Words: Mike Ryan
Photos: Aprilia/PS Importers
A year after it appeared in concept form at EICMA, the RS 660 has arrived - at least in the US and Europe. Aussie Aprilia enthusiasts will have to wait a little longer for the new mid-size sportsbike from the Italian manufacturer, as it isn’t due for local release until March, 2021.
While it may have fallen out of favour in recent years, the mid-sized supersport motorcycle isn’t dead yet. Even as the motorcycling public embraces retro-styled commuters, torque-heavy nakeds and adventure bikes in the 300cc-500cc capacity, there’s still a place in the market for a fully-faired supersports bike, as evidenced by the Yamaha YZF R6, Kawasaki ZX-6R, Suzuki GSX-R600, MV Agusta F3 675 and even the Honda CBR650R, which continue to find devotees.
The new Aprilia won’t be going head-to-head with these established, race-focussed models. Instead, Aprilia are pitching the RS 660 as a more versatile motorcycle, one that can be used as a daily ride as well as a weekend weapon and even a track day fun machine.
“The Aprilia RS 660 brings back the everyday pleasure and fun of a full-fairing sport bike with semi-handlebar that exploits the dynamic qualities of perfect chassis architecture, combined with the exuberant performance of an entirely new parallel twin-cylinder and the Aprilia active electronic controls package which sets the bar on a global level,” so says Aprilia’s PR on the new model.
Whether the RS 660 meets the brief of a new kind of supersports bike for a new kind of supersport rider is too early to tell at this stage, but what is more certain is that the RS 660 platform will be expanded to include a Tuono naked version and possibly even an adventure bike in the future.
While it’s an all-new model, the RS 660 is based in part on the RSV4, with the engine essentially taking that model’s V4 and removing the rear two cylinders to create a 659cc parallel twin.
All the specs of locally available RS 660s are yet to be finalized, but what is known so far is that the twin features a 81 x 63.93mm bore and stroke, chain-driven double overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, a 13.5:1 compression ratio, dual 48mm throttle bodies and ride-by-wire throttle control.
Maximum power is listed at 73.5kW at 10,500rpm, which doesn’t compete with the 100kW output of the current ZX-6R, for example, but the Aprilia’s maximum torque of 67.0Nm at 8,500rpm is a closer match to its supersport rivals. Aprilia says this engine also makes the bulk of its power and torque at what are normal road speeds, a trait which can’t be said of its rivals.
The Aprilia’s also lighter, at only 183kg wet (referring to overseas model data), while most of the Japanese competition is close to 190kg or above.
The liquid-cooled engine is matched to a six-speed transmission with a slipper clutch and an ‘Aprilia Quick Shift’ quickshifter as standard.
While the RS 660 is not a race homologation bike in its current form, don’t be a surprised if Aprilia release a ‘Factory’ version in the future (in the vein of the RSV4) that ups the power and adds some more premium componentry.
That stock componentry isn’t shabby, by any means, with Kayaba forks, a Sachs rear shock, Brembo brakes and Pirelli tyres, but the RS 660 Factory – if it comes – will likely add Öhlins suspension, an Akrapovic exhaust, some lightweight wheels and stickier tyres, as well as upgrading the Brembo set-up with Stylema calipers. Maybe…
While it won’t match its perceived rivals in the power stakes, where the Aprilia will outreach the competition is in the standard tech features, which include traction control, wheelie control, cruise control and engine braking control, as well as five riding modes (two of which are customizable) and advanced cornering ABS.
All of this tech comes under the umbrella of Aprilia Performance Ride Control (APRC), which is controlled by a 6-axis IMU and new ECU that’s said to be even more powerful than the ECU used in the RSV4.
All the various electronic controls are adjustable, with that adjustability extending to the riding modes, too. Commute, Dynamic and Individual are the “road” modes, with the latter allowing the various engine mapping, braking, wheelie and traction control interventions to be adjusted to personal preference. The “race” modes are Challenge and Time Attack, with the latter a track day equivalent of the Individual mode.
New handlebar controls are said to allow for quicker navigation through the various control settings, while full colour TFT instrumentation offers a choice of Road or Track displays.
Aprilia’s ‘MIA’ multimedia platform allows for smartphone mirroring on the instrument panel as an option, with a new navigation function also optional.
The Italian Way
The RS 660’s aggressive styling is typically Italian and typically Aprilia. Created at Aprilia Centro Stile, the bodywork is striking and makes the RS 660 look more aggressive than it actually is.
What Aprilia calls a “double fairing” combines aerodynamic elements with rider comfort features like negative pressure dissipation and more effective engine heat extraction, while also showing the design direction of future Aprilia sportsbikes.
The front end is particularly striking and includes what Aprilia calls a ‘triple front’ LED light assembly that wraps the DRLs around the main headlights, with indicators also incorporated into this package (it’ll be interesting see that get through our ADRs), as well as cornering headlights. For markets that don’t require full-time headlight operation, the lighting also automatically activates at dusk or in dull light.
Incorporating the exhaust silencer into the bellypan makes it almost invisible, while at the rear, the tail is just as sharp and aggressive as the front end, with the small ‘V’ shaped section replaceable with a pillion seat.
Two variations of Aprilia Racing livery (red/purple and black) have been presented, as well as a striking Acid Gold, but whether all three of these colour options will be available in Australia is unconfirmed.
Seat height is 815mm and, reflecting Aprilia’s approach to a more usable sportsbike, the riding position is closer to neutral than you’d think. However, there’s enough of a forward lean in the ergonomics to satisfy sportier riders, too.
LAMS or Not?
No word on whether the RS 660 will meet LAMS requirements yet. Its current power-to-weight suggests not, but like the Yamaha MT-07L, a restricted version could be produced if Aprilia deems the demand is there for it, both here and in other markets.
Regardless of whether it comes here in full power or restricted form, the RS 660 will be a welcome addition to Aprilia’s Australian range that currently consists of only the RSV4 sports, related Tuono naked and the SR Motard scooter.
Aprilia have provided indicative pricing of between $18,500 and $19,000 (+ ORCs), which, if accurate, makes the RS 660 competitive against the R6 and F3 675, but more expensive than 600s from Kawasaki, Suzuki and Honda.
Pricing and full specs for the Aprilia RS 660 will be announced closer to the local release in March.
SPECIFICATIONS – 2021 Aprilia RS 660*
TYPE: DOHC, 8-valve, 4-stroke parallel twin
BORE x STROKE: 81.0 x 63.93mm
COMPRESSION RATIO: 13.5:1
ENGINE START: Electric
MAX POWER: 73.5kW @ 10,500rpm
MAX TORQUE: 67.0Nm @ 8,500rpm
CLUTCH: Multi-plate wet w/slipper
FINAL DRIVE: Chain
FRAME: Aluminium dual beam w/aluminium subframe
FRONT SUSPENSION: 41mm telescopic fork w/adjustable rebound and preload, 120mm travel
REAR SUSPENSION: Monoshock w/adjustable preload, 130mm travel
FR WHEEL: 3.5 x 17-inch alloy
RR WHEEL: 5.5 x 17-inch alloy
FR TYRE: 120/70 ZR 17
RR TYRE: 180/55 ZR 17
FR BRAKE: Dual 320mm discs with four-piston caliper and cornering ABS
RR BRAKE: Single 220mm disc with dual-piston caliper and cornering ABS
RAKE: 24.1 degrees
GROUND CLEARANCE: N/A
SEAT HEIGHT: 815mm
WET WEIGHT: 183kg
FUEL CAPACITY: 15.0lt
Racing Black, Racing Red/Purple, Acid Gold
LAMS APPROVED: TBC
PRICE: TBC ($18,500 - $19,000 expected)
*combined data - some specs may be subject to change