A user-friendly KTM supermoto with a 150-mile tank range? Jon Urry wonders what the world is coming to.
IN 1998 KTM launched what it claims was the first production supermoto, the 620SM. It wasn't a revolutionary bike - the supermoto scene had been gaining strength in Europe for quite a while - but this was the first time a manufacturer had unveiled a dedicated supermoto.
Fast-forward nine years and the supermoto scene has changed. Where these bastardised off-roaders were once solely the products of specialist off-road manufacturers such as KTM, Husqvarna and CCM, the Japanese have turned the trend mainstream. And that can be a problem. As soon as a fashion becomes recognised by the masses it inevitably gets diluted. The supermotos around today such as the Suzuki DR-Z400SM, Yamaha XT660X and Honda FMX650 are a distant shadow of the converted CR500s of yesteryear. Which is where KTM could always be relied upon.
The Austrian firm stood true to the roots of the sport and kept making extreme, hardcore supermoto bikes, rather than mere visual imitations like the Japanese. Well, until now...
As well as being a completely new bike from ground up, the new 690SM also signifies new thinking from KTM. According to the firm it is aimed at "a broader target audience for city use as well as fast mountain roads, that is fun from the moment you leave your garage". Does that sound like a hardcore KTM supermoto to you? No? Good, because it isn't meant to be.
Despite the 690SM having an all-new motor - the most powerful single-cylinder production motor KTM has ever made - it's anything but a beast to ride. I was expecting a roarty, vibrating, rip-snorter of a single, but what you get is a gentle, smooth and relatively vibe-free engine. In the redesign, along with performance modifications such as a slipper clutch and lighter valves, KTM has added a balancer shaft and ride-by-wire throttle system to make the bike more user friendly.
Click here to read the KTM 690 Supermoto review verdict.
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