MCN Fleet: Saffron reflects on what she changed on the Aprilia Tuareg during their time together

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During my time with the Tuareg, I added a few bits and bobs to make my ride easier, and to prep it for the mileage, touring and its off-road adventures.


I experimented with two different types of luggage. Initially I had the SW-Motech legend gear tail bag (£257.95) fitted, which although fits well on my Harley Davidson Heritage Softail, did an equally good job on the Tuareg which had plenty of space to mount straps.

Aprilia Tuareg with SW-Motech bag

Later, I tried out the Aprilia luggage system which included panniers and a top box (£1735) which, of course, fit like a glove, and were still very roomy. I had these on a camping trip which made light work of the load and came in very useful on the day-to-day job.

Aprilia Tuareg with luggage in Wales

The only thing I could grumble about, just because it would make me feel more at ease, is the width of the bike with the panniers – they made the bike wider than the handlebars which you had to keep at the forefront of your mind while riding. Otherwise, they were durable, easy to use and to remove and the top box could fit a helmet in comfortably.

Touring additions

I knew I was going to be covering a lot of miles in a short space of time with the Tuareg, so thought I’d add a few things to make it more comfortable, namely a touring screen (£240).

Aprilia Tuareg with luggage and touring screen

The hand guards come as standard and made wet weather bliss and were even a comfort on cold days with less wind battering them or escaping up my sleeves. The touring screen also made a surprising difference too. It was a little bigger and looped around the indicators giving you extra wind protection, and again, made rain that little bit sweeter.

Off-road additions

To help me out with my off-road excursions, some crash bars (£560) were fitted around the engine. I have to say, I put them to good use, and they did their job effectively, but unfortunately a few scuffs on the plastics were apparent as well as on the paintwork, but the shape was still intact.

Aprilia Tuareg with crash bars

I should probably mention that a centre stand was also fitted, but after one lap of the Baja, we removed it as it caught on sharp humps in the ground. But, after removing it, there was plenty of distance between the floor and the body which was great over rough terrain.


During my time with the Tuareg I tried three sets of tyres. The OE tyres and did a good job at handling rocky terrain off-road, but if you were looking to do anything over grass or mud, then it might be wise to ramp the tread up a bit. I opted for Bridgestone’s Battlax Adventurecross AX41s for my first Baja at Sweetlamb, and for the most part, they coped very well. The only issue was the next day after overnight rain where the mud proved a little too much for them. But, they were fine on the road too, so if you’re willing to compromise and do a fair amount of off-roading, then they’re a great option.

For the roads, I tried out Goodyear’s Trailmax Meridian, and although they didn’t get me to Germany due to other operational challenges, I spent a blissful two weekends in Wales bedding them in on the country roads, and they completely transformed the handling of the Tuareg. It was smooth, agile and a lot of fun.

Aprilia Tuareg on tour with luggage in Wales

Quad lock

I added a Quad Lock mount (£39.99) to the handlebars so I could have my phone as SatNav. There was plenty of room for it and it mounted really easily. The best part was that you only need a short cable to reach the USB port near the clocks, so each time I got to my destination I was fully charged too. It’s worth noting that there is Quad Lock wireless that you can keep plugged in and will charge your phone without the need to pop in a cable, I’m keen to try that out next.

Update six: With luggage, road tyres and a long weekend in Wales, it was time to load up the Tuareg

Published: 02.11.22

I thought I’d take the Tuareg on a different kind of adventure this time. It didn’t involve ragging down off-road tracks… ish, and meant I had to load up the bike to capacity for the first time.

I took it camping in Wales.

Aprilia Tuareg in Wales

Before I get into the nitty gritty, I will say I’m not the best camper and the idea of packing to spend a night or two in a tent fills me with dread each time. But I had recently added Aprilia luggage to the Tuareg, panniers and a top box to be precise, and I was pleasantly surprised when I didn’t have any issues loading up. Sure, the latch mechanism was a bit stiff to begin with, as you’d expect from anything brand new, but the pannier lids lifted well away from the boxes so you could pack with ease, and there was loads of room inside too. Although I did fob the tent off on my partner, so that was one less bulky thing to carry.

The first day was spent racing down the M6 as fast as traffic would allow and crossing the border into mid-Wales. As I’ve mentioned before, the Tuareg laps up motorway miles easily and cruise control helped keep my camping apprehension to a minimum, especially as the sun was shining and the traffic thinned as soon as we made it past Birmingham.

Aprilia Tuareg camping

The Welsh roads became windier as we went deeper into the country, and our campsite was hidden amongst the valleys and up a narrow, steep tarmac path. The Tuareg scampered up them with ease and the jostle really put a smile on my face, even if I did miss the turning at the top.

In preparation for the trip, I also fitted a set of Dunlop Trailmax Meridian tyres. I’ve been quite impressed with the OE tyres (Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR) but was keen to try out a set of road tyres to see how much of a difference it makes to the Tuareg’s handling of the tarmac. And in short, the difference was vast. The smooth Welsh roads didn’t disappoint and the Tuareg scooted around them easily, even when fully loaded.

Aprilia Tuareg Claerwen Dam

The next day we decided to take the scenic B-roads around the area including Devil’s Bridge (where we got a smashing breakfast), Ar Elan Bridge, and a lot of roads which were breathtakingly beautiful, even if I can’t remember the exact route. If I had to pick out an issue, I suppose the only tiny inconvenience I had was the dew-wet grass by my tent as I left, but it soon sorted itself and was almost instantly forgotten.

Update five: The Tuareg gets put to the off-road test as Saffron tackles her first adventure bike rally

Published: 28.09.22

After spending the past three weeks covering 4500 miles on a Harley in America during a family holiday, it felt downright odd to be on the Tuareg again. But what better way to ease myself back onto the Aprilia’s saddle than take part in a competitive rally event in Wales… despite the fact I’ve only been off-road on a motorcycle three times!

Rounds one and two

Aprilia Tuareg at the Baja

We arrived at the Sweetlamb Rally complex in Wales late on Friday to sign on and pass the tech inspection. As I unloaded the Tuareg out of the van, heads were turned and a couple of doubtful glances shot my way as I explained the 204kg kerb weight. That reaction wasn’t great for my rising anxiety levels… but I’d fitted Bridgestone Battlax Adventurecross 50/50 tyres, hand guards, touring screen and crash bars, so I knew there wasn’t much else I could do to the bike without taking it too far away from standard.

The Sweetlamb Baja is designed so that both experts and complete newbies can tackle the same course, so I wasn’t the only first-time racer here, but on Saturday morning as I waited in the paddock amongst the hustle and bustle of engines, chatter and dust, my stomach was doing somersaults.

Before the start proper, we all did a sighting lap which was my first taste of what was to come. Right off the line, the course dipped into a rocky gully which culminated in a muddy ditch. I took my time and kept the Tuareg in first gear and carefully picked my way through.

Climbing a steep, muddy and rutted hill put the Tuareg through its paces, but it clambered to the top and stuck it out through wet grass and muddy puddles without so much as a hiccup.

After the sighting lap, I decided to take off the centre stand which kept catching, and then completed another two laps of the 15-mile track before lunch. Unfortunately, on lap one I parted company with the Aprilia at the top of a steep, rocky hill which resulted in a bent handguard, but lap two went by without a hitch as I got into the swing of things.

Baja crash

After a lunchbreak, fatigue was setting in. But with new-found confidence and the Aprilia still going strong, we covered another two laps until my concentration started to fade and the aches in my arms and back became a hinderance. I finished the day with a broken handguard and a few new scuffs, but the Tuareg had handled itself well.

Total mudbath

Aprilia Tuareg at Sweetlamb Baja

On Sunday there was just one round of racing, but it had rained for pretty much the entire night and after seeing the amount of mud and grass on the track the day before, I wasn’t sure if I was up to the job.

It was so much more slippery than the day before. It was even a struggle to stay on the gravel and I found the gullies torture. No matter what I did, I couldn’t find grip.

Bikes carpeted the floor of the first muddy hill and it wasn’t long before I joined them. More gullies had added to the track, and it was difficult even to keep the bike in a straight line which had me off multiple times, to my horror. I broke the screen on a rock during one of these low-speed falls, and I think half the competitors assisted me in pushing it up the hill after I’d buried the back wheel in the mud. But even then, I only had one annoyance with the Tuareg: when trying to get up steep ascents, although I was in off-road mode, the traction control kept trying to kick in and the revs didn’t pick up. I didn’t realise that was the issue until I got back to the pits, but by then I was done, along with about a third of the competitors.

The quiet after the storm

Saffron after the Baja

I feel at a little bit of a loss as I write this as the Tuareg has gone in for repairs to the bar ends and for scratches on the panels. As Aprilia positioned it as an adventure/enduro bike, leaning towards the adventure side, I wonder whether the little additions I made were enough, like the crash bars. Don’t get me wrong, at the end of the Baja it was a perfectly rideable bike, but it had suffered cosmetic damage. So, if you’re thinking of taking anything like this up for a hobby with your main road bike, then you should be prepared for it to take a few knocks, and perhaps you should consider adding a few more extras to make it both more effective off road and also reinforcing its delicate bits. But even just making sure you’re familiar with all its electronic features, such as knowing how to take the traction control off fully while in off-road mode, will definitely give you an advantage.

But in all, I think the Tuareg looked in its element out there in the rough stuff and can confidently say that the biggest let down for its performance during the Baja was the rider in this case!

Update four: After being without the Tuareg for a few weeks, Saffron is glad to have it back on the road

Published: 24.08.22

It’s great to be back in the saddle of the Tuareg.

As you may or may not remember, after riding back from Kent I found myself with a black boot after I’d hopped off the bike and popped it in the garage which could only mean one thing – an oil leak.

Aprilia Tuareg oil leak

Luckily, I’d had already booked the bike in to get some panniers and top box fitted that week in preparation for an upcoming road trip. So I let the team at Spyder Motorcycles know, then tentatively rode the Tuareg on brand new road tyres to Silverstone in the hope that it was a quick fix and everything would align for the tour. But things don’t always work out in the way you want them to.

Most of us are aware of the difficulty of getting parts at the moment, and because of that, it wasn’t going to be a quick fix. As I was leaving for Germany that weekend, I was unfortunately left to complete the journey on a Moto Guzzi V85TT instead. There we no complaints from me as it was equipped with luggage and the seat looked like it could take 10 hours on the go without a problem, but it was a shame I couldn’t get the Tuareg across the continent as planned.

While I was away, the team waited for parts. I was without the Tuareg for around three weeks in total.

Aprilia Tuareg oil leak detail

Aprilia’s tech team said: “There was a small oil leak found from the water pump oil seal on the left-hand side of the engine, which was leaking down into the sump guard. The complete water pump/generator cover, which incorporates the new water pump seals was replaced to resolve the issue. Afterwards, the engine oil was topped back up and the coolant system was refilled and bleed. Any oil residue was cleaned off. A final road test was then carried out to confirm the repair was successful. The repair took just over one hour to complete.”

So although my repair took a while, it sounds as though it was a simple fix and if you were to have one on the road it should hopefully only take an afternoon.

Although I couldn’t test the Tuareg and the new Dunlop road tyres on the autobahns, I’ve tried to make up for it by packing it up for a weekend tackling the Welsh valleys and B-roads the day after I got it back. Now, it was complete with panniers and top box which meant it was perfect for touring and I can’t wait to see how it handles.

Update three: With the Tuareg off the road, Saff finds herself onboard a Moto Guzzi V85 TT for a 1800-mile trip to Germany

Published: 06.07.22

Funny looking Tuareg, right?

Unfortunately, the Aprilia has sprung an oil leak, and it did so just days before a long-planned trip to Germany. With the trip in doubt, it also meant all the prep I had done to it (fitting new Trailmax Meridians… panniers… the whole shebang) was in vain, too. But out of the darkness came a ray of hope; a courtesy bike was provided by Piaggio UK while my Tuareg was off the road (as getting hold of parts has been difficult. I’ll update once everything is resolved), which meant that I’d be tackling my 1800-mile cross-continental venture on a Moto Guzzi V85 TT, special edition Guardia d’Onore.

Settling in the saddle

The five days across the continent were going to be a test of motorway endurance, mainly because of the mileage and my timeframe. Day one wasn’t off to the best start as I’d spent the weekend at Download Festival, but I hopped on the Guzzi in the early hours of Monday morning and rode with one eye open down to Folkstone to catch the Channel Tunnel. The fig rolls in my top box kept me going as I waited on the train alone, although the Guzzi wiggled more than I’d hoped on its sidestand so I spent the journey propped up against it.

I’d planned to spend the night in Dusseldorf. So after the three hours I spent on English motorways, it was time to swap lanes, sit in the saddle and let the miles roll past. Each time I crossed a border my radio had to reboot, and I stopped for a service station lunch which was a sandwich in the shadow of the bike.

The only issue came when I was waiting for the double-barrier system to sort itself out at the hotel. The first went up, and while waiting for the second, decided to drop on me and the Guzzi. I’m glad to say we won the fight, but I can’t say my mood was all the better for it.

Blast to Berlin

It was another six-hour slog in the saddle for day two. When the nav app on my phone told me to join the motorway and stay on it for 300 miles my heart sunk a little, but the weather was warm, the traffic was moving, and the Guzzi could cope with maintained high speed like a trooper. I pushed it to 120mph on the autobahn, but with the luggage, the shakes were a little too much for me and I slowed it down to a consistent 90 and let Lambos and alike zoom past.

Getting into Berlin wasn’t much of a hassle, except the hot Guzzi wasn’t a fan of slow-moving traffic and its gears clunked in protest. But at 30 degrees, I’d be clunking too. Once we arrived, we went into a vehicle elevator and the Guzzi spent the night underground as I explored the city, found a zoo, and a beer or two.

Cruising the cobbles

Not as many miles were covered on day three, although more than intended as many of the roads I needed in Berlin were shut for and upcoming event. As a result, we endured heavy traffic, wobbled down cobbled streets, and bounced up a billion kerbs to check the map and change the route, all of which the Guzzi handled like a champ. The good thing about Berlin is that motorcycles can park pretty much anywhere (within reason) so once I’d navigated my way through the city for an hour, we arrived at Brandenburg Gate before heading to Magdeburg for my next overnight stop.

Homeward bound

I didn’t mind being on the road on the way to Rotterdam port. The sun was shining, it was warm, and the Guzzi was still comfortable even after doing 400-mile days for the past four. Plus, my hand was no longer going numb… perhaps due to my improved use of the cruise control.

During a brief stop in Arnhem, a Dutch fellow biker asked how I felt about the V85’s height, as it looks like a fairly imposing beast. In honesty, though, the Guzzi is that much shorter than the Tuareg that it actually felt quite low, albeit that bit heavier. Upon reaching the ferry, clicking off the panniers to head to my cabin wasn’t a chore, and loading back up the next morning once we’d docked at Felixstowe wasn’t either – and I was ready for my next adventure, onwards the Farmyard Rally.

Update two: Saffron takes the Aprilia Tuareg 660 to Wales to see what it’s really like off-road

Published: 15.06.22

Even with my limited off-road knowledge, I know the Aprilia Tuareg craves to be in grassy verges and stony gullies rather than sit on the M1 where it whines if you rev too much, and an annoying red light starts to blink at you…

So, I thought it only fair to take it where it belongs.

Sweetlamb training academy

Since I’ve only been off-road on a motorcycle once, I’ve been hesitant to tackle the byways near me. But after hearing that Sweetlamb had began some couples off-road training, I couldn’t think of a better excuse to get a little more tuition and finally put the Tuareg through its paces.

Aprilia Tuareg at Sweetlamb's training centre

I should mention that I was unable to change the Tuareg’s tyres to something more catered for harsh off roading before I ventured to Wales – mainly due to supply issues.

Riding with the OE tyres (Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR) to Wales and back with some off-roading in between wasn’t a hardship by any means as they are labelled 50/50 and they coped fantastically well. But as they are 50/50 my trainer thought it best not to go full on with harsh mud or wet grass, so we tackled everything but… and I had a fantastic time.

Aprilia Tuareg at Sweetlamb water crossing

Firstly, since it had been a year since I’d last been, we spent some time so I could become reacquainted with the basics. We revisited stance, how to turn and where your bodyweight should be as well as how to skid with control of the back brake. But alongside three KTMs which had seen the terrain a thousand times before, the Aprilia didn’t break a sweat, except for the back brake being a bit softer perhaps, but we got a good skid eventually.

Despite being a heavier bike than the KTM 390 Adventure I initially trained on, the extra weight and power didn’t faze me with the Aprilia. Since I’d been living with it, it was easy to handle with the right techniques and had no qualms when tested with tight turns and water crossings. It was receptive on uneven ground and rugged gravel paths and when I ventured into a sodden gully with loose stones, it skipped over them with ease – even with my lack of skill.

Sweetlamb training academy Wales Aprilia

Next up

I don’t think any new tyres are coming my way before I go off-road again, but with plans in September, I can only hope that I get a delivery before then. After all, the Tuareg is ready to hunker down and do some off the road.

Update one: Aprilia Tuareg 660 faces snow in the Yorkshire Dales

Published: 22.05.25

As my last long term test bike (Moto Guzzi V7 Stone) was a retro run-around, more suited to city streets than long distances, I was excited to have something that, let’s be honest, is the complete polar opposite.

Plus, after getting my first taste of trail riding last year, I’m hoping my time with the Tuareg might turn me on to a life of weekend off-roading adventures… but I’m probably getting ahead of myself there. Watch this space…

Yorkshire Dales

My first trip on the Tuareg was a four-hour slog up the motorway before tackling the twisties of the Yorkshire Dales – all during that freak two days of snowstorms we had back in March.

Aprilia Tuareg 660 in the snow

We battled no less than 11 blizzards on the first day and since my overnight stop was the highest pub in England, Tan Hill, there was no respite on the freezing temperatures or poor weather until I got to the safety of the inn.

Before I left, I did a little spannering and hooked up my Keis heated jacket charger to the Aprilia, as I knew I was going to be in for a cold couple of days, and that made a world of difference.

I was also pleasantly surprised at how comfortable the bike was on long days in the saddle (at first impressions, I initially thought I was going to have a sore posterior half an hour in) and the screen did a good job of keeping the wind and snow at bay, in fact I was quite entertained watching the snow build up on the A1 while I was snug and comfortable on board.

Aprilia Tuareg 660 screen in the snow

But back to the bike. At 5ft 9in, I was a bit worried I was going to struggle with the fairly tall 860mm seat height but, although I have no chance of getting my feet flat on the floor either side, I was pleasantly surprised with how well balanced and manageable the bike feels.

Although, when I put the sidestand down on a camber I find that I’m unable to get the bike upright without pushing it to a flatter surface, but that’s just something I need to get the knack of, I’m sure.

That feeling of balance and manageability sticks around while it’s moving, too, and although I didn’t push any speed limits in the Dales for fear of slipping on ice, the bike’s handling gave me the confidence to press on regardless.

Aprilia Tuareg 660 in the sunshine on the Yorkshire Dales

A fleeting introduction

My adventures with the Tuareg have been stifled somewhat as I exceeded the first service mileage in my first weekend with it, so it’s returned to Aprilia to be serviced. But as there aren’t many models in the country, Aprilia are holding on to it for a little longer so that it can be used at an event. I’m missing it already.

In the meantime, I’ve got my hands on a Moto Guzzi V85TT Travel, so although it might be a week or two until I’m reunited with the Tuareg, at least I’ll have something to compare it to – and I couldn’t be more excited for both!


After trying off-roading for the first time recently, I’m keen to improve my skills and put the Tuareg through its paces in all manner of environments. But, I’m also keen to take it on longer road trips to see if it’s effective as a touring machine.