For 2022, Aprilia is taking on the prospering middleweight adventure bike market with its latest model, the Tuareg 660.
As we know, this field is rich with competition, but Aprilia must believe it has something to offer. So let’s take a closer look at this contender from Italy.
Aprilia raised many eyebrows when it released the RS660, not so much because it unveiled another sportbike – the company is very well known for those – but because it was the first release for the company’s all-new engine.
Basically one half of its flagship RSV4 engine, the 660cc parallel-twin, borrows much of the architecture from the V4, but with two of the cylinders removed. This is now at the heart of the Tuareg 660.
Historians might be familiar with the Aprilia Tuareg name. Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Tuareg 600 Wind was a Dakar-inspired motorcycle, and it became at least some of the inspiration behind the latest Tuareg 660. But an RS660 with knobs and long-travel suspension this is not.
You only need to look at pictures to realize the RS660, and Tuareg 660 don’t share the same platform. This is a different family entirely. The Tuareg 660 uses a tubular steel frame and is connected to the engine at only six points. Its 1500 mm wheelbase is far more manageable than big adventure bikes, too.
We’re a little disappointed not to see the subframe bolted to the main frame, as accidents on the trail that damage the subframe won’t be as simple to fix, but we’ll look beyond that for now.
Otherwise, you’ll find a LED headlight and a short and tidy windscreen like the ones used for rally. Besides the headlight, you’ll find air scoops that complete the insect-like look of the bike.
Other visuals include a single-piece seat, a rather substantial skid plate to protect the sump, dirt-inspired pegs, and handguards. Visually anyway, this bike means business.
Until now the 660 platforms had been used in sportbikes and naked bikes, where power is usually on high in the rev range. In Tuareg 660 form, Aprilia shifted the powerband lower in the rpm range for better low and midrange power.
Aprilia says the engine makes a peak of 80 hp and 70 Nm of torque. The sump has also been redesigned to give it more ground clearance – 240 mm in total – and a seat height less than 860 mm tall.
Off-road suspension is a must for the Tuareg 660, and the 43 mm fork is paired with a progressive linkage shock in the back. Both offer 240 mm of travel and are adjustable to clear all types of terrain.
The tall stance of the Tuareg clearly contributes to its rally-inspired looks. Time will tell if it can perform to those expectations.
When it comes to stopping power, who do you trust more than Brembo? The famous Italian brand provides the brakes for the Tuareg, with a dual-disc setup in front and a standard single disc in the back. Expect ABS, though whether the rear can be turned off is not yet known.
You expect wire-spoke wheels from the Tuareg, and you get a cross-spoke design with tubeless tires. The 21-inch front and 18-inch rear are par for the course in the adventure category, ensuring decent rubber can be found no matter which side of the ADV spectrum you find yourself on.
Aprilia is pushing the bar forward with technology, and its APRC suite on the Tuareg is no exception. Designed for off-road performance, you get four riding modes, two of which are customizable, and one is dedicated to off-road riding.
Further enhancing its off-road performance, you can turn off ABS entirely or just at the rear wheel. From there, electronics include traction control, cruise control, engine map settings, and engine brake settings. All of these settings are accessible via the five-inch, full-color TFT display.
With a dry weight of 187 kg, the Tuareg is in line for lightness in the class. Equipped with an 18-liter fuel tank, we’d hope for a little more, but still, your adventures can last a while before needing to fill up again.
Time will tell if the Tuareg can live up to its rally-inspired expectations. On paper, anyway, it seems to have the right parts to make for a really fun adventure machine.
We see Yamaha’s Tenere 700 as a competitor in terms of displacement and capability, but we also expect the Aprilia to carry a higher price tag, which might put it more in line with KTM’s middleweight offerings.
Nonetheless, this looks like a good re-entry to the middleweight adventure category from Aprilia.