The 690 chameleon

The KTM 690 Enduro R is probably the most versatile adventure bike ever built. It is especially good for rally travel, but will also turn into a fairly capable adventure enduro whip. I was looking at the latter, when pulling the trigger on my 690 in 2013. It ended up carrying a steep learning curve into wrenching, but primarily a ticket into epic adventures into the empty places of the world.

The build


The wiring on the bike needs a little extra protection. Most of it is pretty loose and naked just before the connectors. I guess that would not be such a problem on a road bike. However, add the vibrations of a thumper to sand and dust, and you’ve got yourself the equivalent of an army of little rodents teeth gnawing at the insulation. Eventually this will result in shorts and a lot of hassle.

I just taped up the naked wires leading to the connector and sprayed all connectors with electrical vaseline. This is best done when the bike is new so you won’t be sealing the little sand particles inside the wiring. I wrapped the electrical tape around a small socket to reach the tight spots. I also added some MTB inner tube between the zip tie points to reduce the risk of abrasion under vibration.


Some riders have had their OEM rectifier fail. It’s pretty rare but I didn’t want to take a chance. There are also other benefits with a MOSFET type regulator. So I replaced the OEM part with a Shindengen FH008 MOSFET regulator. The Shindengen FH008 dimensions are identical to the OEM and bolts straight on. I added some connectors close to the regulator so it can be replaced quickly without removing the airbox. I added the same connectors to the OEM part so it can be used as a spare in case the Shindengen fails. The Shindengen produces 14.3 V on idle.


These are very fragile and right where your boot goes when getting on and off the bike. Mine didn’t last a week and I replaced them with mini LED:s.


I decided to go for the Rally Raid aluminium engine guard with tank by Rally Raid Products. The tank holds two liters, and I carry engine oil in it. I guess it’s normally used for water, but I prefer to keep my water in a CamelBak and need to carry engine oil on long trips, so this seemed like the logical place.

The Engine guard seems sturdy enough but needed a little tinkering. The sharp edges of the aluminium plate were eating into the plastic tank. I bent them outwards a little and filed down the sharp edges. Some of the rubber bungs on the tank also needed a little extra glue. I also added some MTB inner tube between the guard and the tank in high abrasion areas. Other than that, it seems solid. Now perfected with a Rally Raid sticker.


The stock silencer is heavy and gets very hot in use, so I replaced it with a lovely Akrapovic. In addition to fixing the afore mentioned issues, the Akrapovic improves the smoothness of the bike.


Sealing the air filter to the airbox has been a bit of an issue on some bikes, including mine. I greased the bottom of the connecting lip on the air filter after noticing dust in my airbox. It still didn’t seal completely. Apparently this is due to the warping of the airbox under vacuum. It just isn’t rigid enough to stay in form under the vacuum of high revolutions. The airbox will give in a little and let air slip in between the filter and airbox lip.

I ended up replacing my paper filter with a High Flow Unifilter. This should do the trick as the pressure difference between ambient pressure and airbox pressure should be reduced. The Unifilter also has a higher seal which should help.

I changed the stock air filter cover to a KTM EVO-1 cover. It raises the air intake higher up, which is crucial in water crossings. It does make the engine sound very loud for the rider. I can’t even hear the exhaust due the induction noise.


Stock gearing is very tall on the KTM 690 Enduro R. No doubt with road use in mind. I’ve changed a 50 tooth steel sprocket to the back and will carry 15 and 16 tooth sprockets for the front and change depending on what I’m riding. This will make the bike more manageable in technical stuff and also help save the clutch a little.


The bearings that I’ve had the most water penetration and wear in have been in the sprocket carrier, the triangle lever, the bottom of the rear shock and the swing arm. The wheel bearings seem to last forever but I still change them annually along with any others that are filled with grime or have play in them. Before installing the bearings I take off their dust covers on both sides and pack the bearings with Mobilgrease XHP 222. I also regularly cleaned and greased the steering stem bearings and pull rod bearings.


The EU tail fender is inpractical and looks terrible. I took it off and gave the short tail fender a little heat gun and bent it down to a legal angle. The registration plate holder bolts straight onto the fender.

The EU registration plate is roughly the size of a pizza box. It doesn’t last long while riding soft stuff. Especially swamps will kill it quickly with a spray of turf. Both our plates broke during our test run. I will mount a small showplate for Eastern Dirt 14.


The OEM suspension does a nice job on gravel roads, but I wanted more travel. So I went for the Rally Raid Fork Extension Kit and Tractive Suspension Rallye Shock from Rally Raid Products. The OEM travel was was raised by 50mm from 250mm to 300mm. The front shocks were revalved by Ari Nurmela, the suspension guru from MP Racing, who’s done the suspension for several Finnish enduro world champions. I was a little sceptical about the fork extension but it performed well enough for me. Especially after Ari did his magic on it.

The Rallye Shock is incredible. I was really impressed with it during our test runs. It just seems to go forever and no matter what kind of ruts and ditches you take on the rear wheel, it just remains smooth and composed. We had roughly 30 kg of luggage each on our test trip and zero problems.


The superiority of soft luggage on these kinds of trips is well argued by Walter Colebatch. I couldn’t agree more, and also ride with Adventure Spec Magadans. I used to prefer to have them the wrong way around though, with bottle pockets facing backwards. This way I could keep my extra gloves and rain gear in the front pockets, without them getting too dirty. On long trips where I need to carry bottles for engine oil and air filter oil, I keep the bottle pockets in the front. I’ve added bungee loops on the pockets to secure the bottles.

As for luggage racks, my money is on Rally Raid soft luggage racks, which I’ve said before. You do have to be careful with the RR racks though after falls, because they do bend. This is a design feature though, as the plastic deformation of the steel rack absorbs a lot of energy, instead of allowing it to pass directly to the mounting nuts on the plastic rear tank. While it’s a good thing in keeping the tail tank in one piece, the bottom of the rack will hit and chafe the swing arm eventually. So make sure to bend them back to shape after tumbles.

I use normal cargo straps with metal fasteners to secure the panniers to the racks. I used to have them lower, which resulted in the left hand pannier making contact with the side stand. This resulted in minor abrasions. The bike was felt a little more unpredictable in terms of handling as the luggage could swing a little while hanging low. There was also very little clearance for boots and in technical terrain I kept getting my foot caught between an obstacle and a pannier.

So I raised the panniers higher up and further back. I’ve added pics of the strap connections. The key is to avoid contact with the sharp edges of the perforated holes on the rack plate. They’ll eat through the cargo webbing in three to four hours thanks to the vibrations of the LC4. So I use hitches and loop the webbing between the bike and the rack plate. The front connection point on the horizontal strap has a sharpish edge but due to the hitch, it can’t move around and has survived thus far. I want to have a hitch on the vertical strap too, so that I can tighten the strap upward, relieving weight off the velcro straps over the seat. I keep the velcro straps very loose to make sure the weight of the luggage is on the racks, and not on the seat. This keeps the center of gravity lower and improves handling. The placement of the perforated holes isn’t perfect, which results in a little sideways pull on the vertical strap. It should survive, though.

I use a Giant Loop Fandango tank bag. It’s a little too big for my taste, but it has enough room for everything. I’ve ran a wire with a cigarette lighter socket into the bag. It gives me the option to charge camera batteries, cell phone, satellite phone in addition to holding road snacks and a DSLR with lenses. I’m into my second Fandango, as both of the lid zippers on the first one failed catastrophically in Siberia. I was probably too ham fisted and told the seller, Adventure Spec, about it but they still replaced it.


The OEM filler cap neck is very low. Fueling after some dirt circus will probably result in crud entering the fuel tank. The lock on the OEM fuel cap is pretty stiff and probably will get even stiffer during use. The key on the other hand is very thin. I didn’t fancy either of the mentioned issues and replaced it with the Rally Raid filler neck and Acerbis breather cap.


The OEM tank and subframe bolts have been known to fail under stress. I replaced mine with the Rally Raid Lower tank mounting bolts and subframe bolts.


I originally had just the OEM tank and a Rally Raid 4.5 l tail tank. That setup gave me fuel capacity of 16.5 l, or more or less a range of 300 km. It’s just not enough, so I added the Rally Raid EVO-2 front tanks for a total fuel capacity of 26.5 l. Optimally, this should give me a range of 500 km.

Getting enough fuel onboard is one thing but keeping it usable is another. The main fuel filter is inside the OEM fuel tank so I added another filter after the Rally Raid tanks and an extra filter before the injector. That filter only filters whatever is in the Rally Raid tanks, so I also added a filter between the main tank and injector. Now all fuel is filtered twice before hitting the injector. We were also looking into fuel tank bags to collect the larger pieces of debris that enter the tank during fueling, but it turned out to be a no go.

The fuel pump connectors can become loose in vibration, so I drilled mine with a 1.5 mm drill and added lock wires.

If any impurities should make it through the fuel lines, it will clog the injector which then needs to be cleaned. Preparing for this, I’ve replaced the OEM Philips screws with the Rally Raid Injector Hex screw kit for easier and reliable access.


I was originally thinking about one of the motorcycle specific navigators, but wanted something I could also use for mountain biking. So I decided to get the Garmin Montana 600 and haven’t looked back since. I love it. It is very versatile with good battery life. Not that you really need the battery while riding as the Montana sits on a powered cradle, also by Garmin.

As for the navigation cluster. I’ve never had any kind of motorbike with a screen or any wind protection so I don’t miss it. I feel Rally fairings are obtrusive and get in the way of the view. The one I’ve tested also result in uncomfortable wind chop as opposed to protecting you from it. The good thing about the Rally fairings is of course the dash. You get everything right where it needs to be, and well protected too. In the end I went for the Rally Management Services universal mounting clamps. I had them anodized black to remove glares and for general awesomeness. The GPS is mounted on a RAM mount which in turn is mounted on the crossbar. I also added a DIY 12mm adapter to avoid wear on the crossbar. The RAM mount is very handy as I can tilt the GPS up and down, depending on if I’m on the pegs or seated. It also enables to switch from landscape to portrait view quickly. You do have to lock the screen orientation on the Montana though as the vibrations of the bike mess up the orientation sensor on the Montana.

Since I took up mostly riding solo, I’ve added another Garmin Montana for backup. I’m not big on carrying paper maps.


The OEM headlight on the 690 needs a bit of upgrading for missions in the dark. I decided to go with a Baja Designs SII LED Spot light. It’s connected directly to the navigation crossbar. I wired the LED light directly instead of the high beam on the OEM headlight. So it works from the high beam switch, but the OEM high beam never activates and the low beam is always on.

The fit with the OEM mounting bracket was a bit too tight for my taste. The wiring was in contact with the RAM mount bolt. I made a DIY bracket out of steel, painted it black and bolted it on. Sorted.


I used to run the KTM rad protectors. I changed to the Rally Raid Radiator Protector and Radiator Screen though, because I wanted to add a protective screen in front of the radiator. The RR naked metal screen was a bit too bling for my taste so I had it painted black. Same goes with the protector plates.

The radiator protector works fine for the most part, but IMHO there is a small design flaw; a 10 mm crack between the bottom of the screen and the mounting bar. This allows knobby tyres to fling mud right up and onto the radiator. I’ve been meaning to rivet a small aluminium flap onto the bottom bracket to cover the gap but never got around to it.

I replaced the 105 degC OEM thermostat switch with an Rally Raid 88 degC fan thermostat switch. It’ll switch on the radiator fan earlier, which in turn keeps the engine a little cooler.


I’ve added the Side Stand Dummy plug by Rally Raid to get rid of another potential fail point. I also added the Side Stand Foot Extender for use in soft terrain.


TM Designworks. Bulletproof with replacable bottom plates.


I use and OSCO, the One Second Chain Oiler. It’s an ingenious dutch design, which is totally manual and doesn’t connect to any wiring or lines on the bike. So if it fails you dump it without anything needing capping or rewiring. I also like the idea of being able to decide when the chain needs oil instead of a continuous drip. This makes it handy especially on days with several water crossings etc. It’s designed to be connected to the chain guard, which results it dropping the oil on the outside of the chain. Instead, I’ve run the oil line into the chain guide which results in the oil being deployed on the inside of the chain, where it needs to be.

After a year of use the OEM oil line had hardened up. I decided to go for a thicker line for extra protection.


If the chain breaks during riding, it can whip into the clutch slave cylinder an kill it. End of the trip. So I replaced the OEM sprocket guard with a Rally Raid Billet Sprocket Guard.


The OEM front brake hose is a nuisance where it’s situated, on the clocks. Especially if you intend to have any kind of navigation equipment above the speedo. I routed mine Rally style, over the front fender, resulting in a nice clean cockpit. The brake hose is a custom made 130 cm Hiflex hose. The banjos are aligned, with a 45 degree bend on the top banjo. The hose clamps on the lower triple clamp are 10 mm stainless steel P-clips with rubber inserts. The brake hose and speedo cable are held together by a loose spiral cable wrap.


The OEM rear brake line is held in a cradle, that is bolted on to the swing arm. The cradle raises the brake line from the swing arm. Enough for the Rear tank to make contact in big hits and squash the brake line. The brake line is attached out of harms way with P-clips.


A lot of people have complained the OEM seat being uncomfortable. I haven’t noticed. Even though I’ve been on it up to 28 hours in one go.


This comes in handy when you need to drag the bike out of a bog or ditch. There’s no hitec here, just some webbing and two knots. I made the loop just long enough to go over the headlight and tuck in behind the mask nicely.


I love a clean view, so I only have a single folding mirror, that I only use in traffic.


I ride with Mitas C-02 in rears and some or another MX tyre in front. Both have rim locks and have been balanced accordingly with spoke weights. I run Michelin UHD tubes. I’ve also put in a standard tube between the tyre and the UHD for extra protection. The problem with the UHD tube is that it can’t be patched up. So I carry a thinner rubber tube, that can be patched up, and cut up the UHD to use as extra protection when it gets punctured.


Everything I’ve ever done to the bike is documented in the list below. Please click on the service tabs for details.

Change oil
Check coolant
Check bolts

Akrapovic slipon and injection map
KTM aluminium bash plate
KTM Rad guards
Change oil and filters

Tank bag / Giant Loop Tank bag, Giant Loop Fandango White
OSCO chain oiler
Garmin Montana 600 GPS
Check air filter seal
LED mini rear indicators
Registration plate light
Rally Raid rear tank
Rally Raid soft luggage racks
Rally Raid Billet tank cap
Rally Raid Side stand extension
Rally Raid Sprocket guard
Rally Raid fuel tank bottom bolts
Rally Raid fuel tank top bolts
Magadan Panniers
Navigator RAM mount
Change oil and filters
Check air filter

Replace tyres / Metzler Enduro

Replace Rally Raid rear tank
Replace front tyre / Michelin AC-10
Replace rear tyre / Dunlop Geomax MX-71

Change oil and filters
Check and adjust valve clearances
Change air filter

Garmin handlebar mount
Rally Raid Fork extension kit
Rally Raid Tractive rallye shock 300 mm
Rally Raid Front tanks
Rally Raid Radiator protector
Rally Raid Radiator screen
Rally Raid Tank shrouds
Rally Raid 88 deg fan thermostat
Rally Raid Injector hex kit
Rally Raid Engine guard with tank
Front brake hose rally routing
Fuel lines for front and tail tanks
Clean throttle body
Haul loop front
RMS Navigation clamps
Anodize navigation clamps
RAM mount to clamps for Montana
Revalve forks
Clean and grease steering stem bearings
Filler cap breather hoses
Front wheel bearings, clean and grease
Baja SII LED high beam
LED high beam wiring to KTM switch
Rear wheel bearings, clean and grease
Sprocket carrier bearings, clean and grease
Grip Donuts
Black front fender
Black hand guards
OSCO mount
OSCO drop zone to chain guide
Brake pedal bolt, drill and lock wire
Front rim lock
Rear rim lock
Rim lock counter weights front and back
Replace rear tyre / Mitas C-02
Rally Raid Side stand switch eliminator

Replace swing arm bearings
Replace tri lever bearings
Replace chain guide / TM design works
Replace chain slide
50-T rear sprocket
Replace rear tyre / Mitas C-02
Replace rear tube / Michelin UHD
Replace rear wheel bearings
Replace sprocket carrier bearings
Change oil and filters
Replace chain and master link
15-T front sprocket
Replace front tyre / Michelin AC-10
Replace front tube / Michelin UHD
Replace Front wheel bearings
Reroute OSCO
Check valves
Lower rear brake hose mount on swing arm
Replace rectifier / Shindengen FH008
Replace air filter / Unifilter
A1 Mini register plate

Replace oil and filters
Change tyres / MITAS C-02 and C-05
Wash and oil Unifilter

Replace oil and filters
Replace fork oil
Change tyres MITAS C-02 C-17
Wash and oil Unifilter

Replace oil and filters
Change tyres Heidenau K-60
Replace chain and sprockets 16/50
Wash and oil Unifilter

Fork service and revalve
Valve clearance check
Replace intake and exhaust rockers
Remove quick connect from fuel line
Replace tank fuel filter
Replace secondary fuel filter
Replace RR tank line filter
Replace fuel pump net filter
Change engine oil and filters
Replace tank bag
Replace front tyre / Michelin AC10
Replace rear tyre / Mitas C-02
Check wheel bearings, front
Replace front tanks
Replace sprocket carrier bearings
Drill hand guard rails and secure
Wash and oil Unifilter

Replace headlight bulb
Replace outside fuel filter

Rear shock service
Clean and grease linkage bearings
Clean and grease pull rod bearings
Clean and grease swing arm bearings
Replace chain slide
Replace wheel bearings, rear
Replace Rear sprocket 50T
Replace wheel bearings, front
Replace rear brake pads
Check front brake pads
Change spark plug
Check front brake disc > 4.5mm
Check rear brake disc > 3.5mm
Wash, oil and install Unifilter
Replace rear tyre / Mitas C-02
Replace front tyre / Mitas C-17
Replace 50 T sprocket to Supersprox
Replace Chain
Replace Front sprocket 16T
Check valve clearances
Check shims
Replace fuel filter outside
Check and protect wiring
Secondary GPS cradle
Secondary GPS
Wiring for secondary GPS
Black tail fender
Replace fuel pump
Replace injector
Replace breather caps
Top up clutch fluid
Top up front brake fluid
Check rear brake fluid level
Replace oil filters and cover o-rings
Replace oil sieves,covers and all o-rings
Replace oil and filters
Replace Donuts

Replace rear tyre Heidenau K-60
Replace rim tape

Replace rear tyre / Mitas C-02
Replace battery

What’s next?

Everything on this page is open for debate. What have I missed? What would you have done differently?