Ok, so let us deal with the ‘Elephant’ in the room first – if you are adamant a Sports Bike has to be blessed with at least 200 ‘angry horses’, then pass on by and enter into the world of the RSV4’s!
Reality? On our congested pot-hole ridden roads, you are highly unlikely to unleash half of those ‘horses’ and even if you do, the longevity of your driving licence is probably in question!
The Biking journals are rammed with a ‘new breed of twin cylinder (or triple!) machines loitering around the 100Bhp mark but equipped with a host of ‘goodies’ that you find on the flagship Sports Bikes – so enter the Aprilia RS660 and Tuono 660!
The Tuono 660 is almost a ‘half faired’ machine but nestles in the ‘naked’ market, its very own little niche which its Big Brother RSV4 has dominated over the years, so a good start for the little 660 then!
No time to play with the APRC electronic controls, multi-level traction control, anti wheelie control, engine brake control and engine maps, I fumble over the switches and select ‘Dynamic’ as the riding mode (I strongly suggest a little time to master the intuitive modes to suit your riding!) and I work on the principle that ‘most’ riders will do the same! Time to put some miles on the clock. I hit the starter button and am greeted by the pleasant exhaust note – it certainly doesn’t have me wishing for an Akrapovic straightaway so easier on the debit card already!
The familiar Aprilia TFT dash is clear and easy to read even in sunlight, the switches have pleasant feel although I wonder how robust the ‘Cruise Control’ button is which sits very pround and very vulnerable!
Riding position is spot on and a nice click into first gear. Mirrors are surprisingly good once I get the position right. Clutch lever is a bit of a stretch and my fingers aren’t short – why do manufacturers not provide adjustable levers as standard these days – first thing on my ‘accessory’ list then!
The Gearbox is slick and the accompanying exhaust note is addictive – and the fuelling good with the engine pulling cleanly in second from slow junction work, traffic congestion not a problem.
Like any middle weight machine, work the gearbox and the motor is willing with a fantastic growl and engine braking that reminds me of my old Ducati 899! The Pirelli Rosso Corsa II tyres provide plenty of confidence in the dry – yet to experience in the rain though! In truth the little 660 (and to be fair it does not feel any less an RSV4 in essence) can be pointed through the twisties with ease, but very forgiving should you need to change direction in a hurry – thank you farmer Giles!
And the brakes? Early days but on the road they haul the bike up with plenty of feel and firmly, plenty of confidence here then.
Fair to say I am having a ball and the Tuono 660 is providing more fun than anticipated and certainly makes you question the need for a litre machine, which is why I have just sold my S1000RR! There must be merit in my thinking….
The Biking media are quick to raise issue with allegedly ‘soft forks’ and a question over the rear shock, here’s that reality check again – they work more than adequately on the road absorbing all the usual culprit pot holes without fluster. I wasn’t ejected from the seat or wrestling with the front end.
So, the question is more a case of ‘is the Tuono RSV4 worth the extra £8400 over the Tuono 660?’ In my opinion probably not unless you just have to have the full fat machine with all those ‘angry horses’! The Tuono 660 has me grinning from ear to ear with sufficient performance and it handles very nicely indeed. It will have you reaching for the keys at every available opportunity – and with its new LED lighting and new nose cone, it turns a few heads too!
At £9700 On The Road, you can satisfy your need for perfection with an upgrade rear shock, fork springs and even an Akrapovic and still have change from the cost of an RSV4! There is a host of Aprilia accessories to personalise your Tuono 660 – I am certainly gunning for heated grips, a quickshifter and adjustable levers, but that’s just my opinion!
Oh, and did I mention the seat comfort? No, I didn’t, which is not a bad thing at all as after a couple of hours I had no complaints at all!
The RS 660 is the target of my next Blog, slightly more power, quickshifter and a sportier riding position, I can’t wait!
Martin Vine – Sales Manager