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KTM 690 REVIEW, KNOWN ISSUES & PROBLEMS HUSQVARNA 701

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For a few years, the KTM 690R was my dream bike, then I finally scraped together the cash to buy a secondhand one and just sold it two months later. Far as I can see the majority are happy with their KTM 690s or Husqvarna 701 with some key mods done, but I also know a substantial number of us are disappointed too. I figured it couldn't hurt to offer a dissenting opinion so that anyone looking at the big thumpers can get a broader perspective.

The KTM 690 definitely has its fans and I can see why - over 70 horsepower at the rear wheel is very addictive for the speed jockeys but I had trouble seeing past quite a few issues....

 

If found the 690 had a close ratio gearbox compared to similar bike in its class. First gear feels too high for dirt work, while it seems to be revving higher than needed on the highway. I found persistent false neutrals between fourth, fifth and six gears. It's a commonly reported issue that some guys say disappears after a good run in... not so with my bike. 

In stock trim, my KTM 690 was unbearably twitchy and jerky at low revs, and very prone to stalling. There are probably more up to date fixes now, but the solution back then was a remap and aftermarket exhaust. Most KTM models run fine in standard trim and with its price tag I think it's a shame the 690 doesn't at least run properly until modified... at least those of us who like to use the low revs. Apparently the Husqvarna 701 has a completely new engine for 2017, I hope it runs better and is more reliable.

The KTM 690R pipe is a shocker; it weighs a ton and the catalytic converter means it runs so hot it melts the plastic sidecover - a terrible design that is only good for frying eggs. Apparently the Husqvarna 701 has a different exhaust, hopefully it's a better design.

For taller riders the footpegs are too high and you may find yourself in a jockey-style position and some find the bars too low as well although that's an easy fix on both the KTM 690R and the Husqvarna 701. While the ergos suit shorter riders, the tall seat height works against them though. The seat is pure dirt bike and you'll want something more comfortable for dual sport and adventure riding.

The suspension on mine was brutally harsh. It seemed fine on the road but only started to work reasonably well with extremely aggressive riding. I'm not sure if this has been fixed on recent models, but a quick google around suggests this was still a common complaint up to the 2013 models at least.

Plenty of 690 owners report trouble-free riding, but reliability is a well known problem for others. Google around for a list, but common problems are fuel pumps, rocker arm bearings, weak rear subframe for luggage, electrics, injectors and the wiring loom. This has deterred some from using the 690 as an adventure bike, while others say you just need to carry the relevant spare parts, know the problems and fixes, and do maintenance checks before adventure rides with both the KTM 690R and the Husqvarna 701.

What is the KTM 690R meant to be? They call it an enduro model but it's far too heavy and lacks a good turning circle. It takes a lot of mods to turn it into an adventure bike but the reliability issues can be a problem - at a minimum you need to know how to fix broken rocker arms and fuel pumps by the side of the road.

Is it just a wheel spinning kick arse dual sport bike? Many use it that way and love the bike. All I know is it's a bike that polarises riders... at a rough guess I'd say two out of three riders like the 690 and the rest don't - I'm one of the latter riders obviously. Usually KTM work hard to improve their bikes but the 690 appears to have been left in the too-hard basket. I'm keen to see the rebadged Husqvarna 701 version for 2017 can resolve the identity crisis and get the bike fully sorted. :) 

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I too will be very curious about the 2017 701. I do hear the suspension is still overly harsh though. Out of curiosity, did you play with the mapping switch under the seat at all? To ease the power at low speeds?

Edited by officialhopsof

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8 hours ago, officialhopsof said:

I too will be very curious about the 2017 701. I do hear the suspension is still overly harsh though. Out of curiosity, did you play with the mapping switch under the seat at all? To ease the power at low speeds?

yes and it helped a little although i didn't like the sluggish response through the rest of the revs. from reading around the general fix still seems to be a remap, different exhaust and airbox mods. at least this is cheaper now, the only aftermarket exhaust in the early days was the akro which cost a fortune. 

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15 hours ago, OZ DRZ said:

yes and it helped a little although i didn't like the sluggish response through the rest of the revs. from reading around the general fix still seems to be a remap, different exhaust and airbox mods. at least this is cheaper now, the only aftermarket exhaust in the early days was the akro which cost a fortune. 

Cheaper, but not cheap enough. The lowest out the door price I found on a 2017 Husky 701 was $13000. For the same money I could get a fully decked out Beta 500/390 and still have $1000 to spare. I can't imagine that husky would be any less than about $16000 by the time you did all the mods you needed to do to it to make it shine. I reckon the beta and the husky are two very different bikes, but still, it's hard to justify that kind of money. And then you look at bikes that are coming out soon, like the AJP PR7. Looking at similiarly priced bikes in europe, I think it will be around $9k here in the states. If the suspension is good, and it runs well from the factory (and these are big if's that are still to be determined), why would anyone have the Husky? The only reason I could think of would be for the double counter balancer they put into the engine to smooth it out. But, I haven't ridden either bike, maybe the husky shits rainbow, and maybe we can all ride a winged marshmallow to the sherbet kingdom. :)
 I have been following this Adv Rider thread, it looks like the PR7 is on its way to Australia now! lucky bastard!

http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/ajp-pr7.1013515/

Edited by officialhopsof

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7 hours ago, officialhopsof said:

......I have been following this Adv Rider thread, it looks like the PR7 is on its way to Australia now! lucky bastard!

http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/ajp-pr7.1013515/

it looks the business, i hope the PR7 goes as well as it looks. :)

a few guys have called the 690 the hooligan bike which makes sense to me - if you want ridiculous power in a reaonably light frame for fish tailing on dirt roads in every gear it would be hard to go past the big pumpkin! and if you throw the cash at it they are a very sweet bike to ride once fully sorted and you are prepared for those known issues on longer adventure rides. but for the money i would like to have seen most of those issues fixed before it left the factory floor.

DOH a quick correction. in the first post i said the 690 makes over 70HP at the rear wheel, that should have read over 60HP (when derestricted).

Edited by OZ DRZ

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That is a very odd review. I've never dreamed about a bike for a few years, but even so, never so misjudged a purchase. Especially now, with the web. The issues you mentioned, both objective and subjective, are well known affecting some riders and some bikes. I've never had a perfect bike, nor an awful one.

My '14 bought in October hasn't disappointed for it's intended use, which is out the back door for a days off road riding to often parts unknown or undecided, then an hour or 3's slab ride home. I'm currently working on setting it up for camping to avoid the slab.

For my use it performs much better than prior rides used for this purpose, a DRZ400, WR450, and KLR650. There are no serious competitors in the 690's class I think.

Of course the hooligan factor is a nice bonus, but hard on rear tires. :lol:

Anyway, hope you find a bike that better suits you. :thumbsup:

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On 3/31/2017 at 5:17 PM, Flagstaff said:

That is a very odd review. I've never dreamed about a bike for a few years, but even so, never so misjudged a purchase. Especially now, with the web. The issues you mentioned, both objective and subjective, are well known affecting some riders and some bikes. I've never had a perfect bike, nor an awful one.

My '14 bought in October hasn't disappointed for it's intended use, which is out the back door for a days off road riding to often parts unknown or undecided, then an hour or 3's slab ride home. I'm currently working on setting it up for camping to avoid the slab.

For my use it performs much better than prior rides used for this purpose, a DRZ400, WR450, and KLR650. There are no serious competitors in the 690's class I think.

Of course the hooligan factor is a nice bonus, but hard on rear tires. :lol:

Anyway, hope you find a bike that better suits you. :thumbsup:

I had a similar experience with a Zero FX, I dreamed over it for a couple of years and then did the plunge. I had it up for sale about 6 months into ownership. It was simply both the worst bike I have ever had, and the least reliable. When I finally sold it for half of what I paid for it, 2 years after I bought it, it had been in the shop for about 3 months for one warranty repair or another. Never again!

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On 4/1/2017 at 8:17 AM, Flagstaff said:

That is a very odd review. I've never dreamed about a bike for a few years, but even so, never so misjudged a purchase. Especially now, with the web. The issues you mentioned, both objective and subjective, are well known affecting some riders and some bikes. I've never had a perfect bike, nor an awful one.....

a good point flagstaff. this was eight years ago and the interwebby thingy was still quite new to me back then... i'm way better at researching forum posts now. i still wouldn't call the 690 an awful bike, i just think for the price, and with KTM' hard earned reputation, it should have less known issues. it felt like an awful choice though, so figured i'd report on it so that potential 690 buyers could get an alternative view to all the glowing reviews. 

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3 hours ago, OZ DRZ said:

a good point flagstaff. this was eight years ago and the interwebby thingy was still quite new to me back then... i'm way better at researching forum posts now. i still wouldn't call the 690 an awful bike, i just think for the price, and with KTM' hard earned reputation, it should have less known issues. it felt like an awful choice though, so figured i'd report on it so that potential 690 buyers could get an alternative view to all the glowing reviews. 

Fair enough. 

Mine's working great for me, nothing else available comes close for my needs.

:ride:

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On 3/31/2017 at 6:29 AM, officialhopsof said:

Cheaper, but not cheap enough. The lowest out the door price I found on a 2017 Husky 701 was $13000. For the same money I could get a fully decked out Beta 500/390 and still have $1000 to spare. I can't imagine that husky would be any less than about $16000 by the time you did all the mods you needed to do to it to make it shine. I reckon the beta and the husky are two very different bikes, but still, it's hard to justify that kind of money. And then you look at bikes that are coming out soon, like the AJP PR7. Looking at similiarly priced bikes in europe, I think it will be around $9k here in the states. If the suspension is good, and it runs well from the factory (and these are big if's that are still to be determined), why would anyone have the Husky? The only reason I could think of would be for the double counter balancer they put into the engine to smooth it out. But, I haven't ridden either bike, maybe the husky shits rainbow, and maybe we can all ride a winged marshmallow to the sherbet kingdom. :)
 I have been following this Adv Rider thread, it looks like the PR7 is on its way to Australia now! lucky bastard!

http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/ajp-pr7.1013515/

I finally had time to look at that link, the first page and the last half dozen or so. Looks like an interesting effort. Thanks for posting.

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