Ride Aprilia’s latest superbikes in Dubai

Published on February 06, 2022 07:00:00

A day spent riding three of Aprilia’s latest sportbikes at Dubai Autodrome is truly a special day. Here’s how it was.

About five years ago, I had a single session on an Aprilia RSV4 RF around Kari Motor Speedway and declared it the greatest track riding experience of my life. The past five years have unfortunately been devoid of any Aprilia V4 goodness, but that thirst has finally been quenched.

During a recent holiday in Dubai with my partner, I was able to attend a track day at the Dubai Autodrome where Society Motors, Piaggio’s distributors for the UAE, were kind enough to let me ride three of the latest motorcycles from Aprilia sport, the Tuono 660, RS 660 and the mighty factory RSV4 1100.

The day was split into three 20 minute riding sessions and first I rode out on the new Tuono 660. Considering the short time with each bike, consider this an overview of the experience, rather than reviews complete.

Aprilia Tuono 660

The first impression of Aprilia’s all-new 660 platform is that these are bigger bikes to sit on than you think. From a rider’s perspective, the bike looks substantial, more like a Honda CB650R rather than something as svelte as the Triumph Trident 660 or KTM 790/890 Duke. The good news is that it doesn’t come at the expense of weight and the Tuono weighs just 183kg wet, which is lighter than the bikes mentioned above.

It took a few manipulations to understand the operation of the buttons and the options available on the beautiful TFT screen. It’s heavy, but when you get the hang of it, you’ll find there are five drive modes – three preset for the road and two customizable for the track.

Layout of the TFT screen a little busy, but displays a lot of data.

These Aprilias easily feature the most advanced electronics in the class with adjustable traction control, ABS, three engine maps, engine brake control, wheel control and even cruise control. Unfortunately, bi-directional quickshifter and a 6-axis IMU are standard on the RS 660, but optional on the Tuono.

Aprilia’s newly developed 659cc parallel-twin engine does a stellar job of feeling different from many other similar engines on the market. It revs higher than most, with an 11,500 rpm redline and the high-rev bark it produces gives you a little feel of the V4 lineage in there.

Both 660s get a neat underslung exhaust

At 95hp, it’s 5hp less than the RS660 but still fast enough to top 210km/h on the main straight. Pull the brakes for the first corner and the Brembo setup responds with plenty of power and surprising sharpness, while the stiff-feeling aluminum perimeter frame keeps the bike nice and stable.

Soon session one was over, and as I was just getting used to the track and exploring the bike’s capabilities, this would be recorded for session three on RS660. Now it was time to jump on the big one!

Aprilia Tuono 660
Motor Liquid-cooled, 4-valve, 659cc, parallel-twin
To be able to 95 hp at 10,500 rpm
Couple 67Nm at 8500rpm
Unloaded weight 183kg
Brakes (front/rear) Dual 320mm disc / 220mm disc
Tires (front/rear) 120/70 ZR17 / 180/55 ZR17

Aprilia RSV4 1100 FACTORY

With 217hp from its largest 1099cc V4 engine for 2021, the RSV4 1100 Factory produces the highest claimed power of any bike in the class. But before feeling the full fury of what it looked like, the immediate impressions in the pit lane were all positive.

Large fenders for 2021 bring style and improved stability.

First off, I think the bike looks smashing in person. Although there was some trepidation when the images first appeared, the new one simply looks sharper, more modern and up-to-date when parked next to its predecessor. Oh, and that giant wing, worked into the bodywork along the face, just screams “speeeed!”

The RSV4 has always been a pretty cramped bike, but Aprilia has lowered the seat and footpegs a bit for 2021, which is good news for most shapes of people. It’s still not as roomy as a BMW S 1000 RR, but I still found the ergonomics quite decent, especially in the wide clips that create great steering leverage.

Coming out of the pits, the engine feels lumpier below 2000 rpm than I remember, likely due to new emission standards. The Euro 5 exhaust is also more muffled than before, but still sounds fantastic in the middle of a discussion. From the viewer’s perspective, it’s the beautiful MotoGP sound that makes this machine so delightfully exotic, but for the rider, there’s so much more to it.

Now familiar with the track, I wasn’t going to waste my precious 20 minutes on this bike. Going from 100hp to 217hp and feeling instantly comfortable is a mark of RSV4 quality. The feel from the front end is exquisite, and it’s like you can just steer the bike where you want it, no matter the line or the level of lean.

To get a sense of how fast he is, I briefly found myself behind one of the official Autodrome racers on his pumped-up, all-carbon fiber BMW HP4 and the RSV4 glued directly to his tail in the long back straight. It’s mental how fast production superbikes have gotten.

The RSV4 gets a new under-reinforced swingarm.

With its Ohlins Smart EC2 electronically damped suspension, exceptional Brembo Stylema brakes, sophisticated but completely transparent electronic assistance and leech-like Pirelli Supercorsas, it was the most rewarding 20 minutes of my 2021. Never mind that the BMW S 1000 RR feels lighter on its feet, or that the Panigale V4 is a more visceral and violent experience—the RSV4 remains the smoothest one-liter bike I’ve ever ridden.

Aprilia RSV4 1100 Factory
Motor Liquid-cooled, 4-valve, 1099cc V4,
To be able to 217 hp at 13,000 rpm
Couple 125 Nm at 10,500 rpm
Unloaded weight 202kg
Brakes (front/rear) Dual 330mm disc / 220mm disc
Tires (front/rear) 120/70 ZR17 / 200/55 ZR17

Aprilia RS 660

Just like the Tuono 660, the RS is a beautiful motorcycle, but even more so thanks to the sportier proportions of its full fairing, taller windscreen and lower clips. Aprilia’s signature acid gold color is unlike anything else, and the fact that the 660s share the same front and rear LED lighting as the RSV4 adds to the special feel.

RS’s suspension is adjustable on both fork legs.

On the trail, the RS feels (predictably) more connected than the Tuono, thanks to its lower bars, taller footpegs and added wind protection. Even after jumping off the RSV4, the 660’s brakes still feel plenty powerful, but the same can’t be said for the suspension. The 660’s suspension is adjustable, but once the pace gets high there’s a lack of feedback and control you’d expect from high-grade suspension, especially in the rear.

The 660s will make nice road bikes thanks to their solid mid-range performance, e-toys and relatively smooth ergonomics; But on the track, it’s clear they aren’t quite as good as a traditional 600cc supersport. My friend Imran on his Yamaha R6 could have left me behind on the straights if he wanted to and his suspension setup and more engaged ergonomics were definitely better suited to the track. Again, his R6 is never used on the road.

Diablo Rosso Corsa II tires work great on the track.

Ultimately, the RS 660 is closer to a Honda CBR650R than a Honda CBR600RR. For its fantastic Italian styling, superior power and much more comprehensive feature set, it commands Rs 2 lakh on the Honda CBR650R in the UK, which is absolutely reasonable.

Aprilia RS660
Motor Liquid-cooled, 4-valve, 659cc, parallel-twin
To be able to 100 hp at 10,500 rpm
Couple 67Nm at 8500rpm
Unloaded weight 183kg
Brakes (front/rear) Dual 320mm disc / 220mm disc
Tires (front/rear) 120/70 ZR17 / 180/55 ZR17

buy one

In India though, the RS 660 costs Rs 13.39 lakh (all ex-showroom prices), almost Rs 5 lakh more than the (already overpriced) Honda and it’s an almost impossible pill to swallow. . The Rs 13.09 lakh Tuono 660 is perhaps even worse here. With such a small difference, you might as well buy the more powerful and better-specced RS, if you’re willing to spend that kind of money.

Ironically things are much more reasonable with the RSV4 and in this segment it is the Rs 32 lakh Honda CBR 1000RR-R that carries the ridiculous price tag in India – and it is the base model. In comparison, the top shelf RSV4 1100 Factory costs Rs 23.69 lakh, while the base RSV4 1100 costs Rs 20.93 lakh, ex-showroom. This puts the Aprilia on par with the BMW S 1000 RR and makes it much more affordable than the Panigale V4 range.

If only Piaggio India would give a little more prominence to its great range of bikes, these incredible machines would get the success they so deserve.

This story wouldn’t have been possible without BikeWithGirl, The Biker Crew UAE and Society Motors UAE.

Photos by: Ivan Stanojevic and Uday Saji

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