Aprilia Tuareg 660 on and off-road review | ADV bikes

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The Aprilia Tuareg 660 blends a potent 660cc parallel twin-cylinder engine, advanced electronics, and a capable chassis – is it really a match for the competition?

Details
Manufacturer:
Category:
Adventure
Price:
£ 10600
Overall
Not rated

EVER since the 2019 EICMA show in Milan, when a mysterious class box crammed with exotic plants and a motorcycle appeared, the motorcycle world has waited with bated breath for the return of Aprilia to the adventure motorcycle class.

With the RS660 and naked Tuono 660 already in the public domain, the scene was well and truly set for Aprilia to herald its return with the inevitable Tuareg 660. And the first Noale-built adventure bike had big shoes to fill, as the original Tuareg was more than just an adventure bike for the masses.

Back in the 1980s and 90s, an adventure bike needed the credibility that only came from competition to succeed on the streets. Because of this, the original Tuareg was a Dakar race bike.

Very big shoes to fill then.

2022 Aprilia Tuareg 660 price, colours, and availability

The Tuareg comes in one trim level with three colour options, Acid Gold (£10,600), Martian Red (£10,600), and Indaco Tagelmust (£11,100). Bikes are in UK dealerships at the time of writing and demos are available from most of them.

On top of the stock bike, you can pile a ton of performance, comfort, and protection accessories, to check out the full range head to: www.aprilia.com

Price versus the rivals

The middleweight ADV segment is a hyper-competitive place right now, but the main rivals the Tuareg is going toe-to-toe with are the KTM 890 Adventure, the Yamaha Ténéré 700, and the base model Triumph Tiger 900.

In this company the Tuareg 660 is right in the mix, coming in slightly more than the Ténéré 700 (£9,700), and slightly less than the KTM 890 (£11,449 - if you go for the base model with no toys!). The Tuareg is also a bit less than the base Tiger 850 Sport (£11,500), although that is a much more road-oriented machine.

It goes to prove that this sector is not just competitive in terms of spec and ability, you can barely get a Rizla paper between these bikes when you look at the numbers on a page.

Aprilia Tuareg 660

2022 Aprilia Tuareg 660 engine

The basic engine is outwardly much the same as that found within the awesome RS660 and Tuono 660 models. With a focus on off-road ability though, Aprilia has honed the unit, squeezing more low and mid-range torque from the unit. Peak power is down too, but as this is a true travel enduro, the 79bhp it claims is more than enough for even the roughest of trails.

Like the other two bikes in the 660 family, the engine is a fizzy little pot of fun, gobbling up the rev-counter till the TFT bashes into the red-line and the slightly muted ‘soft’ rev-limiter. Its slightly gangly design means it actually feels a fair bit quicker than its 79bhp would have you believe, and the mid-range torque in particular makes overtaking on the road a doddle.

I recently took part in the launch of the new Metzeler Karoo 4 road legal knobbly tyre, and that gave me the chance to ride the Tuareg on some tough trails without risking flinging Aprilia UK’s test bike into the forest. Off-road the engine is just the same, eager to rev, with decent mid-range, although it does lack the low-end grunt that the Ténéré 700 provides. It’s not massively hampering on the dirt, but means you have to work a bit harder to keep the bike in the mid-range sweet spot and out of the low-revs where it can become a little chuggy.

The quickshifter on the launch bike I rode off-road worked faultlessly too, smoothing out the changes on the road and the dirt, with none of the gremlins that were reported from the bike’s official launch last year.

Aprilia Tuareg 660

2022 Aprilia Tuareg 660 electronics

One thing the Tuareg is packed with is high-spec electronics and rider aids. It’s an off-roadified version of the system found on the other 660 engine bikes and is crowned by a great-looking although exceptionally bright five-inch TFT dash. Within the dash is a host of riding modes, which can be changed on the fly with ease.

There are four pre-set rider modes, Explore, Urban, Off-Road, and Individual. Explore is your on-road touring mode, with rider aids like ABS and traction control turned up for a secure feel on all surfaces. Urban ups the traction control and ABS softens the throttle and reduces the engine braking. Off-Road has the least level of TC (but not all the way off it seems) a very soft throttle map and the ABS disengaged to the rear wheel – you can also disable the front ABS through the menus. It’s a bit of a fiddle though.

Cruise control is standard on the Tuareg, and it’s a carbon copy of the system on the RS and Tuono. It’s a simple enough system to use, and sets the bike slightly above the Ténéré doesn’t have this minor creature comfort.

The press bike from Aprilia UK I had was bone stock, although the one I rode in Italy for the tyre launch did have the aftermarket quickshifter fitted. If it were me, I would stump up the extra cash for that as it worked very well.

Metz-Karoo-4-Visordown-review

2022 Aprilia Tuareg 660 on-road handling

I spent around three hundred road miles on the Tuareg now, which has been a mix of motorway schlepping and diving around the twisties in northern Italy. And I can hand on heart say it is a thoroughly capable machine across the board. It has more poise than the Ténéré on the road, with suspension that feels just that bit classier when you really push it. It transitions from left to right nicely and feels more accurate than any lanky adventure bike should.

The Brembo stoppers are also worthy of a mention here, as the four-pot calipers and 300mm discs do an admirable job of hauling the 205kg bike up from speed. On some ADV bikes, the amount of travel on offer and the softly sprung setup can take some of the urgency out of braking events, although that was not the case, either on-road or off it. The lever feel was nice and progressive, and the bite of the brakes would have me pushing my bum to the back of the expansive seat to try and keep the rear wheel on the ground.

Overall, I’d say the chassis of the Tuareg feels premium and very well set up. It’s more at home on the road than the Ténéré, and just about on par with stock 890 Adventure. And let’s face it, those are the two bikes that Aprilia is aiming for with this one…

Metz-Karoo-4-Visordown-review

2022 Aprilia Tuareg 660 off-road handling

Off-road and on some fairly tricky trails, the Aprilia remained equally as impressive. It’s light on its feet and feels almost laser-guided when you’re navigating more tight and technical sections. Push the bike further and faster through the dirt and you’re rewarded by a chassis that soaks up even the biggest hits, never really feeling like its composure is being tested. It’s an impressive feat for Aprilia to rock up to this party, fairly late, and wearing pretty much the same outfit as one of the already present guests – that’s Yamaha by the way… But the team in Noale should really be applauded for what they have managed to create. They have spent their budget, which was likely less than that of KTM and Yamaha, in all the right places, and the result is a bike that can genuinely hold its own in an all-road scenario.

Aprilia Tuareg 660

2022 Aprilia Tuareg 660 comfort

A couple of late-night runs to the airport have given me a decent chance to get my head around the comfort of the Tuareg, and it’s a tale of two halves here. While the riding position is great for me a shorter pilot, I found the minimalist screen to low leaving my head slap bang in the middle of the turbulent air.

As mentioned already, the seat is expansive, and great for shorter riders due to its narrow profile. An 860mm seat usually has me wincing at the thought of riding off-road, although the super-slim design means getting a half foot on each side down is actually possible. It’s also fairly comfortable too, as the narrowest section of the seat arrives just after the fuel tank, meaning that for the most part, your are slightly further back and on a slightly wider section of the perch.

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2022 Aprilia Tuareg 660 economy and range

Over the time I’ve had it I’ve managed around 48mpg average from the little Tuareg, which I don’t consider too bad. Most of my long motorway journeys have been done with luggage on, which not only messes with the weight of the bike but more importantly the aerodynamics. Given my average consumption, I’d hope for between 175 to 185 miles from the 18-litre tank.

Image icon Aprilia Tuareg 660

2022 Aprilia Tuareg 660 verdict

Going back to my party analogy, Aprilia was late, slightly drunk (with the styling), and clearly looking to wind up one of the most popular bikes in the form of the Yamaha Ténéré 700. And I think it’s definitely succeeded in that task. It’s not quite a mic-drop moment, but it’s bloody close. It’s better on-road, just as capable off it, and nudges the bigger, higher spec bikes that are just up the road - Tiger 900 Rally, Honda Africa Twin, BMW F850 GS Adventure…

It’s not much more expensive than the Yamaha, and a shade cheaper than the class leader from KTM, that means more to some than it does for others, but it’s a crucial point of note. For many riders, trying to pick which machine to go with will likely come down to personal preference or brand loyalty. Although you shouldn’t overlook the newcomer to the party, it’s actually a bloody machine that is more than capable of giving some established names a muddy nose.

For more information on the new 2022 Aprilia Tuareg 660, head to: www.aprilia.com