If you ever see world travellers on motorbikes, chances are that they will not be on a 1200cc adventure bike. No, for that task, they normally look to smaller capacity bikes which are simple to maintain, reliable and above all, lightweight. To them, adventure is not a trip down a well maintained gravel road. To them it is a trip where there is no road.

In 2009, KTM replaced the 640 Enduro and 640 Adventure with the 690 Enduro R. This bike seemed to be the answer for the serious adventure rider. It was a bike that was styled and built like an off-road machine but with a headlight and indicators to make it street legal. KTM fans patiently waited for the 690 Adventure to arrive, but that never came. Instead, for 2019 they gave us an updated 690 Enduro R.

On a recent trip to Lesotho with KTM, I got to sample this machine for the first time. KTM took their entire range along for us to ride, and the 690 looked almost out of place next to its larger siblings.

The bike packs a formidable punch into a diminutive frame. One of the major updates for 2019 is a new, smoother, LC4 engine. With new balancer shafts, electronic fuel injection and ride-by-wire technology, this bike pushes out an impressive 74 hp. It sports a new chassis with fully adjustable WP XPLOR suspension. KTM has also expanded the fuel capacity to 13.5 litres for that extra bit of range.

The seat is quite high at 910 mm, but the height did not bother me as much as the hardness of the seat. I understand that in rough terrain you will hardly ever sit down and it is clear that this bike is marketed as an adventure bike with a strong off-road bias. Now even though the 690 is surprisingly nimble on tar, your derrière will complain bitterly. It also offers no wind protection, so stick to the single tracks or a visit to the aftermarket catalogue will be a must.

Fortunately, Lesotho offered me one large playground to experience the 690 in the terrain that this bike was made for. Because of the skinny tyres and 250 mm of suspension travel you can really throw this bike around. I attacked the dirt roads with a smile on my face and soon I was going much faster than I ever thought I would. I was putting my trust completely in the updated electronics package and the 690 did not let me down once. The bike was also fitted with KTM’s Quickshifter+ which made for effortless gear changes.

The 690 Enduro R is a formidable machine if you really want to go far off the beaten track. To personalize your 690, KTM has an extensive Power Parts catalogue so that you too can become the next world traveller.

Article: Brian Cheyne. Photos: ZC Marketing / Brian Cheyne.

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