PROJECT BIKE: 2021 KTM 690 RALLY LITE
WORDS: Randy COMMANS PHOTOS: SIMON CUDBY
Like the 701 build you may have read about in the November issue of Upshift, this build was spurred on by our two previous trips to Iceland. I thoroughly enjoyed the many days we spent on this in-between class of motorcycle. It’s not an enduro and not quite a full-on adventure bike. It’s easier to ride than an adventure bike and handled the long hauls better than an enduro. Thus the plan was hatched to take a stock 2021 KTM 690 and give it some of what you have come to see in the adventure bike class, yet keeping it light and nimble.
The plan was not to go too crazy with the KTM 690 and just keep it simple and light while the 701 build in November issue was getting the full adventure bike makeover. Well, once we dug in and started making a list, let’s just say things may have gotten a little adventurous.
Navigation tower, performance, suspension, and comfort were all addressed. Starting from the front, we opted to go with the Aurora “Rally Lite” navigation tower. The Aurora 690 Xplorer kit would have taken this build to the level of a full-on adventure bike, and the new smaller, lighter Aurora Universal kit wasn’t available for the 690 yet. This was my first time adding a navigation tower to a bike, and I will admit I was a bit intimidated. I had heard nav tower stories that didn’t go so well. Things like being prepared to drill, cut, mangle and even McGyver your way through the install and give yourself days, not hours, to get it done. Well, I was very pleasantly surprised when the Aurora Rally Lite Kit showed up. Every item was well packaged and marked, and it could not have been better organized. I jumped online and watched the install video, then brought the laptop out to the garage for “as I go” viewing. Everything went together perfectly without any modifications. The wiring harness was perfect, no need for additional wire runs back to the battery. Everything was there in the stock headlight mask, including two additional power sources (keyed hot and always hot). The Aurora kit is well thought out, crafted, and has a place for everything. Our kit came with an upgraded Squadron Pro-light from Baja Designs. I have to give Aurora an additional shout out. The side panels/shrouds fit, and the finish is top-notch.
Addressing the performance aspect of this bike was easy: pretty much a one-call does it all. Ring-ring, Chris from Rottweiler Performance answers the phone, “Hey Randy, what can I do for you?” I explain the build, Chris invites me down to Rottweiler for a little shopping spree. With cart in hand, we roll through the shop, all the while checking out some pretty bad-ass looking KTMs (full race 790 & a 690 he built to be a Baja 1000 killer) and a new Husqvarna 501 Rally Bike project he’s working on. Of course in typical Chris Parker fashion, he builds two of everything, one for the race program and one for backup. By backup, I mean for Chris to have some fun.
Rottweiler manufactures a wide range of parts for the 690, from a performance-driven intake to a rear fender/tail tidy kit and everything in-between. If it’s not manufactured in-house, then he carries the rest of the best of the best. Making Rottweiler truly a one-stop-shop for our build. In addition to all the Rottweiller jewels we picked up, we also grabbed an Arrow Ti/Carbon exhaust, Dynojet Power Commander (with maps specifically tuned for the new exhaust and intake), AXP Racing skid plate, Oberon billet clutch slave, Samco hoses, and clamps, Vanasche billet fuel filler and Rottweiler/KTM dongles galore. This is probably where this build went from mild to wild. I’ll blame that on Chris.
Now for some ground-pounding SUSPENSION performance upgrades. Having worked with Konflict Motorsports in the past and knowing they specialize in these types of bikes, I knew Alex would dial in our 690. I explained the intended use, weights, time constraints, and that the bike would be loaded for multi-day trips at times and other times just me and the bike. Konflict pretty much pulled out all the stops and covered all the fine details right down to the SKF seals to the Dal Saggio compression assembly and Xtrig pre-load adjuster. Due to time constraints, the only thing we didn’t do was the fancy Kashima coatings. My loss, my bad for being rushed.
With the three major areas we were addressing handled, now it was time to move on to the finishing touches of the build. I thought I would try something new to myself and went with a MSC Moto Racing Products stabilizer. They have a kit specifically for the 690; it fit and went on perfectly. I chose to stay with the stock gearing (more on this later) but did change out the sprocket for a DDC (Delaney Drive Components) rear sprocket. No build is complete without a Seat Concepts comfort seat! ProTaper bars and grips, stock 890 handguards, and a trick minimalist set of mirrors from Doubletake. These tiny bar-mounted mirrors aren’t for everyone, but I have them on everything I own. They are never in my way, never get moved or bumped, and provide a decent rear view look back through just below my armpits. Like I said, not for the dude looking where he has been, a must for the guy moto-ing the backcountry. On the navigation tower, I mounted some trick little Yoshimura LED blinkers. The Yosh blinkers and the Rottweiler Tale Tidy make for a flashy setup. Also mounted to the nav tower is the Trail Tech Voyager Pro GPS and my beacon for the Skydio2. IMS was kind enough to send out another pair of my favorite footpegs, the IMS Core Enduro pegs. The added width of the pegs makes them comfortable when riding all day, and the added length helps steer the bigger bikes. The Core Enduro peg is big enough to get the job done yet doesn’t get in the way like a longer peg would.
Before we hit the ground running, we need to deal with the rubber. I have a KTM 300 2-Smoker and love the fact that I can run Nitro Mousses. I am so over carrying tire tools, tubes, and fixing flats. What if? Having talked with some people in the know and have seen firsthand a top dog playing with mousses on adventure bikes, I thought I would give them a shot. I ordered up a set of mousses for my Shinko tire set up (Front: 216MX 90/100-21 “Fat Tire” & Rear: 520 Series 120/100-18). NOTE: Shinko 216 Fat Tire, best front tire ever! While the mousses are not DOT approved (not really my concern), I was confident they would meet my needs. My tire setup is an aggressive dirt choice. I’m using the pavement to hit the next dirt section, get gas, get food, or check-in to a hotel. I run a similar tire set up on my 890 with 28 to 30psi (higher pressures to minimize flats) and love it. Now with the addition of the mousses, the lower pressure feel makes for even better traction in the dirt, and I have had no issues at all on the long street/highway sections.
Now this build was a little overwhelming when all the parts started showing up. I laid them out on a ten foot and six foot folding table. WOW, this is going to be a ton of work… Once I dove in, I watched a couple of videos and tackled each part one at a time. I found myself feeling really comfortable with the entire process. Both Rottweiler and Aurora-Rally have excellent install videos. My toughest task was figuring out how the KTM 690 plastic was removed. I’ve had 300, 350, 500, 790, 890, and 1090s but never a 690, and KTM has some unique (yet practical) ways of fitting plastic to their bikes. Fortunately, Chris Parker at Rottweiller does a great job in his videos addressing plastic body panel removal. When to slide forward, up, or back and when to pull until you think it will break - LOL. I spent the best part of the day installing the navigation tower. I took my time and probably over-thought the process. In the end, it was very straightforward and fit perfectly. My fears spurred on by other brands of nav towers were not at all a concern with the Aurora-Rally setup.
I finished the 690 build-ups during the next week after work. It was just in time (about 4 or 5 hours after we planned Friday late, late afternoon) for my son Hayden and me to leave for Mammoth Mountain to meet up with Simon to get both our builds shot. We had a great time shooting (Simon did), riding, and comparing the two builds. While the two days of riding/shooting was enough for photo and video, it really wasn’t enough to get to know my 690. I left Mammoth wondering if I chased this idea down the right path.
A couple of days later, my usual riding partner Pete who had just finished building a KTM 500 with a tower, wanted to spend a few days out in the Mojave, Kernville, and Kennedy Meadows area. This would be perfect for me to check mpg and put the bike through its paces. I knew chasing Pete on a 500 was going to be a good test for my 690r (pun intended). It turned out to be a great trip. I got the suspension dialed in, found my fuel range (not great at 135), and learned the characteristics of the 690. My big ADV bikes liked to be steered with the back-end while standing, and this was the way I approached the 690 (at least in Mammoth).
The 690 wanted to be ridden more like an enduro/dual-sport and responded accordingly. Once I got the feel of the bike, now I’m really loving it. It gets even better, though. Two weeks later, Pete and I load up and head to Wickenburg, AZ, an area we have been exploring on the 790 and 890s over the last couple of years.
The Arizona Proving Grounds. Not actually, but actually. We found ourselves well North of the Arizona Proving Grounds, but man, did we get in over our heads with these bikes. We used my 690 and Pete’s 500 to punch through areas and tie together tracks we didn’t dare explore on the bigger bikes. The second day after a few hours of riding some great stuff, we found ourselves on a three-hour hike-a-bike. Stuff that would have been tough on a 300. And on the 3rd day, we punched through on some overgrown single track that put us in a two-hour, over the mountain, crappy rock garden. We are in Arizona, so I expect rocks, and I have even convinced myself I like rocks, but this was 2 hours of stupid. 4 days on the 690, almost 200 miles a day, and only maybe 5 hours of that being hell-ish, really brought me to appreciate what the 690 can do. It did it all, and it did it well. I initially questioned my suspension setup, but the more I rode it, the harder I rode it, and the more varied terrain, the more I realized Konflict nailed it. The 690 I set out to build has been realized. It’s meeting all my expectations (maybe with the exception of fuel range, I would like to have seen a 150 range) with flying colors. The 690 feels lighter and more playful than my 890 and wants to be ridden like a 500, yet travels really well.
New problem and a damn good one to have: which bike am I going to ride?
AURORA RALLY EQUIPMENT
• 690 RALLY LITE COMPLETE KIT (‘ 19-’21) WITH HEADLIGHT UPGRADE TO BAJA DESIGNS SQUADRON PRO
• 690/701 CASE SAVER-SPROCKET GUARD
• ROTTWEILER INTAKE SYSTEM - KTM 690 ENDURO/SMC WITH 690/701 ENDURO INTERNAL SOFT BAG
• AND PC RACING DOME FILTER SKINS
• ROTTWEILER SAS/CANISTER REMOVAL KIT - HUSKY 701 (2017+) / KTM 690 ENDURO/SMC-R (2019+)
• ROTTWEILER CRANKCASE BREATHER BLANKING KIT FOR ROTTWEILER INTAKE KITS
• DYNOJET POWER COMMANDER V FOR KTM 690 ENDURO / SMC-R (2019+) WITH ROTTWEILER POWER MAP
• 690 ENDURO/SMR (2019+) - ROTTWEILER INTAKE/ARROW MUFFLER
• ARROW 690 ENDURO/SMC-R TI - CARBON MUFFLER WITH ARROW 690 ENDURO/SMC-R (2019+)
• ENDURO/SMC-R LINK PIPE
• AXP RACING - KTM 690 ENDURO/SMC-R (ALL) / HUSQVARNA 701 ENDURO/SM POLY SKID PLATE - (ORANGE)
• KTM 690 DUKE/ENDURO/SMC-R ‘OFF ROAD/ABS’ DONGLE
• ROTTWEILER PERFORMANCE - KTM 690 ENDURO/701 HUSQVARNA REAR BRAKE MASTER CYLINDER
• OBERON BILLET CLUTCH SLAVE CYLINDER HUSQVARNA 701 (2016+) / 690 ENDURO/SMC-R (2016+)
• SAMCO HOSE KIT FOR KTM 690 ENDURO/SMC WITH SAMCO CLAMP KIT
• VANASCHE MOTORSPORTS KTM 690 ENDURO / SMC-R - (2019+) - BILLET FUEL FILLER
• TWIN AIR FUEL FILLER FILTER
• ROTTWEILER KTM 690 (2019+) ENDURO/SMC-R REAR FENDER ELIMINATOR/TAIL TIDY
• ROTTWEILER O2 SENSOR PLUG / (12MM STAINLESS STEEL)
• ROTTWEILER 690/701 ENDURO/SMC-R HEEL GUARDS / LUGGAGE STRAP MOUNTS
MAXIMA RACING OILS
• MAXIMA PROPLUS+ 10W-50 4T SYNTHETIC ENGINE OIL AND LUBES
KONFLICT MOTORSPORTS SUSPENSION
• KM2 690 XPLOR FORK REVLAVE (BUNDLE)
• KM FORK SPRINGS 43.5X430MM .66KG/MM
• WP PRE-LOAD ADJUSTABLE FORK CAP SET (3 POSITION)
• DAL SAGGIO XP-ONE MID SPEED COMPRESSION ASSEMBLY
• SKF HEAVY DUTY FORK SEAL KIT (OIL SEAL/DUST SEAL) 48MM WP HD
• MAXIMA LIGHT RACING FORK FLUID 5 WT. ZERO FADE SUS 85 SEC/ 150+ VI
• KM2 690 SHOCK RE-VALVE (BUNDLE)
KONFLICT MOTORSPORTS SUSPENSION (CONTINUED))
• KM SHOCK SPRING 61X220MM 9.0 KG/MM
• XTRIG PRE-LOAD ADJUSTER
• WP DUST SEAL/WP SHOCK OIL SEAL
• WP SHOCK SEAL LOCKING RING
• MAXIMA LIGHT RACING SHOCK FLUID 3 WT. ZERO FADE SUS 85 SEC/ 150+ VI -
• TRAIL TECH VOYAGER PRO
DELANEY DRIVE COMPONENTS
• DDC RACING SPROCKETS KTM 46
• CORE ENDURO FOOTPEGS
MSC MOTO RACING PRODUCTS
• MSC RM3 STEERING DAMPER UNIT WITH RISER-MOUNT BRACKET
• PROTAPER EVO HANDLEBARS - BLACK BEND: CARMICHAEL (024003)
• PROTAPER MX PILLOW TOP GRIPS - ORANGE
• DOUBLETAKE- TRAIL MIRROR
• SEAT CONCEPTS KTM (2019-21) 690 SMC / ENDURO R *COMFORT*
• FRONT: 216MX 90/100-21 “FAT TIRE”
• REAR: 520 SERIES 120/100-18
• NITRO MOUSSE FRONT & REAR
• LED TURN SIGNALS - (FRONT/PAIR)