We don’t just sit in the office all day pressing buttons, trying to looking clever or make banging noises in the workshop pretending to look busy. We like to use the things we make and explore this beautiful planet that we live on. Bram writes here about his trip around Thailand on a KTM and what he would have made to make it more comfortable.
Some might say touring on a single cylinder bike would be a pain in the arse due to the excessive vibration their engines produce. I would agree mostly but I’ve toured on a single and there is an exception. After a 4000 km ride around Thailand over 10 days I can confirm that it’s not only possible but a lot of fun too, especially if you’re going to take in a lot of mountain roads. The thing is that you have to do it on a KTM690 single, it’s got a nifty balancer shaft that actually works and cuts out most of the vibes and lets you enjoy all day riding. With some planning, the tank holds enough petrol to get you from pump to pump with its 250km range. Like all KTM’s the engine and chassis offers top notch handling and enough speed to have a huge, huge laugh but not so fast that you stop noticing your surroundings, why tour if not to appreciate the scenery?
Me did my trip on a 690SMR, an amazing package in my opinion, blinged up with quality braking and suspension components making for a very special experience in the twisties. The funny thing is that the 690SM and SMR versions have been discontinued for awhile now, making way for the KTM Enduro 690, Duke 690, SMC690 and hopefully an Adventure 690??? My guess is that it was its kooky looks that sealed its fate, personally I loved the way it looked.
There’s a silver lining to all of this, now it’s been a few years since disappearing from the market, you can pick up a second hand 690SM for much less than an equivalent second hand Duke, Enduro, etc. Same engine, same frame (as the Duke) and even better components if you find an ‘SMR’ version. Brilliant!
My only gripe during my trip was the constant bungee-ing on and off of my loose luggage every time we stopped for the night. There are no off-the-shelf luggage options for this bike, I suppose it was just intended for day rides and backpacks. After thinking on it for quite awhile, it’s clear to me now that what was missing was some secure storage for a helmet and gloves in the form of a compact 30 or 40 litre top box and a pair of hard panniers that carries 23 litres of clothes, iPads, etc. in each side, but are slim enough that they disappear into the bike when leaning over and cornering hard. I guess this goes for any bike in the twisties, but especially for fun supermoto-esq type machines like the 690SM
I decided to develop some luggage that ticked all the boxes and here’s what I came up with.
How could we make super slim panniers that still have enough space inside for a few days ride? Make them a little longer front to back and a little taller. All our panniers are built to order anyway so a customer can specify final dimensions, it all depends on how much clearance you want, how far do you want to lean? Also to get the narrow bike profile intended, on the 690SM and SMR, it is advisable to replace the two stock pipes with a pair of aftermarket pipes that tuck neatly beneath the rear fairing instead of stick out the sides too much. After that, we would do the rest, i.e. fabricate a mounting rack and the panniers you see here. Seen in the example below, a pair of tasty Akrapovich cans.
The result, some very stylish unique looking secure hard luggage specially designed to make extended touring on a thumper a possibility. Not just for the 690SM but any mid-sized bike that you’re going to lay down into the corners. ‘One night stands’ are fun, but how about a fortnights worth???
Say goodbye to the hot, sweaty chore of strapping and unstrapping dry-bags onto a bike (that was not really designed to be a tourer but is actually really quite good at it, aftermarket panniers and racks are currently only available to the Enduro). We hope these digitally illustrated examples gets you dreaming of mountain roads and secure luggage!
Your comments and suggestions are welcome.