Aprilia RS 660 offers more in the middle

Italian motorcycle brand’s new middle-weight, all-rounder sportsbike launches in Singapore today, from S$28k OTR

Photos by Derryn Wong

SINGAPORE – Aprilia’s new middle-weight sports bike, the RS 660, is in town with a machine price of S$27,142.20. That’s how much it costs to put the new middleweight sportsbike on the road here, minus Certificate Of Entitlement (COE) and insurance.

While the RS 660 borrows heavily from the RSV4 superbike in terms of its front-end styling, it’s not a hardcore race-rep. In fact, the ‘660’ tag might make you think it’s a supersport 600, but it’s not.

Aprilia touts the bike as an everyday sportsbike. Ducati’s Supersport is the most similar Italian machine, with a fairing and sports genes but more expensive, while Honda’s CBR 650R is a closer rival.

Like those bikes, the RS 660 aims to pair enjoyable handling with relatively sane ergonomics.

The seating position is less punishing on the wrists, with wide and relatively high handlebars (thanks to small risers on the front forks’ top yoke), and from a brief sit-on at the bike’s socially-distanced media launch tonight, the riding position doesn’t feel cramped. 

Despite that, there are wings on the fairings that Aprilia says are good for high-speed stability, and the saddle arrangement is effectively mono-posto: if someone will ride pillion on the Aprilia with you for more than 20 minutes, it will be because of true love.

If you like the RSV4’s styling, you’ll love the three-element LED headlights on the RS 660. There’s a distinctive daytime-running light design, the bike comes with cornering lights (activated by a lean-angle sensor) and the turn signal lamps are integrated — note the lack of signal stalks. There’s also a full-colour TFT display for the dash. 

Lava Red (left) and Apex Black (right)

Local dealer Mah Pte Ltd says the Apex Black and Lava Red colour schemes are already in Singapore, with the eye-catching Acid Gold version due to hit town in March or April.

The RS 660 is built around a new parallel-twin engine that displaces 659cc and puts out 100 horsepower at 10,500rpm. The Euro 5-compliant twin looks torquey on paper, with 67 Newton-metres available at 8,500rpm, and with a 270-degree crank (like BMW’s F 900 range of twins) it sounds properly rumbly.

It even has some pedigree – it’s essentially the RSV4’s 1,100cc V4, halved. Trackyday heroes can switch the linkage on the six-speed manual gearbox to reverse the shift direction, for MotoGP-style down-for-upshifts action.

Up-down quickshift as standard

The bike itself weighs just 183kg with fluids (the more track-focused Yamaha R6 is slightly heavier, for reference), so those hundred horses should count for a lot in terms of acceleration.

Aprilia also paid lots of attention to aerodynamics – the bike has a ‘double-wall’ fairing with small winglets to not only smoothen the airflow and make you go quicker, but also to carry hot air away from the rider.

On the flipside, the braking set-up looks similarly up to it: the front gets two 320mm rotors with twin-pot calipers from Brembo, radially mounted, while the back has a 220mm rotor. Braided hoses are standard.

As for the suspension, the Aprilia gets upside-down Kayaba forks adjustable for rebound, compression and preload, with an asymmetrical swingarm for the rear, with rebound and preload adjustment. 

While the basics of the chassis look fairly sorted, and suggest an agile bike, the RS 660 goes big with rider aids, facilitated by new-gen electronics and a six-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU). All the electronics are integrated — brake hard, for example, and all four signal lamps blink to signal others that you’re making an emergency stop.

The digital firepower means the RS 660 comes with Aprilia Performance Ride Control (or APRC), a suite of features designed to either save your bacon if you cock up a corner, or help with your next time attack at the track.

APRC includes wheelie control that prevents embarrassing backflips but also intervenes to let the front wheel touch down more gently. There’s cornering ABS, which apparently lets you squeeze the front brake without going down, even if you’re leant over mid-corner. On the flipside, the bike also has traction control — adjustable, naturally, because some people apparently want more slidey tail action than others.

Another useful feature is the quickshifter system that lets you slam up and down the gearbox without using the clutch lever. 

Something called Aprilia Engine Brake apparently controls engine braking (who could have guessed?) when you shut the throttle, and lets you adjust it to three levels. That’s something we’ve only seen on some Ducatis so far, and track fiends apparently find it useful.

On the more relaxed side of things, cruise control lets the bike sit at a given speed automatically, for those lengthy stretches on the highway when you’re touring — Aprilia claims you should be able to squeeze just over 300km out of the 15-litre tank.

Lastly, the RS 660 comes with engine mapping, to let you tame the engine’s power for wet conditions, or make it more aggressive for sporty or track riding. Aprilia has five riding modes for the bike, with Commute and Dynamic for road riding (along with a customisable Individual setting), and Challenge and the fully adjustable Time Attack modes for the track.

As hardcore as the above makes the RS 660 sound, it’s meant to be a bike that you can live with on the street, though the more road-focused Tuono 660 version is already on sale in Europe. 

Mr Simone Niccolai – Managing director of Piaggio Asia-Pacific demonstrates the
friendly ergonomics of the RS 660

Simone Niccolai, the managing director of Piaggio Asia Pacific (the Piaggio Group owns the Aprilia brand), said at the media launch that the RS 660 takes Aprilia into the middleweight class that it previously left to other brands. It also gives riders making the climb from the 400cc-class of bike something to step up to in terms of performance and rider assistance tech, without jumping straight into the RSV4 1100’s segment, where deep pockets and lots of space in the trousers for huge plums are necessary.

“It’s also a platform for us to develop new products,” Mr Niccolai said, so expect a number of variants to follow beyond the Tuono 660. A mid-weight adventure bike, the Tuareg, is in the pipeline and will use the parallel twin found in the RS 660.

Meanwhile, middleweight bikes like the new Aprilia have to satisfy a broad range of characteristics to work: fun to ride, easy to manage, well-equipped and affordable. We’ll have to grab the keys and suit up to determine the first two, but the rest is already there.

about the author

Leow Ju-Len
Leow Ju-Len is a lot older than he behaves. He's been writing about cars for 23 years. Someday he might do it coherently. Ju-Len believes in world peace and V8s, but not necessarily in that order.