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Old 12-17-2012, 04:11 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by gatorgrizz27 View Post
If you are just talking about riding with those guys for a one time trip, it isn't as important, but if you all plan to ride together most of the time, I would get a similar bike as they have. The types of trips they are going to take in the future will be based on what their bikes can do. If they all ride 990s they might ride all the way down to Baja and camp for a week, that much highway would be brutal on a 500. At the same time, if you want to ride a lot of the harder, more technical single track on a 500 they might not enjoy coming along. As a bonus, if you ride the same bike you can share parts and if something goes wrong there are more of you with the knowledge to diagnose/fix it.
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Old 12-17-2012, 06:44 PM   #17
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Everetto - I re-read your post and additions (unlike some of your other advisors). As I read it again, you want a decent off-road motorcycle plus you want to hang with the KTM 990's in the twisty's. Maybe even show them something...

Well, I can assure you that if everybody is on DOT knobs, the 690 will smoke any competition. In a drag race, my 690R is as quick as my 950 up to about 100mph. Maybe quicker up to 60. It is 150lbs lighter. Plus it has a sweet chassis, geometry, suspension tuning and MONSTER freaking brakes. Monster I say...


The 2012/13 690 is the very best super sized single ever made. ...ever opinion of course.
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Old 12-17-2012, 09:07 PM   #18
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I have used a similar answer on a few other threads.

The 690 with a race can, large air cleaner, EVO overhead cam and Vortex fuel computer is one mean machine. Scary pick up and will cruise at 75-95 easy. With a good seat and faring fast highway cruise is easy with no off road holdbacks. Finish with dual sport tires and you got it all.

Owned 1200 950 and 800 and I keep going smaller. Really happy now.
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Old 12-17-2012, 09:46 PM   #19
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I've ridden a 990 ADV a few times. Owned a 690R for 21,000 miles (2010 vintage). Own a 500 EXC now. The 690R was a fantastic motorcycle. It was fast enough on the street and way overboard in the dirt. Fairly comfortable for long street rides (Renazco Seat). Don't bother trying to tough it out with the factory's totally sucky. I did ride a nice loop from Portland, OR to Carson City, NV down the east side of the cascades then back up to Portland on the west side of the cascades...on the factory seat. Dirt, Backroad, Slab, does all of that fairly well. That's where the 690 the middle. For me, it got tedious after long miles on the street (twisties or slab). The engine vibes, sound, lack of wind protection just makes you tired. As I've moved into more and more technical riding in the dirt, the 690 started to feel more like a liability. Don't get me wrong, you can rail the hell out of that bike, but it's just easier on something smaller. Plus, a 690 starts to get real heavy after the 3rd or 4th time you pick it up during a tough ride. That brings me to the 990A. Before I bought the 690 I thought I just had to have a 990. I'm really glad I passed. It would be a nightmare in the dirt. I know tons of people do more on their 990's than I'll ever be able to do on my 500 in the dirt. Don't care, it's not for me. I know I'm not supposed to do it, but I love to go ride by myself sometimes...out in the middle of nowhere. Had I been on a 990, I probably would have passed on some of the cooler adventures I've been on because it would have been too much for me to handle. Those bikes are to be taken seriously when it comes to keeping them upright or picking them up. Wicked Heavy!!

Full street bike (adventure bike if you prefer) and a DS are where my brain is at. Although, I haven't bothered to get a street bike because I've been having too much fun in the dirt! The 690 is still my pick if you want to ride both street and fairly tough dirt and can only have one bike...or like to mix both types of riding in the same trip. I really don't think you can do better right now. Dunlop D606's will be better than the MT-21's in the dirt and pretty much just as good on the street (IMO). I've been through several sets of each. Really liked Kenda Trackmasters for the dirt rides. The front was a tad squirrely going straight but they hooked up really well in the corners. Much better bite from the rear tire pretty much everywhere too. Never rode them on the street but I suspect they would be fairly uninspiring.

All three bikes are very cool (and I'm sure you'd love any of them) but only the 690 can live somewhat happily in both arenas.
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Old 12-19-2012, 11:33 AM   #20
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This is the same debate I seem to have with myself every few months. I currently own a 990A and my wife rides an F650GS. Almost all our trips are a minimum of 300-400 km's, and at least once a year, we do a 6,000-8,000 km trip. These trips consist of 5-10% quad tracks, 10-15% dirt roads, ~25% gravel, and the remainder being anything but interstates.


1. The larger the bike, the more you can pack. We typically haul two plus weeks worth of gear, including all our camping equipment. The more you pack, the more you

a) Restrict your type of riding
b) Increased chance of bodily harm when you go down
c) Increased risk of bike damage since you are going down more, with a chance of becoming stranded.

2. We are riding the same roads over and over again to get to virgin (to us) new riding areas. It's getting boring...
3. Big bikes are comfortable (relative; compared to smaller dirt oriented bikes) when you're days are > 8 to 10 hours.
4. Less maintenance on the big bikes. Rarely do we need to do oil changes during the trip for example.


1. Replace the big bikes with 690 Enduro bikes and soft luggage. Reduce weight and increase the type of terrain we can ride on. Two years ago, we had to turn back a couple times. In one instance, after a 3 hour we had to turn back as the bikes were too heavy to ride the descent.

2. Replace the big bikes with a 500 EXC and 350 EXC and soft luggage. Haul the bikes using our truck and/or covered utility trailer and use it as a base camp.

3. No replacements period. Buy the smaller bikes (500 & 350), and haul ALL the bikes and then use the bike best suited for the location and ride.

As far as I can tell, there isn't the perfect bike, but if you had to choose one, it would be the 690. Just don't expect to ride hard on long trips with buddies on litre bikes.
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Old 12-19-2012, 01:46 PM   #21
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Wow, great responses from everyone, thanks much. I think everyone hit one of the nails on the head here and I think this thread has shown once again there is no single bike that does everything perfectly, dang it.

But, it sounds like the 690 does very well indeed in most arenas.

Get this - my current bike is a Super Tenere, and it has its place, but that is not in deep sand..... I love it as a touring bike - it is quick enough, it has good torque, it handles quite well in the twisties for a big bike and it is big and roomy and you can load the crap out of it - I love my Jesses. My Tenere is actually listed for sale here - if it does not sell I will keep it as a touring bike and for some offroad stuff, and when I can afford it I might buy a 2nd bike, which might just be the 500 EXC if I am going to have two bikes.

if I am only going to have one bike, it will very likely be the 690.

everetto screwed with this post 12-19-2012 at 06:29 PM
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Old 12-20-2012, 11:33 PM   #22
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Have the same problem... have been changing my mind for months on the 690 vs 500 issue. After reading all the posts I could find, I have concluded it all comes to money! I think that there are only 2 options:

1) you can/want only one bike, so the 690R is the best bike you can have (70% happy on any use).
2) keep your adventure bike for road and mild dirt trips (a 1200 adv in my case) & get yourself a nice 450or500 exc for some serious dirt riding

ps. I am not a big fan of sub 450 bikes since you must always use the car to get you there...
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Old 12-20-2012, 11:52 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by angelo_balto View Post
Have the same problem... have been changing my mind for months on the 690 vs 500 issue. After reading all the posts I could find, I have concluded it all comes to money! I think that there are only 2 options:

1) you can/want only one bike, so the 690R is the best bike you can have (70% happy on any use).
2) keep your adventure bike for road and mild dirt trips (a 1200 adv in my case) & get yourself a nice 450or500 exc for some serious dirt riding

ps. I am not a big fan of sub 450 bikes since you must always use the car to get you there...
Great thread......I've got the 990 Adv in the shed....and the 690 R along side it........and still figuring how to get the 500 in to the mix......

The 500 exc/xcw is the smallest bike that fits my personal frame.......1.9 M 104 K.........

It's like a bicycle with a lot of horses attached to it and a lot more maneuverable than the longer wheelbase of the 690 BUT the 690 is a lot better on any length of slab.....


Is there room in the shed..........
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Old 12-21-2012, 03:36 AM   #24
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I've been researching the same topic myself.
buy the 690. It has longer legs in every way, and longer service intervals/oil change intervals.
plus, as I was looking at the 690 thread, people have already figured out the setup and there's lot of knowledge out there.

but end of the day, you have to answer the question "what you'll be riding"
if most trails are technical single track..then 690 may not be the choice.

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Old 12-22-2012, 08:09 AM   #25
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Without having read all answers you got, my recommendation is: take a 690, invest a few bucks and be happy with it. It is the bike you are looking for.

The 990 is a great bike but its not what you are looking for. The 500 is great too, but - even if especially in the US people ignore the fact that it is a pure (!) competition bike - a pain on the pave and the servicing intervals are very short (which is very normal as it is a competition bike).

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Old 12-22-2012, 09:26 AM   #26
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I live in Colorado, 30 minutes from the mountains. If I want to ride to the mountains I take the GSA. If I want to ride in the mountains I throw the 530 in the truck and drive there. That said, the GSA will go 90% of the places the 530 will go, just slower. If you want a riding vacation that includes the Million Dollar highway and alot of the really good paved roads that the state has to offer, get the 990. It's less miserable riding a big bike off road (if you have some sense) than it is riding a dirt bike on the road. Trust me, the big bikes will go over the passes just fine.
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Old 12-22-2012, 04:07 PM   #27
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This thread reminds me of a Tommy Emanuel concert I once went too where he lamented on stage the muscians curse of finding the perfect note/guitar and yet he sounded awsome on the instruments he had.

I've owned both a 990adv and a 690. My preference is the 690 becasue its lighter and a bit more nimble off road. Its not the perfect bike but with the right setup you don't loose much dropping down from the big boy, BUT it does need some cash to make the transition!
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Old 12-22-2012, 06:59 PM   #28
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I've owned all three and currently own a 690 & 500exc , when I first rode the 500 I thought I'd never ride the 690 again then after 9 months I rode the 690 and still love it , now I have not ridden the 500 in 6 months , if I had a job I'd go buy a 990R , you really need all three ,

Bare in mind my 690 is modified for rally racing , 300mm twin chamber forks , extended shock , vortex ECU , full Akro Ti system , RRUk tanks , the only issue I have is lack of preload adjustment on the shock for adv riding , the new Ohlins should sort this out or wilbers make a shock with preload , but this should have been a standard item for the 640 replacement bike

The 500 , single track / overnight weapon gets trailered to start point
The 690 the overnight / multi day big bore blaster ride it from garage
The 990. Multi day / multi week tourer can carrie enough gear no probs also gets the best reaction from 450 riders asking how the fuck did you get that up here !

So the 690 sits right in the middle , I suppose only you can make the right decision but the factors would be

What type of riding , extreme off road touring , offroad / adventure touring , on/off road touring
The biggest factor is can you pick it up by your self !!! IMO if you can't pick it up you can't self rescue or you just get left behind
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Old 12-23-2012, 06:31 AM   #29
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Love this thread, and again thanks for all the replies.

I think it's gonna be the 690, outfitted with soft luggage (and eventually some RallyRaid stuff - not sure exactly what yet).
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Old 12-23-2012, 07:07 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by everetto View Post
doing the mountain passes in the Ouray area.

I'm sure you must be aware that regardless of how small a bike you decide upon there are times in those mountain passes that either will require significant effort...

From my experience I'd choose a 600 class enduro for the terrain and conditions in the San Juans of Colorado.

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