The KTM “Hard Adventure” 690 Enduro R Project

After a few projects hefting “pig tralies” to the Arctic, across BC, and the length and breadth of the Baja I have seen the light.  Smaller, lighter and harder is better, especially as our adventure destinations take us further afield.  In reality though small adventure bikes aren’t common in the size-queen driven “bigger is better” North American market. So we’re going to build one… the KTM “Hard Adventure” 690 Enduro R.

You see, this weekend I went from thinking about the KTM 690 Enduro R as a bike option, to replace my aging 640 Adventure, to owning one. It was a gracious unfolding of events that I’ve never had with a vehicle purchase before. It was an absolute pleasure, and so is the new bike. For one, I am please to report that unlike the unbalanced motor of the 640, the 690 is nothing like riding a paint shaker. That and concerns around reliability on long trips were my major reason for the upgrade.

After taking my new 690 Enduro R on some local trails that included a chicken-wire and cable mesh bridge over a landslide, a couple hill climbs over baby’s head and bigger size boulders and general slewing around in the gravel, I’ve conclude that I’ve found the bike for me… with the proviso of a few minor upgrades.

What I don’t want is to transform the 690 into something heavy and bogged down with a load of accessories, which has lead to the idea of a “Hard Adventure” bike. Only the accessories that are truly needed; better range, just enough luggage, a better seat, auxiliary lights and a little bit of wind protection (maybe). Used, my 690 Enduro R came with the rest; bashplate, rad guards, fold-in mirrors, G2 Throttle cam, wing titanium exhaust with FI remapping, European under-tail kit… the list is extensive.

So here’s to light fast adventure, on a bike that completely outclasses my dirt prowess, but I love anyways.


10 Comments Add yours

  1. Deuce says:

    Great Idea! Someone else has beat you to the punch though.

    Almost makes me want to sell my 950. Notice I said ‘Almost’!



    1. Yep, I’ve read that article. Costa was more focused on making the 690 Enduro a better road bike. I’m more inclined to try keep it as close to the dirt as possible so as not to compromise what it’s truly good at, as well as keep the costs under control. We’ve a lot more dirt handy on this end of the country. Plus I think the next trip will be Mainland mexico and a Baja revisit… in the Baja especially weight was the enemy.


  2. Wayne says:

    Aqualine makes a large capacity tank for the 690 but I understand you can also fit the tank from a 950SE with a little fiddling. There’s more information to be found on Advrider and Horizonsunlimited:

    Things I’ve learned by doing about the same thing to my 640 LC4E are Renazco knows how to make a fine seat, an MRA Roadshield is well built (TUV approved)just the right size and comes off/on in a jiffy, and you can live without anything that doesn’t fit in a GiantLoop Coyote.

    This should be a rewarding project.


    1. We’ll I’m thinking I’ll need a bit more than the Coyote. I still do a fair amount of distance with our adventures. Thanks for the thought of the 950SE tank, very interesting option.


  3. Scott says:

    Sounds like a great project. I just did the TAT with the 690e (perfect match for it), and would definitely reinforce your idea about minimal is good… Used a GL coyote + mid-sized drybag, and was “just right” to do the camping bit along the way; GL also makes the larger Great basin as another option. I don’t like hardbags; I’ve had bad experiences with them in the offroad space. Would recommend some sort of carrying plate for the back, but I don’t like the ones that stick out above the taillight – too much leverage there. is designing a hinged plate that sits above the gas cap; looks promising.

    I can definitely recommend the Aqualine tank for both long range capacity & crash protection. Its beefy, and doesn’t get in the way of the rider. You can remove it when you don’t want the bulk / look. I went cheap with wind protection – if I could do it over again, I’d probably fit up the Meca fairing & nav tower for higher speed comfort & ease of navigation at speed via route sheet / gps.

    Anyways, looking forward to seeing your project develop – good luck!


    1. Scott,
      Do you have a link to the Aqualine tank you were using? Thanks for pointing out the carrying plate.
      The project is in the idea gathering phase, so your input is greatly appreciated. I need to research the Meca system and see how much weight it will add. Weight is the enemy 😉


  4. Scott says:

    I certainly agree with the “light is right” approach. I bought the Aqualine tank through Charlie at Rally Mgt Services, and that is where you can find other good stuff (fairings, etc.), to include Meca.
    Also, a relatively cheap bolt-on navigation “tower” was just added & may be handy: is the other U.S. distributor that I know of for the Aqualine/Safari.

    Rally Raid Specialists are also developing / selling some products as well that are worth a look (split forward tanks similar to Meca, but made of plastic & a lot less expensive).

    Good luck with your build & looking forward to your updates!


  5. Scott says:

    Forgot to add the link to the plate I was referring to… Here it is in prototype form:


  6. ken says:

    Hello Neil: I am currently living in Squamish. I am looking to buy a used 2010 ktm 690 E by the end of the month. I am wondering what I should look for that would be a deal breaker or just sever ware. There are two on Craigslist currently. I have test ridden the 2014 and found it to be very fast and terrifying at 130km’s / hour. wondering if there is a cure for that as well. . The front end seemed to lift off and float while holding a constant throttle position. I have also considered getting a versys 650. I welcome any and all advice.




    1. Ken,
      I found the the “cure” on mine was the rally-raid tanks which add a bit of weight to the front. Other’s just go with a steering damper to settle it down a bit.
      I’m looking at putting my 690 up for sale, so if you’ve not found one let me know. It’s an ’09 though.


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