Endurance test final balance: KTM 690 SM


Endurance test final balance: KTM 690 SM
Photos: Bilski

Endurance test final balance KTM 690 SM

Conclusion after the big 50,000 kilometer test

We now know: the distinctive beak of the 690 SM has never been used for driving stability. It was just a design gimmick. You will find out these and other truths, but above all whether the world’s most powerful series single held out to the end, in this report.

Trust, look who! Who doesn’t know the phrase? In the case of the KTM 690 SM takes a critical look at the motorcycle world at the Austrian manufacturer with its new single. Critical because to this day no motorcycle manufacturer has dared to mass-produce a 65 hp single cylinder. MOTORRAD was even doubly critical, because the LC4 engines previously produced by the Austrians did not exactly enjoy the reputation of longevity – in 1998, the MOTORRAD long-distance test of the KTM 620 LC Enduro was prematurely terminated due to strong mechanical noises from the engine at 40,000 km. A worn timing chain rail and the damaged needle cage of the lower connecting rod bearing were possible causes.

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Endurance test final balance: KTM 690 SM

Endurance test final balance
KTM 690 SM – 50,000 kilometer test


When driving on a wet road, you should pay attention to good clothing, as the KTM’s rain protection is rather poor.

An unstable engine running at idle speed was one of the main points of criticism even at half time. The single liked to go out suddenly at traffic lights. The problem was pointed out several times during upcoming inspections. And supposedly fixed. Sometimes it was said that the cause was too little valve clearance, at other times the throttle cable supposedly had too little play, so that the throttle valves were always slightly open. In the end, the buck was pushed at halfway through the endurance test on the briefly installed titanium exhaust system from Akrapovic and the map that was changed in this context. But even after the dismantling to the original system, the phenomenon kept occurring. Up to the last day of the 50,000 kilometers.

A revised mapping has been available to KTM dealers since mid-September, which is supposed to finally rid the single cylinder of this quirk. Affected motorcycles receive the upgrade free of charge. Just as annoying: The single shook the light bulb of the license plate light five times, and three times the complete rear light unit had to be replaced. The cables glued to the circuit board had been vibrated off, and repair was not possible.

In addition, the cockpit tore three times and was also replaced under warranty. Both the cockpit and the rear light unit have been qualitatively improved in the course of series production, so that this damage should be a thing of the past. Another annoyance: The duck’s bill offers almost no protection when driving in the rain. At the press presentation two years ago, the shape was justified as follows: “The beak is aerodynamically important, it is used for downforce.” The simple truth, according to a KTM employee recently: “It’s just a design gimmick.”


Despite the pronounced grooves, the cylinder can still be used after slight honing: low oil consumption, compression completely okay.

On the subject of seating comfort, one driver notes: “This bench is so tough, it is actually an SM bench.” Although this probably does not mean supermoto. Since the number of complaints increased, MOTORRAD tried two alternatives: the gel comfort bench from the KTM accessories and a specially made one from Jungblut (phone 02425/901470 or www.alles-fuern-arsch.de). Conclusion: Both are more recommendable than the original, but do not turn the supermoto into a vehicle with which one would want to glide for hours on the highway.

MOTORRAD did that anyway. The relatively small windscreen (KTM) was often praised for its effectiveness, but the tank bag (KTM) was criticized: after a year the material tore. Particularly noteworthy is the low consumption: the lowest value was noted at 3.6 liters per 100 kilometers, the highest at 5.7 liters. With an average of 4.6 liters, the KTM leads the endurance test table and is even ahead of the Yamaha XT 660 X, which rolls along with a comparatively meager 48 hp. The Austrians have done their homework with flying colors on this point.


Significant scorch marks on the exhaust valve seats – KTM describes them as harmless, as the valves have sealed until the end. Simply grind in again and continue driving.

The slipper clutch was just as exemplary: it not only worked perfectly over the entire distance, but also worked so smoothly that hardly more than two fingers were needed to operate it. Dead easy.

Endurance test KTM 690 SM part 2


After the praise, now the rebuke: Customer service intervals of 5000 kilometers blew a big hole in the wallet: 3200 euros inspection costs over 50,000 kilometers – the endurance test of the Yamaha XT 660 X came to 1783 euros, the BMW F 800 S only 1334 euros. That should be different with the 690 models available from 2010: KTM extends the intervals to 10,000 kilometers. Reason: The extremely stressed lower connecting rod bore is coated with DLC (Diamond Like Carbon). The material application is considered to be low-wear and friction-reducing. KTM speaks of a purely precautionary measure, which, however, has proven itself in many rallies. This means that the oil can be changed at longer intervals.

Unfortunately, the KTM had to be rescued twice and could no longer move forward under its own power: the chain broke when it reached 39204, and almost 4,000 kilometers later the machine suddenly stopped working: Due to severely corroded plug connections, the entire wiring harness including the ignition lock had to be replaced . Such cases are also known from Great Britain. The Austrians explain it this way: “In some European countries, so-called pre wet salt is used in winter. This salt solution adheres better to the road, stays there longer and penetrates into even the smallest cracks as spray when driving. From the 2010 model year, all plug connections are better protected. “


The entire wiring harness had to be replaced – winter salt water had penetrated and disabled the electrical system.

Some readers criticized the high tire wear in their letters, the rear tire would only last an average of 4,000 kilometers. This coincides with the MOTORRAD experience: In total, the Supermoto wore nine front and ten rear tires. Whereby the first tire, the Pirelli Diablo Strada, couldn’t convince at all due to its grip problems in wet conditions. The Michelin Pilot Road 2 turned out to be the best compromise between grip in all weather conditions and longevity: It held, or better said: survived 9,000 kilometers.


50,000 kilometers in 24 months – in daily use without a winter break or protection.

Survival is also the keyword for the drive. After 50,000 kilometers with daily clatter, the strongest series single surprises the world with polished, good-looking inner values: apart from a few grooves in the cylinder and slight pitting on the fourth and sixth gear wheels, the 690 is almost unimpressed by the mileage. The KTM technicians who came for the final assessment explained how the scoring was caused by foreign particles that probably got into the combustion chamber through the air filter and intake duct during maintenance work. Rebuilding the engine would cost around 500 euros: an engine gasket set, new piston rings, fine-honing cylinders, grinding in valve seats and six working hours at 50 euros each. Then, they predict, the power single would be ready for the next 50,000 kilometers.

The chassis is just as robust. The wheel, steering head and swing arm bearings are in order, the coating of the frame and the add-on parts is perfect, but a little lackluster. Only the clutch lever is badly corroded. Basically, the KTM has never been spared. She was tormented over long stretches of motorway, chased back and forth across the Alps, had to drive through two winters, circle central islands and swim through the daily stop-and-go traffic with editors or graphic artists.

What nobody thought at the beginning has happened: Years ago, a joke, the abbreviation KTM either stood for “Not a thousand meters” or “Kick ten minutes”. With the new 690 engine it stands for “Hardly any technical defects.”


Drawing: archive

Slightly less performance after the distance covered, the pulling power is a bit worse.


(Initial) final measurement
(2320 km) 50054 km

Acceleration in seconds
0-100 km / h (4.2) 4.4
0 ?? – 140 km / h (8.3) 8.4
0-200 km / h –     – 

Draft in seconds
60 – 100 km / h (5.4) 5.8
100 – 140 km / h (6.0) 6.7

Average consumption over 50,000 km
Fuel (super)
4.6 l / 100 km

Engine oil
0.05 l / 1000 km

Balance after 50,000 kilometers

Drawing: archive

Cylinder head:
All valves are tight, the exhaust valve seats have clear traces of fire. The valve guides are fine, as are the camshaft bearings. Running tracks are visible on the cam profiles, minimal pitting tracks are visible on the rocker arm rollers.

Cylinder / piston:
The compression has hardly decreased, the piston rings are only slightly worn. The graphite coating of the piston also shows only slight signs of running. Traces of detonation can be seen on the inlet side of the piston crown, which, like the grooves in the cylinder, were caused by foreign particles.

Crank drive:
The roller-bearing crank mechanism and the piston pin are in good condition.

Power transmission:
The nickel coating is peeling off in places on the clutch basket, the ramps of the anti-hopping mechanism have clear tracks that do not impair the function. Two gear wheels show slight traces of pitting, a shift fork has visible run-up marks.

Frame / chassis:
The powder coating of the frame and the swing arm is in very good condition, the rear brake disc is worn, the handbrake lever is badly corroded.

Costs and maintenance

Operating costs over 50,000 km

20 liters of oil at 16.97 euros – 339.40 euros
20 oil filters – Euro 125.40
1 air filter at 9.75 euros – 9.75 euros
4 spark plugs at 14.52 euros – 58.08 euros
2 sets of rear brake pads at 36.50 euros – 73.00 euros
5 light bulbs at 1.99 euros – 9.95 euros
2 sets of chains – 348.80 euros
Brake fluid – 14.63 euros
Small parts, lubricants – 50.53 euros
Seals – 46.48 euros
Inspections and repairs – 2172.64 euros
Tires (including assembly, balancing and disposal) – 2925.28 euros
Fuel – 3185.60 euros

Total cost – 9359.54 euros

Acquisition cost – 8548.00 euros
Loss of value – 3748.00 euros (43.8%)
Estimated price (dealer selling price) – 4800.00 euros
Costs per kilometer (without depreciation) – 18.7 cents
Costs per kilometer (with depreciation) – 26.2 cents
Cost per kilometer without petrol – 12.3 cents

Maintenance and repairs (at mileage)

Bulb license plate light renewed (2094)
Rear tire renewed, Pirelli Diablo Strada (2223)
Front and rear tires renewed, Metzeler Roadtec Z6 (6436)
Bulb license plate light renewed (6664)
Cockpit unit renewed (guarantee) (7887)
Front and rear tires renewed, Pirelli Diablo Strada (8479)
Chain set, rear brake pads, front brake disc + pads and clutch lever renewed (guarantee) (14451)
Front and rear tires renewed, Bridgestone BT 090 (15210)
Front and rear tires renewed, Michelin Pilot Power (18263)
Front and rear tires renewed, Pirelli Diablo Strada (22310)
Bulb license plate light renewed (26768)
Front and rear tires renewed, Dunlop Sportmax Mutant (29963)
Bulb, license plate light and cockpit unit (guarantee) renewed (32501)
Bulb license plate light renewed (36558)
Front and rear tires renewed, Michelin Pilot Road 2 (36781)
Chain set replaced after chain break and rear brake pads (39204)
Rear light unit renewed (guarantee) (40323)
Cable harness, ignition lock and speedometer unit renewed (guarantee) (43216)
Front and rear tires renewed, Conti Force SM (45576)
Rear light unit renewed (guarantee) (48059)

KTM takes a stand…


MOTORRAD test boss Gert Thole (center) and KTM project manager Markus Rauschenbock (right) examine the parts.

…to the traces of fire on the exhaust valves and seats. The carbon traces are normal after 50,000 kilometers and do not affect the function. Seat rings and valves show no wear from knocking in and are therefore to be assessed as 100 percent functional.

…the signs of wear on the ramps of the clutch anti-hopping mechanism.
These are normal run-in tracks that are created by two components sliding on each other. The anti-hopping function is not impaired by this wear, on the contrary, it is improved.

…to remove the coating of the clutch basket.
The coating serves to minimize wear. After 50,000 kilometers of continuous run, the tracks can be described as normal. A double term can be forecast with a clear conscience.

…to the pitting tracks on the fourth and sixth gear wheels. The wheels have so-called gray speckles. In order to obtain the best results and running times in the case of the gearbox, we recommend the top-quality oil “Motorex Cross Power 10 W 60” developed with Motorex. Among other things, it is characterized by improved shear strength, wear resistance and longevity and has a correspondingly positive effect on the gear wheels.

…to the grooves in the cylinder. Since the original honing marks from production are still visible in the cylinder, but traces of mechanical foreign bodies can be seen on the piston crown, these can only have been caused by foreign bodies. Presumably these got into the engine during the maintenance inspections.

…to the wear of the rear brake disc. As far as we know, the entire test distance was ridden with the same brake disc. In terms of service life, this also corresponds to our internal requirements and reflects our market observation.

…the susceptibility of the cockpit unit (speedometer) to defects.
Indeed, we had quality problems with the speedometer at the beginning. For this reason, a main focus was placed on the continuous improvement of the speedometer together with our supplier. The speedometer has been systematically improved, and we now have a product that meets the high requirements of our customers. This experience is also supported by observing the market.

…to the failure of the electrical system and the replacement of the wiring harness.
The examined wiring harness shows signs of corrosion, which in our opinion can be traced back to the strong effects of salt. Nevertheless, some improvements have been made since 2007, such as better sealing of the lamp mask to prevent the ingress of dirty water, and an additional improvement in the plug contacts on the wiring harness.

…the warped front brake disc that had to be replaced at kilometer 14451. We are aware of a few individual cases, mainly from the 2007 model year. We have received a very positive response from the markets to the braking system installed on this model. Therefore there were no changes to the braking system.

Reader experiences


With a female 50 years old, I don’t necessarily belong to the usual group of buyers at KTM. Nevertheless, a 690 SM (next to a BMW F 650 and a Beta Alp 4.0) has been in my garage since last year, has now almost 10,000 kilometers on the clock and: it knocks me off my feet every time!

One aspect that you seldom mention is the suitability for women or contemporaries under six feet. This is exactly where the 690 SM scores: moderate seat height (possibly limited edition?), Clutch and brake that can also be easily operated with little fingers, upright sitting position without weight on wrists and shoulders and: It is really light! Everything about this motorcycle is fine and precise, neatly processed and smooth-running. In addition to the ergonomics, the engine characteristics were of course also decisive when buying: 65 hp does not sound like much, but is completely sufficient in connection with 160 kilograms. My area of ​​application: the winding, mountainous country road. Tight combinations of curves are her thing: unlimited banking freedom, easy turning single and playful handling. It’s also fun on the racetrack. I think they are hardly suitable for long vacation trips. A missing luggage system is one thing, the other is the durability of the tires, which are down after a maximum of 3500 kilometers. Who likes to change tires on vacation? Tempo 30 zones with the SM are the maximum penalty! There were no breakdowns over 10,000 kilometers, only the “mouse cinema” had to be replaced during the first inspection. Proven: a CLS-Oiler and a handlebar riser (SW-Motech). Otherwise everything is (and remains) original. Especially the exhaust system!

Tine Peter-Behring, Heuweiler

I have covered nearly 20,000 kilometers since April 2008 and found that the 690 is the (almost) ideal touring motorcycle.
After the BMW GS and KTM 950 Adventure, it is finally a motorcycle again that is really handy and light. With which every turn, every bend, every exit is a pleasure. The performance is completely sufficient for one-person operation, as is the windshield with the original KTM windshield, the posture is comfortable and the vibrations hardly disturb. I made the following changes: KTM windshield, high comfort seat (there is no question of comfort, gel cushion sits through and gets uncomfortably hot in the sun), front fender of the Duke III (otherwise you get incredibly dirty). The following parts were exchanged under warranty: speedometer (cracked glass), O-ring (pinion shaft leaking), right housing cover (hairline crack). The seat and the concentricity at low speeds are in need of improvement. I’ve grown to love the design.

Christian Rissnar, Traiskirchen (Austria)

Since June 2008 I have been driving a 690 SM, with which I have now unwound an absolutely awesome 11,000 kilometers. Because the standard optics scared me off, I decided on the following conversion: Akrapovic exhaust with appropriate mapping, Michelin Pilot Power tires, Duke front mask with low fenders, splash protection for the strut and various smaller “orange” caps. In June of this year I was on the road with the KTM around the Dolomites and covered 2800 kilometers within a week, with only the 650 kilometers of travel causing my very best problems. But the 1000 bends in the Alps made up for it completely. My conclusion: The absolute hammer part for short distances and for cornering. Until now, only normal service was necessary. Nothing broken or shaken off. I would buy this motorcycle again anytime.

Manfred Hoppe, Offstein

I’ve been riding the motorcycle for almost a year now and have unwound 7,500 kilometers. For me it is a fun machine, brings incredible fun on winding roads, and makes sense as a second motorcycle. I prefer to travel with my GSX 1400. I have no technical problems at all, everything works very well. The built-in components are of absolutely high quality and underline the sporty character of the KTM brand. Where others still invest (tires, braking system, anti-hopping clutch, etc.), the KTM already has everything, of course at a higher price. I didn’t regret a cent, I would buy them again and again.

Ralf Schleusener, Aschaffenburg

I got my third speedometer 1450 kilometers ago and now there is water under the glass again! I don’t know how you as a manufacturer can tolerate that the suppliers are so bad …..? I am very disappointed! Although: Driving is a pleasure. However, you shouldn’t come below 3000 rpm. What happened to the announced 10,000 service intervals? This tire shredding machine has no sound. And above all three major shortcomings: jerking, speedometer, exhaust. If you are so stupid not to turn off these little things, I will no longer buy a moped!

Florian Hellmuth, Wolfratshausen

I have now unwound 16,070 kilometers with my 690 SM Prestige. My conclusion: great cornering vehicle with which you can torment “GIXER” even when driving with a pillion passenger. The KTM can also be driven at 2500 rpm when you gently accelerate in the lower gears. But 180 km / h could not really be exceeded longer in pillion mode. The gel cushion from Louis has proven itself over long distances. The low fuel consumption is remarkable: 4.7 liters per 100 kilometers with committed driving style (driver 90, pillion passenger 60 kilograms), only 3.5 liters per 100 kilometers with compliant driving style (driver: 60 kilograms). The oil consumption between the service intervals was 0.6 liters.

Dr. Michael Kaes, Vienna (OS)

Endurance test evaluation

Drawing: archive

The rating table gives an overview of the MOTORRAD endurance test machines from the last few years. A maximum of 100 points can be achieved, divided into five sections. The costs per kilometer include expenses for inspections, spare and wear parts, tires and chain sets. The basis for evaluating fuel consumption is the average consumption over the entire test kilometers.

The depreciation is based on a DAT estimate. The relation to the list price is evaluated at the beginning of the test. Extraordinary workshop visits lead to the deduction of one point each. Breakdowns in which the motorcycle could not continue will be penalized with five points. In the technical condition, the wear dimensions and the visual condition of the individual parts are included.

Offers used KTM 690 Supermoto

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Used KTM 690 Supermoto are rare.

The 690 Supermoto from KTM is slowly becoming a rarity on the used market. Apart from KTM, powerful single cylinders are hardly produced any more, which is why many owners stick to their old 690 supermotos. Used models should now hardly lose their value. Here is a market overview: used KTM 690 Supermoto in Germany.

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