October 4, 2007 What is it about KTM motorcycles; does the factory fill the front tyre with helium? Many KTM riders treat their front wheels like ornaments, waving them at the sky at every opportunity. KTM must have realized this – and the factory’s clearly decided “why fight it?” Along with a very tasty range of bikes based on the tasty LC4 engine for 2008, they’ve released teaser pics of a dedicated stunt-riding model with some very stunt-specific gear integrated as standard.
Urban and competition stunt riding is becoming a more and more specialized sport – dedicated riders modify their bikes with “12 o’clock bars” to stop their tail-lights dragging on the ground, crash cages to protect bodywork and frame from frequent topples, and hand-actuated secondary rear brakes for controlling wheelies where the rider’s feet are away from the brake pedal.
To get to a point where a bike’s ready to seriously stunt can take hours of backyard work and thousands of dollars’ worth of parts from specialized Internet suppliers – which is why KTM’s dedicated factory stunter, including all these parts and more - is such an exciting prospect.
We got a great close-up look at the 690 Stunt at the Paris Bike Show - check the gallery for loads of detail photos.
Stunter Nam Tran from team Front Up Freestyle summed up the stunt scene’s reaction to the bike: “It’s a massive leap in the right direction. Hopefully other companies follow. KTM, BMW and Kawasaki already have sponsored riders in Europe – this new bike is only going to help the sport further.”
We asked Tran to rate the pros and cons of the concept from a stunter’s perspective:
1. Single sided swing arm limits you on how big the rear sprocket can go – although the KTM may be internally geared. Ideally, it should be geared like a trials bike – with the first 3 gears short and very closely spaced. The higher gears can be much taller and allow for good top speed.
2. Thumb operated hand brake – it’s not as good as a radial finger brake mounted as a second lever under the clutch.
3. Hydraulic clutches aren’t as reliable as a cable clutch. There’s more lever choices available with a cable clutch too.
4. The tank shape – it’s too small and too close to the ‘bars. For spreaders, highchairs, special Ks and other tricks we need to be able to sit up on the tank. The tank cover is plastic - there may not even be a metal tank underneath that we can dent out to make it a better shape to sit on.
5. There’s no rear peg on the left hand side for staggered-stance wheelies. One of the first tricks you learn is a stand-up wheelie with your right foot covering the rear brake and your left foot on the pillion peg for better balance and stability. There seems to be a spot to bolt a pillion peg to, though.
1. The frame looks stout with a neat cage. engine looks well protected.
2. Looks awesome from the half front guard all the way to the short and narrow 1 o'clock bar - I love it aesthetically in every way.
3. Radial front brake with upside down forks – it should be great for stoppies.
4. It's factory and it's awesome! KTM have obviously done their research or consulted some stunt riders.”
While the bike is at this stage a concept only, Motorcycle News has reported that KTM will built the 690 Stunt if there’s sufficient public interest. And the fact that it’s closely modelled on the 2008 690 Duke, a bike that has captured our editor-in-chief’s heart at the current Paris Bike Show, would suggest it’s only a whisker away from being a production bike if the demand is there.
The best part about the bike though, is the fact that it lends a manufacturer’s support to a legitimate sport that has grown and flourished... and that’s exciting news for stunters.
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