First ride on Aprilia’s new middleweight marvel, the RS 660 unveiled two years ago in prototype form at the 2018 EICMA Show, and now in production for global distribution
Ever since Aprilia displayed its RS660 concept bike at the November 2018 EICMA Milan Show, the longed-for production version of this sexy-looking SuperTwin has been top of their what-if wishlist for thousands of potential customers all over the world. Last year’s Milan Show saw the production version of this delightful dreambike duly unveiled, seemingly scarcely any different than that tantalising first taste of affordable performance combined with designer looks, whose specification and appearance coupled with its compact build - heralds this as the modern day successor to the legendary RS250 ring-ding two-stroke racer-withlights, which was so sadly legislated out of existence back in 2004.
But now, just two years since that first glimpse of the promised land, Aprilia is set to begin deliveries in November of a model which represents a new direction for streetlegal sportsbikes. Retailing in Italy at €11,050 incl. 22% local tax, the RS660 costs less than half the price of the RSV4 1100 it’s derived from. But in real world terms it’s infinitely more accessible, and arguably just as thrilling to ride, even - or maybe especially – for more experienced riders, for whom the thrill of maxing out turn speed and optimising such a bike’s handling capabilities, is much more of a buzz in real world terms than simply opening the throttle wide open and holding on tight.
Yet the RS660 also excels by offering relative newbies or older returnees the chance to expand their horizons in riding terms on a bike that is far from intimidating, simply enjoyable to be on. Delivering a claimed 100 bhp/73kW at 10,500 rpm while weighing just 169kg dry (or 183kg fully loaded with 15 litres of fuel), with peak torque of 67Nm on tap at 8,500 rpm, the Aprilia RS660 establishes a middleweight twin line in the sand that no other manufacturer has yet drawn.
But the Aprilia RS660 is here and now as a considerable step up from anything else in the increasingly significant 650-800cc twin-cylinder sector that’s now being tussled over by twelve different manufacturers, The chance to spend a day getting acquainted with a pre-production model at the press launch held high in the Dolomite Mountains north of Aprilia’s Noale HQ outside Venice, revealed a bike that rewrites the script for sporting streetbikes, in proving that the old cliché that less can indeed be more still has some validity, after all.
For while the dynamic excellence of its engine performance and handling qualities are standout features, in a way the single most distinctive element in the RS660’s makeup is its ultra-rational riding position and overall architecture. For this is a twin which thinks it’s a single, thanks to its svelte, slim build, centralised mass and short 1370mm wheelbase, which translates into nimble handling and agile steering, yet without sacrificing stability either on fast sweeping turns, or under the excellent braking delivered by its Brembo brake package. Yet you have no sense when sitting aboard its 820mm-high seat that the RS660 is in any way cramped, or that you’re sitting perched atop it like on a more extreme 600 four or 675 triple Supersport contender, which until now has represented the pointy end of the middleweight sportbike sector.
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