KTM 690 SMC and Enduro R – Cycle Torque Magazine

22 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on KTM 690 SMC and Enduro R – Cycle Torque Magazine

Three six-ninetys

Test and pics by Chris Pickett

THE idea of using one engine and chassis package to produce a number of different machines is a smart way to approach things. With relatively minor changes we get a supermoto, a big bore enduro, and an outback adventure tourer, showing the true flexibility of the base design.

Mechanical review

Cycle Torque is no stranger to the KTM 690 single – we’ve tested a number of models with this engine – so we’ll have a recap of the basic mechanical package.

Many a great KTM has been the recipient of the LC4 moniker, but in our opinion this is the best big bore single cylinder KTM engine ever.

654cc, 11.8:1 compression ratio, dual oil pumps, electric start, fuel injection, and a six-speed gearbox with a slipper clutch as standard.

High spec and plenty of grunt on tap.

Chassis-wise, KTM sticks with its chrome-moly trellis frame to house the engine and ancillaries.

For suspension KTM uses White Power (it owns the company).

Both the Enduro R and the SMC use 48mm forks with 275mm of travel. At the rear, the Enduro R has 275mm of travel from its WP monoshock, while the SMC has 10mm less travel.

Both bikes weigh much the same, have the same size fuel tank and generally speaking are the same machine overall.

The main differences being the 17 inch rims and big Brembo brake on the SMC compared to the more dirt orientated 18/21 inch wheel combination on the ‘R’

KTM Australia decided to take it one step further, modifying a standard Enduro R to turn it into an off road adventure machine. The bike was used to cover the recent Australian Safari in the hands of a journo, so not only did it have to be quick, it had to have a bigger fuel range and handle the conditions.

Taking the standard machine, KTM slotted in a set of longer travel MX forks to cope with the extra weight of the 18 litre Safari fuel tank (giving a total capacity of 30 litres with the standard underseat fuel tank). A foam filter element replaced the standard paper unit and more aggressive tyres were used.

To keep the rider abreast of where they were going was a map reader, while the original instruments were slightly modified to accept the map reader.

A taller accessory screen from KTM Power Parts gave some extra wind protection, and for the rider’s gear was a set of alloy factory panniers and a seat bag.

What are they like to ride?

The SMC is a real hoon’s bike. This is a bike you can take to work, cruise the city, go scratching on the weekend, or do a track day. Take the road gear off and can even front up for a supermoto race.

With sticky tyres and the big Brembo four-piston caliper you can lean this bike over to obscene lean angles, squash the front tyre down flat as you brake hard, and in the tight stuff, sports bikes will struggle to get away from you, all while you are grinning like a freak inside your helmet.

Don’t forget, the SMC uses the same engine as the 690 Duke, so longer kilometre days in the saddle are only limited by the fuel range, and how hard your backside is.

The only glitch is the ultra responsive nature of the fuel injection system, and it was something our young tester commented on after his first ride.

Once he got used to it, it became much less of an issue, but nonetheless it is still there.


There’s no mistaking the Enduro R is a big bike to take through the trails, especially in company with more race derived machinery. The Enduro R reminds us of the days of 600cc thumpers and the like. Obviously it’s light years ahead of that era but the size and weight of the ‘R’ feels similar.

These sort of bikes are what we cut our teeth on, so handling the ‘R’ was like revisiting those days to an extent. It would take a very good rider to get the best of a bike like this on more technical and tight trails.

For the average trail rider it could be too much a bike of you like single trail.

Out on the fire trails and more open country, the ‘R’ is an awesome bit of kit which will propel you to speeds which will see the trees blurring by. In the bush the on/off nature of the fuel injection was much less noticeable, most likely due to the more aggressive way in which you tend to ride between the tress.

It’s amazing what a few changes can do to the feel of a bike. Where the ‘R’ feels very off-road orientated, the modified version feels much more like and adventure bike, with the map reader and screen out in front, the panniers on the sides.

Of course the Safari fuel tank all adds to the adventure.

The extra weight is noticeable straight away, and you feel much more ‘in’ the bike, rather then ‘on’ it. It also felt better on the road, most likely the extra ‘bulk’ around the rider giving a feeling of more protection.

Off road the bike feels right at home on fire trails. We did a loop which included some windy bumpy tar, river crossings, erosion banks and fire trails.

All adventure bike stuff, and the Safari ‘R’ was the best bike we’ve taken on that particular trip.

It doesn’t have the extra weight of bigger capacity adventure two-wheelers, and the extra fuel capacity gives it a huge fuel range.

Where it falls down compared to its bigger brother the 990 Adventure R, is its on-road performance, but this is to be expected.

The SMC is for crazy people, the Enduro ‘R’ is for off-road riders who like open trails (although you could insert crazy people here also, if you see one on a single trail), and modifying an ‘R’ like KTM has done will have you climbing ‘Big Red’ and crossing the Simpson Desert.

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