Thursday, March 26, 2015

Bro tip for the short riders

This was not my idea, I shamelessly stole it from forums. ( most likely the wunderfest megathread ). The 690 enduro kick stand is not particularly difficult to deploy, UNLESS you are a shorty like me and end up in situations that your right foot needs to go lower than usual. Parking on an small incline to the left for example. Suddenly things turn from manageable to damn annoying when you are trying to get the kick stand deployed with your pygmy foot. Usually what happens is, that I get the kick stand part of the way down and run out of leg length and the kick stand snaps back up.

The solution is a RAM ball mounted on the kick stand. With the ball mounted, your leg doesn't need to extend nearly as low/far to deploy the kick stand all the way down.

This is the exact product I used, but there are probably other similar ones that work just as well.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Checking out the competition - 2015 Triumph Tiger 800 XC

The grass is always greener... The long winter months usually result in me contemplating changing bikes. Usually the reasoning is less than solid. While I'm still very committed to the 690 I find it entertaining to explore what else is out there. 

Today I took the 2015 Triumph 800 XC for a test ride. The XC has intrigued me ever since it came out, but I never took the time to actually ride it until now. The following is in no shape or form a proper bike review just a quick comparison between the 690 Enduro and the 800 XC based on a short test ride. 

I tested the Street Triple years ago when the model was new and I remember the engine making an impression. The XC  was nothing short of amazing as far as the engine goes. It is simultaneously smooth without being dull or lacking character. It has plenty of power and the sound of it makes you smile instantly. There is something about the sound of the 3-cylinder engines that just works for me. I have no idea what the numbers are for horsepower, but it sure felt ample enough.

Again, I don't have any real specs, but the riding position felt a bit more leaned forward than on the 690 and my legs felt a bit more bent than on the Enduro. Riding standing up was ok, but even for me I would have liked to raise the bars a bit. The Enduro R wins here too.

Highway speeds
I expected supreme comfort compared to the 690, but got "just ok" and some nasty buffeting. Not nearly as bad as on my Tenere, but uncomfortable still. The engine sounds a lot more relaxed at 100 km/h+ than the 690, but that's not really news.

I did not sit on the bike long enough to form a rock solid opinion, but I think it's safe to assume that the Tiger has the 690 beat as far as comfort. Less vibes, comfier seat and so on. No a big surprise here either.

The tires were very roady so I felt instantly uncomfortable when going on gravel. Got right back on tarmac. These are not the tires I would have on this type of bike.

The bike steered very nicely and felt balanced all around. If I didn't know, I would not have guessed it had a 21" front as it was just a pleasure to ride into corners.

In general
I don't know if I'm supposed to be a diehard KTM guy, but I do prefer this bike over the KTM 1190 Adventure I rode last year. It's cheaper, mostly very similar but has an absolutely wonderful engine. Would I trade my 690 Enduro for the 800 XC? No. The 690 is still sublimely light in comparison and has a simplified utilitarian charm to it that is hard to beat.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Carrying extra fuel on the KTM 690 Enduro R [updated 17.3.2015]

FuelFriend tanks on KTM 690 Enduro R

The tank is too small. No way around it. It's fine when commuting and roaming around the countryside on the weekends. but any adventures that take place on the outskirts of civilization will soon have you wanting for a bigger tank. For now, I'm not interested in installing safari/rally tanks due to the cost and the limited actual use. For the occasional adventure ride an auxiliary fuel canister will suffice. I know Rotopax has an excellent product for this particular need, but I wanted to try something different just for the hell of it. Oh, and because the Rotopax solution is rather pricey ($ 85 for 1 gallon pack + mount). Kolpin makes something similar to Rotopax but according to internet wisdom the product is noticeably inferior to Rotopax. The containers some times leak and the mounting hardware is plastic instead of metal (like with Rotopax).


Primus fuel bottle (0,6 l)

Plan A was to buy 2 drink bottle holders that would presumably hold one 1 litre Primus fuel bottles each. That's only 40-50 kms of extended range, but I calculated that it would be enough to get me out of trouble if it came to that. Northern parts of the country don't have that many gas stations and some of the distances are a bit too close to the max fuel range with the standard tank.

I bought the drink bottle pouches because I didn't feel comfortable packing the bottles in the bags with other stuff such as food and presumably the pouches would give me several options for mounting the fuel bottles. After fiddling around with the pouches I came to the conclusion that another solution was needed. For the pouches to work the bike really should have luggage racks. There seemed to be no (elegant) way of mounting the pouches on the tail rack in a way that would satisfy me. I could get the bottles mounted just fine, but I didn't like how much I had to compromise with all the rest of the stuff as a result.


A friend of mine stumbled on a German site called that seemed to have a reasonably priced (14,95€ for 1,5 liter bottle) solution to the problem. The bottles are square shaped and have a groove in the middle for mounting straps. Two 1,5 liter bottles equal one 1 gallon Rotopax so the end result is the same as with one Rotopax, but price is less than half of the Rotopax set.

The build quality of the containers is very good.(as you would expect from a product made in Germany).  I tested the containers with water and found no leaks. Subjecting the containers to hundreds of miles of vibration and bumps will be the true test, but everything seems good so far.

I ordered two different kind of nozzles for the containers,but I think I will only be packing the long one fro the upcoming trip.

I tied two containers together with a "dedicated" strap and attached the package to the rear rack with another strap. I wish the Nomadic rack had more mounting holes machined into it. It works fine as it is, but a few more would be much better as you almost always end up wishing you could have stuff mounted an inch or two the other direction. For now it seems I will have to loosen the mounting strap and move the containers a few inches back in order to get the tank cap open. Not a big deal since I will have to move the duffel bag out of the way each time too.

FuelFriend tanks on KTM 690 Enduro R

FuelFriend tanks on KTM 690 Enduro R
FuelFriend tanks on KTM 690 Enduro R

UPDATE [17.3.2015]

After installing the RR racks and Perun moto rear rack the carrying capacity is greatly improved. I can now mount 4 FuelFriend cans very conveniently. 2 at each side on the RR racks and 2 on the rear rack. The extension plate comes in handy if you want to mount two on the rear rack.

For now I sill settle for 2 cans attached to the RR racks. This way I can get the weight of the extra fuel pretty low compared to mounting it on the rear rack. I'm also pretty confident that 2 cans will be enough for my needs anyway.

FuelFriend mounted on a RR rack

One Fuel Friend on top and one on the side

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Perun Moto rear rack & extension plate

Perun Moto rear rack and extension plate for KTM 690 Enduro / SMC
Perun Moto rack and extension plate for the KTM 690 Enduro
At the time I bought my Nomadic rack it was the best and nicest looking* rear rack available. Since then Perun Moto has come out with a better design.

* just my opinion of course

By better I mean
1. More options for attaching straps to the rack. 16 on the Perun model vs. 8 on the Nomadic rack. This is important as the lack of slots was a bit of a problem for me with the Nomadic
2. Visually better design. The Perun version fits the bikes lines very nicely
3. Bumper added to the underside to limit flex and vibration and also reduce stress to the mounting bolts.

The Perun Moto design, while being made of slightly thinner material than the Nomadic, is bent much less aggressively than the Nomadic and the lower support also extends much further to the rear. These combined with the bumper design should at least in theory make the Perun rack a long lasting solution.

The trade-off of the Perun design is the relative narrowness of the rack which can be seen in the photo below. This is not a big problem though, as Perun Moto also sells an extension plate to the rack that when attached gives you more real estate than the Nomadic rack. The extension plate attaches with 4 bolts and can be attached without removing the rack so putting it on and taking it off when needed is not a big deal. That said I'm planning on mostly keeping the extension plate off the bike and attaching only for longer trips when I need the maximum carrying capacity.

I liked the design before, but now that I got my hands on it I like it even more. If you are in the market for a rear rack I highly recommend considering Perun's products. While the product is good, he also communicates swiftly and ships quickly. Maybe most importantly he is the one making and designing the stuff AND he actually owns and rides the bike the products are made for. Oh, and supporting the little guy over Touratwat for example is always commendable.

Where to Buy: Perun Moto

(And no, I get no percentage from the sales.) 

Perun Moto rear rack and and Nomadic rear rack for KTM 690 Enduro / SMC
The Perun rack has 16 slots suitable for straps compared to 8 on the Nomadic rack. Both are drilled to accept a rotopax mount

Perun Moto rear rack and and Nomadic rear rack underside for KTM 690 Enduro / SMC
Undersides of both racks

A key difference on the Perun rack are the rubber pads under the rack

The extension plate gets you more attachment options and space 

Perun Moto rear rack and and Nomadic rear rack comparison
Comparison between the Perun  rack and the Nomadic rack. Visually the Perun rack fits the 690 Enduro a lot better.

The Perun rack is made of slightly thinner material than the Nomadic. 

Bends on the Perun rack are much gentler than on the Nomadic rack. The larger the radius on a bend the better, from a durability standpoint.

The Nomadic rack has quite aggressive bends which in theory are potential weak points / failure points

The Perun rack is supported from the back while most others like the Nomadic are not
Perun Moto rear rack extension plate for KTM 690 Enduro / SMC


I wanted to use the longer spacers that came with the RR side racks for 2 reasons. I felt that the rubber bumpers pressed quite firmly on the rear fender and I wanted a little more clearance between the fender and RR racks. This meant that I needed to get longer (80mm) bolts to replace the ones that came with the Perun rack. 

BTW, I measured the holes with the rack and Perun spacers in place and I think the bolts could be a bit longer even if no customization is done. That or I measured incorrectly.

Perun spacer and RR spacer 

Longer bolt and the original Perun Moto bolt

I also used the form washers that came with the RR rack.


Fondling the rack under the fluorescent lights of the garage tells very little how the product holds up and work in real life. I will have update this post once the season gets going and I get to actually use the rack for something. To be continued...

KTM 690 Enduro Survey update

KTM 690 Enduro survey

Updated the numbers since there have been some new ones since the last update. Now the total number of entries is 120.

Read the PDF here

Remember AGAIN, the stats on page one are NOT "real". 

1. the amount of entries is not large enough to make any conclusion regarding the bikes reliability
2. the data entered is not verified in any way (all issues could in fact  be entered by envious Honda men ;))
3. Individual bikes DO appear multiple times on the entries

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

KTM 690 Enduro R battery case

KTM 690 Enduro R battery case
Out of curiosity I took the battery out to take a peek under the battery case. Some 690 owners have experienced problems with the electrical wires (left circle) wearing through under the battery case. The wires are indeed pinched by the battery case and with time the vibrations and dirt may very well cause problems. I currently have no solutions to the problem, but it also seems that nothing has happened yet. I will have to keep an eye on things and check the wires periodically.

Friday, March 6, 2015

KTM 690 Enduro cush drive

Took the wheels off for maintenance and while they were off I checked the cush drive for wear. From what I can tell there were no visible signs of wear or need for replacement. The 690 cush drive elements seem to be far superior to the ones on my old Tenere as far as durability.

It's almost time!

Took the bike for some fresh air today. +2 degrees and raining today, but it's supposed to warm up soon.

Installing the Rally Raid Soft luggage racks with a Nomadic rear rack [updated 6.3.2015]

Finally got a around installing the rack. For some reason I had decided that I wanted the whole rear of the bike matte black now that the bike would have the black racks to ruin the "lines". Childish I Know.

I bought a new black rear fender and painted it with rubber paint similar to Plastidip. The end result matches the tank surprisingly well.

Painted and unpainted black plastic side by side

RR provided spacers in place
The lower part mounted with RR provided hardware. I would prefer the 19 mm spacer to be much wider as there is space.

Installing a bolt that is too long  on the lower mounts will result in disaster

To avoid damage to the lower mounts, my plan to was to mount the lower ends using a large stainless steel washers that have a rubber "insert". This way the stress of the mounting bolt is divided to a larger area and the rubber may help absorb some of the vibrations. This may be a completely faulty logic, but I gave it a go anyway.

Stainless steel washers and a rubber mat with self adhesive back

self made "vibration damping" washers (holes not punched yet)

As I knew about the weak spot of the rack (the lower mounting points) beforehand 
( more here )  I had time to source the extra bolts and washers needed. The lower mounting holes need special attention, because using bolts that are too long will damage the rear swing. I used 50 mm long bolts, the RR provided 19 mm spacers and 3 washers + rubber washer.

The improved mounting solution

I added a third washer as the rubber flattened so much after tightening the bolt that the bolt was starting to protrude from the other side. It was only a couple of mm, but I wanted none of that. That yellow stuff is the adhesive from the rubber pushing out under pressure.

The final result looks sturdier to me


The Nomadic rack required the 3 small rear screws to be loosened as the RR bolts would not fit through otherwise.

My improved mounting plan is below, but I need to find the parts for that first

UPDATE [5.3.2015]

I accidentally found the missing hardware for the lower mounts. The local auto/bike parts store had a bag of "headlight mounting spacers" that have spacers almost exactly like the ones I was planning on having made. Had to buy two bags to get 4 spacers of the appropriate size, but still a big win. The spacers are chrome plated aluminum.

UPDATE [6.3.2015]

The final solution. I replaced the RR spacers with larger ones and secured the bolts with steel wire to prevent losing the hardware if the bolts come loose at some point. I'm done fiddling with the lower mounts. If they break they break.

The safety wiring needs to be sorted. This is not how it should look.