When I first heard Aprilia announce the RS660, I was very intrigued. I’m a long time Aprilia fan and absolutely love their RSV4 models but let’s be honest, does anyone really NEED a 200+ horsepower street bike? I certainly don’t so a smaller engine displacement sport bike with that trademarked Aprilia engineering sounded perfect. As I anxiously waited for a chance to test ride the RS660, I started getting feedback from my friends in the industry who were fortunate enough to experience riding the new Ape fresh off the assembly line. The feedback was a bit all over the place. Some absolutely loved the bike, others complained about it being somewhat “underpowered” and “underwhelming”. So when I finally got invited to test ride the RS660 at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. But I was excited to generate an unbiased opinion on the bike’s performance that wasn’t influenced by any obligation to the brand. As with our other bike reviews, this will not be your typical moto journalist review with endless specs and technical features. This is a straight to the point review from an average, every day rider.
First, let’s talk about aesthetics. In short, the RS660 is beautifully designed. It looks aggressively sporty and I love the symmetry of the design. Even though the Apex Black color scheme was the simplest, it was definitely my favorite. Adding just a touch of red on the seat and tank cover gave the bike enough style to stand out while not being overwhelmingly “showy”. The Lava Red color scheme was my second favorite. The blue incorporated into the design has a deep purple shade that’s very unique and stylish. And then there is the ugly duckling, the Acid Gold color scheme. I’m not sure what Aprilia was thinking with this design. It definitely isn’t “gold” by any means. It’s more like a weird shade of muted yellow that resembles the color of urine. And to top it off, the red wheels in combination with the unflattering yellow make the bike look even more odd. To each their own but it’s definitely a strange choice of a production color.
Once I got on the bike, I was pleasantly surprised that the RS660 feels a lot slimmer than the RSV4. The gas tank is curved perfectly to allow for a comfortable sitting position where you don’t feel like you need to stretch before getting on. The riding position felt very comfortable. By no means is it an upright bike but it definitely felt a lot less aggressive than a typical sport bike. Even as short legged and short armed as I am, I felt very comfortable on the bike. When I went to stand the bike up to get it off the side stand, I was thrown back by how heavy it felt. I read the bike specs in advance and saw that Aprilia’s claimed wet weight for the RS660 is around 403lbs so I was expecting it to feel lighter than the Japanese supersport bikes I’m used to riding (typically around 425-435lbs). But that was not the case. Even though on paper the RS660 is supposed to be about 50lbs lighter than the RSV4 factory, it certainly did not feel that way. They honestly felt about the same so I’m not sure what to think about that. I guess that’s why the specs always say “claimed” weight. As for the seat height, for someone who is vertically challenged like myself, the bike is definitely tall but I was able to one-foot it pretty comfortably.
Once on track, let me start off by saying the bike is far from slow. Yes it’s not as zippy as a 600 supersport but I don’t think it was ever meant to be. The bike is a twin so compared to its rival like the Suzuki SV650 or the Yamaha FZ07, the RS660 kicks ass. I absolutely love how smooth and stable the bike felt. It literally felt like it was on rails. It felt extremely easy to put the bike exactly where I wanted it to go. The factory quick shift / auto blip option is a dream and makes for a damn easy ride around the track. There were two things that felt a bit off for me. First, the gearing felt extremely short. Whether it was upshifting or downshifting, I felt like I constantly had to be doing one or the other around the track. You run out of RPM’s extremely quickly. The other thing that I had issues with is quickly flicking the bike between turns. This may again go back to the earlier mentioned issue of the bike feeling heavy. It took a lot of effort for me to quickly lean the bike over from one side to the other between turns that require a quick transition so I felt myself having to over slow for certain sections of the track in fear of not being able to transition between turns fast enough. I did get to drag race a new generation Yamaha R6 down the front straight of Chuckwalla raceway and I was surprised by how well I was able to keep up. Now I can’t say for sure if the rider piloting the R6 had his throttle wide open or how good his drive was out of the last turn before the front straight but either way, I felt the RS660 gave him a good run for his money.
Overall, I really do like the bike. If you are expecting the RS660 to compare to 600 supersport bikes, you will be disappointed. A supersport bike it is not. The RS660 seems like a great choice for riders looking for an easily manageable sport bike. I would even feel comfortable recommending this bike to a new rider who is looking to start their riding career on a mid-size motorcycle. With how easy it is to ride and with standard safety features like ABS and traction control, the bike seems like a perfectly possible option for a new rider. I also think the set base price is extremely fair considering all the options and electronics that come standard on the bike. I cannot wait to try the RS660 in a street / canyon setting and see what it’s all about off track. I think it would perform even better on street.
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by Kate A September 08, 2020
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