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01 Dec 2020
RS660 Review w/Taylor Mackenzie

Despite it being a wet and windy day down at Colchester Aprilia, riding the brand new Aprilia
RS660 took me straight back to my first experience of riding an Aprilia RS125 some 15 years ago.
I did not stop smiling inside my helmet all day. Not only does the new RS have a great engine in a
nimble chassis, to the untrained eye it looks just like an RSV4 which happens to be one of my
favourite looking Superbikes. This has been one of the most hotly anticipated bikes of 2020 and it
didn’t disappoint.

 


In previous years middleweight bikes have been all about screaming the engines as much as you
can to squeeze every last ounce of power out of them. But this bike has totally reinvented that idea
in my head. The new parallel twin which is basically the front half of the Aprilia RSV4 engine,
boasts 100hp at the crank at 10,500RPM and 67Nm of torque at 8500RPM. In real world day to
day riding it is the perfect balance. In the past when I’ve ridden 600cc bikes I’ve found them to be
like riding big 125cc bikes, meaning you have to really carry your corner speed to keep them high
in the rev range, as you can only feel the bike pull properly when you keep the engine singing.
However on the RS, it feels more like you are riding a mini Superbike. It has useable power from
really low down in the RPM and the front wheel just paws at the air, which to me when you are
riding on country roads and around town is far more fun.


It has a 6 speed gear box with a bi-directional shifter which is a nice luxury to have. If I had to pick
fault with the shifter sometimes at slower speeds the up change could be a little agricultural but
going down the gears it was really smooth no matter where you changed gear in the rev range.
Radical 600cc bikes like the Yamaha R6 were built with one purpose in mind, to win races. When
you try and translate that back into a bike that is user friendly and comfortable it struggles in the
real world. Peaky engines and radical riding positions aren’t much fun if you’re planning a long day
in the saddle. The RS has a 15 litre tank with a theoretical 190 mile range and after I rode it all day,
3-4 hours between fuel stops would be easily achieved. The handlebars feel quite high on the bike
which rotates your body back slightly, making you feel more relaxed as you ride. It also has a really
padded seat which makes for a pleasant journey over bumpy UK roads.


Up front you’ll find 4 piston Brembo callipers with twin 330mm discs, coupled with a single 220mm
disc at the rear. Although it’s nice to see the Brembo logo on your bike, these aren’t top of the
range callipers. They do the job and I didn’t have any problems with the brakes but if you took the
bike on a track it would be something that could be upgraded for better outright performance.
If electronic aids are what floats your boat then this is the bike for you, it is absolutely packed with
them. It has five different rider modes, three of which are designed for the track and two for the
road. It also benefits from a 6 axis IMU and Aprilia Performance Ride Control or APRC for short.
This features Traction Control, Wheelie Control, Engine Brake and Engine Map control. This is all
housed within the TFT dash which looks great, there’s hours of fun to be had dialling the settings in
to your taste. Although the range of settings are probably overkill for a bike with 100BHP there is
no downside to having them there and they’re great fun to play with.


The bike has a dual beam aluminium frame which feels really light and nimble to ride. The inverted
41mm Kayaba front forks felt a little soft for my liking. They didn’t present a problem riding around
town but the second you want to push the bike a bit harder they don’t offer much in the way of
support. They do have rebound and preload adjustability though and unless you wanted to take
this bike on track I don’t think you’d have a problem with it. If you were a serial track day addict and
you wanted to take it on track I think it would benefit from a cartridge kit upgrade.

Finally, the bike comes in at £10,149. Although its less than half the price of an Aprilia RSV4 1100,
it definitely doesn’t feel like half of the bike. I didn’t stop smiling all day riding the RS660, I really
think Aprilia have captured the balance of having enough power that you don’t get bored, with a
lightweight chassis at a reasonable price point tremendously. It gets a huge thumbs up from me!