Ultra-accessible performance of this true all-round model is certain to deliver satisfaction to riders of all levels of experience, while being completely versatile on road and off
Aprilia’s RS660/Tuono 660 middleweight duo have been the standout sellers from any European brand in 2021 in the ever more hotly contested 600-800cc middleweight sector fought over by more than a dozen different manufacturers from East and West. That’s a sector that until quite recently was dominated by increasingly more extreme 600/675cc Supersport models – but now a cocktail of insurance costs, speed cameras and good old fashioned common sense has sidelined these road-legal race replica rocketships to the race track where they rationally belong, and alongside the Naked roadsters that have provided an increasingly popular real world alternative to them, another segment is increasingly taking off in the middleweight marketplace. Dual purpose adventure bikes are the flavour of the moment, and while there will probably always be a market for two-wheeled Range Rovers like the BMW R1250GS, Ducati Multistrada and Honda’s Africa Twin, the real growth in the go-anywhere market is in that 600800cc midsize sector.
Now, in a challenge to Yamaha’s segment leading Tenere 700 mini adventure bike with its MT-07 parallel-twin motor, Aprilia has launched the Tuareg 660 – named after the nomadic North African people whose salt caravans crisscross the Sahara Desert, and a hallowed Aprilia model name since the mid-‘80s rather than VW’s SUV, which copied Aprilia by adopting the name only in 2002! This will be unveiled in public at the Milan EICMA Show later this month, and will be in dealer showrooms immediately thereafter. It’s available in three different colours, with the Acid Gold and Martian Red versions both costing €11,990 in Italy incl. 22% local tax, and the multicolour Indaco Tagelmust livery (a Tagelmust is apparently the cotton headscarf worn by the Tuareg, while Indaco is Indigo in their language) that’s apparently inspired by the colour scheme of the 1988 Tuareg Wind 600, retailing at €12,270 incl. tax. Contrast that with the €10,249 sticker price of the Tenere 700 in Italy. A 47bhp/35kW restricted power version will also be available for A2 licence holders.
Anyone much over the age of 40 is likely to be surprised if you tell them Aprilia was originally an offroad brand, more concerned with leavening its range of 50/125cc urban runarounds with World title-winning Trials bikes and a seriously capable range of Rotax-powered Enduro singles in various capacities up to 600cc, than ever going racing on the hard stuff. Indeed, company owner Ivano Beggio was a dirt biker himself, whose proudest moment for many years came in 1977 when his rider Ivan Alborghetti defeated the might of Japan Inc. as well as all Beggio’s Italian rivals, to win both the hard-fought Italian 125 and 250 cc Motocross championships in the same year on Aprilias. That’s quite an achievement – he must have been super-fit!
Indeed, it wasn’t until 1986 that the Aprilia name first appeared on a road racer, and then only on Loris Reggiani’s one-off 250GP entry powered by a Rotax tandem-twin motor. But after Loris won the 1988 San Marino GP to register the first of 294 Aprilia Grand Prix race victories, gradually thereafter the focus shifted, and the remainder of the 54 World Championships won up to now by Aprilia riders after Tommy Ahvala’s 1992 World Trials title all came in road racing, essentially rationalising the strategic decision to build a company better known today for its scooters, road bikes and road racing success. Still, the Enduro range of Tuareg 50/125cc two-strokes and 350/600cc four-stroke singles launched in 1985 helped Aprilia build a reputation for style and solidity, with the range-topping Rotax-powered 562cc single underpinning Beggio’s dream of competing in the Paris-Dakar rally. In 1989 a factory Aprilia Tuareg 600 did just that, finishing 20th – but that was the one and only time Aprilia entered the North African classic, and in 1994 the Tuareg was replaced in the company’s range by the more soft-centered dual-purpose Pegaso models.
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