There is no such thing as a one size fits all adventure bike. For some the big jiggers with their cosseting comfort, great two-up ability and luggage options are the one-stop shop.
BMW’s R 1250 GS and KTM’s 1290 are the established big daddies in the field with machines like the F 850 GS and 790 Adventure, Triumph’s 800/900 Tiger and Honda’s Africa Twin treading the middle ground so to speak.
Then we have the new Tenere 700 from Yamaha that takes a more spartan approach to twin-cylinder adventure riding that is proving a big hit here in Australia.
For others that want to follow the even more minimalist theme, with much lower weights and more spartan accoutrements, along with a much less intimidating presence, and price tag…. the DR650 is always a popular choice.
I can see the appeal of all those options but there is somewhat of a hole in the middle for a very high-performance single-cylinder option that really feels like a proper dirt bike.
The first generations of the KTM 690 Enduro I was not a fan of. In standard form they lacked grunt and as they came out of the box always felt, well a little bit half-done. The latest 690 Enduro R though is an epic ride, but when testing (Link) the model I did have a bit of a sook about its lack of its longer range viability due to a small fuel tank and lack of tie-down points.
It was like it was on the cusp of being the perfect light and manageable adventure machine complete, only for a few oversights that, in standard form at least, restricted its broader amenity.
Now for 2020 Husqvarna have added an LR (Long Range) variant to the 701 Enduro. The 701 Enduro is the sister model of the 690 Enduro R and shares that monumentally strong, yet amazingly manageable, 692.7 cc single.
At 25-litres, the 701 Enduro LR almost doubles the fuel capacity of the machines it is based on. The 13-litre underseat tank as seen on the other models, is joined with an extra 12-litre conventional tank to give a realistic touring range of 500 kilometres.
That huge capacity is five-litres more than the 20-litre tank on the 790 Adventure.
Husqvarna are claiming a dry weight of 155 kg for the 701 Enduro LR. That compares to 189 kg for the 790 Adventure or Yamaha’s Tenere 700. There is no question though that the 701 feels like much more of a dirt-bike than the aforementioned twin-cylinder machines.
With a smooth running 74-horsepower and 71 Nm of torque this current generation motor has redefined single-cylinder performance. It has truly changed the game.
Unlike other singles from the KTM/Husqvarna stable the big-bore engine has long 10,000 kilometres service intervals and a solid two-year warranty.
Despite it’s off-road focus the 701 also scores the full gamut of electronic safety aids that in their current generation work incredibly well. Seriously, forget what you know about ABS and traction control from earlier generation machines, we are now in a whole new world when it comes to the capability of these systems.
Switchable ride modes, ride by wire, lean angle sensitive traction control and ABS along with a quick-shifter gives the 701 a higher performance suite of electronics than most sportsbikes could offer only a few years ago. It is no longer a case of see a bit of gravel and turn everything off, the systems now are so well tuned that they really are more a help than a hindrance. For lesser experienced riders this level of electronic smarts will help get them to more places easier than they could manage otherwise.
It must be said though that it is still distinctly more an off-road machine than the multi-cylinder adventure bikes. Thus travels that are predominantly tarmac based are always going to be better suited to the larger machines in the class, for both the longevity and obvious comfort benefits that the more touring oriented machines bring to the party.
The other barrier for the 701 Enduro LR is going to be price… Husqvarna Enduro machines are all priced as premium options in the market place. That doesn’t seem to hurt their sales in the two-stroke hard enduro side of the market, or with their high-performance four-stroke enduro bikes. By the time their competition based enduro bikes are registered they are up on the wrong side of the 15k barrier. It is highly likely that the 701 Enduro LR will be priced a little higher again…
For the same money you will probably be able to take home two DR 650 Suzuki machines! Or fully farkle up a DR650 complete with a fuel tank that would give it a range to rival the 701 Enduro LR. Performance wise though it would be like comparing a Royal Enfield with a Ducati.
Despite weighing about the same, the 701 Husky makes almost twice as much power as the venerable best selling Suzuki and is of a much higher specification throughout suspension, brakes, instrumentation, electronics etc. I guess it just depends on what price you put on performance…?
Then there is Honda’s CRF450L which is a huge step up in performance from the DR650, especially with a few little tweaks, and can also be fitted with a long-range tank along with a more comfortable seat and has very long intervals between major services. The Honda sits somewhere in the middle, both price-wise and on a performance basis between the DR650 and something like the 701 Enduro, but is a fair bit lighter than both.
As a turn-key option as they roll off the showroom floor though the Husqvarna 701 Enduro LR ticks more boxes than any of its rivals. Just a pity the box is going to be a bit spendy in the first place… The actual price is yet to be set but we are reliably informed that first stocks of the new machine are expected to arrive in May.
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