Tuesday, 30 September 2014

KTM 690 Enduro R Bash Guard/Plate - Adventure Spec

The main body protection problem with the 690R is the plastic bash plate. Its not bad if you are just flopping around in the mud but if your trails are rocky or very rough then you'll want to protect your engine with something better.

Having looked at pretty much all the alternatives, including the KTM Powerparts plate, (which the machine should come with) The Adventure Spec plate comes out tops. 

It has a flat base so you can sit the bike on a stand
It protects the oil pump better than the competition
It protects the rear brake better than the competition
It's beautifully made (look at the welds)

It is also very easy to fit and then remove for servicing. 

It makes a rather hollow sound when the engine is running unless you damp the bolts with inner tube. 
(I have now strapped a tool tube to the front of the plate and the reverb has gone) 

It's a 10min job to fit and inspires confidence when riding.
Another great piece from Adventure Spec - Thanks

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Adventure Spec

When I bought the BMW F800GS 3 years ago, I went to one source for advise and bits. David Lomax at Adventure Spec can be trusted to give the best advise and to supply you with the best bits available. But, if Adventure Spec does not have the right bits for you, he will know a man who does. From the start of this adventurous journey he has always suggested it was a learning process.  Dave was one of the first to suggest that light was right. So when I told him I was selling the BMW and buying the KTM, he hinted I was in the now on right track.

Dave like myself is a climber, and at the start of this learning process he said "compared to alpinism, adventure motorcycling will be the easiest adventuring you will ever have". In a way he is correct. Compared to climbing through a storm with fading light, freezing hands and teetering above a dodgy piece of protection, way too far below you, knowing that if you fall, doom awaits. Or trying to calculate if the snow slope you are about to try and ski, is going to stay in place or trigger and leave you buried in a cold tomb, he is totally right.

As an adventure sport, "ABRing" between one campsite in Sussex to one in Somerset, on a big bike, with a heated vest covering your gut, leaves me cold. At best, its uncomfortable camping, at worst its fooling your self is somehow, adventurous.

So obviously I am looking for something else, mountains, skinny trails, distant horizons, solo expeditions and rough riding is what I am searching. Something with a fizz of excitement, something a bit more unusual, something sweaty, dirty and physical.

Hence the KTM and my return to the shelves of Adventure Spec to source the best bits for the best adventures.

McCallum Ice Climbing in the French Alps 

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Pirelli - MT21 Rallycross

Despite the fact that I asked, more maybe in hope than anything else, KTM Laguna did not supply the bike with the tyres I wanted. The bike came with the UK street option, Metzler Sahara's. Whilst these are amazing on the road and can cope with moderate tracks and trails, they are very poor on loose rocks, mud and the side walls seem soft. Oddly the KTM is supplied with the MT21's in the USA. So the MT21's arrived yesterday, they look taller than the stock and the business for the off-road. Described at a 10-90 or an 20-80 road/off-road, fitted with heavy duty tube, with tougher side walls and with a very aggressive looking knobbly tread, if they are not to loose on the hardtop, these maybe the perfect tyre. 

Thursday, 4 September 2014

New Bits 1. Adventure Spec - Double Take Mirror

When standing up going over rough ground I found the stock mirrors a distraction, and once you notice them flapping about your ears they have to go.  So I wanted two things from my new mirrors...

  1. They would fold away when off-road
  2. They looked better when in use but could be removed completely

These Ram mounted Double Take mirrors work well and look much better. You get a bit of blurred vibration induced vision which you did not get on the stocks. But they are so much better.

Monday, 1 September 2014

What a stupid idea!

What on earth would make you buy a food mixer that would only do dry food, when you really like smoothies, or a coffee maker that only did filter when you love Italian espresso. Buying a KTM 690 Enduro R is a little like that. It's really, really good at being itself, but its neither as stock a lightweight MX ragging machine or a comfortable travelling bike that is capable on the dirt. What it is good at is being an evening ride where you can zip along a bit of road before launching on to you favourite dirt trail. It does this very well. But if you dirt ride
more than 130 miles, this bike is not right.

So why get one. Well good question. I believe looking at the competition and there is not much to really compete with the bike in stock forms and it forms the idea platform to build into the perfect super lightweight Enduro tourer.

The competition comes down to the expensive untried CCM 450 Adventure, The Yamaha 660 XT and its big bro the 660 Tenere', or the lighter Yamaha WR250R. The XT is the closest and the newer ones are quite nice, but even then it needs tweaking for the type of trips I have in mind.

So to change a good bike into the machine that works for me I have to

  • Add fuel range - about 100km
  • Get a seat that is not like sitting on a knife after an hour
  • Find a lightweight luggage system
  • Add wind protection - not imperative but if it comes with better lights then great  
  • Change the stock Metzler tyres for something more dirt capable 
  • Change the plastic bash plate for one that has a flat base for propping up the bike
  • Find an Aluminium Bash Guard that protects as much of the engine as possable
  • Add some luggage carrying potential on the tail
  • Change the grips so they are a bigger diameter and warmer

Cosmetically I don,t like the mirrors, so they will go, the stock exhaust is hot and heavy so maybe that will go to.  The foot pegs feel narrow.

Then I will hopefully will have created a great machine.

Part of the beauty of the KTM is that there are many companies who make aftermarket parts to do just this. The secret will be to choose the right bits for my job, and thats part of the fun.