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2001 KTM 640 SupermotoMSE Ratings

2001 KTM 640 SupermotoMany people who see this bike always confuse it with the Duke so let\'s set this straight. The Duke is a heavier and more street orientated Supermoto.

AddedDate Added: 7th September 2001
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Editor Contributor's Review

If the Duke is a greyhound, the 640SM is the hare, occasionally caught, but mostly in the lead. Remember; with only 50 horsepower, excess poundage is your enemy. This bike also doesn\'t enjoy the cozy low seat that the Duke has. This bike is a dealer option flying stepladder set-up. The factory basically takes a stock and very capable LC4 640 dual-sport bike and adds a set of 4.25-inch rear and 3.50 inch front Behr rims. Voila...whoops, I mean, there you are, Instant Supermoto.

A set of Pirelli MT60\'s are then spooned on for street duties. They are a cross between a dirt knobby and a rain tire. They are very sticky, albeit a little unnerving at first, with a lot of flexing caused by the raised tread. The rims, naturally, are wide enough to spoon on some seriously sticky DOT race rubber though, if that\'s what you like. The front gains a nice 300mm rotor that has laser cut "floaters" that reduce the chance of warpage. This bike takes you to stoppie heaven and back, especially with the stock steel braided lines. The suspension is adjusted to provide sportbike like sag settings and although the front is a little soft, it does give quite excellent feedback and gives remarkably good handling. The long travel suspension really teaches you to provide smoother inputs on both braking and acceleration. Not a bad thing, I suspect.

Turn in is a mere thought away due to the leverage afforded by its MX style bars. You might have trouble dragging a toe or knee on this bike due to its positively step ladder like height, but it\'s purely a mental thing. There\'s no problems in the handling department at all. It \'andles like it\'s on rails, Guv!

Due to some seriously sticky tires, in this case provided by those generous chaps at Pirelli who gave us some quite exquisite, black and very round MT22/21\'s. Warm up time was almost zero. They stuck when cold, they stuck when hot and stuck when partly worn, in fact they just plain stuck.

The front was a very Soft MTR-21 Corse race only, a bit of an overkill, but in the land of perpetual stoppies, very comforting for your, err.. comfort. The rear was the MTR-22, which for a street tire was pretty tacky too. Soft enough to down your knees but not so soft as to square off whilst doing your daily chores, like trying to back it into your subdivision. ( I have the homeowners Association complaint letters to prove it.).

Actually, that\'s one major area where you\'re not a do goody like our Mr Bronson. This bike takes you to hooligan-ville and back. It\'s an easy bike to sneak by the local constabulary though. I mean, who would expect a nice looking "dirt" bike to behave so irresponsibly on the Streets of Anytown,USA? Fortunately, when you ride this bike, you\'re not the usual suspect. This bike proved itself over and over to be a wolf in sheep\'s clothing. On my local Sunday ride, I can always see the suppressed giggles from the uneducated, but the giggles always turn into admiration when they see how she performs in the twisty bits, especially the type of road that\'s tight or that is maybe a little broken up. With a nice set of stickies on, you can positively sniff out that grip. If your average CB/FZ/ZX riding squid gets a slide out of their fully faired garbage can clad 600cc sumfingorother, he\'s going to scare himself silly and/or crash. Get a slide out of this and you find your self shouting inside your helmet with glee. OK, maybe it\'s just me.

The bike has taller gearing than the stock enduro LC, this is definitely out of sympathy for the single cylinder engine and the higher revving duty that it\'ll have to perform on the street. Vibration is not really that bad either, certainly less than a Harley, and at least people wave at you when you ride this. OK, so it\'s not sewing machine smooth, but this thing has living breathing character and you won\'t see many riding by in the opposite direction.

Can you say tire spin? I thought you could. The differences that you see in these pictures are between a stock 2001 640 SM and a slightly warmed over version (mine). The stock bike is most capable in all departments \'cept the engine breathing one. Due to our environmentally conscious government, we SM rider\'s enjoy all the same normal EPA fun delimiting devices. Due to the fact that I am not normal, and of course, due to the 50 horsepower that I lose out to from the usual 600cc sportbike brothers, a little "fettling" was in order...

It needed a little boost. This came in the form of a Keihin FCR41mm Flatside and a Supertrapp IDS2 exhaust. The differences, after properly setting the bike up on a Factory Eddy Dyno, complete with exhaust gas analyzer, were pretty substantial. After properly jetting the Katoom on the dyno, we got an extra 9 gee gee\'s and the corresponding leap in torque. The bike leapt from a limp wristed 43bhp to a six pack style 52 and a bit. All for just over $60 a horse. This does however, make the bike illegal in the eyes of EPA law, so I never rode the bike on a public highway ever again, honest.

By the way, all this extra oomph enabled me to gear taller too. I went from the stock 15/42 to 15/38. A bit of an overkill I agree, but I knew that for engine longevity\'s sake, that taller gear would stop me from thrashing the pants off of the old girl on some of Florida\'s legendary straights. In retrospect, 15/40 would have sufficed.

All right, this bike is not for everyone, but I think you would surprise yourself how quick you can hustle one of these around in relative safety. I mean getting your jollies on a 130bhp+ bike is all well and good, but eventually the bike starts riding you, instead of you it. Speed is relative (and all that), and if you live anywhere near a twisty canyon (or race track) you owe it to yourself to pinch a ride on one of these and see what all the fuss is about.

You\'ll probably love it - In fact, I\'ll bet your drivers license on it!

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