The naked middleweight segment is positively beaming these days, from the sensible and affordable Japanese motorcycles to the more powerful, tech-rich, and pricier European competition. Riders from all shapes and sizes have a veritable bike buffet before them. There truly is something for everyone, sans the risk of salmonella. Adding a bit of Italian flair to the menu is the 2021 Aprilia Tuono 660, which looks like quite the treat by plating up all the fully faired RS 660 supersport thrills in an upright, street-focused seating position, with a lower $10,499 price.We cruised the streets of sunny Southern California and terrorized many a canyon to figure out what this new middleweight sportbike is all about. Now, let’s get to the Fast Facts!
Pop the Prosecco, il giovanetto, because the 659cc parallel-twin is a peach. From the first burbling bark shot out of the exhaust, it’s clear that Aprilia has a winner on its hands. The middleweight lump is feisty and raring to go, thanks to performance-minded fixings, including a high 13.5:1 compression ratio and the so-in-vogue 270-degree firing order. With a zesty 100 peak horsepower and 50 ft-lb of torque on tap—80 percent of which is available at a low 4000 rpm—the Tuono 660’s lump is free-revving and quick to take advantage of all its low and midrange grunt, without forgetting a bit of top-end shove.
The motor is an absolute hoot—with one exception. There is much to love about this p-twin engine, friends. Its performance melds with intermediate and veteran riders alike, without overwhelming. The motor is exciting and tractable but has a flat spot in the powerband from roughly 5000 to 6000 rpm that is most prominent in second gear. In slower, tight canyon roads, that dip saps some of the midrange fun. Is it a deal-breaker? No. Keep the revs up, and you’re okay. However, it does make an exhaust system and reflash more tempting.
A supple six-speed gearbox is only made better by the accessory up/down quickshifter. If you read our review of the 2021 Aprilia RS 660, then you already know that the gearbox is the cat’s meow. Clean, sporty shifts are supplemented by the must-have accessory up/down quickshifter that is darn near flawless. Unlike the RS, it will set you back $200.
The APRC electronic suite is in full swing, but the IMU is optional. Followers of the Italian marque already know that the Aprilia Performance Ride Control suite features every rider aide imaginable. From the excellent TFT display, you have five selectable ride modes, adjustable engine braking modes (three levels), throttle maps (three levels), wheelie control (on/off), traction control (eight levels), ABS (three levels), and cruise control. When you unlock the $200 six-axis IMU, the rider aids become lean-angle sensitive and activate the cornering headlights.
Time to geek out on electronics, and prepare to write a $200 check. The preset street-focused riding modes of Commuter and Dynamic tamp the motorcycle’s performance down to casual levels, letting newer riders get their footing. However, I find the Dynamic throttle to be a bit vague. However, once in the customizable mode, I settled with the sportiest throttle map, left the engine braking in 2, and lowered things to a suitably sporty amount. The nannies step in when needed and never too early. Note that you cannot disable WC without also disabling TC if you don’t have the IMU unlocked. Although WC is nice, it is not entirely necessary for experienced riders. Conversely, TC most certainly is essential, and the added nuance an IMU brings is invaluable. Spend the $200.
Comfortable ergonomics are part of the Tuono heritage. Slapping handlebars on an utterly bonkers superbike is the genesis of the Tuono V4 1100 in a nutshell, and the middleweight version does not disappoint. The wide handlebar sits higher up and further back than the RS’s faux clip-ons, propping the rider up for all-day excursions while allowing me to get my elbows out in the canyons for good fun. Likewise, the rearsets are nudged forward a tad to relax the rider triangle further while also adding rubber inserts to quell vibration—keeping the vibes at bay to a much higher degree.
The rider accommodations have a more mature and adequately sized feeling. The 32.2-inch seat height is not the lowest in-class by a long shot, but it is a point made moot by how slim the bike feels at its waist, allowing shorter riders to reach the deck. Overall, the Tuono 660 is not quite as big as the open-class supernaked machines, but nowhere as confined as many Japanese middleweight upright sportbikes.
Bodywork with benefits on a tastefully semi-nude bike. The Tuono V4 and 660 have a Victorian mentality with their styling, leaving a little more to the imagination than the stark raving naked Ducati Monster, KTM 890 Duke R, or Triumph Speed Triple 765 RS. To that end, the junior partner Tuono also offers a decent amount of wind protection, along with aerodynamic features that draw hot air away from the rider.
The Tuono 660 is no slouch in the canyons. Whether you’re blasting through your favorite twisties or cruising the city streets, the impressive 403 curb weight starts to show its impact. It is not a direct copy-and-paste from the RS 660 to the Tuono. The upright’s lightweight twin-spar aluminum frame has one less engine brace to reduce chassis stiffness, matching slower street paces and increasing comfort. Everything about the Tuono feels light and nimble. Thank the steeper 23.9-degree rake and added stability from a slightly longer 54.3-inch wheelbase.
Adjustable KYB suspension is more than up to the task. To save a few bucks, the 41mm fork offers spring-preload and rebound-damping adjustments in the right fork leg only instead of the RS’s fully adjustable kit. The shock, which features the same amount of adjustment, is carried over. As a whole, the KYB suspension gobbles up irregularities, keeping the Tuono composed when wailing through the canyons.
Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II tires are a perfect fit. The Pirelli DRC II kicks are a perfect match for this street-savvy machine. They offer loads of edge grip for sporty riding and harder center compounds when slogging through commutes.
Brembo brakes keep things looking shiny. Brembo four-piston calipers and 320mm rotors hold things down up front, replete with excellent feel and stopping power, as you might expect. In the rear, a Brembo two-piston caliper and 220mm disc are great for correcting lines or trawling parking lots.
Speaking of parking lots, low-speed maneuvers are a snap. Tuono V4 owners will surely be envious of its kid brother’s lock-to-lock steering that low-speed riding much more agreeable.
Following in the steps of the RS 660, it looks like lightning strikes twice for Aprilia with the 2021 Tuono 660. It’s an agile machine with an actual middleweight engine, equipped with the tech and sophistication of the big boys of the class. The RSV4 and Tuono V4 1100 are a boon for the Italian brand as no holds barred high-performance motorcycles. Now, Aprilia has a more sensible middleweight duo in its lineup.
Hello everyone and welcome once again to Ultimate Motorcycling’s weekly Podcast—Motos and Friends.
My name is Arthur Coldwells.
This week’s Podcast is brought to you by Yamaha motorcycles. Discover how the YZF-R7 provides the perfect balance of rider comfort and true supersport performance by checking it out at YamahaMotorsports.com, or see it for yourself at your local dealer.
This week’s episode features Senior Editor Nic de Sena’s impressions of the beautiful new Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST that is loosely based around the original FXRT Sport Glide from the 1980s. Hailing from The Golden State, these cult-status performance machines became known as West Coast style, with sportier suspension, increased horsepower, and niceties including creature comforts such as a tidy fairing and sporty luggage.
In past episodes you might have heard us mention my best friend, Daniel Schoenewald, and in the second segment I chat with him about some of the really special machines in his 170 or so—and growing—motorcycle collection. He’s always said to me that he doesn’t consider himself the owner, merely the curator of the motorcycles for the next generation.
Yet Daniel is not just a collector, but I can attest a really skilled rider. His bikes are not trailer queens, they’re ridden, and they’re ridden pretty hard. Actually, we have had many, many memorable rides on pretty much all of the machines in the collection at one time or another.
From all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!