Are Aprilia Motorcycles Reliable – Aprilia RS 660 is a new type of sports motorcycle. Honestly, someone had to build it.
Sports bike sales have bombed over the past decade and it’s easy to see why. Many of us love the idea of owning one, but as they get more extreme, more powerful, physically smaller and more expensive, the reality becomes more difficult. The RS 660 costs more than we expected, but when you dig inside you quickly realize you’re getting a lot of machine for your money.
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It ticks all the boxes for a sports bike as it’s fast, fun and feels like a mini RSV4 superbike in the corners. It’s packed with technology and looks just like a high-end competitor, but best of all, it’s easy to live with.
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The power is usable, the riding position is comfortable, and it’s great for moving up the sportbike ladder for new riders, not to mention the rest of us who want the thrill of a sportbike without the pain.
Today we ride Aprilia’s 99bhp, 183kg, £10,149 RS660.Could this really be the sports bike we need for the road? Who’s really pushing their revisions and what kind of tall rider is freaking out at the tail end of the race? This can be a biscuit. pic.twitter.com/SANm7tdKJN — Michael Neeves (@Neevesy33) October 10, 2020
If all you need is the high-octane buzz of a supersport or superbike, the RS 660 might seem heavy at first, but bear with me when it gets under your skin.
The excitement is presented in a more subtle way, and the excitement comes not from a top speed or the chance to set a lap record, but from the joy of accelerating and accelerating to 100 mph.
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The way it clings to corners like your favorite cozy blanket is a feature it shares with its bigger sisters, the RSV4 and Tuono. Aprilia has always known how to make a bike handle and they sprinkle the same magic on the RS 660.
Simple, narrow and dim, precise, balanced and manages with simple fingertip precision. It never feels stiff or uncomfortable, it’s light, confidence-inspiring, calm and soothing. The way the power is delivered never overwhelms the handling or stresses the rear wheel, leaving you to kick in and enjoy the ride.
The suspension may not have the finesse and control of Ohlins (there will definitely be a factory version in the future), but the adjustable shocks and Kayaba forks do their job perfectly on all types of road surfaces, whether fast or slow.
Brembo engines aren’t the latest and greatest, but they might as well be, and they have the feel, power and confidence that many high-end superbikes struggle to achieve. The Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II tires are the best tires you can put on these track tires, so grip is never a problem. However, our long-term test bike noticed that the rear end started to straighten after about 2,900 miles.
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Now we come to what makes the RS 660 special: the driving position. How many times have you wished someone would make a proper sports bike that regular people could actually ride? So here it is.
The riding position is inspired by the RSV4, but it’s a relief to know it’s halfway between superbike and sport tourer, so your joints, knees, back and neck won’t take a beating after a long ride.
The seat is comfortable, the pegs are low (ground clearance doesn’t hurt) and the knees are nicely butted together for added control, thanks to the Aprilia only having two cylinders. The thighs fit snugly under the tank’s sculpted fenders and the raised fenders aren’t too sloppy, designed like a modern racing bike to give you room to move.
All practical functions are also taken care of, with working mirrors, light controls, a screen that is enough to protect the wind from tall drivers and a low seat height for those with short legs.
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It is no coincidence that the RS 660 is light and tightly packed, and everything was achieved without resorting to special materials. That’s harder to do when you have to cut costs than if you have a checkbook to produce a £90k Ducati Superleggera V4.
Aprilia has briefly turned the RS 660 into a model that will only be shown at the EICMA show at the end of 2018.
To keep the chassis light, the parallel-twin engine is a stressed frame member attached to the rear by a swing-arm bracket. It’s not just the comfort of pleasure, but the engine is half RSV4, very compact to be easily used and retrofitted to Aprilia’s new generation 660 model.
Lighting focuses on a lithium battery, lightweight wheels (3.56kg front, 5.38kg rear) and a slim subframe that’s 16mm narrower than the RSV4 and weighs just 1.98kg, but strong enough to carry a passenger and luggage.
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Even the license plate holder gets the Weight Watchers treatment. It is a one-piece replacement for a two-piece plastic case with a carbon fiber core and weighs only 210 grams.
Aprilia managed to fit two thick exhaust pipes, a Euro5 header box and a muffler nicely under the engine for better weight distribution and a lower center of gravity. Its weight is only 6.2 kg.
The first of a new generation of Aprilia electronics, the RS 660 uses a more powerful Marelli 11MP ECU, replacing the 7SM found in the RSV4 and Tuono. It controls everything from throttle by wire, tilt driver assist, and headlights to cornering and self-cancelling indicators.
The RS660 has three standard driving modes (‘Transport’, ‘Dynamic’ and customizable ‘Individual’), three engine maps, engine brake and cornering ABS settings, eight levels of traction control, wheel control (can be switched off), cruise control and additional Pitlane. Limit and two additional driving modes (Challenge and Time Attack).
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At its heart is a 99 hp, 659 cc parallel-twin engine (there’s also a 94 hp A2-adapted version) with a 270-degree crankshaft. It’s basically the front half of the V4 RSV4 1100 with the same 81mm bore and longer 63.93mm stroke (up from 52.3mm).
It’s a cute little number with a sweet shift and a simple clutch, but it’s perfect for life on the road. You’ll be seeing more of this engine in the coming months as it powers the adventure-looking Tuono and Touareg versions.
Power is delivered flawlessly at city speeds and flows seamlessly all the way up to 10,500rpm when you want to rev. Stay long enough that it’s hard to see above 140 km/h.
Coming out of a corner, just 4000rpm appears on the tech (where it makes 80% of its peak torque) and things get positively fruitful after 6200rpm, with sportbike-like speed and the exhaust note moving in stronger than the revving Moto3’s sharp V-twin with bass sauce.
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On the road, you’ll never be dancing on the gear lever for power, because there’s plenty of it, and it’s so light (only 183kg wet) that it doesn’t need much to push it anyway.
The RS 660’s crown jewel is the electronic driver assist, which, along with the tasteful chassis components, sets it apart from its low-end Japanese rivals.
Up/down is smooth as a fast driver and the cruise control is a godsend on highways and obeying the speed limit.
The new color panel is bright, clear and easy to read, and the switches are easy to operate, but the giant switch on the left hand is a little small, and the high-beam switch is too stuck, it’s easy. Turn it on accidentally.
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Ride modes, traction, wheel and engine braking controls are almost irrelevant to the experienced rider on a humble bike, but it never hurts to have the ability to make things safer and more compliant in uncertain situations.
But for the more experienced, the thrill of a sports bike is a no-brainer with a smoothly functioning electronic safety net.
Riding the well-refined pre-production launch bikes, we experienced a few issues with starting and flashing engine warning lights, but Aprilia assured us that these were minor software glitches and would be resolved before full production.
Our first drive of the production version on UK roads didn’t present any glaring issues, although tester John Urry said “there are a few places on the RS 660 that look budget”.
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We were hoping the RS 660 would be a bit cheaper, but when you look at the specs and performance, you get a lot of sport bike for the money.
Think of it this way: it’s less than half the factory price of the RSV4 1100 and is arguably the best road bike around. The Aprilia is more expensive than softer Japanese sports bikes such as the Honda CBR650R (£7,949) as well as the more powerful traditional supersport Kawasaki ZX-6R (£9,699). But it’s significantly cheaper than the Yamaha R6 (£12,221) and the MV Agusta F3 675 (around £14,000).
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