Traditions are tricky to navigate. Stay the course, and progress is slim. Push things too far, too quick, and the clamor of clutched pearls is heard ’round the world. The Aprilia RS 660 is a recent exception to the rule, vigorously shaking the middleweight sportbike applecart for motorcyclingkind’s betterment, flexing superbike tech and thoroughbred performance, distilled into a comfy package. While the RS 660’s street cred can’t be questioned, we wanted to see how far its racetrack DNA went on the circuit.It looks and sounds the part, but we haven’t had the opportunity to grace the wide-open pastures of a track and untether the 2022 Aprilia RS 660’s proverbial leash. Lucky for me, we made it out to the Aprilia Racer Days stop at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca to sample the circuit’s fast and flowing 11 corners woven into the Santa Lucia Mountain Range.
The Noale-based brand is keen to point out that its lovely middleweight is not the 200-horsepower, tire-slaying, track-focused machine that its acclaimed RSV4 superbikes are—bless their fire-breathing hearts. Instead, the 2022 Aprilia RS 660 casts a broader net. It features power that mere mortals can extract, while street-savvy features broaden its appeal through a comfy saddle and integrated riser clip-on handlebars for just-the-right amount of sportiness. That approach might seem like the RS 660 is being muzzled, but I’ll point out right now that there is plenty of bark and bite, even on a box-stock canine I tested.We often hear about sibling rivalries, though when push comes to shove, there is harmony between the RS 660 and RSV4. After all, the playful 659cc parallel-twin engine is inspired by what’s powering big brother, putting down a wickedly fun 100 horsepower at 10,500 rpm and healthy 49 ft-lbs of torque at 8500 rpm. More track power is available from Aprilia—a race kit offers an Akrapovič exhaust system and matching ECU.By nature, this perky p-twin offers more low-end and midrange shove than what an equivalent inline-four can muster. While a 600 supersport will motor past on the straights, it will never be tractable or welcoming. Aprilia has a charmer on its hands, one that is decidedly exciting from the first rpm to the last, encouraging riders from across the skill spectrum to crack the throttle as early as possible. Intermediates will bask in its inviting torque and spirited revving, while an experienced rider is compelled to wring the throttle like a rubber chicken’s neck.It’s hard not to come away feeling like a hero when I’m not contending with peaky power deliveries or the inherent superbike pucker factor. Holding it wide and enjoying its eager pull is genuinely satisfying. Aside from a minor flat spot, noticeable in 2nd gear and around 5k, this parallel-twin is tugging at your collar to go—keep the rpm above 6k, and you’ll stave it off. Although, most buyers will probably see this as an incentive for a pipe and reflash to clear that meddlesome emissions hurdle.That does bring us to the electronic side and is one of the several features that help this steed justify the $11,299 MSRP. The Yamaha YZF-R7, Kawasaki Ninja 650, and Suzuki SV650 twins manage basic safety suites, and their prices reflect it. On the RS 660, only what’s on the top shelf will do, which includes six-axis IMU-supported rider aids accessed through the full-color TFT display.Five riding modes are available, though most are for the street. What’s important at Laguna Seca is the built-in lap timer in the track-focused Challenge and Time Attack modes. Between power modes, engine braking, traction control, ABS, and wheelie control settings, you get the works. There’s room for exploration, though I quickly settled with the zestiest throttle response. Combine that with a couple dashes of TC and disabled WC, and the RS 660 is a firecracker off any apex.Rounding out the whizz-bang niceties is the up/down quickshifter tied to a tidy six-speed transmission. Grabbing an upshift is as clean as a whistle, with a nice exhaust bark to heighten the experience. The same can be said of the downshift, except when barreling into slow corners and spiking the rpm—things that won’t happen on the street. The slightly conservative over-rev protection means you must let the tachometer settle a hair before nailing the final shift, or you can go old-school and use a touch of clutch.Aprilia devised a lightweight twin-spar aluminum chassis sporting athletic geometry in a class chockablock of tubular steel frames, giving it a taut and confident feel. The thoroughly stressed-member design keeps curb weight a flattering 403 pounds. While attractive on paper, the result is handling that makes anyone feel like a podium contender. Tipping into Turn 2 reveals a machine that won’t falter and pip up, nearly begging you to use its agility to rail one of the many high-speed corners at Laguna.All that feedback isn’t lost on the compliant KYB suspension, which features spring-preload and rebound damping adjustments at either end. Crank up the available settings a few turns, and the comfort witnessed on the street can still hold its own when being whipped through the demanding Corkscrew or hurling through Rainey. Heavy-braking zones and g-outs did highlight my desire for compression damping adjusters, but you won’t see me raising my nose at suspenders pulling double-duty like this.Those out for a track day rip on the Aprilia RS 660 are in good hands. Meanwhile, serious racers and track day junkies are sure to upgrade the fork cartridges and shock to help the chassis reach an even higher potential. Surely, they’ll finish things off with a steering damper for good measure.Brembo delivers the goods on all counts. An approachable yet confident bite translates well on the track. Feedback from the adjustable lever and excellent front-end feel gives you a perfect foundation to develop those all-important trail braking skills.Trusting what’s underneath you on the binders trickles down to the versatile Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corso II, great for those dabbling in track activities. No need to fuss with tire warmers and all that comes with softer, racier compounds; the PDRCII rubber offers good edge grip, communicating everything loud and proud. That’s beneficial for riders at either end of the spectrum, knowing when the limits are approaching.Now, we circle back to the comfortable ergonomics that separate Aprilia’s middleweight steed from the supersport herd. Consider me a fan, as the slightly propped-up riding position decreases weight on the wrists while allowing plenty of movement in the saddle. The go-fast types will surely replace the top yoke, add clip-ons, and get adjustable rearsets to customize to the nth degree. Still, I don’t consider the stock bits to be a hindrance.We knew that the RS 660 was destined to change the middleweight segment and raise the bar, a fact that was cemented when it secured a MotoAmerica Twins Cup title during its maiden year of competition. Aprilia’s effervescent twin-cylinder engine, remarkable agility, and electronics are a testament to the brand’s racing knowledge, shining on the street or track. And that is a rare achievement.Trackside photography by Cali Photography Auto-to-Aprilia photography by Dylan RaduenzRIDING STYLE
Hello everyone and welcome once again to Motos and Friends, the weekly podcast brought to you by Ultimate Motorcycling. My name is Arthur Coldwells.
Motos and Friends is brought to you by Yamaha. You can check out the amazing YZF-R7 at your local Yamaha dealer, or of course at YamahaMotorsports.com. The YZF-R7 is an amazing supersport machine that is comfortable too!
In this week’s first segment, Editor Don Williams takes the smallest BMW ADV bike on an urban adventure in Los Angeles. The BMW G 310 GS is a full size motorcycle with a modest engine, so of course we wonder if it is a little too underpowered and might struggle. Don put it through its paces and gives us his take.
In the second segment, Neale Bayly and Kiran Ridley have returned from the Ukraine to Paris where Kiran is based.
Kiran is an award winning photojournalist, and as an accomplished documentarian, he has covered stories as diverse as drug smuggling around the Mexican border, to the devastation of the Australian Bush Fires, to the tragedy of the Mediterranean migration crisis. Neale and Kiran reminisce about their motorcycle adventure in the Ukraine, and their observations and experiences with the incredibly resilient people of Ukraine, who have been put through such brutal hardship.