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ADV NewsAprilia Tuareg 660 First Ride Review

Aprilia Tuareg 660 First Ride Review

Italy's latest Adventure Bike is ready to take on the middleweight category.

Published on 11.22.2021

For years now, Adventure Riders have been asking manufacturers for lighter, more-compact Adventure Motorcycles that can both travel the distance and excel in the dirt. Especially ‘true’ middleweight twin-cylinder ADV bikes that offer an ideal balance between size, weight, power, and smoothness. With growing demand for such machines, manufacturers are starting to listen.

Perhaps one of the more intriguing new entries in this burgeoning segment is the all-new for 2022, Aprilia Tuareg 660. With its blend of on and off road features like a lightweight, compact chassis, high-performance twin-cylinder engine, long-travel suspension, dirt-friendly 21”/18” wheels, modern rider aids, and array of touring amenities, it looks like they may have nailed it in terms of what many riders are looking for. That might be a bit surprising coming from a brand best known for building sport bikes, but this isn’t Aprilia’s first rodeo in this space.

Aprilia Tuareg Wind 600, a model that made its mark in Paris-Dakar racing.

Back in the late 80s and early 90s, Aprilia built the Tuareg 600 Wind — a bike that competed in the Paris-Dakar rally. We never received that Adventure Bike here in the States, but we did get the single-cylinder Pegaso 650 Trail in the early 2000s and Aprilia even had a stint making twin-cylinder enduros with their RXV line in the mid-2000s. More recently, they produced the Caponord 1200 Adventure Tourer, which was discontinued a few years ago. All of these were respectable machines in their own right but never gained a huge following in the U.S. Aprilia’s fortunes might be ready to change though with their latest offering.

So What Do You Get?

Aprilia Tuareg 660 Adventure motorcycle review
The bike gets outfitted with premium componentry like Brembo brakes, tubeless spoke wheels, and fully adjustable suspension that support 9.5 inches of travel and ground clearance. (Shown in Acid Gold.)

At the heart of the machine is a 659cc parallel-twin, with a 270° crank, that pumps out a claimed 80 horsepower. That’s a lot of power for its size, even though it’s a detuned version of the 100 horsepower powerplant pulled from Aprilia’s RS660 Sport Bike. They also infused it with more torque, of which 75% is made available from 3,000 rpm. All that power is controlled by a slipper clutch and clutch assist for an easier lever pull.


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A high-performance chassis design starts with rigidity, and creating a stiff frame was a primary focus during development of the Tuareg 660. Aprilia engineers utilized a strong and lightweight steel-tube frame with 8 mounting points to the engine, making it a stressed member. The subframe is also welded, not bolted on, which may increase repair costs if the subframe is damaged in a fall, but it allows for a more solid structure capable of carrying up to 463 pounds (210 kg)  — that’s only 13 pounds less than the BMW R1250GS.

Aprilia Tuareg 660 Adventure motorcycle review
The Tuareg’s 660cc parallel-twin pumps out 80 hp and 52 ft-lbs of torque – 75% of which is made available from 3,000 rpm. (Shown in Indaco Tagelmust graphic.)

Keeping the ride smooth is a Kayaba suspension that features 9.5 inches of travel front and rear, and 9.5 inches of ground clearance. Both the fork and rear shock are fully adjustable for compression and rebound damping, along with preload. And the Tuareg rides on dirt-friendly 21” front and 18” rear tubeless spoke wheels, shod with Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires, which are stopped by a set of Brembo 2-piston calipers up front and a single floating caliper in the rear.

Aprilia Tuareg 660 Adventure motorcycle review
Aprilia Tuareg 660 Adventure motorcycle review

An array of the latest and greatest electronic rider aids, made possible by Ride-by-Wire throttle, help improve versatility for a variety of road and weather conditions. The Tuareg features three different engine maps to control power delivery characteristics, as well as three levels of engine braking, and four levels of traction control, plus the ability to turn TC off completely. Three Ride Modes (Urban, Explore, Off-Road) give the rider pre-configured settings to match the ride, while an ‘Individual’ mode lets you fully personalize the various settings. ABS is active on both front and rear wheels in the Urban or Explore modes, and changes to a less-intrusive front wheel only ABS in Off-Road mode. ABS can also be completely disabled on both wheels when in the Off-Road mode.

Aprilia Tuareg 660 Adventure motorcycle review

Electronic settings are managed through handlebar controls and a 5” TFT display. The handlebar switches also operate the included as standard cruise control and optional ‘Aprilia MIA’ multimedia platform that allows you to connect your phone via Bluetooth to the display to play music, answer calls, receive turn-by-turn navigation, and use other handy travel features.

Aprilia Tuareg 660 Adventure motorcycle review
Aprilia Tuareg 660 Adventure motorcycle review

As for other included amenities, there is a generously-sized windscreen and hand guards for wind protection, a cushy single-piece saddle, a wraparound skid plate with protection for the underbelly and exhaust, large serrated foot pegs with removable rubber covers (no tools needed), a 4.8-gallon fuel tank, ergo-adjustable foot pedals and hand levers, GPS mounting bar above the dash, and LED lighting all around. The one thing it does seem to be missing though, is a rear rack to strap on gear. But an aluminum top rack is available as an option.

Aprilia Tuareg 660 Adventure motorcycle review
Aprilia Tuareg 660 Adventure motorcycle review

First Impressions

Two years after the Tuareg 660 first appeared in a glass display case shrouded by foliage at EICMA, we finally got a chance to see what this highly-anticipated new model is all about at the International Press Launch in Sardinia, Italy. I’ll admit, I had mixed feelings about the look of the bike when pictures of it were first released. Its distinctive styling is the result of the work done by the PADC (Piaggio Advanced Design Center) who are at the tip of the sword when it comes to the latest trends. The team imagined a disruptive design that is a balance between both form and function. As far as function, the primary focus was to keep the size and weight in check. Aesthetic inspiration came from Dakar Rally bikes, which you can see in the large clear windscreen and nav tower behind it.

WATCH: Quick walkaround and sound sample (at 0:37) of Aprilia’s new adventure machine.

After getting an up-close look, seeing the contours of the bodywork, the unique graphics, and overall detail of the bike, I have to say it is a lot more appealing to the eye in person and the styling has continued to grow on me ever since. Perhaps those Italian designers are on to something?

Aprilia Tuareg 660 Adventure motorcycle review

Sitting on the bike it feels compact, similar to a Yamaha Tenere 700 in size. The tank is slim between the knees with cutouts for the legs built into the sides. The seat height is reasonable at 33.9 inches, considering it has 9.5 inches of suspension travel, and the saddle is narrow in front for a lower standover height. Throwing it side-to-side, it feels fairly light weighing in at 449 pounds fully fueled, which is a remarkable feat considering all the extra equipment it carries.

Aprilia Tuareg 660 Adventure motorcycle review

Thumbing the starter, the 660 engine comes to life with a throaty snarl that signals it means business. You can hear air rushing through the injectors with each twist of the throttle and the stock exhaust sounds surprisingly healthy, if not a bit on the loud side. So how does it ride? Read on for the full analysis.

On The Road

Aprilia Tuareg 660 Adventure motorcycle review

Heading out for the test in the early hours of the morning, we got our first taste of the Tuareg’s power on a long straightaway. In what seemed like a blink of an eye, I was already hitting triple digits (in mph). The Explore mode (think Sport mode) throttle response is instantaneous and pulls hard from down low up to a 10,000 rpm redline. ‘Explore’ allows for a small amount of wheel lift and the optional QuickShifter installed on the bike enabled super-slick clutchless upshifts. The engine sounds fantastic going through the gears with a majority of the decibels coming from the airbox, which by the way, is said to be designed for easy air filter access. Its power is exhilarating for a 660cc and it has the ability to get the front wheel up in 2nd or 3rd gear with relative ease.

Aprilia Tuareg 660 Adventure motorcycle review

We soon entered a set of bends and settled into a rapid pace. You can tell the Tuareg still has plenty of sport bike in its DNA with how smoothly it turns. It begs you to lean it deeper and the power delivery allows for aggressive throttle inputs without worrying too much about slingshotting yourself off the road. With its compact size and lower weight, it feels very flickable in the twisties and you can switch up your line with millimeter precision.

It’s a surprisingly good bike for sport riding considering it runs a 21” front and 18” rear wheel, and was outfitted with 50/50 dual sport tires. The powerful Brembos have no problem bringing the Tuareg to a quick halt under heavy braking. Although, you do notice a fair amount of dive and squat from its tall suspension during aggressive riding. I also noticed toes starting to scrape, which typically isn’t a factor on such a long-travel suspension bike. But perhaps it was how easily it leans deep into turns that made it a factor. A little hanging off the side helped preserve the boots and the seat shape made slinging a knee out easy.

Aprilia Tuareg 660 Adventure motorcycle review

As the road straightened out again, I got a chance to play with the electronic cruise control. A few years back, only the flagship liter-plus adventure bike models came with this feature, so it’s nice to see it as standard equipment on a bike with half the displacement and nearly half the price. Everything is fairly standard and intuitive, and works the way it should.

As for the ergonomics on a long road ride, we didn’t have enough time to fully test its cruising capabilities. However, its windscreen is tall enough to push the wind up to about the top of my head, sitting at 6’2” tall, and it was wide enough to redirect air around my shoulders. It’s an effective windscreen for the highway without being too large for off-road use.

Aprilia Tuareg 660 Adventure motorcycle review
Aprilia Tuareg 660 Adventure motorcycle review first ride

The reach to the bars and the bar height felt like they would be comfortable for a long trip. I also liked the knee bend angle, which was fine for my 34” inseam legs. The standard seat felt comfortable and its shape lets you easily change positions to avoid any hotspots forming. There will be a tall and low seat option for those that feel the need to make adjustments.

I didn’t have any problems with vibration in the handle bars but I did notice a small amount of vibes in the foot pegs with the rubber cover inserts pulled out. It’s nice that the rubber covers can be removed or installed in about 3 seconds without tools, so you can easily make adjustments as needed during your trips.

Aprilia Tuareg 660 Adventure motorcycle review first ride

After a brief lunch stop in a quaint medieval town, we got hit with rain — perfect timing for a test of the electronics. Using the thumb switches, I configured the ride setting for Urban mode. ‘Urban’ is similar to Rain mode, with a soft throttle response and more-intrusive traction control. With the roads thoroughly drenched, I was more than happy to have all the help I could get. There is no IMU for lean-sensitive ABS/Traction Control, but the standard systems work well enough. I was able to ride confidently at a faster pace in the rain than I might dare unaided.

In The Dirt

Aprilia Tuareg 660 Adventure motorcycle review first ride

As asphalt turned to trail, we finally got a chance to see whether Aprilia put their engineering focus where it really counts for the performance-focused, mid-sized adventure bike class. Flicking the controls into Off-Road mode turns ABS off at the rear wheel and triggers a less-intrusive front wheel ABS. Throttle response is more aggressive than Urban mode, while allowing for decent-sized wheelies before trimming the power.

The power in Off-Road mode is punchy, yet tractable, allowing you to pop the front wheel up in loose dirt in both first and second gear where heavier, more-powerful bikes would just spin the tire. It feels almost like a 450cc motocross bike in terms of its power characteristics, and revs up quickly with good torque throughout the rpm range. It will break traction at the rear wheel if you try to but it takes more of a conscious effort. Although, the fast-revving engine could catch some lesser-experienced riders off guard.

Aprilia Tuareg 660 Adventure motorcycle first ride review
The Tuareg 660’s slender body facilitates movement in the saddle and handling while riding off-road. 

Starting in the seated position, on a fairly-smooth dirt road, the bike felt compact and maneuverable in the turns. You can get your weight forward on the seat and ride it like a dirt bike in the turns with the inside leg out and outer peg weighted.  Although if you have longer legs, they won’t fit into the cutouts in the tank when sliding all the way forward in the seat. This causes the leg to splay a bit and makes it harder to grip the tank with your knees. If you are an average-height or shorter rider, you probably won’t encounter this problem though.

Aprilia Tuareg 660 Adventure motorcycle first ride review
Aprilia Tuareg 660 Adventure motorcycle first ride review

The Tuareg also feels like a proper enduro in the standing position when traversing bumpier terrain. The bar height is just about right for most people, if not just slightly low for my height at 6’2”. Although, I did notice that the low mirror design seemed to get in the way of my arms when trying to position my weight over bars. Perhaps, they could be adjusted a bit more out of the way but they looked like they pulled them straight off one of their street bikes. As far as the pegs, they are wide and grippy with the rubber inserts out, and the slim tank design with cutouts for the legs, makes it easy to grip the tank when standing.

Overall, there is good front end feel in the turns and the size and weight of the bike make it easy to flick it around. Front brake feel is also good without being too grabby. When the front end does start to push, it has a recoverable feel to it that encourages more-aggressive riding. It also has a lower center of gravity and shorter wheelbase that makes it easy to get turned around on the trail in uneven terrain.

Aprilia Tuareg 660 Adventure motorcycle first ride review
Aprilia Tuareg 660 Adventure motorcycle first ride review

When switching off Traction Control, the full power is lively but manageable on the trail, and the bike is easy enough to control if you’ve got an experienced hand. Although the off-road ABS never gave me any problems on the slick trails, and I would prefer to keep it on most of the time, it’s nice to have the option to turn it off. Especially, when you encounter a particularly steep and loose trail where you don’t want any surprises.

As for bump absorption, the suspension is tuned to be on the softer side, and it feels plush over the small and mid-sized bumps.  But damping is excellent with a responsive feel. It tends to keep both tires firmly planted on soil without any wallowing around. With its full adjustability, you can also change it to work better if it’s not acting the way you want it to.

Aprilia Tuareg 660 Adventure motorcycle first ride review

We didn’t get a chance to test it on any jumps or big whoops but on an enduro course we rode, I did hit some large rocks and big dips at speed. I weigh in at 210 pounds plus gear and never felt any bottoming in the front or rear suspension. It soaked up everything I was able to throw at it with ease. It seems like the suspension is good and can handle aggressive riding, but we’ll have to give it a more thorough test when we get one of these bikes back home and run it through more-rugged desert and mountain trails.

The Bottom Line

With the Tuareg, Aprilia seems to have achieved that rare combination of features that many Adventure Riders are looking for — a true middleweight, performance-focused ADV that is manageable in size, capable off-road, loves the curves, and includes modern rider aids and touring amenities. Not only is it an exhilarating bike to ride, but it’s enjoyable too. It’s the kind of bike that makes you want to keep going when the sun has long set.

Aprilia Tuareg 660 Adventure motorcycle first ride review

While there may be other bikes that are better at one thing or another, the Tuareg 660 can do it all at a high level. Even more impressive, it does it with a reasonable starting price of $11,999. The most direct competitor has to be the Yamaha Tenere 700, which has a similar size and weight with a $2,000 lower price tag. For many the T7’s simplicity is a plus, but with the Tuareg you are getting more suspension travel, sophisticated rider aids, cruise control, more power, and more fuel capacity without any weight gained. The KTM 890 Adventure R is considered by many to be the best off-road bike in the twin-cylinder adventure bike category, although it costs $2,200 more, weighs an additional 20+ pounds fully fueled and isn’t as compact or comfortable as the Tuareg.

Aprilia Tuareg 660 Adventure motorcycle first ride review

The Tuareg 660’s biggest hurdle may end up being its aggressive styling. Whether that hurts or helps its sales remains to be seen. And while bikes like the Triumph Tiger 900 and Norden 901 offer premium aesthetics that may be less polarizing than the Tuareg’s, both of those cost more and aren’t as light or nimble. Also, the 890R, Tiger 900 and Norden all have more power but with an engine as lively as the Tuareg’s, you have to ask yourself if you really ‘need’ more power. Some riders may find Aprilia’s smaller dealer network a stumbling block as well, yet there will always be those who don’t mind driving a little further for the occasional service in order to own a motorcycle that ticks all their boxes. 

As always, it depends on what you are looking for in an ADV Bike. With so many exciting new options coming out in the market, It’s a good time to be an Adventure Rider. We welcome Aprilia’s return to the category and commend them for producing what looks to be a real contender in the competitive middleweight adventure class. We’re looking forward to getting more seat time on the Tuareg 660 on longer rides where we can better explore its full range of capabilities and also see how it holds up to long-term off-road abuse.

Aprilia Tuareg 660 Specs

ENGINE:659cc DOHC parallel-twin with 4-valves per cylinder
BORE X STROKE:81 x 63.93 mm
COMPRESSION RATIO:13.5:1
POWER:80 HP (58.8kW) @ 9,250 rpm
TORQUE:51.63 ft-lbs (70 Nm) @ 6,500 rpm
FUEL SYSTEM:Airbox with front air vent. 2-48 mm throttle bodies, Ride-by-wire management.
IGNITION:Electric
LUBRICATION:Wet sump
TRANSMISSION:6-speed. Aprilia Quick Shift (AQS) up and down available as an accessory.
ELECTRONICS:APRC Suite that includes ATC (traction control), AEB (engine brake) AEM (engine maps), ACC (cruise control) 4 Riding modes (Urban, Explore, Off-road, Individual)
FRAME:Tubular steel frame, engine used as a stressed member
CLUTCH:Multiplate wet clutch with slipper system
SECONDARY DRIVE:Chain, drive ratio 15/42
DRY WEIGHT:412 lbs (187 kg)
WET WEIGHT:449 lbs (204 kg)
FRONT SUSPENSION:Kayaba 43mm fully-adjustable USD Fork
FRONT SUSPENSION TRAVEL:9.5″ (240mm)
REAR SUSPENSION: Kayaba fully-adjustable monoshock with progressive linkage
REAR SUSPENSION TRAVEL:9.5″ (240mm)
GROUND CLEARANCE:9.5″ (240mm)
SEAT HEIGHT:33.9″ (860mm)
FUEL CAPACITY:4.8 gallons (18 liters); 0.79 gallons (3 liters) reserve
WHEELBASE:60.04″ (1525mm)
LENGTH:87.4″ (2220mm)
WIDTH:37.99″ (965mm)
RAKE:26.7°
TRAIL:4.46″ (113.3mm)
WHEELS:21″ front / 18″ rear tubeless
FRONT BRAKE:Twin 300mm Disc with Brembo 2-piston calipers and steel-braided brake lines.
REAR BRAKE:Single 260mm Disc with Brembo single piston floating caliper.
EMMISSIONS COMPLIANCE:Euro 5
RATED FUEL ECONOMY:4.0 liters/100 km (58.8 MPG US)

Look for the Tuareg 660 to begin arriving on U.S. showroom floors this coming February with a price tag of $11,999 USD for the Acid Gold and Martian Red color schemes, and $12,599 USD for the Indaco Tagelmust (blue, red, white) livery. Canada will start seeing the bikes arrive in March with an MSRP of $14,595 CAD for Acid Gold and Martian Red, and $15,195 CAD for Indaco Tagelmust.  All bikes will be manufactured at the Aprilia factory in Italy.

 Gear We Used 

Photography by Alberto Cervetti

Author: Rob Dabney

Rob Dabney started a lifelong obsession with motorcycles at the age of 15 when he purchased his first bike – a 1982 Honda MB5. Through his 20’s and 30’s he competed in off-road desert races, including the Baja 250, 500 and 1000. Eventually, his proclivity for exploration led him to dual sport and adventure riding. Rob’s never-ending quest to discover what’s around the next bend has taken him on Adventures in Mexico, North Africa, Europe, and throughout the American West. As a moto journalist, he enjoys inspiring others to seek adventure across horizons both near and far.

Author: Rob Dabney
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20 thoughts on “Aprilia Tuareg 660 First Ride Review

  1. Wow, this one is tempting. I’m considering giving up my 2018 KTM 1290 SAR and maybe outfitting my 1991 DR650 for adventure (I really hate that term) riding, but this has me considering selling both. Would be perfect a bit larger, maybe 700cc-ish displacement and a bit more horsepower. I do some two-up riding. I like the way it looks more than the KTM 790 I’ve been considering.

  2. Until Piaggio Group figure out how to maintain and expand their dealer network in the US, cool Apes like this will remain just so much unobtanium.

  3. Awesome write up Rob. Thank you so much. Been patiently waiting for this one. You have confirmed a lot of what others have said about the bike as well as what I surmised from the spec sheet. This bike is truly exciting and could possibly be that Goldilocks middle weight adventure bike that meets a lot of needs and has the performance to back it up. It’s definitely at the top of my short list of bikes to potentially purchase next season. Thanks again. Do you have any plans to do a video review of the bike on YouTube?

    • Thanks Asah. I’d have to agree it’s hitting all the right notes. I think they really nailed it with the right combo of features, while keeping it off-road-capable and light. And yes, we do have a YT video that we are working on putting together.

      • Great to hear on the YT video. I’ll be patiently waiting for that one as well. There are only two English speaking videos right now from the press launch. Thanks for the reply. Hopefully you guys can get one in the new year for some more off road and long term testing. Take care.

  4. Great first ride review, Rob, keep up the good work! I am definitely amongst the ranks patiently awaiting your YT review. ADVPulse for the win.
    After flogging my 10 yo DL650 VStrom to veritable smithereens both on and off road, it’s time. With an excellent Aprilia dealer 22 mi away, I’m all in… Martian Red pre-order placed. I’ve got an idea I won’t be disappointed.

    • Thanks Stew! I’m sure you’ll really enjoy it! The V-Strom 650 used to seem powerful for a 650 Twin. But after riding the Aprilia, it’s like they shoved an extra 150cc’s in there. It made the T7’s 700cc CP3 engine feel docile too.

  5. So no lean sensitive ABS? That`s slightly disapointing consdering sll the other electronics. And ypu are writing that the ABS “changes to a less-intrusive front wheel only ABS in Off-Road mode” – does that mean rear wheel is off, front hascdifferent brakevpoeer modulstion to allow short stopping distance on loose ground, just like the 790 / 890 do?

    • The lean sensitive ABS is only really useful on the street, but does give you more confidence in slippery situations. Yes, off-road ABS is front wheel only. Rear wheel gets disabled and the front wheel is a less intrusive, low-traction-sensitive ABS just like what you get on the KTM 790/890 Adventures. And it can be turned off completely front and rear, unlike the 890.

  6. Beautiful article. Now that you covered both the borders and this what is your recommendation for someone who comes from Africa twin and us doing 80% travel on road but enjoys the double trail and occasional singles?
    Thanks
    Itay

  7. I like the Aprilia even better than the XT700, but how would you estimate it’s reliability in terms of mechanics and electronics? The dash looks fascinating, but will it work reliable? Don’t like the Yamaha’s dash, but like the whole XT it probably won’t let you down, ever.

  8. Great review. Just small correction. Seems all reviewers copy-pasted someone’s specs sheet that says front is 4 piston calipers. I seen bike live and they are 2 piston sliding brembos same as on Tenere 700 basically, just on slightly larger disks.
    Not that it makes much difference review-wise, if brakes work they work.
    But this is clearly visible even in photos. Sorry for nitpicking. I really like your site and reviews and just want to make sure there is no error.

  9. Ooh.
    Same wet weight as my Elefant…

    Plus more modern amenities… Dang, might need to upgrade.
    Still waiting on the Desert X debut and weight. It might not be as light as this.

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