Aprilia RS660 (2020) – Review

Adam Chad Child Bio Pic
By Adam (Chad) Child
Adamchildchad Forties, 5'7, has been professionally bike testing for 20-years and has attended more than 350 bike launches and covered over a million road test miles. International road racer, with race wins at Oliver's Mount, podiums in NZ and two top ten TT finishes. Chad is just as happy off-road or on a classic bike.
Overview

Aprilia’s RS660 is so good you have to question why this hasn’t been done before? An entertaining, light usable sports bike, which isn’t too radical or extreme, that is attractive to young and new riders alike, and has a plethora of sophisticated rider aids to keep you safe on the road or track… where have you been?!

100hp from a watercooled parallel-twin motor that has character and punch on the road, placed into an easy-going chassis, then covered in sexy bodywork and given just-about-affordable price – what is not to like? I wish I had come up with this idea.

We’re told the supersport market is dead, and, yes, sales show a monumental decline in this class over the last two decades but these exciting, dedicated track bikes are simply that; race bikes with high revving engines and radical riding positions that can be hard work for everyday use on the road. But despite its supersport styling, Aprilia’s RS660 wasn’t designed for the track - this is a comfortable and unintimidating road bike with a typically Aprilia sporting edge.

While the supersport sector has dramatically declined, the global demand for smaller capacity (250-550c) bikes has increased, and Aprilia needed something to fit that growing market, especially in Asia.  The Italian manufacturer also needed to produce a bike for loyal Aprilia customers wanting to stay with the brand as they moved up from the RS125. Aprilia didn’t have anything sporty in the middle market, so it made sense effectively to cut an RSV4 1100 in half and produce a completely new bike.

The RS660 is powered by a parallel twin with a 260-degree crank, which is essentially the front half of the RSV4's motor. But although the RS660 is an ‘entry-level’ bike for Aprilia and is designed for a young and inexperienced audience, it’s neither bland nor dull – the opposite in fact – and even uses more rider aids than Aprilia’s flagship superbike RSV4. Cornering ABS, multiple track and rider modes, traction and wheel control, an up-and-down quick-shifter, even cruise control make for a world class array of electronic aids on a 100hp £10,000 bike.

I couldn’t wait to get to Italy to ride the new RS660. As a big fan of the TT Lightweight class (the RS660 will be eligible for the 2021 TT), which consists of racy parallel twins, the RS660 got my attention when it was unveiled two years ago. I’m also old enough to remember Aprilia’s legendary two-stroke RS250. The RS600 was a bike I’ve been so looking forward to riding.

 

For and against
  • Benchmark and user-friendly rider aids
  • Ease of use, real world performance
  • Attractive and desirable
  • Some may say ‘why only 100hp’
  • Lost the toggle switch to change TC
  • Gold colour won’t be to everyone’s taste
Ridden and Reviewed: Aprilia RS660 (2020)
Is the lightweight, 100bhp, parallel-twin a affordable, usable sports bike for the road? Our guest road tester, Adam Child, finds out on the press launch in Italy

 

2020 Aprilia RS660 Price: £10,149

Usually, when discussing price it’s relatively simple: look at the competition and see where it fits. But what is the competition? The RS is nowhere near as radical or as sports-focussed as a Yamaha R6 for example, and while can’t match the Yamaha’s power, the Aprilia has more rider aids, more tech and is more comfortable.

Yamaha’s outstanding R6 is £12,221 but is very much a one-trick pony built to win races. You could argue the Aprilia is more ‘entry-level’ like Honda’s CBR650R but comparing the RS660 to the Honda is a little like comparing a hot-hatchback to a normal family car; the Honda is similar in power but significantly heavier. The Honda is considerably cheaper (£7495), which makes it a tempting prospect, but doesn’t even come close on tech or appeal. You could also throw in Kawasaki’s Ninja 650 into the argument – it’s cheaper at £7049 (KRT edition) but down on power, up on weight and in terms of tech like comparing an iPhone to an old Nokia.

Some will say the RS660 is expensive and, at £10k, that is a lot of money for 100hp. But the flip side is it’s less than half the price of RSV4 1100 Factory (£23,399), and £6k less than the standard RSV4 1000 (£15,999).

 

Power and torque

What Aprilia has done is essentially use their RSV4 as a base, chopping the V4 engine in half to produce a parallel twin. The bore size is the same as the RSV4 1100, but now stroke is 63.93, not 52.3mm. The twin-cylinder DOHC engine produces a respectable 73.5kw/100hp @10,500rpm and 67Nm/49.42lbft @8500rpm, that is more torque than a R6 and Honda CBR650R. The little twin will bounce off the rev limiter at 11,500rpm but with a race kit will rev on for another 1000rpm. But this isn’t a race engine; 80% of the torque is at just 4000rpm and 90% is at 6250rpm. There will also be an A2 version for restricted licence holders with 95hp, which can then be restricted further.

Of course, it’s not as simple as just chain-sawing the V4 in half. There’s a new clutch, a new intake system, a new cylinder head, new 48mm throttle bodies… this is a completely new engine, albeit one that leans on the experience and knowledge gained from the V4. Aprilia has cleverly reduced vibration and allowed the engine to run smoother, with 270-degree counterweights on the new 270-degree crankshafts. The completely engine is a structural part of the bike, too, with the swing-arm bolts directly to the rear of the engine. Aprilia has clearly invested a huge amount of time and money into this new engine platform and I’m sure we will see more bikes from their range using this engine.

 

 

Engine, gearbox and exhaust

The 270-degree crank gives the RS660 a unique exhaust tone, very much like a slow revving RSV4. It doesn’t sound like a Kawasaki Z650 (with a 180-degree crank), with each cylinder balancing each other – this is much smoother. The light, one-piece, 6.2kg exhaust consists of one silencer per cylinder plus a cat’ exhaust/collector box, which then exits on either side of the rear tyre. The two protruding exhausts not only gives the 660 a unique sound but also a distinctive symmetrical look.  A tickle of the ride-by-wire throttle allows the revs to dart up the full colour TFT digital dash. The revs build effortlessly, quicker than I was expecting, and for a standard exhaust, the system adds a little soul to the RS660 experience.

There are five riding modes to choose from: three for the road (Commute, Dynamic and Individual) and two for the track (Challenge and Track Attack). Each mode changes the engine character, feeling and the multiple rider aids including traction and wheelie control, cornering ABS, engine brake assist, while the-up-and-down quick-shifter (which is fitted as standard) is the same in all modes. Again, you can change and personalise each mode if you wish. It may sound a little complicated for a 10k ‘entry-level’ 100hp middleweight but, in reality, it isn’t. It’s simple and intuitive, the new switchgear makes it easier than ever (even if I do prefer the thumb and finger paddle of the RSV4).

We started our test ride negotiating small city streets of northern Italy before heading to the playground of the mountains. I opted for the Commute mode, with the fuelling set to 'three', the softest setting. Like every other Aprilia I’ve ridden recently the fuelling was perfect. Aprilia has a world-class fuelling team, throttle response is always perfect, which is particularly impressive for a parallel twin. Again, like the premium RSV4 1100, the quick-shifter is perfect too, both up and down.

Within a few miles, the RS660 feels like a premium bike. On one or two occasions I struggled to find neutral, but that is my only gripe and that's more than likely because it's brand new. As we headed into the Alps it was time to flick from Commute mode to the Dynamic mode, which automatically changes the engine character and response, and reduces the intrusion of rider aids. You can feel the difference, the response is a little sharper, especially from a closed to an open throttle. It’s not snatchy, the fuelling is again excellent, there is simply more urgency. Power is relatively linear (90% of torque is in by 6250rpm), and you can short-shift on the fast quick-shifter and still make progress, but thrill-seekers will head above 7000rpm. There’s a little kick around 7500rpm, and the little twin loves to rev to the limiter at 11,500rpm. It sounds fantastic too. It’s so much fun to thrash, tapping up and down the quick-shifter with the clutch redundant, excellent rider aids and cornering ABS on hand if the road surface should unexpectedly change… I really felt I could attack the Alpine mountain passes as if they were my local roads.

Then, for sheer (and immature) fun, I switched into the Individual mode, which I’d already pre-set for no traction control, no anti-wheelie, power on the most aggressive mode, engine braking down to one, and ABS set to one, which means only conventional ABS on the front, not cornering ABS and no ABS on the rear.

And, yes, the RS660 will wheelie in the first two gear with some encouragement from the clutch. It’s a brilliant engine to thrash, it sounds good, is responsive and fun, and blessed with excellent fuelling and a synchronized quick-shifter. And thankfully, when you look down at the full colour TFT dash, you’re not doubling the speed limit and facing a jail sentence should you get caught. Yes, the RS660 is reasonably quick, I’d estimate top speed is around 140mph, but unlike a RSV4 it’s not scary on the road, instead it’s usable and a few handfuls of the throttle in the first three gears won’t result in warp speed and the potential for instant disqualification.

 

Aprilia have arguably created a new segment with this light, 100bhp, parallel-twin RS600, creating an affordable, usable sports bike (with a plethora of rider aids) for the road.

 

2020 Aprilia RS660 Economy

The 15-litre fuel tank may not seem very large but the new parallel twin is frugal on fuel. Aprilia quote 57.65mpg, but on a steady ride in the afternoon I managed 68mpg, which gives a possible tank range of over 200 miles, 224 to be precise. 200 miles between fuel-ups or 3-4 hours in the saddle wouldn’t be agony either, because the seat is comfortable, the ergonomics are roomy for this type of bike, with pegs lower than the RSV4 and the bars that are wide. The bodywork is also impressive; the screen is almost a double bubble TT-style screen, making it easy to get tucked in at speed, and at motorway cruising speeds does a half-decent job of wind protection.

120kph (or 70mph) equates to around 6000rpm and, while there are a few vibrations felt from the pegs and a little from the bar ends as the speed and revs increase, it’s nothing untoward, though we only managed a short blast on the motorway. Aprilia even offers a tail pack and a tank bag as optional extras, and I’d happily take on some serious miles on the RS660, especially as there is even cruise control. 

 

Handling, suspension, chassis and weight

All the ingredients are there. It has a short wheelbase (1370mm, 69mm shorter than Aprilia’s own RSV4 Factory); at just 169kg dry or 183kg with fuel it is light, there’s adjustable suspension, a wide 180-section rear Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa 2 tyre, and in the purple and red colour scheme reminiscent of the legendary RS250. Aprilia has always delivered excellent chassis, and I was like a starved dog outside a butcher’s, salivating with anticipation.

I was expecting the RS660 to be sharp and racy but is far more relaxed than a wannabe track bike. The seat has some padding, the bars are relatively high and wide, the ergonomics are comfortable, with low pegs. You may think I sound disappointed, but I wasn’t. So many times I’ve jumped on a so-called sporty road bike only to be disappointed by its performance, but that isn’t the case with the RS660. The parallel twin is a road bike first and foremost, but one that can also be taken on the track.

The steering is light, which is exaggerated by the wide bars. It’s toy-like yet stable, giving you the option to steer into the corner, or hang off the inside, knee on the deck like Bradley Smith. Despite its lightness and willingness to steer, it’s stable and predictable. It is user friendly and welcoming, there is no ‘getting used to each other’ period – you just jump on and ride, safe in the knowledge you have excellent rider aids at hand, like cornering ABS should you arrive into a corner too hot.

We only got to test the RS660 on the road in the dry, and although the pace was brisk enough, we weren’t really pushing the handling limits. The front 43mm Kayaba forks are fully adjustable and were faultless on the test, while the rear unit is also adjustable (aside from compression) and even at a brisk road pace is hard to fault. Arguably it doesn’t have the plush ‘top-level’ feel of quality Öhlins units or similar and I’m sure you’ll need a little more support on track with race tyres. But, overall, it’s an easy handling road bike, which can cut it and delivers safe, light positive handling.

 

 

Brakes

Like the suspension, the brakes may be lacking headline-grabbing spec, but these standard radial Brembo stoppers, with braided lines and radial master cylinder are more than up for the job, especially when you consider the bike’s lack of weight and comparatively low top speed. When stopping 183kg from a top speed of 140mph, you don’t need the most expensive race-spec Brembo stoppers. The feel is excellent, even the back brake, and the ABS isn’t intrusive on the road.

Interestingly, you have three levels of ABS. The most intrusive is cornering ABS front and rear, mode two is similar but less intrusive, and mode one is conventional ABS on the front, not cornering ABS and not ABS on the rear, which in experienced hands with the standard slipper clutch allows you back into corners for fun.

 

2020 Aprilia RS660 rider aids and extra equipment

You could argue that so many rider aids aren’t needed on a 100hp middleweight already equipped with an excellent chassis and tyres. But you have to remember the young audience which Aprilia is attracting, and for more experienced riders they can to de-activated even on the move.

At your disposal are multiple rider modes, eight-stage traction control, wheelie control, engine brake assist plus cornering ABS and conventional ABS. Additionally, you have cruise control and an up-and-down quick-shifter. The modes are easy to change on the move, and you can even de-active the traction and wheelie control on the go, too. The new switchgear is intuitive and the clocks are simple and easy to read.

Although the array of rider aids is impressive, I personally prefer the thumb and finger traction control toggle switches on the RSV4 Factory. Furthermore, the RS’s rider aids aren’t displayed on the main menu whilst riding. The rider modes are clear but you can’t, for example, glance down and see how much TC you’re running – that info is within a sub-menu.

As you’d expect there are the usual accessories from Akropovič, including a full race and road exhaust. There is also additional software available which means you can flick over to a race shift, and have access to a pit lane limiter. Away from the racetrack, there is a comfortable seat, USB socket, luggage… even a larger fairing and Bluetooth connectivity.

 

Above: capturing the detail as well as the optional extra Akrapovic exhaust and luggage

 

Rivals

 

Weight

Torque

Power

Price

Yamaha YZF-R6

190kg

61.7Nm/45.5ftlb @ 10,500 rpm

87.1kW/117hp @ 14,500rpm

£12,222

Ducati Supersport

183kg (dry)

93Nm/69ftlb @ 6500 rpm

81kw/110hp @ 9000rpm

£11,999

Honda CBR650R

207kg

64Nm/47.2ftlb @8500 rpm

70kw/94hp @ 12,000rpm

£7495

 

2020 Aprilia RS660 Verdict

As you can probably tell, I’m impressed with Aprilia’s new RS660. It appears Aprilia has listened to the market and produced a usable, friendly, road-going sports bike laden with rider aids and made it affordable, just. It’s not extreme; instead it is comfortable with a versatile engine that shouldn’t get you into too much trouble. It sounds good, has character, looks great, and is certainly desirable. You could argue Aprilia has overdone the rider aids, and the suspension may need an upgrade for some serious racing/track action – but I’m sure there will be a sportier version in the pipeline soon.

A versatile, fun, desirable bike for the inexperienced and experienced alike, which I can't wait to try on track. I believe this will be an Aprilia success story and a big step for the famous Italian brand.

 

 

2020 Aprilia RS660 Technical Specification

New price

£10,149

Capacity

659cc

Bore x Stroke

81 x 63.93mm

Engine layout

Parallel twin, DOHC, 8v

Engine details

Water-cooled

Power

73.5kw / 100hp @10,500rpm

Torque

67Nm / 49.42lbft @8500rpm

Top speed

145mph (estimated)

Transmission

6 speed chain

Average fuel consumption

4.9l per 100km / 57.6mpg (claimed)

Tank size

15 litres

Max range to empty (theoretical)

190 miles

Rider aids

Five rider modes, three road two track. APRC System (Aprilia Performance Ride Control), which includes Traction Control (ATC), Wheelie, Control (AWC), Engine brake (AEB), Engine map (AEM) cruise control (ACC) up and down quick-shifter.

Frame

Aluminium duel beam

Front suspension

Kayaba inverted 41mm forks.

Front suspension adjustability

Fully-adjustable

Rear suspension

Kayaba single shock

Rear suspension adjustability

Rebound and preload

Front brake

2 x 330mm discs, Brembo radial 4-piston callipers with cornering ABS

Rear brake

220mm single disc, Brembo 2-piston calliper with ABS

Front tyre

120/70 ZR17

Rear tyre

180/55 ZR17

Rake/Trail

24.1°/104.6mm

Wheelbase

1370mm

Seat height

820mm

Dry weight

183kg (169kg dry)

MCIA Secured Rating

Not yet rated

Website

www.aprilia.com

Photography by Milagro

Looking for bike insurance? Get a quote for this motorcycle with Bennetts motorbike insurance

 

What is MCIA Secured?

MCIA Secured gives bike buyers the chance to see just how much work a manufacturer has put into making their new investment as resistant to theft as possible. 

As we all know, the more security you use, the less chance there is of your bike being stolen. In fact, based on research by Bennetts, using a disc lock makes your machine three times less likely to be stolen, while heavy duty kit can make it less likely to be stolen than a car. For reviews of the best security products, click here.

MCIA Secured gives motorcycles a rating out of five stars, based on the following being fitted to a new bike as standard:

  • A steering lock that meets the UNECE 62 standard
  • An ignition immobiliser system
  • A vehicle marking system
  • An alarm system
  • A vehicle tracking system with subscription

The higher the star rating, the better the security, so always ask your dealer what rating your bike has, and compare it to other machines on your shortlist.

 

Latest News from Bike Social

Latest News

  • 2021 r ninet thumb
    BMW R NineT range revamped for 2021
  • r18 classic thumb
    Official: 2021 BMW R18 Classic
  • tiger 850 sport thumb
    Triumph Tiger 850 Sport for 2021
  • mt09 teaser thumb
    All-new Yamaha MT-09 for 2021