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2021 Aprilia Tuono 660 Review – First Ride

2021 Aprilia Tuono 660

Editor Score: 87.25%

Engine 18.5/20
Suspension/Handling 12.5/15
Transmission/Clutch 8.5/10
Brakes 8.5/10
Instruments/Controls 4.25/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 9.0/10
Appearance/Quality 9.5/10
Desirability 9.0/10
Value 7.5/10
Overall Score 87.25/100

The Aprilia Tuono 660 is a bike that I’ve been eager to ride since I first laid eyes on the pretty production-ready looking concept at EICMA 2019. Even through what was left of my tired red occhi, dried from so many hours of planes, trains, and automobiles (what I would give for that now!), I was digging the “naked” version of the RS660 more than the sportybike itself.

2021 Aprilia RS660 Review – First Ride

And really, it does come down to which look you prefer, because they’re almost identical, aside from styling and the essential naked bike handlebar. In fact, since Troy has already reported his riding impressions of the RS660 on the street, track, and in video, I’ll just link to those and go about my day…

Ha! Yeah, right! The story here isn’t so much about how Aprilia’s two new machines are alike, but rather, it’s the Italian marque’s foray into an entirely new segment. Aprilia’s latest offering is jumping into one of, if not the, most competitive class(es) in motorcycling today: middleweight naked bikes. 

But before we get too far into talks of it’s competition, let’s take a closer look at Aprilia’s first step into the segment.

Feeling out the thunder

Aprilia is heading down the same path many manufacturers have tread for some time now, that is, offering a more approachable machine at a more approachable price. It’s also built a platform where we now have the RS and Tuono sharing many of the same components including its 659cc Parallel Twin engine. We also know an adventure bike is on the way that will also be powered by the new Twin, and we’ll be curious to see how much more is carried over. 

Of course, the highlight of the entire 660 range is the 659cc parallel-Twin engine. Featuring an 81mm bore, 13.5:1 compression ratio, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, and the distinct 270º firing order, it oozes character as it revs mightily to its 100 hp (at the crank) peak and 11,500 rpm redline. We’re told you get 50 lb-ft of torque at 8,500 rpm, with 80% of that available as low as 4,000 rpm.

2021 Aprilia Tuono 660 Review

The sound that emanates from the Tuono 660 alone makes it worthy of its name. The new Twin engine has a sound all its own that’s unmistakably Aprilia. What made the new motor interesting during our ride through Malibu’s tight canyon roads was the ability to use its power in two different ways. You can keep the revs low around its torquey mid-range, or with its 11,500 rpm redline, you can keep the motor singing soprano. Unlike many other middleweight Twins, you have a bit more room throughout the rev-range to utilize. 

2021 Aprilia Tuono 660 Review

The Tuono’s motor doesn’t have quite the same low-end torque that some of the other middleweight twins have, but that’s more of an observation than a complaint. A complaint that I do feel is warranted though is a flat spot between 5000 and 6000 rpm. This was particularly noticeable when riding through tighter canyon roads in second gear. Rolling on the gas as you exit a corner, if you don’t keep the rpm above 6k, you’re left waiting for the motor to rev back up past that mark before getting back into its otherwise healthy power output. This could perhaps be due to emissions requirements. However, I wasn’t the only rider in our group to notice this issue. 

2021 Aprilia Tuono 660 Review

The Tuono’s seat cushion is one of the most comfortable we’ve tested in recent years, though every inch of its 32.3-inch seat height is noticed.

As with the RS, the swingarm is bolted through the engine, and attached to it is a rebound- and spring preload-adjustable shock (no compression adjustment). Up front you have a Kayaba 41mm inverted fork, also adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping, but only in one leg of the fork. Braking components are the same between RS and Tuono, which means two 320mm discs and radial calipers and master cylinder from Brembo that do a solid job of getting the machine slowed down. On the tire front, Pirelli outfits the bike with its Diablo Rosso Corsa II rubber.

There are some slight changes to the chassis from the RS model which complement the Tuono’s street-first duties. First, and most obvious, is the addition of a handlebar which brings the riders hands further up and back. The footpegs have been moved slightly lower and more forward and use a rubber insert to quell vibration. The Tuono 660 also has more room between steering locks, making it easier to maneuver. The engine is used as a stressed member in the frame and incorporates one less mount than the RS, resulting in a less rigid chassis for a more comfortable ride.

2021 Aprilia Tuono 660 Review

The Tuono 660 has a reduced triple clamp offset, slightly steeper rake, and shorter wheelbase compared to the RS which adds to its agility.

On its side, the Tuono 660 feels quite stable, though I would have liked to make some adjustments to the shock on our ride but didn’t have the opportunity. It felt like perhaps a bit more preload and additional rebound damping could have helped smooth out the ride a bit. Hopefully, we’ll have one in our clutches soon to test further.

2021 Aprilia Tuono 660 Review

The full color TFT display is controlled mostly with the left switchgear and be connected to the rider’s phone via Bluetooth.

Probably the biggest differentiating factor the new Tuono brings to class, though, is the full Aprilia Performance Ride Control (APRC) suite. This isn’t a dumbed down version of what the flagship models use either, it’s the real deal. For 2021 the APRC package includes three ride modes for the street and two for the track. There is a separate dash layout for street and track modes and only the ride modes associated with each layout are available in that layout. In each, Aprilia offers a fully customizable ride mode where throttle response, engine braking, traction control, wheelie control, and ABS can all be adjusted. When equipped with the optional IMU, TC and wheelie control can be adjusted independently. Without, they’re tied together. 

2021 Aprilia Tuono 660 Review

In the street setting two modes with dedicated parameters are available as well as a third user configurable option.

The two dedicated modes in the street layout are Commute and Dynamic, with the third customizable labeled Individual. Being able to adjust throttle response, TC, wheelie control, and ABS isn’t exactly new to the category, although it’s only seen on the higher performing, more expensive machines. But adding adjustable engine braking really lets the rider dial in the way they prefer to ride. I spent a fair bit of time testing different settings during our ride and can report that each adjustment made results in an obvious change to the character of the motor. Like  the praise I’ve lauded on the KTM Adventure’s electronics and their actual usefulness, the Aprilia Tuono 660’s adjustability feels well-thought out and purposeful. 

2021 Aprilia Tuono 660 Review

The quickshifter works quite well, though if you’re not careful with your toe you can accidentally cause the ignition to be cut if you slightly press the lever.

One of the many options available on the Tuono 660 is the six-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU). This enables cornering-ABS (with different levels of intervention), as well as “bending” headlights that illuminate corners based on lean angle. Another option that you’ll probably want to pop for is the quickshifter. Both the quickshifter and IMU are $200 options. 

Middleweight Competition

At last count, there are something like 15 motorcycles making up this category. Displacements range from 645cc to 948cc with MSRPs starting at $7500 carrying on to nearly double that. Some steadfast models have been around for decades garnering a cult following along the way, while others have stepped into the ring more recently and asserted dominance. So, where does the Tuono 660 slot into this sporty slew of naked bikes? There are two ways of looking at it. Its price tag starts at $10,499 which slots the 660 into the top third according to price, but its 659cc Parallel Twin lands it with the third smallest engine of the bunch. 

2021 Aprilia Tuono 660 Review

It then, of course, comes down to what you, the buyer, finds most important. After our brief introduction, we think the Aprilia Tuono 660 will be punching above its displacement at the larger, more expensive end of the mid-sized naked spectrum. But will its technology, performance, and fit and finish be enough to hold its own against the stalwarts of the category? Only time will tell. 


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