I took delivery of my 2008 KTM 690 Enduro on Saturday afternoon and immediately headed up into the Santa Cruz mountains to break it in properly. Over the next 66 miles I formed the following initial impressions of the bike. In comparison, my most recent motorcycle has been a 1999 Kawasaki KLR650 which was designed for the same purpose: To allow riders to travel in reasonable comfort both on- and off-pavement. The two bikes, however, are separated by nearly two decades of engineering practice, and the KTM is nearly twice the cost of a KLR. What would 20 years and five thousand more dollars bring?
When getting on the bike for the first time I was immediately struck by two things: The seat feels significantly higher than my KLR, but it's also narrower at the front, allowing me to still comfortably get the toes of both feet on the ground. The bike also felt much lighter, as it was very easy to lift it off the side stand. This makes sense, as the KLR is about 420 pounds, while the KTM is about 100 pounds lighter (both wet weights).
When I switched the ignition on the instrument gauge fully lit up as the tach swept across its full range of travel and the speedo indicated the number of front wheel revolutions per mile it was set for. This latter feature is very nice, as the circumference of different tires—especially if you switch from knobbies to street tires—can significantly affect the speedometer's accuracy. It was also a relief to know that I wouldn't have to continually subtract about 8% from the displayed speed, like I had to do to compensate for the overly optimistic speedo on the KLR.
It was especially thrilling to see an odometer that displayed all zeros and briefly imagine all the adventures to come. A short press of the starter button and the bike burbled to life, the automatic choke and cold start routines of the fuel injection system quickly settling the motor into an easy rhythm.