Friday, 15 August 2014

Patsy Quick and the KTM a "Gateway to New Horizons"

You know when you bought that album based on the one good track you heard, or the top selling single you liked, and then you get it home and the rest is awful, its a bit like being cheated. It may it only have been £15, but there is sits, its spine or case a reminder of an impetuous moment of excitement. It leads to an age of disappointment, until that moment 10 yrs later when you take it to the second hand shop, where there it sits, marked down to 50p for another ten.

I have done this with cars, the MGB GT which would never start on damp mornings, the third edition of the Land Rover LR Disco which died at 3am in Chamonix when it was -18deg c. and now a Vuaxhall Antara which I have inherited from my mum.

Whilst the BMW F800GS was a nice road bike it did not fill me with confidence off-road. Falling out of love either with a woman, man or a thing, often starts with an off-hand comment. This fateful end of life comment for the F800GS, came from Patsy Quick, famed  Dakar Rally Rider and boss at the Desert Rose Riding Academy. When I visited her stand at the Goodwood Festival of speed in 2014,  the rot set in. So now the BMW is gone, what to do?.

The Yamaha Tenere' 660 for me was too heavy, Morocco proved that, the Beta Alp 4.0 was a small mans toy, Yamaha WR250's looked good but a clean one was rare, the promising new CCM 450 Adventure thingy way too expensive, untried and just maybe 450cc was just too small on high Alpine roads where I love to ride (lack of a dealer/service network for the CCM was a huge issue for me). So I kept coming back to the KTM 690 Enduro R, with all its know short comings.

Lack of fuel range, poor lights, seat etc are all well discussed, but the number of companies making bits for the KTM are huge and there is an active eBay market for the add-ons if required.

My first experince with a KTM 690 Enduro was on a trip in 2012 when a friendly German we were riding with lent me his 2010 machine for a short road section. My first impressions were that it was slow, agricultural, rattled all over and had an awful gear box. I was not impressed. But I have been watching the slow evolution of the 690r for the last few years and at last EIMCA show in Milan the bike looked vastly improved. New Fly by Wire throttle, new Duke engine, and slightly more refinement. But before I was going to spank nearly £7000 on an "album" that promised a lot but ended up in the local Cancer Charity Shop I though I had best try on before buying.

So I called Patsy Quick's  and headed to Englandshire to learn something and see what I and it could do. After all she promised a "Gateway to New Horizons" 

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