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KTM 690 Enduro R £7899 v Husqvarna 701 Enduro £7999
Again, both bikes share the same twin-plug 690 single-cylinder engine, the same frame and have similar forks and brakes. The Husky has a slightly larger fuel tank (13 litres to the KTM’S 12) and minor styling tweaks, but not much more than that.
On the road both bikes feel similar, the most obvious difference being the KTM’S more road-biased Metzeler tyres. They give a little more confidence on tarmac plus a little extra stability especially on long, fast corners. However, the Husky’s more dirt-biased Contis make a real difference off-road.
When the going gets tough, the KTM struggles as its tyres start to clog up with mud and simply turn into slicks, offering no grip. They are fine riding down gravelly lanes and on firm off-road surfaces but struggle in deep mud. The more knobbly tyres on the Husky offer more grip in difficult conditions, which in turn gives more confidence. As a relative offroad novice, I felt more comfortable on the Husky as the front gave more feedback and more grip. It’s worth noting, though, that both bikes share the same wheels so you could simply fit the different rubber.
The Husky has more suspension travel, confirming it as the easier ride when the going got hard. The ABS is identical on both bikes and can be de-activated, but we decided to leave it on, even in deep mud. It works well in this environment and is perfect for inexperienced riders.
Experts will scoff, of course, and will probably consider these bikes too heavy and big to be considered serious off roaders. However, in our hands, on-mild-to-easy going they were helpful, fun and safe. What’s more, when you’re riding home tired and wet you can cruise happily along at 75mph, covering serious miles that would be well beyond a proper enduro bike.
Price is the problem here. Both enduro versions come in at just under £8000. I know dedicated smalle- capacity enduros from both manufacturers aren’t much cheaper (Husky’s FE 350 is £7699), but eight grand for a bike you’re going to bounce over rocks seems excessive to me.