Comparison test of sporty enduros


Comparison test, KTM 620 LC 4, Suzuki DR 650 SE, Triumph TT 600

Sporty enduros

Too good for tough sports use and too rough for everyday life: KTM 620 LC4 Enduro, Suzuki DR 650 SE and Yamaha TT 600 E – unreasonable but warm.

The times for enduro riders are anything but rosy. At least if you understand the term enduro in its original form, as a synonym for off-road fun, sporting challenge and adventure off the beaten track. Today, when there are more prohibition signs than mud holes in Germany and one area after another is being closed, the requirements for modern enduros have also changed somewhat: away from uncompromising sports equipment towards uncomplicated everyday suitability.

So if you do not have the necessary ambition to work your way through competitive sports equipment, and on the other hand, if a fat-bellied travel enduro is too boring for you, you can certainly warm yourself to the golden mean. A sporty enduro, light and manoeuvrable, with decent terrain characteristics and sufficient comfort on the road.

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Comparison test of sporty enduros

Comparison test
Sporty enduros

Yamaha TT 600 E. In contrast to its sportier version, the TT 600 S, which for reasons of weight dispenses with this useful technological achievement, it too can only be brought to life at the push of a button. There are still critics who would like to have an additional kick starter as an alternative and savior to the electric starter in an emergency. Such cautious natures, however, be assured that such a thing makes little sense. Because the engine, which does not start even though the whole battery has already been idled, has a problem that cannot be remedied with the kick starter. Aside from the e-starter, the TT, which is no longer so fresh, can also compete with the DR in other ways. At 9750 marks it remains priced and with 163 kilograms also in terms of weight below the current Suzuki offer. Outwardly, however, the TT does not look quite as delicate and elegant as the Suzuki, despite the fashionable paintwork. This may also be due to the comparatively short-stroke rear wheel suspension. So the Yamaha always looks a bit tail-heavy and chubby.

The KTM 620 LC 4 Enduro, on the other hand, is rank and slim. Although it represents the moderate line in the Austrian parent company alongside its die-hard sisters LC 4 Competition and the even more uncompromising Super Competition, it looks extremely radical in comparison with the DR and the TT. High-quality spring elements from White Power allow up to 320 millimeters of suspension travel, the water-cooled single should produce a proud 50 hp, and the coarse standard tires from Michelin are specially designed for off-road use. The KTM is taller than the others, despite the large 20 liter tank, it weighs 155 kilograms and is significantly lighter, but at 12,790 marks it is over 25 percent more expensive than the competition. Still, it wasn’t enough for an e-sarter. So far, KTM has unfortunately only installed this on their fun bike, the Duke. With real off-road machines, this detail is probably considered superfluous in Austria.

But with the site, as mentioned at the beginning, that’s one of the things. First you have to find one. Because this is a rather hopeless undertaking in Germany, the MOTORRAD test crew is moving towards Alsace. The start ceremony has no pitfalls, with the prevailing moderate temperatures the KTM jumps on the third step at the latest. However, a certain height is required for kicking off. The Kickstarter hangs so high that people less than 170 centimeters need a curb to reach it.

Otherwise, the three test persons tend to belong to the type of motorcycle that favors tall people. Especially when the KTM is enthroned on its main stand (unfortunately there is no side stand), it seems almost invincible. In contrast, Yamaha and Suzuki seem really harmless. Especially since the DR gives up almost half of its 270 millimeters of suspension travel under the load of a 70 kilogram driver due to its comfort-conscious, extremely soft suspension setup. If that’s still not enough for a safe stand, you have the option of lowering your DR by a further 40 millimeters using an additional hole in the lower strut mount.

For the mandatory consumption measurements, the test trio first takes to the Autobahn. It is already clear to everyone involved that there is little joy in this, but there are still a few interesting findings. The KTM, which is already superior in terms of performance on the test bench (see box performance measurement on page 39) is also slightly superior in terms of top speed. However, at speeds of around 160 km / h, the straight-line stability of the long-legged LC 4 leaves much to be desired. Every vortex of air from vehicles in front creates adventurous rolling movements that can only be compensated for by tight knees and carefully guided handlebar ends.

Undeterred by all external circumstances, Yamaha and Suzuki are on their way. No stirring or rocking, safe straight-line stability in all speed ranges is guaranteed.

If you can get the bad straight-line stability of the KTM under control through routine and a fine hand, you are powerless against the murderous vibrations of the engine. Despite the balance shaft, the stew vibrates so hard that after a brisk 20-kilometer drive, the palms of the hands, feet and seat meat lose their sensation. The KTM rider‘s numb limbs only come back to life when the motorway stage is over. The constant jumps in speed on the country road make vibrations more bearable.

The fact that the DR is inferior to the KTM by a total of eleven horses with its measured 43 hp is only noticeable on paper. The performance speaks a completely different language. Seldom has an egg cylinder been so good-natured and problem-free as the Suzuki engine. He pushes evenly from the lower speed range without tearing the chain wildly. He knows neither performance holes nor annoying vibrations and develops a refreshing revving pleasure in the upper speed range.

The aged, air-cooled Yamaha single is not that bad compared to the KTM, but it lacks some of the lightness with which the Suzuki engine impresses. A little less elastic and rougher in the lower range, a little more sluggish and tougher in the upper speed range, the oldie, measured with 42 hp, does not have to hide.

The advantages of an elastic motor are only really realized when the brisk chase on narrow country roads is interrupted by one of the numerous town through traffic. Just rolling along in high gear at 50 km / h is a problem for the KTM. Even when pushing, the athlete spurts and pukes, hits the plastic guides loudly with the chain and demands constant switching.

In the wild, on the other hand, changing gears is less annoying, because all three five-speed transmissions can be shifted very easily and precisely. But the best is the Suzuki, which not only impresses with a good transmission but also with a finely adjustable and extremely smooth clutch. KTM and Yamaha require a little more hand strength. Not a problem at first, but after a long day tour you learn to appreciate easy leverage.

The same applies to the braking systems. Here, too, the DR is a tad superior to its competitors. Because of the slight advantages in terms of metering, the Suzuki is always a bit easier and therefore more relaxed to drive. The noise generated by the front KTM brakes is by no means relaxing. It’s hard to believe how loud such a fine 300 disc can squeak.

The further approach to the north Vosges is unspectacular. Contrary to expectations, the uncompromising KTM is doing quite well. It seems a bit spongy in alternating curves due to the soft, shifting lugs, and the high center of gravity, especially with a full tank, requires more effort from the driver. Nevertheless, it has little trouble keeping up with the speed of its street-oriented opponents.

After a long, grueling journey, during which none of the three benches could stand out by being particularly careful with what was most valuable, the gang of three gets the first little asphalt-free connecting lane under the tunnels. The narrow paths are dry, but badly washed out by long rains and littered with deep potholes. It seems like the hour has come for KTM, but their superiority is limited. The LC 4 can only be nimbly circled around the tight turns with a very practiced hand. Anyone who has little or no experience of off-roading or motocross is constantly fighting against an outwardly pushing front wheel on loose ground. This tendency can only be alleviated with a lot of leaning forward with the upper body and simultaneous pressure on the inside of the curve.

The TT driver even does a lack of practice thanks to his well-balanced chassis. Turning in tight spaces is child’s play thanks to the large steering angle. The low spring deflection of the hindquarters is also noticeable in the low seat height. The 220 millimeters are always sufficient to smooth even the deepest holes in the extended gravel roads.

It is similar with the Suzuki. At first impression, the suspension is much too soft, but its reserves are always sufficient to handle even large boulders. The combination of an elastic motor, sensibly appealing spring elements and the slim tank seat bench line guarantees the most stress-free form of locomotion even in light to medium-difficult terrain.

In a tricky trial passage, where you have to drive around trees that have been propped up at walking pace without sailing down the adjacent slope, the DR is even ahead. Again the good controllability of the clutch and brake wins over the long spring travel of a KTM. And it always happens in such inconvenient situations as this that the KTM engine suddenly stops working due to a lack of flywheel. It is just as clear that right now he does not want to jump on the first or second step.

The initially harmless hiking tour culminates a little later on one of the many small motocross slopes in France. The Austrian can finally show what she can really do. Meter-high jumps are easily handled by the sporty, firm suspension elements, deep ruts can be mastered without tearing your feet off the pegs, and on the sandy driveways, the now somewhat rounded tunnels of the Michelin MT 63 still ensure proper propulsion. The LC 4 really feels at home in the close vicinity when the fuel supply is slowly running out. With around 1.5 liters of reserve in the petrol barrel, the vehicle’s center of gravity is much lower, and the long-legged athlete now looks refreshingly handy.

The Yamaha reacted only moderately euphoric in view of such conditions. Thanks to the also very tight suspension set-up, it can handle the one or two hops quite well. But when it comes to thundering over the long, extended waves on the home straight, the hindquarters jumps wildly behind the front wheel, wedging out wildly. The fine profile of the Pirelli tires is an additional handicap. Little propulsion and poor guidance properties leave the TT driver with little pleasure.

The DR driver had already completely lost that at this point. Front and back, its spring elements crash into place. Even if the rear spring is pretensioned as far as it will go, the Suzuki slumps mercilessly after every jump. It also shares the fate of Yamaha: due to the lack of a non-slip tread on the Bridgestone tires, no propulsion on the loose, sandy ground. Frame beams and engine blocks have nothing to smile about either. Again and again the DR fuselage scrapes roughly across the floor. An engine guard like the one Yamaha TT possesses would not harm the Suzuki either.

Despite this very clear setback in hard terrain, both the Suzuki and the Yamaha are not particularly depressed. After all, after a short fun on the cross-piste, everyday life comes back to her. Which means something like: gravel roads, small and medium-sized country roads and, last but not least, unpopular city traffic. And they are well prepared for this purpose.

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