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ADV NewsMid-Sized ADV Matchup: Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

Mid-Sized ADV Matchup: Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

Two of the most athletic ADV Bikes in the mid-size category go head-to-head.

Published on 10.13.2022
I’ve been riding and reviewing heavyweight and mid-size adventure bikes for a while now. I’ve also had the privilege of riding and working with many top pros over the years, and through impressive displays of skill have been able to witness first-hand what motorcycles in the adventure segment are designed for, and what they aren’t.
Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

Enter Aprilia’s Tuareg 660 and Yamaha’s Tenere 700. These are two machines which occupy this space in the market, but don’t behave like traditional adventure bikes at all. Like seeing a dinner date wearing an evening dress but you know the whole time she would rather be wearing jeans and a t-shirt — both of these motorcycles can pretend to be adventure bikes, but they seem to have an enduro soul.

At First Glance

Shootout Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

I am an unapologetic fan of KTM’s 950/990 Adventure platform, so I’ll start with the T7. This bike feels like someone took a 950, stuck it in a dryer with a bunch of softener, and set the temp to shrink-wrap. Yamaha’s T7 has similar ergos and overall feel as the original 950, but in a much smaller and more manageable package. The dash furthers this throwback feel, with a somewhat rudimentary and even clunky appearance — almost like a Radio Shack Tandy video game from the 80s. The simplicity comes across as a breath of fresh air in a world of amazing but ubiquitous TFT displays.

Cut to Aprilia’s TFT display. This is how TFT should be done. Straightforward, to the point, and guiding a machine with capabilities we will get to shortly. Where the T7 has a more overall aggressive “Rally Bike” appearance to me, the Tuareg looks more like an “adventure bike.” Therefore, I presumed an “adventure bike” experience was to come. I was very wrong (more on that later).


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A showroom impression versus a riding impression of these two bikes is a massively different thing. Throw a leg over each bike parked, and the T7 feels lighter, but is actually a tad heavier. The Tuareg feels ungainly, but would turn out to be agile like no other adventure bike I’ve ridden in this class. Basically, nothing is what it seems when it comes to these bikes. Let’s break down what this means, in detail.

Shootout Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

The Specs

Tenere:

Yamaha’s Tenere 700 is powered by a 689cc parallel-twin engine. Having seen development on the street in Yamaha’s MT-07 naked bike, the Tenere 700 simply takes this same power plant and conforms it to the dirt via some tweaks to the ECU. The 270° “Cross-Plane” crank allows the parallel twin to produce 50 ft-lbs of V-twin like low-end torque, and 73 horsepower. There are no ride modes, power maps or traction control settings, just a simple on/off ABS button.

Shootout Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700
Shootout Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

Rally racing heritage is clearly seen in the T7’s narrow chassis. A rearward weight bias (48% front / 52% rear) keeps the front end light. Additional bracing means the T7 can handle serious abuse and unique features such as removable lower frame rails make engine removal easier. Oddly, the rear subframe is welded on rather than bolted — an interesting quirk in a bike that is so rally-oriented among consumer machines.

KYB suspension offers 8.3” of front and 7.9” of rear travel with adjustable compression and rebound damping all around, however no preload adjustment is available on the forks. The Tenere’s suspension and chassis package delivers 9.5” of ground clearance, 21”/18” wheels, a seat height of 34.4”, and a measured weight of 464.8 pounds with its 4.2-gallon tank full of fuel.

Tuareg:

Aprilia’s Tuareg 660 also features a parallel-twin engine with a 270° crank and 21”/18” spoke wheels. The powerplant numbers are surprising because the Tuareg’s engine is 30cc smaller in displacement than the Tenere, at 659cc, however produces 80 horsepower — seven more than the Tenere. The Aprilia also bests the Yamaha with a slightly better torque number at 51.63 ft-lbs. Considering the Tuareg’s engine is a detuned version of the 100-horsepower engine featured in Aprilia’s RS660 Sport Bike, the power difference is perhaps more understandable.

Comparo Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700
Comparo Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

Eight mounting points for the engine on the steel-tube frame result in the engine as a stressed member, and a very rigid chassis for the Tuareg. The welded-on subframe aesthetically seems to fit the Tuareg’s more “adventure bike” appearance, and allows for a very solid structure capable of carrying nearly the same amount of weight in luggage and passenger as BMW’s R1250GS.

Kayaba suspension offers 9.5” of travel front and rear, and 9.5” of ground clearance. Compression and rebound damping is available on both the forks and shock, as well as preload adjustment. With a measured wet weight of 462.8 lbs (50.4% rear / 49.6% front weight bias) the two bikes are within just a few pounds of each other, but the Tuareg manages to keep its weight under the T7’s in spite of it being packed with technology and carrying a larger 4.8-gallon fuel tank. Its lower seat height, at 33.9”, also makes it a bit easier to heft off the sidestand for those of us in the 5’11” height category.

While the chassis specifications between these two bikes are in the ballpack from one another, the electronics packages are worlds apart. In stark contrast to the more rudimentary display of the Tenere, the Tuareg boasts a color TFT offering access to ride modes, fuel maps, adjustable engine braking, various ABS modes, slipper clutch, and an optional quick shifter.

Ergos

I’ll start here because of that “showroom” impression idea. When you climb aboard each bike, at a standstill they give one impression, but that all changes when you start moving — this applies more to the Aprilia than the Yamaha. The T7 immediately feels light and aggressive, like the dwarf 950/990 mentioned earlier. Once you start rolling, it lives up to this impression. In turn, pulling the Tuareg off the side stand gives the initial impression of a heavier, larger motorcycle, but then you start moving and realize it might be the most capable mid-sized adv bike you’ve ever ridden (more on that later).

Comparo Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700
Comparo Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

Seated and standing positions between the two bikes feel very similar. Which is the preferred vibe would depend on the type of rider. In broad strokes, the Yamaha seems targeted at satisfying the initial impressions of the purely off-road crowd, while the Tuareg has more “adventure bike” DNA. Hands-down, the T7 offers the impression of “race.” Narrow, high bars, the feeling of sitting “in” the bike with a cockpit resembling a rally tower in stock form… this bike screams rally, in street-legal fashion. Wider bars, larger fuel tank, more advanced TFT display, and overall bigger presence makes the Tuareg feel more like an adventure bike versus a Dakar contender, until you ride the thing. This is a comparison with many surprises.

Comparo Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700
To ensure we had both bikes on equal footing, we spooned on a fresh set of the new Heidenau K60 Ranger dual sport tires.

On The Street

Cornering in the twisties on the T7 feels similar to an old KTM 950. Throttle response feels similar as well, it is all just a bit smaller and more manageable. But, the Tuareg pulls away from the comparison, literally. 

Comparo Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

Where the Tenere’s refreshingly simple display only offers one ride mode (call it “on”, perhaps), the Tuareg features adjustable power delivery in three engine maps, three levels of engine braking, and four levels of traction control including the ability to disable TC entirely if desired. Urban, Explore, and Off-Road are three ride modes pre-defined by Aprilia and a fourth mode, called “Individual,” allows for full customization of parameters to suit one’s riding preference. For those riders wishing for some tunability without needing to completely invent their own engine profile, the Tuareg’s “Explore” mode (equivalent to “Sport Mode” on similar bikes), offers a pre-defined engine map with the ability to adjust throttle response.

Comparo Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700
Comparo Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

Throttle, braking, acceleration characteristics, shifting, suspension… each individual thing about the Aprilia seems like it was built for you. Entering every corner I found myself wanting to mash the shifter down just to see how well the slipper clutch would manage things. The Tuareg never let me down. Aggressive, slipper-clutch-challenging road sections also helped reveal the braking characteristics of each bike. As for braking,  the Aprilia has the edge on power with its larger discs (twin 300mm vs 282mm up front and single 260mm vs 245mm rear) and better braking feel. 

Comparo Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

As far as highway cruising, it’s always such an interesting question for me. I’m a dirt guy who has spent many thousands of highway miles crossing states. I have done several “ironbutt” rides (1,000+ miles in a day), the longest of which was 1,257 miles on a stock KTM 950 Adventure. Comparing these two bikes in this arena, I would have to give an edge to the T7. It has a smaller, more rudimentary windscreen, but the overall chassis is just like that 950 I mentioned. You sit in the bike, versus on it. The Aprilia offers more wind protection, but how that is appreciated is based on body type perhaps. For my part, the T7 felt more comfortable and smoother on the road from a wind perspective. From a cockpit visual perspective, both bikes offer a GPS mounting location so setting up a navigation system is easy to do while retaining a clean cockpit environment. 

Comparo Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

Interestingly, in an acceleration test the differences between the two bikes were not as drastic as was expected, given the claimed horsepower numbers. By the numbers, we expected the Tuareg to walk away from the Tenere. While it did achieve the better acceleration times, the Aprilia only inched away from the Yamaha, rather than taking big steps into the lead. Both bikes use a 15T countershaft sprocket, so the best reason we can think of at this time for the close results is the Tenere’s larger rear sprocket (46T versus 42T on the Tuareg) giving it extra grunt off the line.

Comparo Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

For long highway miles, the seat is always the question. Softer is not always better. I did not have a chance to test either of these bikes on a 1000+ mile day ride, but did gather the impressions I needed to think about this after several highway rides. The Aprilia’s seat is arguably more comfortable with its wider profile and deeper cushion. Would that be the preferred seat for the long haul? Time and miles will tell.

Included in any discussion of cockpit creature comforts, the fact the Tuareg features both electronic cruise control and a Bluetooth-ready TFT display which can connect to your phone through the optional “Aprilia MIA” multimedia platform for all the Bluetoothy things such as navigation, music, and phone calls gives another point to the Aprilia for long-highway miles.

Comparo Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

Bar-seat-peg geometry is also a key element for riding long days, as changing that triangle by just a few degrees can greatly affect fatigue. At 5’11”, the Yamaha had a cockpit geometry that immediately seemed to agree with me more.

In The Dirt

Comparo Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

I love riding pavement. I’ve crossed many countries on asphalt. But, I have crossed more countries on dirt — this is where my heart is. I’ll start with the T7 because of this. The Yamaha is somehow built to feel exactly like the motorcycles that first inspired me to leave the dubious comfort and safety of a normal life to go and ride the world. The feel of the bars in my hands on the T7 is like home to me — and home is wherever my tent is.

A “scalpel” is the best way to describe the Yamaha’s off-road character and with some tuning, could possibly be the king. The Aprilia on the other hand, is something that rolls out from the showroom leaving very little to be desired. You think it will be heavy, but it isn’t. You think it will be ungainly, but it works with you in a perfectly understated way. 

Comparo Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

Slow speed versus high speed are key aspects when considering these two bikes. The crossover is massive, so these comments will have to be nuanced, but the difference is there. The T7 slices through single track like Damascus steel through a charcuterie plate. 

On the other hand, the Tuareg is a sleeper in every sense of the word. This bike fools you into thinking it is a “big” adventure bike, then dominates everything on the trail. It’s honestly weird. It doesn’t immediately feel nimble, until you just realized you rode through a stupid section of awfulness on the trail and really didn’t notice. The Aprilia soaks up the trail and turns the most technical sections into smooth paths.

Comparo Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

Which bike is better in the most technical terrain would likely depend on the terrain itself. The Tuareg makes the rough stuff simply disappear, whereas on the Tenere 700 you feel every obstacle along the trail. There is more feedback from the Yamaha through the pegs and the bars, which both gives it a more nimble feel, but can also feel like more work riding a bike that reacts to everything in an immediate and precise way. 

Sand is the bane of most adventure bike riders’ experience. For this comparison, we did deep sand, and plenty of it. The conclusion came down to speed. The T7’s nimble character made poking through the deepest washes surprisingly easy. As speeds increased, the Yamaha’s intense level of feedback would be felt significantly as the bike reacted to every deviation in the terrain. 

Comparo Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700
Comparo Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

The Tuareg, however, seemed to care less about the influence of the wash. Point it in a direction, and crack the throttle… that’s all. Stability is the key characteristic of the Aprilia in deep sand. The bike tracks straight, and can still change direction on a dime. Fortunately, both bikes were shod with Heidenau K60 Rangers. This is a very good tire in sand, and both bikes being equally fitted made for a more accurate comparison.

Comparo Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

Our dirt testing generally involved a lot of rocks (and by a lot I mean a LOT). Southern California can be a rocky paradise… or a rocky hell if you are not on a bike capable of dealing with it. The Tuareg possibly pushes faster, more confidently, and smoother through the gnarliest sections of trail than any bike in this class I have ridden to-date.

In these same technical sections, the T7 has a more familiar and preferred cockpit feel. This makes me want it to be the better bike in these more extreme sections of trail but the Tuareg’s smooth suspension made the Yamaha’s feel harsh by comparison. This does make me wonder if I had Pol Tarres’ team in my back pocket, what would riding his setup feel like? In stock form, however, the Tuareg has accomplished something almost magical for adventure riders wanting to get nutty in exploring terrain some dirt bikers might fear to tread.

Comparo Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700
Review Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

As far as whoops, there really is no comparison between the two bikes at speed. As amazing as the T7 is, 185 pounds of me often found the limits of the suspension when the going got really rough, but I almost never hit the bump stops on the Aprilia. With its longer and more-progressive suspension travel, the Tuareg appears to have been designed for big hits, with a plushness engineered into the suspension that smoothes out everything in between.

Review Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

Discussion of ABS systems on adventure bikes has come a long way, as the systems have advanced rapidly in recent years. Outside of really pushing the bikes hard in more extreme terrain, both the Yamaha and Aprilia’s ABS systems rarely seem to interfere with control of the bikes off-road. The Tuareg’s more robust system offers front and rear-wheel ABS in Urban and Explore modes, and Off-Road mode defeats ABS to the rear wheel while tuning the front wheel’s braking to a more appropriate level for riding in the dirt. Fortunately, the Tuareg also allows for ABS to be completely shut off to both wheels when in Off-Road mode. Much more simple, the Tenere has a single button you hold for three seconds to turn off ABS to both the front and rear wheels. It is refreshingly simple, but does require a three-second button party every time the key is cycled if you want to ride with ABS off. 

Test Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

Struggling to find a summary between the two, the T7 feels more nimble, more aggressive, but this is felt mostly at slower speeds. On flowing singletrack, the T7 felt very much at home. Once the trail started getting rougher, and faster, the T7 could be felt getting knocked around while the Tuareg felt like it wanted to speed up, and remained entirely smooth and composed. The Tuareg initially feels heavier and larger, even though by the numbers it is actually lighter. On the trail, the Aprilia is simply smoother and the suspension is without question better. I rode trails in a better way on the bike than I would have expected on any bike in this class. All these thoughts are based on the stock form of the motorcycles. Back to Pol Tarres’ team… I want their checkbook, and some time to play with both of these machines. 

Timed Off-Road Test

ADV Pulse uses a short, technical test course out in the desert to evaluate bikes in their stock form. The entire 2.4-mile loop only requires around 6 minutes to complete, but it includes deep sand, whoops, rocks, steep climbs, rough descents, and fast rocky sections. We also added a tight singletrack section to the course this time to help get a better gauge of agility. 

Test Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

To ensure we had both bikes on equal footing and to maximize traction in the dirt, we spooned on a fresh set of the new Heidenau K60 Ranger dual sport tires. Multiple timed runs of each bike were conducted on the same course, on the same day, by the same test rider. While pure speed isn’t the only measure of an adventure bike, the course does provide another way to capture empirical data on how these two machines match up off-road and it allows us to more-easily observe differences between them in a controlled environment.  

Comparo Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

Heading into the course, there are a few big nasty drop-offs and a long sequence of mid-sized whoops. This is where the Tuareg’s higher-quality suspension and longer travel give it an edge. Sand sections are handled well by both bikes but the Tuareg feels more stable at full-attack speeds. A tight 90-degree turn sends the rider up a steep, rutted hill climb. The T7 has an edge in getting turned around with its nimble feel and both bikes have plenty of smooth torque to propel the rider confidently up the slope. 

Comparo Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

Riding along a ridge trail, a rocky rutted section is smoothed out better by the Tuareg’s plush suspension allowing it to push the pace. And on a couple of steep descents, the Tuareg’s smoother braking allows it to maintain composure better. Next a series of rolling hills gets the rider airborne, then the big whoops section comes. Both bikes struggle a bit through these big hits but the T7 has to slow down more to keep from bottoming out. 

Comparo Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

A big wide sweeper shoots the rider back toward the start and through the big whoops section again. Half-way through the course you are feeling the weight of both bikes, gritting your teeth to maintain focus and push ahead full speed. More descents, big g-outs, a long continuous set of whoops again, then into a sandy single track. Here on the tight trail we figured the Yamaha would have an advantage with its more-agile feel but the choppy terrain seemed to hand the advantage to the Aprilia and its ability to absorb punishment. Full throttle through the last sandy section and you’re back at the start again, completing the loop.

Comparo Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

After several test runs were made, comparing the two fastest lap times between the bikes resulted in the Tuareg getting the better of the Yamaha, completing the course 15.6 seconds faster than the Tenere. In a previous test from a few years ago, the KTM 790 Adventure R beat the T7 by a 7 second margin. However, recent course changes have made comparing these times unfeasible. Evenso, it is clear that the Tuareg dominated the T7 on this type of fast, technical, whooped out terrain. And it begs the question, how well would the Tuareg match up with the current KTM 890 Adventure R on the course. Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to find out in a future project.

Real World Test

Before concluding this comparison it is important to discuss what might actually be the most important qualities between these two bikes — how they performed in the context of a typical adventure ride. Nuances of performance are of course an appropriate way to rank motorcycles in terms of value, but most people are not purchasing these bikes to run them on a test track. 

Test Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

Over the course of many days we put roughly 1,000 miles on these bikes, fully loaded with soft luggage for multi-day camping trips in remote backcountry areas. Several insights about each machine arose from these trips. At the top of the list was perhaps how the handling was affected with the addition of luggage. Both bikes prefer to be ridden without panniers installed (like most adventure bikes), but the Tuareg seemed to be less affected by the additional weight than the Tenere. 

Comparo Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

Adding luggage gave the T7 an additional top-heavy feel which hampered its agility. Use of rackless bags helped minimize this symptom by positioning the luggage lower and a bit farther forward than use of standard panniers or top bags. While the Tuareg doesn’t suffer from this problem, its higher positioned exhaust does limit soft-luggage placement options.

Test Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700
The higher-mounted exhaust on the Tuareg does limit luggage options.

Both the Tenere and Tuareg could benefit from upgraded skidplates. The stock options on both bikes are perhaps suited to light adventure travel but quickly began changing shape as the conditions became more rough. These gnarlier sections of trail left their mark on more than just the skidplates. The Tenere’s sidestand sensor switch fell victim to a rock in one of Southern California’s rougher sections of desert, but fortunately is defeatable with a bit of simple trailside wiring alterations. Self-ejecting rear turn signals are also not an intended feature, but definitely part of the Tenere’s feature set when riding day after day of gnarly trail. 

Skid plate damage after putting both bikes through their paces. (Above: Tenere 700; Below: Tuareg 660)

The Tuareg also donated some parts to the desert, in the form of the kickstand return spring bolt. Whether this bolt sheared off due to impact or shock of aggressive trail riding is unknown, but some of the terrain over the course of these rides was definitely tipped toward the far end of the gnarly scale. Only the Tuareg popped its chain off while riding a series of rocky ledges, but both bikes could benefit by having a chain guard.

Test Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

Fuel mileage was in the same ballpark for both bikes, with the Tenere averaging 40.1 mpg and the Tuareg 37.2. One number the two bikes do not at all have in common is the turning radius measurement. With speed and lean angle being equal, the Tuareg can pull off a tighter U-turn by roughly 2.5 feet less than the Tenere.

The Bottom Line

Yamaha’s Tenere 700 and Aprilia’s Tuareg 660 seem like motorcycles that were destined to be compared with each other, and will likely result in much debate. Out-of-the box, the Tuareg’s performance in engine, suspension, and braking exceeds the Tenere. That said, the Tenere also has a $1,700 lower price tag, so the question arises how close could these two motorcycles be if one took the price difference and threw it at the Yamaha in the form of aftermarket bits?

Comparo Yamaha Tenere 700 and Aprilia Tuareg 660

One ironic plus about the Yamaha is its comparative simplicity. In the current world of TFT-driven and feature-saturated adventure motorcycles, having a bike come along with this level of performance and the least amount of computer intervention of any bike in this class is refreshing in the minds of many. There are two sides to this coin — a more simple electronics package potentially bodes well for reliability, as there is simply less complex machinery there to fail. This simplicity also means the Tenere lacks the tunability, versatility, and safety features of the Tuareg. 

Comparo Yamaha Tenere 700 and Aprilia Tuareg 660

Swinging the pendulum back to the Tenere in terms of reliability, Yamaha’s CP2 engine platform has been used for several years in several different motorcycles, and it has become known as one of the most reliable powerplants on the market. Another feather in Yamaha’s cap is a more expansive dealer network in the U.S. to assist should any problems arise. More than just subjective notions about the Yamaha’s reliability, the recommended service interval numbers back this up — Aprilia recommends valve checks on the Tuareg’s engine more than twice as often as Yamaha recommends for the Tenere (every 12,400 miles for the Tuareg versus every 26,600 miles for the Tenere).

Comparo Yamaha Tenere 700 and Aprilia Tuareg 660

A huge variety of terrain was incorporated into this review for both bikes, and in nearly every case the Tuareg revealed itself to be the preferred machine, even though the Tenere provided an initial impression of a more capable bike. 

Setting aside the details of individual performance aspects, the two bikes have very different feels to them, and that is a key element. In the end, which is the preferred bike for someone looking for a middleweight adventure ride, comes down to which one makes you want to turn the key each day.

Yamaha Tenere 700 vs Aprilia Tuareg 660 Specs

modelTENERE 700
TUAREG 660
Engine Type:DOHC 8-Valve Parallel TwinDOHC 8-Valve Parallel Twin
Displacement:689cc659cc
Bore x Stroke:80 x 68.6 mm81 x 63.93 mm
Compression Ratio:11.5:113.5:1
Power:72.4 hp @ 9000 rpm80 hp @ 9250 rpm
Torque:50 ft-lbs  @ 6500 rpm 51.63 ft-lbs @ 6500 rpm
Fuel Capacity:4.2 gallons4.8 gallons
Seat Height:34.4″33.9″
Front Suspension:43mm fully-adjustable USD Fork43mm fully-adjustable USD Fork
Rear Suspension:Single shock, adjustable preload and rebound dampingFully-adjustable monoshock with progressive linkage
Suspension Travel Front:8.3″9.5″
Suspension Travel Rear:7.9″9.5″
Ground Clearance:9.5″9.5″
Front Brake:Dual 282mm hydraulic disc; selectable ABSTwin 300mm Disc with Brembo 2-piston calipers and steel-braided brake lines.
Rear Brake:245mm hydraulic disc; selectable ABSSingle 260mm Disc with Brembo single piston floating caliper.
Wheels:21″ front / 18″ rear tube type21″ front / 18″ rear tubeless
Wheelbase:62.60”60.04”
Rake/Trail:27.0°/4.13”26.7°/4.46″
Claimed Wet Weight:452 lbs449 lbs 
Measured Wet Weight:464.8 lbs462.8 lbs
Starting MSRP:$10,299$11,999

Photos by Ely Woody, Rob Dabney and Ken Morse

Author: Jon Beck

Jon Beck is fulfilling a dream of never figuring out what to be when he grows up. Racing mountain bikes, competitive surfing, and touring as a musician are somehow part of what led Jon to travel through over 40 countries so far as an adventure motorcycle photographer, journalist, and guide. From precision riding for cameras in Hollywood, to refilling a fountain pen for travel stories, Jon brings a rare blend of experience to the table. While he seems happiest when lost in a desert someplace, deadlines are met most of the time.

Author: Jon Beck
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43 thoughts on “Mid-Sized ADV Matchup: Aprilia Tuareg 660 vs Yamaha Tenere 700

  1. Nice writeup. I think it would be between these two if I ever decided I wanted something a little more “adv” ready than my 701 enduro. I always thought it would be the T7 bc when I sat on the tuareg it did feel more substantial, but I might rethink that after this review. I was also thinking the tuareg was closer to $14k but I guess not.

    • I’m 5’7, and for almost 25 years I’ve been looking for something that seemed impossible to find : a narrow, light bike with long travel suspension that is reasonably quick, but also smooth; something that can comfortably go hundreds of freeway miles but still rip on trails and not feel ungainly. Tried many… DR650, F650, F800, Stroms, Tigers, etc… probably the *closest* I’ve come to perfection was the CB500X with the full Rally Raid setup… but it was still pretty wheezy on the freeway.

      Was convinced my next bike was either a T7 or a DesertX… then the Tuareg came from out of the blue. Made a deposit after only a test sit. A few thousand miles in now and the ergos have been perfect for me, tech is minimal and not overwhelming (set it and forget it), and the little perks like tubeless wheels and cruise control make it that much more enjoyable as a daily. That intake honk is heavenly and keeps egging you on whether on pavement or dirt, and the suspension takes almost everything in stride. The firmer touring seat is the only real mod I’ve needed. Almost 20 bikes over the years, I can’t think of one that felt so “right” out if the box.

    • I’m not sure why anyone would choose the Italian bike over a Yamaha (search motorcycle brand reliability). That said, I hope the hype over heavy overpowered dirt bikes ends soon. You, me, and everyone in between will feel happier off road on a bike that doesn’t weigh 450 pounds

  2. Great write up!! I am definitely of the opinion that less is more when it comes to riding these bikes in their intended habitats. Off the Grid in remote locations I prefer minimal electronics. KISS!! For that simple reason I love my 2017 Africa Twin, and would never upgrade to one of the newer models. Although I have considered adding a T7 to the stable…

  3. I put down a deposit on a T7 earlier this year and walked away when I got quoted almost $14K OTD. Could justify the Taureg in the RWB colorway at that price.

  4. Awesome article. Thanks so much for writing it! I would love to hear more comparison to the KTM 950/990 if you had any more to say. I was looking to get a t7 and couldn’t find one. Bought a heavily used 990 and love it so far. It needs some suspension work, but it’s pretty awesome as is. It does feel like a big ol bike though. Especially with the plastic boxes on it full of camping gear. Curious how it stacks up to these new machines. Thanks!

    • Definitely more to say about the 950/990 platform! We did a comparison between the KTM 990R and KTM 790R that might interest you (in the ADVPulse search bar type “Friendly Fire: KTM 790 Adventure R vs. KTM 990 Adventure R”). If you picked up a stock 990, you’re 100% it could use some suspension work. Sounds like you’ve got the stock Hepco panniers too…? And yep, that bike has Dakar DNA and doesn’t appreciate luggage very much. The T7 was super interesting to ride for the first time because it felt like a kinder, gentler 950/990.

      • I did read that other article, it was great too! I was really surprised how close the times were. That article was part of the reason I pulled the trigger on the 990. And yep, pretty sure the suspension is stock, and yes on the h&b boxes.

      • I still ride my 990r. Its a bit top heavy, but man is it good. Got the suspension dialed and still happy as a clam. Plus you never really got into the long haul aspects of these middle weights. It’d take my 990 any day when mixing highway and dirt.

  5. It’s great to have competition like this in the adv world. I’ve done drz’s, a klr, xl’s, and even a BMW1200gsa looking for the perfect adv bike for me. I’m intrigued by the Aprilia but living in Boise, a dealer is too far away so I went with the T7. I love the simplicity of the bike and like a lot of folks I am loving modifying it. Suspension, exhaust, crash protection, all easily sorted. The only thing I really miss is cruise control. I hope other manufacturers follow suit into the middle weight adv market. They sell like crazy out west.

  6. Finally a objective and comprehensive comparison of these two bikes. I saw one comparison that came close, but this review was so much better. The Tuareg hasn’t been getting the respect it deserves. This has been the most versatile bike I’ve ever owned. It’s exciting and forgiving at the same time; it begs you push it harder. I took a chance on the Tuareg over the T7, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. I’ve ridden the T7 twice, once before my Tuareg purchase and then again after about 1800 miles on Tuareg. The T7 feels unrefined in comparison. I don’t the Tuareg will ever the same options as the T7 for aftermarket parts, but for most riders it going to have all the performance, suspension and comfort you need to just ride it and be happy.

    • Tuareg owner. It’s a great bike but I still purchased a used Honda crf450l because it’s lighter than both and I feel more confident taking it alone into the woods. At 59 years of age, I’m fit but not as strong as I was and feel I can easily lift my 450 while lifting the Tuareg is a challenge depending on the terrain. But I sure prefer the Tuareg most everywhere else. Less vibration, tubeless tires and its planted in the road. But going up hill on a rocking section, give me the 450. Bought the Tuareg (and this also applies to the T7) trying to get by with one bike. Not sure that’s wise anymore hence my 450 purchase. That and John T Young’s videos sold me.

  7. Very nice and detailed review. I like the fact that you included the comparison with luggage on as I ride 99% of the time with full camping luggage. I believe all reviews of adventure bikes should be done with luggage only. Curious how these 2 bikes compare to a current KTM 690 Enduro.

  8. A big part of the price difference is the tubeless rims on the Tuareg, well worth the extra $$$. Don’t need the gadgetry on the Tuareg, but it is one cool looking bike.

    • Great endorsements to remove personal prejudice. Though the author prefers the T7 he favours the Tuareg. The most accurate review of any bikes I have ever read. American journalists are streets ahead of British who write mostly personal emotional drivel

  9. No mention of the heat each cycle throws onto the rider’s shins? I have read elsewhere the Turaeg throws alot of heat due to the position of the cat. Is this what you found?

  10. Great comparison of these impressive middleweights. I wonder if Yamaha will stiffen the rear shock spring and redesign the gas tank to get the COG lower. Those seem to be the two common complaints you hear that could be easily addressed at the factory. Tubeless would be a welcome change as well.

  11. As the owner of an Aprilia Futura I can testify to the quality of the brand. However, parts and service are a big problem unless you live next to a dealer. AF-1 (https://www.af1racing.com/) does a good job on parts but they are significantly more expensive than Yamaha bits. Buyer Beware!

  12. “…the fact the Tuareg features both electronic cruise control and a Bluetooth-ready TFT display which can connect to your phone…gives another point to the Aprilia for long-highway miles.”

    Another point? Cruise alone is a reason to buy the Tuareg over the T7 IMO.

    Great, descriptive write up. But it read like the Tuareg did pretty much every single thing better than the T7 with some very narrow exceptions and still concluded it’s a close call based on “feel.” Why? Because so many people already bought the T7 and it would offend? Or is it the $1400 difference? Small price to pay for the feature set you’re getting with the Tuareg over the T7.

    Don’t get me wrong though. Excellent writing @Jon Beck!

  13. Great Article. Thanks!
    What I don’t understand is why does the head light on the Tuareg have to be so ugly! I know it’s objective but I have trouble believing many would like it. Also, it’s integrated into the fairing so you can’t exactly change it for a rally tower. I guess one could find a way to make the top portion more attractive…

  14. Just a quick shout out to a terrific review. T7 gets so much coverage, nice to see it lined up against another option. Informative, entertaining, and thoroughly researched. Well done and thank you.

  15. Nice write up Jon. I sold my 1090 to buy a T7. Not sure that it was the right decision, though. The T7 does feel a lot like the 1090 on the road, seems to be less of a handful off-road. I need to get the T7 out into the sand-washes of SoCal to see if it’s really an improvement at all.

    I have my name in on a ’23 890R as well. I may be going back to orange!

    • Thanks and good call on the 1090/T7 similarities. Throwing a leg over a 950/990 those similarities stand out even more. You will likely be very pleased with the T7 in sand washes, especially with the addition of a steering damper. Having ridden the 790R extensively, really looking forward to diving into what the 890R is all about!

  16. Great writeup! I love these real tests, when you get down to really ride and compare and draw personal conclusions. But, as already mentioned here, there are BIG differences between almost any offroad bike made in Japan compared to to bikes from the rest of the world when it comes to reliability, spares availability and importer/dealer near to you, wherever you live. In the long run, the big tree (or four) from Japan are on a different level than anything else and I do not see any change over recent years. A Yamaha or Honda or Suzuki dirtbike is always a better buy than the rest when you look at performance, reliability and overall economy.

  17. I traded my KTM790R for the Tuareg and I am very happy about that! It feel lighter and just a more fun bike, without the awful “loose bolts” engine sound of KTM !

  18. Super good article and thorough. I’ve ridden the Yamaha but not the Aprilia. I’m on a 790 and have added the WP Pro components and about everything else you can. I’d pick my bike over the Yammy any day. Would love to try the Aprilia though.

  19. Pingback: ADV Pulse article - Moto Discovery

  20. with little to zero network of Aprilia dealerships or parts…I’d gladly pass less for the T7 and have a bit of change to address it’s deficiencies .

  21. I’m curious, why not a 501? Is the 701 really that different from a T7 or the A660? It reads such that the OP desires and values “lighter”.

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