April 7, 2016 at 10:17 am #12009
Hi, I’m in the market for a new adventure bike, which one would you choose for NZ adventure riding conditions?
I’m riding a KTM 390 Duke and have little off-road experience. I have read and watched hundreds of reviews on both bikes. The bike must be able to handle some medium level trails on weekends and the longer trip to the South Island once or twice per year. It will also be used for daily commute, 40km round-trip on the highway.
(I’m not worried about the KTM’s small tank, I’ll mount rotopax for extra fuel)April 7, 2016 at 11:15 am #12010
Size and weight are your 2 biggest enemies once you get off the seal, and the rougher you get the more those will make things difficult for you.
Off road: Both bikes would be fantastic on sealed and gravel roads but beyond that the KTM would probably be more user friendly for someone with little off road experience.
On Road: 690’s are used to travel the world so a South Island trip is well within it’s abilities, the Africa Twin would probably be smoother on the road and soak up the miles better.
Cost: the 690 is probably half the cost of a Africa Twin so much less upfront cost and the remainder can be spent on gas or upgrades, and much less expense and de valuation when you drop your bike. Which you will, sooner or later.
Luggage: The Africa Twin will carry your kitchen sink, I have heard that the 690 doesn’t have a proper rear subframe so there are restrictions as to how much you can carry on the back and whether you can easily mount luggage racks, hopefully some 690 ownes can add some info on this.
Ultimately though it’s your choice and what suits you best, take both for a test ride and go from there.
Check out our Choosing an Adventure Bike article for some more considerations.April 7, 2016 at 12:26 pm #12011
thank you, some good points to think about.
(The entry level Africa Twin is only 20 000 compared to the KTM at 17000)April 7, 2016 at 12:45 pm #12012
Michael J BreenParticipant
Rank: 400cc Rider
Chalk and Cheese! The two bikes are so different you can’t really compare them.
Can you give us more detail on what kind of adventure riding you want to do?
For example: if your adventure riding is only on gravel roads accessed by tarseal, either bike will work but the Honda would be nicer on the road and certainly more comfy on long trips. Ditto for the Honda if you’re taking a pillion.
However, if you’re thinking of hitting more 4WD style tracks and even single trails on your adventures; I’d certainly suggest going for the KTM which is some 80kg lighter and much easier to manage on trails.
Don’t worry too much about fuel on the KTM. You’ll get close to 200km from the tank or more and for most rides, that’s plenty. The range of after market accessories for the 690 is enourmous and there’s a number of different fuel tank options. It’s expensive but the Rally Raid front tanks give 4 more litres and hide in behind the front radiator flaps meaning the bike looks pretty much stock. Safari makes a 14 litre front tank which is butt ugly (I had one) but does a damn good job giving you as much as 500km range if you’re cruising.April 7, 2016 at 1:42 pm #12021
Hi Michael, thanks for the advice.
I’m leaning towards the KTM at the moment, because I live 15 minutes from the Akatawara forest and its 4wd tracks and trails. If it was not for the 40km daily roundtrip commute it would be an easy choice going for the KTM over the Africa Twin.April 7, 2016 at 3:52 pm #12024April 8, 2016 at 6:09 am #12031
Rank: 800cc Rider
I have a 690 and my neighbour has just taken delivery of an Africa Twin, I love my 690 with its aftermarket comfort seat I am happy to do 200 km without stopping and its great on the reasonably technical trails, the comfort seat does make a tall bike even taller I am 5’11” and can just tip toe on both sides at once. I have a Rally Raid luggage rack which is supported on the pillion foot rest mounts so is capable of a reasonable load it also doubles up as crash protection. The Africa twin as already has been pointed out is considerably heavier, but by all accounts seems to be a good bike, my neighbour is disappointed with the Honda luggage he bought with the bike in particular the top box that he feels is cheap and nasty and hard to use.
Whichever bike you end up going for the tyres you use will have a major bearing on its ability off the sealApril 11, 2016 at 12:02 am #12092
Rank: 50cc Rider
I spent a couple of hours last week riding an Africa twin around Central Otago, I found it to be very capable off road and easy to ride on the road. For a large bike it was well balanced and felt way lighter than my GS 1200.
Like you I live near a lot of interesting rides , personally I would consider keeping the 390 and buy an Africa Twin, as I am doing myself, keeping my 1200 for big trips and buying a smaller off road 400 – 650 for the trails and tracks.
Goodluck and happy ridingApril 11, 2016 at 7:40 am #12093
The riding around Wellington is very different to Central Otago. Where Otago has long open tracks Wellington is all steep, rugged and often damp.May 7, 2016 at 3:11 pm #12652
I took my new KTM 690 ER for its first “adventure” ride today 🙂
Some twisties,Paekakariki hill road, highway to Te Horo Beach and some sandy,muddy jeep tracks to the Otaki river and back.
On the twisties I will give it a 9/10 (this was so much fun I did it 3 times)
On the highway 5/10. Some serious vibrations through the handle bars above 90km/h. I will have to get a steering dampener.
On the jeep tracks 9/10. As long as I stood up on the pegs and kept it in second it feels like it will go anywhere.
Overall I’m very happy with it.I don’t think I would have attempted the wet tracks with the heavier Africa Twin. But I’m sure a rider with good offroad experience would have been able to handle it with a AT.
Attachments:May 8, 2016 at 10:13 pm #12666
Rank: 400cc Rider
- Bike: an Orange one
I wouldn’t worry too much about a steering damper, it won’t change the vibes and the $ could go towards something useful like more gas or tyres. I’m on my second 690 and the vibes although noticeable around the speed you mention never get to be a problem, even on longer trips. The KTM screen is one of the best spends for dollar I did on the bike, keeps the wind off you chest on the highway and reduces fatigue.May 9, 2016 at 2:06 pm #12669
Hi Paul. I have the KTM screen on order. I might go for the Rox Pivoting Anti-Vibe Bar Riser, instead. The bars feel too low when I’m standing up.May 9, 2016 at 9:46 pm #12672
Rank: 400cc Rider
- Bike: an Orange one
Hi Jaco, The bar risers are good, I’m over 6ft and fitted 25mm risers. Don’t go over 25mm because you won’t have enough brake/clutch cable length. I’d recommend you move the switch blocks and levers inwards on the bars to give the cables extra length. You can do this without affecting their ergonomics, I found they were in a better position after I’d move them anyhow.
I also brought some cheap pegs off ebay and lowered them 25mm, so I now have 50mm more between the bars and pegs which makes standing up for long periods a breeze…
Attachments:May 10, 2016 at 10:26 am #12674
thanks Paul. I already ordered the risers before i read your reply, they are 50mm.
hopefully I can make them fit. There are ktm 690 er riders that use them and explain how to fit them hereMay 16, 2016 at 5:37 pm #12899
Rank: 650cc Rider
- Bike: 2102 Husaberg FE570 Rally Australia Bike, 2007 BMW 650 x-Challenge, 2009 Buell XP Ulysses Police Duty (1 of 137)
I’d say u made the right choice. Lightness over everything, as a heavy bike has little advantages other than carrying more heavy stuff and the occasional pillion. They may be slightly more comfortable on road, but then so is a road bike. As soon as a heavy bike is off-road, it’s often too much for the average rider and really only handled well by experienced riders.
If you plan to tour, a heavier bike can work, but the 690 can do that too. Personally I don’t like KTMs but I’d still get one over a Honda
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