There are a lot of enduro bikes out there but nothing compares to KTM's 640 LC4 Adventure R. Finally, there's a bike capable of carrying you to the ends of the world. And the quality of the road, whether smooth or cratered, makes little difference.
Concept & Tranformation
By now every motorcycle enthusiast should know the name KTM, a brand that has come a long way within the last decade. Theirs is a rapidly growing business and KTM is working hard to meet the demand for its high-tech bikes. Currently the Austrians have just one real street bike in their range, the amazing Duke. All the other models are enduros and dirt bikes inspired by their rally-winning off-road versions. Examining the details reveals great European quality and nice technical solutions. The Adventure is no different, and KTM couldn't have underscored the relationship to their off-road racers any better.
Suspension components with long travel, a big 28-liter fuel tank (7.4 gal.) with an integrated small front fairing, an aluminum engine cover, and a cockpit with trip master inspire a long and dusty tour. It's probably the only enduro capable of handling really tough terrain. The other Japanese and European competitors are much too heavy and cannot offer the same traction.
Engine & Transmission
Of course, KTM fans are waiting for the year-end arrival of the new V-twin 950 Adventure. But the 640 Adventure is still a good bet. Its single-cylinder engine surprises with great power output and an expansive rev range. You can open the throttle wide from 3000 rpm on, and the four-stroke easily revs up to 8000 rpm and more - 49 hp at 7500 rpm is good enough to threaten Supersport riders on curvy canyon roads.
A big improvement for easier usability was the introduction of a 40-mm Mikuni carburetor, replacing the tricky Dellorto in 2000. The throttle response isn't that hard any longer, which makes the bike easier to deal with, most of all in busy downtown traffic. Even with this change the KTM still shows awesome throttle response, way better than most of its competitors. The five-speed gearbox with small spreads works great and provides enough leeway between traveling fast or just cruising around.
You can even use the Adventure as a commuter to work. The electric starter and balancer are achievements that make daily use of a four-stroke single with high compression (10.5:1) easy, a farsighted move on KTM's part because the group of hardcore enduro riders who use the bike only in the dirt is steadily losing adherents.
Chassis & Brakes
The big advantage of the Adventure is its versatility. Owners don't have to worry when the asphalt ends. They just keep riding without any restrictions on the chassis. The massive upside-down fork provides lots of stability and a travel of 270mm. The single shock at the aluminum swingarm in the back offers even more travel; 320mm is a clear statement. No wonder you can fly over bumps and holes without any damage to your crowns, bridges, or fillings. The suspension of the KTM levels everything out. On asphalt, it isn't as sensitive and comfortable as the shock absorption of a pure touring bike; but on the other hand, it offers more feedback from the chassis and the tires. The expensive suspension components come from White Power, a well-known high-tech Netherlands company owned by KTM.
The brakes work alright for a bike that weighs only 175 kg (389 lbs.). Don't expect big braking power, however, but the two single discs do their job properly. With a passenger and full luggage, it can become more difficult for the stoppers to give you enough deceleration. Fortunately, KTM uses steel-braided brake lines (with rubber coating) that improve the transmission of the brake forces. Those lines also make it easier to modulate your braking power.
Accessories & Arrangements
Compared to full-dress touring bikes the KTM comes with only a few accessories to make traveling easy and comfortable. Its small fairing with the steep windscreen gives your upper body good protection from wind and rain. The 28-liter gas tank allows for long legs on a tour. If you can stand it! - Because the narrow, hard-upholstered enduro seat doesn't offer a lot of comfort and your butt feels it. That goes double for the passenger on his scanty roost.
On closer inspection the quality and real goodies that count in a bike like the KTM are readily apparent. Everything is put together with love and know how. The Austrians learned from their experiences in many motocross and rally fights what's most important to have in a bike that invites you to leave the pavement. A small luggage rack is stock and gives you some space to store your personal stuff. Additionally, you can mount an enduro tank bag. That gives you adequate storage room.
The Adventure also has an expensive, electronic trip computer that's not only useful for long desert rides. [See our two-part Trans-Sahara story in the 2002 Summer and current issues.] The double headlight offers good visibility at night. A center stand ensures ease of maintenance and safe loading, although with full luggage it takes a bit of strength to lift it. A strong aluminum plate covers the engine properly, not like the wimpy plastic versions found on many other so-called, dual-sport bikes. And we don't want to forget another mention of the great suspension components that usually cost a fortune but come here in stock condition.
The Adventure easily convinced us on dirt roads and bumpy asphalt. More surprising, its high degree of performance on highways and canyon roads. The low weight and sporty suspension make handling simple, and the brakes do their job okay. With this setup you can be real fast, even on those knobby tires. On longer asphalt trips, riders have to find a way to deal with the hard-seat upholstery made for riders churning the dirt. But any wanderer planning a long trip that includes some dirt sections should go for the KTM. No other bike in the enduro class offers as much ground clearance, gives as much travel, and is light enough for the big jumps.
In any of the world's languages, the KTM 640 LC4 Adventure R may be a mouthful to say, but it's the real deal for anyone hankering to strike out and become a globetrotter.
Retail Price $ 8,198
Warranty One year, unlimited mileage
Maintenance Schedule600/3,000/every 3,000 miles (1,000/4,800/every 4,800 km)
Importer/Distributor KTM Sportmotorcycle USA, Inc.
1119 Milan Ave.
Amherst, OH 44001
phone (440) 985-3553
Type 1-cylinder, 4-stroke
Valve Arrangement 4 valves per cyl. ohc, cam chain driven, rockers
Bore & Stroke 101 x 78 mm
Displacement 625 cc
Compression Ratio 10.5:1
Carburetion one Mikuni carburetor ø 40 mm
Exhaust Emission Control no
Clutch multi-plate wet clutch mechanically operated
Final Drive chain drive
Frame steel tubular frame, single cradle
Wheelbase 1,510 mm (59.4 in.)
Rake 62.5 degree
Trail 123 mm (4.8 in.)
Front Suspension upside-down fork
Stanchion Diameter NA
Adjustments compression and rebound damping
Travel 270 mm (10.6 in.)
Rear Suspension aluminum alloy swingarm w/single shock
Adjustments spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Travel 320 mm (12.6 in.)
Wheels & Tires
Type spoke wheels w/ aluminum rims
Front 1.60 x 21
Rear 2.50 x 18
Front Tire 90/90-21
Rear Tire 130/80-18
Front Brake 1 disc, floating double-piston caliper
Diameter 300 mm (11.8 in.)
Rear Brake 1 disc, floating single-piston caliper
Diameter 220 mm (8.7 in.)
Weight & Fuel Capacity
Wet-Weight 175 kg (389 lb.)
Fuel Capacity 28 l (7.4 gal.)
Claimed Horsepower (crank) 49 hp at 7,500 rpm
Torque 5.3 mkp (39 ft.-lbs.) at 5,500 rpm
Top Speed 162 km/h (101 mph)
Acceleration 0-100 km/h (0-62.5 mph): 5.6s
Fuel Consumption 4.9l/100 km (48.5 mpg)
Fuel Range 571 km (357 miles)
Half fairing, electronic display w/trip master, speedometer, odometer, tachometer and clock, ignition switch/lock in front of the upper triple clamp, center stand.
RoadRUNNER Test Diagram
Luggage w/accessories 3/5
Bike for the buck 3/5