MCN Fleet: What’s really worth installing on your Aprilia RS 660

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When I first took the keys to the Aprilia RS 660, my mission was clear: I wanted to turn it into the ultimate arrive-and-ride trackday bike.

I’ve experimented with tyres, fitted accessories and even ridden up to the suspension gurus at Maxton for the works treatment on the springs (more on that soon) but which extras deliver tangible benefits?

More long-term tests

R&G Brake Lever Guard, £38.33

Easy to install and essential for any rider wanting to venture on track, with many circuits now mandating brake lever guards. The R&G unit is well built, hasn’t faded and continues to sit neatly where the bar end once was.

The black finish also means it blends into the looks, which is handy as I have a dislike for lever and clutch guards on road bikes.

R&G Engine Case Covers, £59.99 (each)

R&G engine case covers give added protection

Much like the brake lever guard, the case protection’s black finish blends seamlessly into the factory finish of the bike. I’m seriously impressed and although not installed as a compulsory measure, they do give added peace of mind.

R&G Cotton Reels, £19.16

There’s no centrestand – meaning these R&G bobbins are needed for popping the RS onto a paddock stand. After plenty of use, they remain firmly in place, with no signs of wearing out and they’re a decent size to make locating the paddock stand easy.

Evotech Performance Tail Tidy, £175

The Evotech tail tidy looks great but can be fiddly to instal

It neatens the compact back end, but I could live without it - leaving the rider more exposed to wet weather fling from the back wheel in poorer conditions.

The unit itself is nicely built and the planet-friendly packaging contains no plastics, too.

That said, the photo instructions found online can be hard to follow and did miss the removal of one bolt. With the bike having such a small arse it’s also easier to remove all the’ plastics from the rear end when attempting to reattach everything and stuff in all the electronics. Factor this into your assembly time.

Bridgestone Battlax S22s, £269

I’ve used OE Bridgestone S22s (circa £269 per pair + fitting) on multiple bikes and have always been impressed.

They inspire confidence in low temperatures and are a great road-going performance tyre. But they’re just not quite as good as the standard-fitment Pirelli Rosso Corsa 2s, which offer more front-end feel, greater confidence under braking, and allow the bike to drop in faster and accelerate out of a bend with greater stability. They’ve also squared at the rear after 3000 miles.

Aprilia Tank Pad, £26.99

The Aprilia tank pad leaves lots of exposed plastic

On the face of it, getting all those individual blobs to line up on the tank looks hard, but it couldn’t be easier thanks to the simple-to-follow instructions and sticky back plastic packaging.

It’s great value and suits the bike nicely. I just wish it was a solid unit, as the finish around the rear of the tank is thin and prone to scratching. Large chunks are still exposed with the pad in place.

Aprilia RS 660 previous updates:

Update five: High-mileage weekenders demonstrate the Aprilia RS 660’s distance skills

Published: 13.09.2021

Aprilia RS 660 exploring the Peak District

The Aprilia RS 660 is the most versatile sportsbike I have ever ridden. It’s got the attention-grabbing looks, can handle itself on a trackday, and offers endless weekend thrills.

This particular machine has also been mechanically sound – not one of the 700 across the globe requiring an engine swap due to issues with the conrods.

In fact, outside of a slightly soft standard rear end and an unsightly left switchgear housing, I’ve struggled to find fault with it and after a series of recent minibreaks and day trips it’s now also proving its worth over distance, too.

Where have I been?

Parked up on the Aprilia RS 660

After over a year of restrictions, I was determined to make this summer a belter, visiting more places by bike and savouring the amazing routes on my doorstep.

My string of adventures started with a camping weekend in Scarborough, heading towards Bridlington from my Lincolnshire home, before hugging the coast north and snatching a few laps of the Oliver’s Mount circuit between ice creams on the beach.

Outside of this, I have enjoyed two trips to the Peak District – one with the sole intention of having an ice cream (again) by Ladybower Reservoir and another to sample some new routes before continuing to Snake Pass and then back to Matlock for a bag of chips.

More long-term tests

Elsewhere, the RS has been called into action for a 110-mile early morning motorway dash to Teesside Autodrome for the first-ever Freetech Endurance 24 hour race and a 120-mile evening run down to Brands Hatch ahead of a trackday.

Although none of these rides are going to win me an Iron Butt challenge, the Aprilia has excelled every time. With lower pegs and higher bars than a traditional supersport bike, there’s room to move around and remain comfortable without sitting bolt upright.

Then there’s the seat, which squishes below your butt cheeks like a new sofa and the tall screen which deflects most of the wind away from the rider.

With the cruise control activated, covering ground is child’s play, the bike achieving a tested 61.9mpg during a tank of sedate riding to allow a potential 204.2 miles between fills.

A trip to the Peak District for an ice cream

Bad vibes

Not everything works well over distance though and after an hour on constant throttle you’ll start to notice a gentle tingle in your feet from the vibrating engine.

It’s not the end of the world but could get tiresome on a proper tour. What’s more, the mirrors are largely occupied by your elbows, which can be irritating.

Update four: Aprilia RS 660 Brands Hatch bash

Published: 21.06.2021

Cornering on the Aprilia RS660 on track

My Aprilia RS 660 has proved an excellent road-going sportsbike. Comfortable, tractable and bloody good fun... I’ve loved every minute. But there’s only so much performance you can use on the road.

With a claimed 99bhp from its 659cc parallel twin, you can use a damn sight more of its output than a traditional supersport 600, but you can use the whole lot on track.

A quick look at showed a road bike day at Brands Indy. At just 1.208 miles long, the Kent circuit is ideal - with undulations, hairpins, open bends, and short straights on offer.

Session one

I leave the Aprilia on its road-going settings, dropping the pressures in the OE Pirelli Rosso Corsa 2 tyres and folding in the mirrors before trundling down pitlane. So far this morning the RS has waltzed through noise testing, with 94dB at 5500rpm and now I’m ready to bask in the Kentish sunshine – savouring that first kiss of knee slider on tarmac.

Cornering on the track on the Aprilia RS 660

But although I’m taking it steady, the soft road-friendly suspension set-up is already struggling. The shock squats under acceleration, making direction changes feel forced and the bars shake along the rippled start/finish straight. It’s a similar story up front, with the forks diving under braking. That said, the ABS is fabulously unobtrusive – backed off to its weakest setting and not pumping back through the lever at any point across the day.

Spring break

A session under our belt, it’s into the pits for some fettling. I don’t profess to being a suspension expert and it took me an embarrassingly long time to even adjust the rear preload for the road.

Riding the Aprilia RS 660 at Brands Hatch

Fortunately, I’m joined by the editors of our sister titles RiDE and Practical Sportsbikes and we set about making changes to help improve the RS. On goes 10 clicks of front preload in the forks and four at the rear, having first removed the left side fairing below the seat to access the top of the shock.

Harder better faster

I must admit I was sceptical at such drastic changes, but I’m glad I trusted my colleagues’ spannering nous. There’s less dive at the front and the brakes felt more powerful as a consequence – giving you the confidence to brake later and carry more corner speed. There’s also less squat at the back, however there is still the occasional shake of the bars at speeds nudging 130mph, before slowing for turn one.

Road-friendly limitations

By the end the RS feels fast without being intimidating and completes the day on little more than a single tank of fuel. It lacks the top-end pace of a supersport 600 and the low pegs sometimes dragged on faster bends, but the engine offers plenty of initial shove off the corner and as a halfway house between road and track, it performed excellently.

Plus – that extra road comfort made the 150-mile journey home a whole lot nicer, too. I’ll be back!

Accelerating on the Aprilia RS 660 at Brands Hatch

Update three: Aprilia RS 660 is an Italian attention-seeker

Published: 21.06.2021

Tucked in on the Aprilia RS 660

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last 2000 miles, it’s that the Aprilia RS 660 attracts attention like no other motorcycle I’ve ridden.

Likely caused by its beautiful RSV4-aping looks and V-twin soundalike rumble at town speeds, it attracts curious glances, and I’ve been stopped in traffic by fellow bikers who want to find out more.

More long-term tests

It’s a refreshing take on the sportsbike concept and perfectly timed – giving race rep fans something they can enjoy at road legal speeds and on the occasional trackday. Think of it as a modern successor to the Honda CBR600F Sport – rather than the RS 250 replacement many hoped it would be – and you won’t be far wrong.

It has been fantastic as a road-going toy over the past four months and highlights why traditional supersport 600s fell from favour.

I’m heading out more at the weekends and have snatched extra evening rides where possible, falling back in love with the epic roads surrounding my Lincolnshire home. It’s even comfy over distance, with the standard issue cruise control and thick padded seat allowing you to soak up full tank loads in the saddle without needing to stretch. I simply love it.

Squared rubber

That said, it hasn’t all been plain sailing and after 1900 miles I did notice the rear Pirelli Rosso Corsa 2 tyre beginning to square off. It still performs wonderfully and I’ve since enjoyed a trackday with it (more of that in the next update...) but I’d have expected it to maintain its shape for longer.

I spotted this whilst making minor adjustments to the rear shock, which is too soft on standard settings for animated riding. The rear sits too low and occasionally causes the bars to slap under acceleration and can make changes of direction feel forced. No more than a half turn of preload appears to have done the trick for me, with any changes to the rebound requiring the removal of a small side panel via two bolts.

Paddock stand work revealed a squaring tyre

Recalls for some

An isolated cruise control issue aside, our RS has been good as gold, but other 660s have been recalled for work concerning 'an engine shut-down while the vehicle is stationary.' Bikes can be ridden without safety risk and any work carried out by a dealer is done for free. If you’ve been contacted, be sure to book it in.

Update two: What’s hot and what’s not on the Aprilia RS 660?

Published: 03.06.2021

Cornering on the Aprilia RS660

Back in 2018, when the planet was pandemic-free, I was sent to Milan to report on the new bike releases from Italy’s international Eicma trade show.

It was here that Aprilia surprised the world’s press with an unscheduled RSV4 lookalike concept, sporting a red parallel-twin motor, winglets, premium suspension and more. It was unlike anything in their range and sat on a plinth that said simply: 'coming soon'. That bike was to become the RS 660, which arrived just two years later.

More long-term tests

I never forgot that first encounter and with every spy shot, patent drawing and teaser video released, my hunger to ride one grew. I love mid-sized sportsbikes, but as a former owner of both a GSX-R600 and ZX-6R, I had grown tired of their one-track-mind on the road.

Flash forward to March 2021 and there’s an RS 660 sitting in my garage, finished in the Loris Reggiani replica RS 250 colours. I’m a lucky boy.

After just shy of 1500 miles together, the combination of a usable 99bhp output, lean-sensitive electronics and superbike looks have proved a winning combination, but it hasn’t all been perfect. So, what’s hot and what’s not on the RS 660? Let’s dig in.

Twin-cylinder winner

The Aprilia RS660's engine is a cracker

The 659cc parallel twin is an absolute peach. Producing a claimed 99bhp, there’s an appetite to rev all the way to its 11,500rpm redline and enough meat in the middle to be calm and easy day-to-day. Ride it sensibly and you’ll see a tested 60mpg, with next to no vibes on the move. It also sounds fabulous, growling like a Ducati Panigale V2 at idle and climbing to a yowling top end, reminiscent of Aprilia’s own V4s. For a Euro5 system, it really is impressive.

A lazy lip

The styling is let down by the front lip

The RS 660 is a lovely looking thing – especially in our red and purple pastel design, which truly pops in the sun. But it’s let down by a lazy design feature on the nose fairing. In order to accommodate the unnecessarily bulky left switchgear, the Noale firm have added a lip in the body work, to insure a full turning circle. I noticed it after around 50 miles and now see it every time it’s parked. A little more R&D for symmetry would’ve gone a long way in my book.

Distance comfort

A thick padded seat is good over distance

Although styled to look like a half-pint RSV4, the RS 660 is really comfortable over distance. The bars are gently set and there’s plenty of leg room. There’s also a thick padded seat, which may come to detract from sportier summer riding pursuits but is perfect on a longer motorway haul. Life is made even sweeter by cruise control, which is easily adjusted, but flashes green when primed but not active, which makes you think you’ve left an indicator on. It also briefly lost the ability to be adjusted on the fly after its first service, however a quick trip back to Piaggio and an hour with a laptop and it was all sorted.

Pirelli Performance

The tyres have been impressive over 1500 miles

The Aprilia leaves the factory on a set of Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa IIs and I won’t beat around the bush, they’ve been bloody brilliant. They heat up quickly and have oodles of grip in the dry for some animated riding. If you’re a weekend road rider and the Aprilia has caught your eye, these could be the only tyres you’ll ever need. 1500 miles in and there is yet no sign of wear.

Blip and miss

The RS 660 features an up-and-down quickshifter – unlike Honda’s rival CBR650R which has an upshifter as an extra. It works brilliantly well when you’re riding hard, but lacks finesse at everyday speeds. At sedate revs, it can feel clunky on the upshift and, unless you apply a positive prod of the lever, can sometimes fail to change at all coming back down. At these sorts of speeds, it’s best to change traditionally, which is no hardship as each application of the light clutch creates a devilish pop from the underslung pipes.

Update one: Can the Aprilia RS 660 be road-friendly and still thrill on track?

Published: 28.04.21

A side view of the Aprilia RS660

As a former supersport 600 owner I cannot wait to get stuck into the Aprilia RS 660. It’s a much-needed reimagining of the focused middleweight class and I want to sculpt the Italian into the ultimate road-friendly sportsbike, with enough poise to still thrill on track.

The rider Dan Sutherland, Senior Writer, 25, 5ft 6in. Year-round commuter, weekend blaster, riding for nine years.

Bike specs 659cc | 99bhp | 183kg (dry) | 820mm seat height

Watch MCN's expert Aprilia RS 660 video review below:

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Dan Sutherland

By Dan Sutherland

Senior Writer (motorcycling), sportsbike nut, currently riding a FireBlade