KTM 690 Downtown !!



Why do KTM’s have do be so FRIGGIN’ COOL? I saw this KTM 690 while downtown the other day. Like many, I am amazed at how the KTM company thinks and creates unique products. For myself, the one thing that I do not care so much for (But I understand why this company is “Future-Proofing” with added technology) is all the added tech found on their bikes.


This is what I like about the KTM 690. It seems that this bike is the antithesis to that of the KLR 650 (Another incredible bike that doesn’t need any intro or review here). It feels like the designers said “ Let’s take every aspect of the KLR and turn it on it’s Head!”. We’ll make the 690 more tune-able, lighter in weight and feel, faster off the start, less width and girth, give it a sophisticated and articulated steel-tubed frame….etc….etc. All the while it still combines a more old-school instrument cluster, minor engine modes (which must be made by lifting up the seat and turning a knob), a more normal cockpit and keeping with their single cylinder heritage and sealed chain drive. Wrap up this bike with an assault to the senses graphics scheme, and you have a package that can’t be ignored!


From what folks say, the KTM company is only second (or maybe even first) in all sales only second to BMW in all of Europe. I believe it. Their bikes are NOT dumbed down or castrated wanna-be lookalikes. These are all highly functional and well designed machines albeit VERY expense excluding some of their entry offerings such as the Duke 390.


BUT, (Here it comes) every time I spy an incredible KTM such as this, I will go on and on at how cool it is, how I would love to ride it and that the owner must know their shit and bikes in general……….BUT. Would I OWN one?


Ten years ago I would collect KTM catalogs and later download or visit their site info on-line. The old 690 Enduro really appealed to me. I wanted one REAL bad. The trouble was their was only a spattering of KTM dealerships within my area. Finding any of these bikes except for the occasional sighting of a touring couple through town on an orange 990 (If I remember correctly….they keep CC’ing these bikes like pumping steroids!), was, seemingly, rare. How could you test ride such unique bikes without any dealerships or “Demo-Bikes” available at the small Ma-N’-Pa or part-time tractor and lawn care dealers willing to sell them? It was an aberration better left go of, an experience provided only for the few and proud KTM owners who lived closer to a mysterious dealership!


That was then, this is now. So what is this Motosquirrels’ beef now? Well, sure, there are definitely more KTM dealerships within my area (But still not close at all), but………wait for it…..the reviews are in on their current bikes and it’s a Mixed Bag. There are owner-reviewers who claim that this 690 as well as other KTM’s are the gospel to all things dual or moto-sport! They seem genuinely puffed up or out and…… Happy! BUT, the big BUT, there are seemingly hundreds upon hundreds of reviews of KTM bikes which focus on their many failings. Engine lock-ups, terrible maintenance intervals, maintenance itself being a night-mare, overheating as well as warranties that not only boiler-plate a company AGAINST it’s buyers but just may very well frighten you out the door before laying your hard earned money down.


Are many of these complaints most likely small, usually discover-able, easily fixed, regular wear and tear or completely BOGUS? (Reference the many videos of Idiots taking these bikes into 3 feet of quick sand like clay for 7 hours in the middle of 102 degree desert…..and expect the bike to survive without a race crew following!)- I bet many are!


Here’s is the catch! Where there is smoke there is fire and not all of these complaints can be ignored. Is KTM growing TOO quickly? Unable to keep up quality control under high production demands? Too much overseas production?