
Older bike so some delays in finding parts, at least in the US.
690 pros:
A hooligan bike! Lots of power.
Fuel injection: if your route takes you through large altitude differences the FI works great, while with a carb you might have to do manual adjustments.

690 cons:
Small tank and no fairing. You can kit it for longer range but it is expensive.
The seat is really a dirt seat and I would not want to be on it for long. Might be able to correct this with aftermarket options.

My advice: take a 640A for a ride. If you don't mind the vibration, you have an overlander right there

The more recent 690s have the electrics well sorted - but to make them into in a suitable adv bike you need to bolt a fairing, some extra tanks and racks on them - few great kits about. A 640 Adv comes with this out of the box, but finding a good one might be difficult. The 640 does vibrate quite a lot. Oh the standard seat on a 640 is a lot more comfortable that one on the 690.

A built up 690 will be the better bike though. Maybe check out Husky 701 - same as the 690, but I think it has better suspension out of the box.


Pros & Cons Summary 


690                                                                    640
  1. Lightweight                                              1. Steel frame
  2. Brilliant off road                                       2. Ready to go
  3. Fuel economy                                          3.  Big fuel tank
  4. Fuel Injection at altitude                           4. Comfy saddle                     

  1. Rockers arms are crap                            1. Valve service is 3000 miles
  2. Fuel pump/filter needs to be carried         2. Water pump rebuild 25000 miles
  3. Earth's often break                                  3. KTM race bike engine
  4. Expensive to upgrade to RTW level         4. Vibration
  5. Seat an enduro brick                              
  6. Possible main bearing issue
  7. KTM race bike engine
  8. Small tank until upgraded

So from all these comments I get that both bikes have their problems, both can be unreliable on some bikes and both can do lots of miles without any issues. A little bit of pot luck in other words!

Overall though the opinion seems to support the 690, is that because less people have ridden the 640 or because the 690 is the most popular bike around at the moment?

Who knows... it's time to go ride both of them and make a decision though... you pays your money, you make your choice and all that!