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ADV BikesThis Modified KTM 690 Rally May Be the Ultimate ADV Bike

This Modified KTM 690 Rally May Be the Ultimate ADV Bike

 Is it a race bike you can tour on, or a touring bike you can race? Yes!

Published on 01.06.2015
Lyndon Poskitt KTM 690 Rally Adventure Bike Basil
Meet Basil, the Ultimate Adventure Bike to go both fast and far. (Courtesy Adventure-Spec.com)

There’s no mystery to building an around-the-world bike. You want reliability, range and carrying capacity. Simplicity is a bonus when you’re days away from the nearest mechanic. And lighter is better if you plan to explore the far reaches of Siberia or the Australian Outback.

But say you want to circle the globe and throw in a few off-road races along the way. Then you’d need all of the above plus power, durability and a great suspension. A ride like that would be the ultimate run-what-you-brung adventure, and it would require the ultimate adventure bike, one that combines the capabilities of a dual sport with the soul of a racing machine.

A New Challenge

Lyndon Poskitt, a 36-year-old Brit with a deep riding and racing resume, is on that ride right now. He calls it “Races to Places.” He calls the bike he built for the ride “Basil” in honor of his late grandfather. It’s an unassuming name for an impressive machine.

Poskitt’s been riding since he was 10. He won a U.K. youth trials riding championship in 1994. In 2007, he finished the Baja 1000 in 17th place in the pro open class, and in 2011 he placed first in class in the Big Bike Rally Challenge in the United Kingdom. In 2013, he ticked the legendary Dakar Rally off his bucket list, coming in 46th overall for motorcycles.

Not bad for a privateer who raised the cash for the effort himself and built his race bike in his own garage. He’s also ridden across the Sahara desert on a KTM 950 and batted around Morocco for 4,600 miles following Dakar Rally routes.

Lyndon Poskitt Racing the Dakar Rally
Poskitt attacks the dunes on his way to a Dakar Rally finish in 2013. (Courtesy LyndonPoskittRacing.com)

After finishing the Dakar Rally, Poskitt wanted a new challenge. He hit on the idea of combining adventure riding and racing, and penciled out the attributes of a bike that could do both. It had to be stable, comfortable, reliable, lightweight and smooth. It had to have a six-speed gearbox, 400 miles of fuel range, a place to mount navigation equipment, a high airbox for deep water crossings, and a carburetor for simplicity. It had to have a long-travel suspension up to rally racing but still livable on streets and trails. It also had to be able to carry tools, clothes, camping equipment and spare parts. And of course, it had to be fast. Riding a dog is no fun after you’ve powered through the Chilean sand dunes enroute to a Dakar finish.

Poskitt decided on a race bike tamed for travel, rather than a stock Adventure Bike bulked up for racing. He started with a 2007 KTM 690 Rally Factory Replica, a factory-made rally machine sold through dealers to privateers. The KTM 690 Rally is a slick piece of kit with 80 horsepower, dual upswept exhausts, a full fairing, almost 10 gallons of gas capacity, twin-chamber racing forks and 12 inches of suspension travel front and rear. At 357 pounds dry, it’s light for a rally bike.

For comparison’s sake, consider that a stock 2014 KTM 690 Enduro R is lighter at about 315 pounds dry, but lacks a fairing, holds only three gallons of gas, has no place to store water or tools, has under 10 inches of suspension travel and puts out about 66 horsepower.

Attention to Details

Poskitt’s KTM 690 Rally already had a Dakar finish on it, so he stripped it down to the frame. A mechanical engineer by trade, he’s a meticulous guy who wanted to make sure every bolt was torqued to spec and every bearing properly greased. While the bike was in pieces, he welded gussets to the frame to strengthen it for luggage-carrying duty and fabricated footpegs that would work with luggage racks. The bike’s racing mufflers were too loud for touring so Poskitt fabricated a quieter set of his own.

Basil was assembled in just 24 hours. Here’s the entire build in four minutes.

The rear gas tank is the subframe on the KTM 690 Rally. Poskitt favored the tank from KTM’s newer 450 Factory Rally Replica bikes because it’s lighter and can be made to work with modified luggage racks. But using the 450 tank meant rearranging the electricals under the seat, fabbing up a battery tray and stuffing a lot of components into a smaller space. Basil truly is a one-off custom.

The bike’s spec sheet is impressive: Woody’s Wheel Works Superlaced wheels (the same set Poskitt ran in the Dakar Rally), Baja Designs Squadron lights, a Renazco Racing seat, a carbon fiber bash plate that doubles as a tool compartment, Magadan MK2 panniers with 25 liters of capacity per side, etc.

A Split Personality

In street mode this KTM 690 Rally can gobble up the miles. Poskitt kicked off Races to Places from his home in England and cruised through eight countries on his way to the Hellas Rally in Greece. The fairing kept him out of the wind and the 80 horsepower engine kept him entertained on the Autobahn.

KTM 690 Rally Adventure Bike in travel mode
Lyndon Poskitt on his custom-built KTM 690 Rally enjoying a tour of Turkey. (Courtesy ADVRider.com/Pyndon)

In Greece he stripped off his soft luggage (but left the racks in place), swapped out his street tires for racing tires and his tubes for mousses, changed the brake pads, adjusted the suspension, mounted the required navigation and tracking equipment and went racing. He ran in the top 10 for the first two days before crashing and injuring his shoulder on day three.

Lyndon Poskitt Racing in Hellas Rally
Lyndon Poskitt and Basil in full-race mode, cranking through a stage in the Hellas Rally of Greece. (Courtesy Adventure-Spec.com)

Race bikes are built to be taken apart for maintenance, another reason Basil makes a fine long-distance mount. Air and oil filters are easily accessible, and bigger jobs are doable in the field. Poskitt replaced a failing rocker arm while on the road sheltered from the rain by a piece of scrap tin.

Basil has proven tough and reliable. As of late November Poskitt had covered 30,000 miles. The rocker arm, a clutch slave cylinder and wheel bearings are all that’s gone bad.

Could you build your own Basil? Probably not, unless you can get your hands on a KTM 690 Rally and know your way around a machine shop. But you can create something similar. Rally Raid Products makes fairings and auxiliary gas tanks for the KTM 690. There are a number of suspension shops that can improve the 690’s ride and handling. And then you can go down Poskitt’s spec sheet and farkle as long as your wallet holds out.

Follow the adventures of Poskitt and Basil on ADV Rider, YouTube, Facebook and Poskitt’s Blog. You can read more about Basil’s bike build on the Adventure Spec Blog.

Author: Bob Whitby

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7 thoughts on “This Modified KTM 690 Rally May Be the Ultimate ADV Bike

    • Hi Mario:
      Yeah, it’s a nice bike. You’d have a tough time building one at any cost, but if I had to guess you’d probably be looking at $15,000 to $20,000 for a used 690 RFR (assuming you could find one, KTM only made about 30 a year.) Then you’d have to tack on another $5,000 or so in accessories and work.

  1. Those unreliable rocker arms are obviously a real problem of the LC4 engine. Mine failed twice so far, once the exhaust side, once the intake. Since I am not a trained mechanic I needed to get towed and both times waited six weeks (!!!) for the workshops to fix the bike! Totally unacceptable! For most average riders a field repair of an engine (at my bikes second breakdown even the crankshaft and the bearings needed to be replaced!) is out of discussion. So much about the reliability of that engine!
    Thats the reason why I will sell the bike now and give the CCM 450 a chance. Ask me again in a year or two…!

  2. Pingback: New KTM vs. New Multistrada - Ducati.ms - The Ultimate Ducati Forum

  3. Lyndon Poskitt & Basil are just fantastic, love watching & learning from his Race to Places. I’m hooked on the KTM 690 and Lyndon’s expertise. Thanksss PL#46

  4. Pingback: Documentary Film "Blazin Through Baja" Now Viewable Free

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