The KTM 690 Enduro R and the BMW G650GS are the two DS candidates in this Election Cycle, but of course only one can represent the Dual-Sport Party in the final election.
I should point out that the criteria are purposely subjective for me, Backpacker Moto, and how I view my upcoming purchase. If I’m being objective, the KTM is statistically the superior machine in just about every way. But for me it’s not all about the numbers or spec sheets. I shall also point out that since my original summaries of these bikes, I have test ridden both of them again.
To the primary we go:
Functionality is the primary purpose of these bikes, which is a nice way of saying neither of them are built for beauty. That being said, the KTM wins this category going away; no clutter, no superfluous bodywork. I’d be far more excited to see the KTM parked in my garage.
Power, torque, fuel mileage, both thumpers produce excellent numbers. That being said, the KTM’s numbers are just a bit more excellent, save one important one. Its buzz at highway speeds (where it is out of its primary element) was a turnoff, though I will say that on my recent test ride, it seemed much less pronounced than on the 2013 I rode earlier this year. Nevertheless, the KTM eeks out the win in this category.
The G650GS is the clear winner here, as its slant towards touring duty shines through, and the reality is that this sort of bike would get 70/30 street/off-pavement usage. The BMW cockpit and riding position are all-day affairs.
For the same reason the Beemer won the Ergos category, it wins this as well. It would need fewer accessories to bring it into line with the type of riding I would expect to do, and is the better platform with which to start the Farkling process.
Easy wins for the BMW in Ergos and Farkles, while the KTM has the superior Appearance and Engine. It’s a dead heat, which may bring the previously unspoken, unmentioned and dreaded financial issue into play.
I have intentionally omitted monetary considerations throughout this Election Cycle (no campaign spending limits!). I’ve learned that saving some bucks by buying something I want less isn’t worth my future happiness. But with these two candidates so evenly matched, the price discrepancy looms somewhat large. The KTM’s MSRP is an attention-grabbing $2000+ more than the BMW. That two grand represents every conceivable farkle that I would want for the G650GS with money to spare for a week long trip. Kinda difficult to ignore.
Overall, my impression is that the KTM is the superior machine, though as pointed out in the original 690 summary, my off-pavement skills are not up to its potential. Yet for certain missions in the hands of a skilled pilot, the KTM would be the absolute weapon of choice,
But this isn’t one of those missions. The KTM is the better bike, but it’s not the optimal bike for me and the type of riding I’d do with a dual-sport in my garage. I’ve suffered too many times doing highway miles on bikes that have heavily compromised road manners. The KTM would make me more popular, but I’d have more fun on the Beemer.
Better asphalt chops. Lower price. Better for me. Those turn out to be the difference makers.
DUAL-SPORT CANDIDATE: BMW G650GS