Writing about bikes for 20 years. Published in dozens of titles on five continents. Mildly obsessed with discovering how things work.
With the first half of 2020 dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic it’s easy to lose sight of some of the more upbeat events due to happen this year – and one of them will be the official release of Aprilia’s Tuono 600.
Shown as a concept bike (below) in November, the Tuono 600 is an obvious spin-off from the eagerly-anticipated RS660 sports bike that’s already confirmed for production later this year. Powered by a parallel twin derived from the RSV4 superbike’s V4 engine mounted in a lightweight chassis, the mechanical parts of the Tuono are basically identical to the RS660, albeit with fractionally less power – 94bhp for the Tuono vs 98bhp for the RS660.
Of course, the Tuono shown last year was a concept in name only. In reality it was always clear that the bike is coming to production, and the appearance of these new design patent images helps confirm that.
The computer-generated designs you see here were filed with the European Patent Office in the same week that the Tuono concept was shown, but display slight differences that could indicate they’re more representative of the production version.
You’ll need an eagle eye to spot the changes, but they appear to focus around the exhaust and bellypan.
The plastics around the underside of the engine are more enveloping on the design drawings than they were on the concept, extending further back and reaching higher. The strake running back from the separate front section of the bellypan is also longer than the concept’s equivalent.
These plastics seem to be designed to cover a slightly bulkier exhaust system. The visible section of the exhaust downpipe on the drawings bulges outward before it disappears behind the bodywork – hinting at a catalytic converter mounted high up, as near the exhaust ports as possible to ensure it gets to operating temperature as quickly as possible after a cold start.
Further back, while the stubby tailpipe is shaped just like the concept’s there’s a mesh grille covering its exit rather than a simple hole. Whether that styling element makes it to production remains to be seen; the tailpipes themselves are simply trims over the functional, but uglier, exhaust component. However, the mesh cover gives a visual tie-in to Aprilia’s MotoGP bike, which also has grilles over its exhaust exits.
As a reminder, both the RS660 and Tuono 660 are forging new niches in the motorcycle market, adopting the technology of high-end superbikes but focussing on lightweight design rather that out-and-out power.
That means they’ll get kit like cornering ABS, wheelie control, up-and-down quickshifters, engine brake control and multiple riding modes including two track settings; stuff that’s rarely found on sub-100hp bikes. By putting the focus on razor sharp handling and riding fun rather than bowel-loosening straight-line speed the bikes – particularly the RS660 – evoke the spirit of Aprilia’s old RS250 two-stroke.
We’re expecting the RS660 to reach production later this year, with the final production version of the Tuono likely to get an official unveiling late in 2020 as a 2021 model. An adventure-style Tuareg 660 was also teased at last November’s EICMA show, and will no doubt get a full reveal later this year.
Aprilia Tuono 660 concept was first revealed at EICMA 2019