After the introduction of the KTM 690 SM, back in January 2010, KTM's new generation LC4 engine, a thorough modernization of the familiar liquid-cooled, SOHC four-stroke power-plant that's utilized in a number of current on- and off-road models was also introduced in Thailand.
The new KTM LC4 engine delivers a healthy boost in output, with claimed figures of 63 horsepower and 65 Nm of torque at the crank. The KTM 690 SM is also the first KTM single-cylinder to utilize fuel-injection, and while the Keihin EMS throttle body has only a single throttle valve, its opening is influenced by a computer-controlled servo motor to maintain optimum intake velocity.
Perhaps the most notable improvement this compact 653.7cc engine brings is a substantial reduction in vibration credited to the use of a crank-driven, centrally located counterbalance shaft. Good news for anyone who's endured the pounding its predecessor dished out when ridden for any great length touring the Thai country side.
The KTM 690 SM is also KTM's first production single-cylinder to make use of a trellis frame similar to that of the bigger LC8-powered models. Its full featured instrument cluster, tapered handlebar, long-travel WP suspension, radial-mount Brembo front caliper and 320 floating rotor and Behr rims shod with sport-radial tires are also parts you can find on the larger KTM models. Unique to the KTM 690 SM is its one-piece diecast-aluminum swingarm, a visually striking bit of technology certain to see more use on future models. I have ridden the KTM 990 Superduke for a few weeks, and the KTM 690 SM presented a bit of a surprise when I climbed aboard for a few kilometers around the neighborhood. At a claimed 152 kg dry, it does feel light; steering effort, however, is actually heavier than the KTM 990 Superduke due to a slight tendency to stand up in corners. Power delivery is smooth and broad, with nice shift action through the 6-speed gearbox and a very light-effort clutch.
While the KTM 60 SM's styling may not be for everyone, its roomy ergonomics, comfortable saddle and smooth-running new-generation LC4 engine offer plenty of reasons this 653.7cc single-cylinder KTM deserves a closer look.