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ADV BikesSpy Photos May Reveal a KTM 690 Adventure in the Works

Spy Photos May Reveal a KTM 690 Adventure in the Works

 Spy photos show an LC4 690 with features designed for long-distance touring.

Published on 02.16.2015
New KTM 690 Adventure
Could this spy photo reveal a 2016 KTM 690 'Adventure' disguised as the new 690 Enduro R? (Photo courtesy VisorDown)

It’s been eight long years since the KTM 640 Adventure last appeared on showroom floors. Since 1998, the 640 Adventure was beloved for its light weight, 300+ mile fuel range and long-travel suspension that made it a highly capable long-distance off-road travel machine. There was much to love about the 640 Adventure but also a few shortcomings, like the vibey motor, rock hard seat and a tippy toe seat height even for six-footers.

With the release of the KTM 690 Enduro R in 2009, fans of the 640 Adventure expected a 690 Adventure to follow shortly, with more power, better fuel efficiency and improved highway manners. KTM offered both the Enduro and Adventure models in the LC4 640 platform from 1998 to 2005, so it seemed logical that they would continue to do the same with the new 690 platform.

Years passed with no talk from KTM about the development of a 690 Adventure. Most of the hold outs eventually grew tired of waiting and settled for options that were less than ideal. Some moved up to the heavier and more expensive 990 or 1190 Adventure, while others resorted to customizing the 690 Enduro R to make it suitable for long-distance touring. However, even when significantly modified, the 690 Enduro R has drawbacks for touring that can’t easily be removed, like the short-ratio motocross-style transmission and lack of a rear subframe for carrying luggage.

For the first time in years, there may be solid hope for those still waiting for a factory built KTM 690 Adventure. A series of recent spy photos from VisorDown and Cycle World offer evidence that KTM may in fact be planning a return of the “Adventure” model in the LC4 platform. At first glance, the spy photos appear to show a redesigned 2016 690 Enduro R being tested, but a closer inspection reveals a few details that seem inconsistent with an “Enduro” design.

One inconsistency that stands out is a low sweeping exhaust pipe that is routed under the engine. Enduro bikes haven’t had this low-style exhaust for decades and for good reason, the exhaust can easily be crushed by rocks while riding off-road. The only off-road motorcycles today with a low hanging exhaust pipe are Rally Race Bikes and some Adventure Bikes that require room for large front fuel tanks to allow them to go hundreds of miles between fuel stops. Most likely, the low exhaust pipe on this prototype is designed to make room for the installation of a large-capacity front fuel tank.

A new beefy rear subframe seen in the photos offers further evidence of a long-distance adventure touring design. The current KTM 690 Enduro R has no rear subframe, only a rear fuel tank; a weak point that has been known to fail under stress of heavy loads. The new rear subframe design would allow this prototype 690 to carry heavy top loads and mount hard panniers without the need for a more elaborate exoskeleton style rack required to mount hard luggage on the current KTM 690 Enduro R.

Also visible in the photos, is what looks like a longer non-linkage type swingarm that is similar in design to the now discontinued KTM 990 Adventure’s swingarm. The bike also seems to sit a little lower than the current KTM 690 Enduro R. A longer linkage-free swingarm and lower suspension point toward a design that is optimized for better stability at highway speeds and a more manageable seat height; new features that are unlikely to be released on an off-road focused bike like the KTM 690 Enduro R.

Spy photos show a new KTM 690 being tested alongside a BMW F800GS. It would be unusual for KTM to bother comparing their 690 Enduro R to a bike in a completely different category, but if this is in fact the new KTM 690 Adventure being developed, the middleweight class leading F800GS would be an obvious choice to use as a measuring stick.

KTM 690 Adventure vs BMW F800GS
KTM test pilots seen hear benchmarking the LC4 690 prototype against the top middleweight adventure bike, the BMW F800GS. (Photo courtesy Cycle World)

If weight differences between the previous KTM 640 Enduro and 640 Adventure models remain consistent, a factory built KTM 690 Adventure would likely weigh at least 100 pounds less than the BMW F800GS and offer far better off-road performance. With improved fuel and luggage carrying capacity, a highway friendly wide-ratio transmission and smooth fuel-injected motor, the KTM 690 Adventure would be an excellent long-distance travel bike with the same “Go Anywhere” capability of the previous 640 Adventure model.

So where is the windscreen and large fuel tank?
It’s possible KTM is disguising the bike as an Enduro model or the final bodywork may still be under development. The photos show a large amount of space between the seat and steering tube that could easily accommodate a large front fuel tank. We’d expect the final version to have rally-styled fuel tanks, cowling, windscreen and front fender to go with the rally-style pipe.

2016 KTM 690 Adventure Prototype fuel tank
A close up look shows a small temporary aluminum front fuel tank being used for testing. (Photo courtesy VisorDown)

With a resurging economy, we are beginning to see more variety in Adventure Bike models and competition appears to be heating up in the previously dull middleweight category. Triumph is now providing four different models of their middleweight Tiger 800 and Honda seems to be close to releasing the much awaited Africa Twin

KTM has been noticeably absent from the middleweight adventure bike category for some time now, and the move up from 990cc to 1050cc and larger adventure bikes has made the void even larger. Recently, KTM has made it clear that they are developing a new range of middleweight V-twins, but these could still be several years away. KTM’s quickest path to getting back into the middleweight category is to adapt their existing LC4 690 platform and build what so many have been longing for, a successor to the KTM 640 Adventure.

Author: Rob Dabney

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15 thoughts on “Spy Photos May Reveal a KTM 690 Adventure in the Works

    • It’s possible, but It would seem the smart choice for KTM to build on their legacy and create a successor to the KTM 640 Adventure. Let’s just hope this bike appears soon regardless of brand.

        • In this case I’m referring to “Adventure Bike” legacy of the KTM 640 Adventure. Those bikes would fall under the Enduro/Dual Sport style of motorcycle. The closest thing to a true adventure bike Husky ever made was the 650 Terra. And even that didn’t have much of a windscreen or fuel tank, so it was quite enduro-like.

  1. Pingback: New 690 Adventure?

  2. If you want a 690 for adventure look up the 690 rally bike tho don’t know where you can even get one lydon poskitt uses this bike in races to places

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