APRILIA RS660 (2021 - on) Review
- Goes, handles and excites like a sportsbike
- Comfy like a sports tourer
- Lots of tech
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
The Aprilia RS660 is a new kind of sportsbike. Let’s face it, someone had to build one.
- Latest news: Naked Aprilia Tuono 660 revealed
- Latest news: Aprilia Tuareg 660 adventure bike unveiled
- Related: Best motorbikes of 2021
Sportsbike sales have bombed over the past decade and it’s easy to see why. Lots of us love the idea of owning one, but the reality gets ever harder as they become more extreme, powerful, physically smaller and expensive. The RS660 costs more than we’d hoped, but when you dig down you quickly realise you get a lot of machine for your money.
It ticks all the sportsbike boxes by being fast, exciting and feeling like a mini RSV4 superbike in the corners. It’s crammed with tech and looks just like a cutting-edge race rep should, but crucially it’s easy to live with.
Power is usable, the riding position is comfortable and it’s the perfect to step up the sportsbike ladder for newer riders, not to mention for the rest of us who still want the thrill of a sportsbike without the aches and pains.
We’re riding Aprilia’s 99bhp, 183kg, £10,149 RS660 today. Could this be the sportsbike we actually want for the road? Who really uses the top end of their revs and what tall rider actually being crunched up on a race rep? This could be a cracker. pic.twitter.com/SANm7tdKJN— Michael Neeves (@Neevesy33) October 10, 2020
Watch our Aprilia RS660 video review:
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
If only the high-octane buzz of a supersport or superbike will do, the RS660 might feel lacking at first, but bear with it because it gets under your skin.
Its thrills are delivered in more subtle way and the excitement comes not from top speed or the ability to set lap records, but the exhilaration you get from sub 100mph acceleration and carrying momentum.
The way it clings to corners like its favourite comfort blanket is a trait is shares with its bigger RSV4 and Tuono sisters. Aprilia have always known how to make a bike handle and they’ve sprinkled the same magic on the RS660.
Light, narrow and nimble it’s precise, balanced and steers with fingertip light precision. It never feels stiff or awkward, just easy, confidence inspiring, stable and flattering. The way the power is delivered never dominates the handling or stresses the rear tyre, which leaves you to just get on and enjoy the ride.
Suspension might not have Öhlins-like plushness and control (there’ll surely be a Factory version in the future), but its adjustable shock and Kayaba forks do their jobs perfectly over all kinds of road surface, fast or slow.
Brembos aren’t the latest and greatest, but they may as well be and have the kind feel, power and confidence that many top superbikes struggle to pull off. Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa IIs are just about the stickiest rubber you can fit this side of a trackday tyre, so there’s never a problem with grip either.
Now we’re coming to what makes the RS660 so special: it’s riding position. How many times have you wished someone would just make a proper sportsbike that normal people can actually fit on? Well here it is.
The riding position takes its inspiration from the RSV4, but it’s a relief to find that its actually halfway between a superbike and sports tourer, so wrists, knees, back and neck don’t take a battering after a long ride.
The seat is comfy, pegs are low (ground clearance doesn’t suffer) and knees are nicely close together for extra control, thanks to the Aprilia being just two cylinders wide. Thighs fit snuggly beneath the sculpted tank wings and it’s not too much of a stoop to its raised clip-ons, which are set wide like a modern race bike’s to give you room to move around.
All practical stuff is taken care of, too, with mirrors that work, light controls, a screen that’s high enough to keep the wind off tall riders and a low seat height for those short in the leg.
How Aprilia have squeezed a lot into a very small space
It’s no accident the RS660 is light and tightly packaged and it’s all been achieved without resorting to exotic materials. That’s harder to do when you’ve got to keep costs down than when you’ve got an open cheque book to produce a £90k Ducati Superleggera V4.
Aprilia have also turned the RS660 around in a very short space of time with a mock-up only being shown at EICMA show at the end of 2018.
To keep the chassis simple its parallel twin motor is a stressed member of the ali beam frame with the swingarm bolted to the back. It isn’t just a happy convenience, the engine is half an RSV4, it’s so compact it can be easily be used and repackaged to power Aprilia’s new generation 660 models.
Attention to lightness goes right down to its lithium battery, lightweight wheels (3.56kg front, 5.38kg rear) and a slimline subframe, which is 16mm narrower than the RSV4’s and weighs just 1.98kg, but strong enough to carry a pillion and luggage.
Even the numberplate holder gets the Weight Watchers treatment. It’s a one, instead of two-piece plastic item with a carbon fibre core and weighs just 210 grams.
Aprilia have managed to squeeze two chunky exhaust headers, a cat packed Euro5 collector box and silencer neatly under the engine for optimum weight distribution and low centre of gravity. It weighs just 6.2kg.
The first of a new generation of Aprilia electronics, the RS660 uses a more powerful Marelli 11MP ECU, replacing the 7SM found in the RSV4 and Tuono. It controls everything from the ride-by-wire throttle, lean sensitive rider aids and even cornering headlights and self-cancelling indicators.
The RS660 has three standard riding modes (‘Commute’, ‘Dynamic’ and a customisable ‘Individual’), three engine maps, engine brake and cornering ABS settings, eight levels of traction control, wheelie control (which can be switched off), cruise control and an optional pitlane limiter and two more riding modes (Challenge and Time Attack).
EngineNext up: Reliability
At its heart lies a 99bhp, 659cc parallel twin-cylinder motor (there’s also A2-friendly 94bhp version) with a 270-degree crank. It’s essentially the front half of a V4 RSV4 1100 with the same 81mm bore and a longer 63.93mm stroke (up from 52.3mm).
It’s a perky little number with a sweet gearbox and light clutch but it’s tuned very much for life on the road. You’ll be seeing a lot of this engine over the coming months, as it will be powering the Tuono version and adventure styled Tuareg.
Power is delivered impeccably at town speeds and flows seamlessly to its 10,500rpm peak when you want to get a wriggle on. Tuck in for long enough it wouldn’t be hard to see over 140mph on the clock.
It punches out of corners with as little as 4000rpm showing on the tacho (where it makes 80% of its maximum torque) and things gets positively fruity past 6200rpm where it accelerates like a sportsbike should and the exhaust note flips from droning Moto3 to hard-edged, bass-infused V-twin.
Aprilia RS660 growler pic.twitter.com/qCBkQdOhSJ— Michael Neeves (@Neevesy33) October 10, 2020
On the road you’ll never be dancing on the gear lever in search of power, because there’s plenty of it and being so light (just 183kg wet) it doesn’t need much to push it along anyway.
The RS660’s crowning glory is its electronic rider aids, which along with its tasty chassis parts sets it apart from its lower-spec Japanese rivals.
The up/down quickshifter is as slick as they come and its cruise control is a godsend on motorways and for keeping to speed limits.
The new colour dash is bright, clear and easy to read and the switches easy to operate, but its huge left switchgear block is a bit of an eyesore and the high beam switch juts out so far, it’s easy to keep flicking it on by accident.
Rider modes, traction, wheelie and engine braking control are almost an irrelevance to an experienced rider on a bike with modest power, but it never hurts to have the ability to make things safer and more docile in dodgy conditions.
But for the less experienced an electronic safety net that works so smoothly, as they discover the joys of a sportsbike, is a no-brainer.
To find out more about Aprilia's 660 engine tech, click here.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
Riding pre-production launch bikes, which were well finished, we did have a few starting problems and engine warning lights flashing, but Aprilia assure us they’re minor software glitches and will be sorted before full production begins.
Our first ride of a production version on UK roads didn't present us with any obvious problems, although tester Jon Urry does state that "there are a few areas that look budget on the RS660".
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
We were hoping the RS660 would be slightly cheaper, but when you look at its spec and performance you get a lot of sportsbike for the money.
Think if it this way: it’s less than half the price of an RSV4 1100 Factory and is arguably a better road bike. The Aprilia is considerably more expensive than its softer, lower-spec Japanese sportsbike rivals like the Honda CBR650R (£7949) and also the higher-powered traditional supersport Kawasaki ZX-6R (£9699). But it's considerably cheaper than the Yamaha R6 (£12,221) and MV Agusta F3 675 (around £14,000).
Group test video: Aprilia RS660 vs Honda CBR650R vs MV Agusta F3 675
Many riders have turned away from sportsbikes because the current crop are just too focused, but the RS660 could be the bike to change that. When you take into account the consequences of being caught speeding, the concentration required to ride litre bikes and the brutality of 200bhp, you can see why many have simply lost the love.
Even colleague Bruce, who races and has grown up on sportsbikes, freely admits that despite having access to a 2020 Fireblade this year he wasn’t tempted to take it out onroad due to its aggressive nature.
By building a middleweight bike that can be viewed as a proper sportsbike thanks to the quality of its electronics and chassis and then arming it with a motor producing more than enough power for road riding, Aprilia have given the RS660 credibility that many middleweight rivals lack. There are a few compromises, most noticeably the shock, but overall it delivers a lovely balance of performance and handling that makes it fun. Owning an RS660 won’t feel like a downwards step.
You have chosen to own a smaller capacity sportsbike and you can hold your head up high at any bike meet. That motor, that gearing, that torque, those electronics and even the looks, it ticks every box and is an absolute blast to ride!
The RS660 comes with electronics galore: adjustable traction, wheelie and engine braking control, power maps, up/down quickshifter, cruise control, riding modes and a multi-function colour dash (with fuel gauge).
You also get Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II tyres, adjustable Kayaba forks, Brembo calipers and cornering LED headlights (dipped beam comes on automatically in low light), LED daytime running lights and self-cancelling indicators.
Just like its flagship models Aprilia have produced a full range of performance, touring and cosmetic accessories, from a full Akrapovic exhaust system, single seat cowl, software to activate a pitlane limiter and the electronics for a race pattern shift, billet ali levers, carbon number plate holder and wheel stickers.
Sculpted bodywork has built-in RSV4-like wings that look the part, but they’re not exactly needed at road speeds, but the double-skinned fairing helps to keep the RS660 cool to make life more comfortable for the rider in the heat.
It comes in three funky satin paint jobs: a black one with bright red wheels, a Cadbury’s blue and gloss red one and an ‘acid gold’ one.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled, 8-valve, parallel twin|
|Frame type||Aluminium twin spar|
|Fuel capacity||15 litres|
|Front suspension||KYB 41mm forks, fully adjustable|
|Rear suspension||Single shock, fully adjustable|
|Front brake||2 x 320mm front discs with four-piston Brembo radial calipers. Cornering ABS|
|Rear brake||220mm disc with twin-piston caliper. Cornering ABS|
|Front tyre size||120/70 x 17|
|Rear tyre size||180/55 x 17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||57 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£93|
|Annual service cost||-|
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||99 bhp|
|Max torque||49 ft-lb|
|Top speed||140 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||188 miles|
Model history & versions
- 2020: New from the ground-up Aprilia RS660 launched.
Owners' reviews for the APRILIA RS660 (2021 - on)
1 owner has reviewed their APRILIA RS660 (2021 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
Engine, noise, looks and comfort are the plus points, fuelling not perfect in town and quality are the slight negatives
Ride is good and despite being a sport bike, is very comfortable. Brakes are strong.
Performance is good due to light weight and punchy engine. Seems plenty for the road and makes a great noise as standard.
Looking closer at the bike, you can see that the build quality is not as good as my Honda. Reliability, too early to tell.
Too early to tell.
Lots of electronics to tailor the bike to your liking. The quickshifter and blipper are favourite.
Buying experience: CMW Chichester - great service in lockdown.