With the introduction of the all new Husqvarna dual sport platform, the TR650 Terra, the inevitable question is how does it compare to the well established KTM 690 Enduro R?
It seems like the most logical of queries. Both are big bore single cylinder bikes advertised as adventure, or dual sport models. Both are the product of longtime players in the European dirt bike market. It would be expected that the newcomer Husky would be primed to take on the KTM 690. The reality is that these two bikes are pretty far apart from each other, both in design and price.
The short version of this comparison boils down to the KTM being superior in the dirt and the Husqvarna excelling at all around street duty.
The two single cylinder, fuel injected motors make similar horsepower. KTM claims more power, but by seat of the pants feel, they are very close to each other. The 690 starts to make real power around 3500 rpms, where the Husky is pretty lethargic until it passes 4000. It seems like a small difference in numbers, but the KTM always feels much stronger off the bottom. Once over 4500, both bikes keep pace with each other.
The 650’s lack of bottom end feel is partially due to the clunky 5 speed transmission and ultra tall stock gearing. Just pulling away from a stop light takes a little extra care with the clutch. The KTM has a 6 speed transmission and shifts smoother. It is much easier to keep in a happy power range that way. The slipper clutch keeps everything smooth for downshifting. The 6th gear on the KTM is only slightly taller than the 4th gear on the Husky.
While the TR650 may carry the Husqvarna gun sight badge, there is not any real dirt bike underneath. It is really much closer to its cousin the BMW G650GS. So it is basically a street bike that could also serve as a mild off road adventurer. Everything about the Terra exudes a street persona. It is smooth, comfortable and powerful.
This is a bike that is absolutely happy cruising down the freeway at 75mph and would be willing to do it all day long. Add some storage capacity, either via soft bags or the soon to be released Husky hard luggage, and you would have a great light weight touring companion.
The Terra was clearly whittled down to the bare bones to achieve its $6,990 price point. It is a venerable bargain in today’s market. But in doing that, any luxuries were axed from the drawing board. Still, this is a bike that will suit many riders and excel as either a commuter or touring bike.
The KTM could hardly be any further away on the scale. Its dirt bike origins are very obvious in everything it does. It is at home on nearly everything from fire roads to mild single track trail. With a 50-60 lb weight advantage over the Husky, it can go places the Terra would never dream of.
In general the Husky is the more comfortable bike on the street, with one exception. When it comes to scooting down a twisty back road, the KTM wins hands down. In skilled hands, the Terra could to keep a close pace, having similar power and chassis characteristics. But, the KTM is far easier to ride, this is where the 690 motor shines. With better torque, closer transmission ratios and the slipper clutch, the 690 flies around corners with ease.
The 690 also gets the nod for brakes. While both bikes have the same size brakes and similar calipers, the floating front rotor on the KTM is much stronger. Same for suspension, the KTM carries fully adjustable WP components. The Terra has a non adjustable fork and less travel at both ends.
As the mountains give way to flat land and the road opens up, then the Husky comes into its own. The seating position is more suited to the highway. The sculpted Terra seat is more comfortable, but limits movement for aggressive riding. The seat and footpegs are such that the rider can lean forward to compensate for wind blast. The motor is dead smooth at any speeds up to 80 mph.
Now the KTM feels a little tedious. The motor is a little buzzy for freeway cruising. The seating position, with high/forward pegs is too upright and you have to hold yourself to the bike constantly. The seat is fine for a short periods, but not something for an all day ride.
As I see it, on the price value scale, it is a dead heat. The TR650 gets lots of acclaim for its low price point. I think it is great that buyers have that choice. It is lots of bike for the money and looks very attractive next to some of the other dual sport bikes choices.
The 690 Enduro will cost you a full $3300 more to buy. But if you have an appreciation for quality components, it is money well spent. Aside from the motors of the two models, nearly every single component on the KTM is a higher grade part. If you were to spend that amount of money on upgrades for the Terra, it would still not be very close to the KTM and no amount of money is going to help it to lose 50 lbs.
There really is not a clear winner here. Both are good and excel in different areas. In my view, the closest competitor for the KTM is its own 500exc and for the Husky, the BMW G650GS. As my own riding always leans heavily towards as much dirt as possible, the KTM suits me the best. I also give it high marks for having a little more all around versatility. But if my needs called for an economic bike that could be a weekday commuter and a weekend adventurer, that would be the calling of the Husky. Ultimately it is just a matter of choosing the bike that best suits your needs.