Quick Spin – Hard Kits 700RR | Bike Tests | Latest Tests
Nothing resonates like a big-bore single across the outback.
On conception, trail bikes were clones except for the colour: red, blue, yellow or green. It was here in the land down under that these machines first met the outback. The Honda XL600 sprouted a small screen and became the Dominator, the Yamaha XT600 became the Ténéré and grew a cult following. The Suzuki DR650 and KLR650 just kept on keeping on. But all became known as adventure bikes. Then along came the real thing.
Weighing in at 160kg with a 26-litre fuel tank and 300mm of suspension travel the KTM640 Adventure provided off-road performance way above the competition – with a seat height to match. Strangely, the Adventure was discontinued, and the last owner rode into the sunset in 2007.
Fast-forward a few years and along came the KTM690 Enduro R, but no adventure variant was forthcoming. According to KTM’s Greg Chambers “The Enduro R is an amazing adventure bike platform but needs additional fuel capacity and wind protection. As Australia is one of the few nations to use it as a true adventure bike it’s not viable to tool up for such low volume.” Conceived in 2011, the Hard Kits 700RR, the product of 24 months intense development, is the perfect solution.
The overall concept and shape, typified by the low-slung exhaust, rally-inspired fairing and nav tower, carbon-fibre bashplate and aggressive stance, the 700RR replicates the $50,000 rally bike. However, the fuel tanks had to be moulded into the original 690 fuel tank, seat and airbox while allowing sufficient airflow through the radiators. The result provides a fuel capacity of more than 30 litres and a much lower centre of gravity. Over 300 individual parts comprise the complete kit which will set you back $6890 – still a bargain compared to the prices of twin-cylinder adventure bikes.
As a sometime commuter, the Hard Kits 700RR is docile enough to get the job done, but you’ll appear a touch pretentious in the ’burbs. In the bush there’s nary a single trail that would defeat the Hard Kits’ capabilities.
It’s out beyond the black stump that the 700RR comes in to its own. Cruising at 120km/h plus on the Strzelecki Track or nailing the nasty whoops and trenches of the Old Gunbarrel Highway is where this bike shines. The fairing provides excellent protection from suicidal macropods and the wide carbon-fibre bashplate returns bouncing rocks quicker than Roger Federer.
The standard seat from the Kato 690 is comfortable, however, if you plan to test the 500km fuel range then modifying the saddle might be in order. On such a ride you’ll find the 700RR the perfect blend of comfort, balance, high speed stability, refuge from the elements and, should you need it, crash protection. As Greg Chambers says “There are other options available but it’s great to see an Aussie company providing such a great product.”
Head turning looks
Pillion needs a bravery award
TEST AND PHOTOGRAPHY: Peter Whitaker