Has Aprilia Gone Mad?
In a class dominated by Japanese bikes, why would a small Italian maker try to compete? I mean the only reason you bought a 600 is because you couldn't afford a liter bike, right? Why slap an Italian price sticker on it? Jokes aside, one of the main draws of the 600 class, and specifically Japanese, is the cost of entry and maintenance. I mean these are relatively cheap bikes that the big 4 of Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki, and Suzuki have produce about a gazillion of. Parts are easily sourced and the bikes are basically disposable.
This disposability has long been a key factor in the amount of these bikes that live and sometimes lose their life on a track. They have been decently popular on the street for people who want to turn the street into the track. Not the best idea and their day of reckoning will come, but until then they will love the way their 600cc motor will allow them to race around everyone on their way to work. This rider seems to be a dying breed though as seen in the sales figures drastically shifting to naked and ADV bikes that are more suitable for street duty.
I do hope this segment stays alive, though, because the use of the track is ideal. For those truly trying to hone their skills a 600cc is a great tool for the job. However, it does beg the question of if this is the ideal place for them why would I want a shiny Italian bike that costs a lot more?
Why you might find the 660 appealing
Well there are a great many who take their $40,000 V4R to the track so there is clearly a market out there for it, however they bought it because it is the top of the food chain. The appeal of a smaller cc bike might not do it for these people. However, there are a vast amount of people, myself included, who view the Triumph Daytona 675R as the greatest track day bike of all time. It handles extremely well and has one of the best middleweight motors.
So people are willing to pay a premium for a nicer, better performing bike. Since Triumph wasn't interested in making the new 765 available for most people, there is a hole there that can be filled. However, the Aprilia will have to be up to the task. They have not announced a price yet but hopefully it will be a good balance of performance and value.
Aprilia RS 660
It is stunning and Italian, so check that box. I mean this throwback livery is gorgeous! The next for it to be a success is for it to outperform the Japanese bikes. With the latest gen of R6 and company that will be a tall order. The tech on this bike is very impressive too, giving a very premium feel. The large TFT display looks great and will have you thinking you're sitting on a RSV4. Hopefully it will perform how it looks and we might have a gem.
So speaking of other bikes in the Aprilia line up, the RSV4 1100 has a Tuono 1100 to accompany it. There are rumors and alleged sightings of a Tuono 660. This would also be an interesting bike but might have an even harder road than the RS 660. The market the Tuono might sit in is much more crowded and has more European competition from Triumph and KTM among others. This means the Tuono will have to work a little harder in being different than those other bikes.
The 660 engine
Aprilia's 660 Engine
The 660 engine is set to be a peach. It's a parallel twin that is basically the front half of the aforementioned RSV4 engine. We should be looking at around 100 HP (the official figures have not been released) which puts it on par with it's Japanese counterparts. It claims a dry weight of 372 lbs which is a little beefier than the R6. This means the engine might have to see some adjustments pre-release to push some more power or have a more usable powerband. However, there is some promise in this package to be a nice alternative to your run of the mill Japanese 600.
Is this just the Italians showing up late again?
You might have a point there, but there is legitimately this argument for the addition of another European 600 class bike. This bike will certainly need to be a track day winner by including the performance to match the shiny jacket. However, another outlook is for those of us who might be interested in having a fancy Italian sport bike to show off but don't have the funds or experience to go for the 1100cc models. This might be the best way to jump on a Italian thoroughbred without completely emptying your wallet and bowels. It's at least worth a consideration for anyone in the market for a new 600cc sports bike and haven't found what you have been after in the Japanese offerings.
What do y'all think of this bike? Class definer or just expensive wall poster that is going to fall flat?