Aprilia Tuareg: 5 Things You Need to Know

Evans Brasfield
by Evans Brasfield

The more we ride it. The more we like it.

Photography by Evans Brasfield

Last year, we voted the Aprilia Tuareg the Best Adventure Motorcycle of 2022 and the 2022 Motorcycle of the Year. Clearly, we like it, but after almost six months without riding one, we began to wonder if it was really as great as we remembered. Fortunately, we recently got to spend some quality time with a 2022 Aprilia Tuareg while adventure touring in South Dakota thanks to the good folks at Travel South Dakota, and it only rekindled our fondness for this motorcycle. This time, however, we spent more time in the dirt than we did on pavement, which only made us appreciate the balance provided by this motorcycle even more.

Here are five things you need to know about the Aprilia Tuareg.

1. Long Distance Chops

For most of us, we have to ride paved roads to get to the dirty stuff, and when adventure touring, the highway slog can go on for a day or more. The Tuareg is a supremely capable mount for racking up the miles. Both the engine and the suspension smooth out the rough edges of long hours in the saddle. Cruise control helps reduce rider effort. The windscreen creates a reasonably-sized pocket of still air to take the strain off of the rider’s upper body without becoming an eddy that traps heat from the engine bay. Even the seat, which is still narrow enough to allow off-road control of the bike while standing, provides a decent platform for chasing the horizon.

2. A Versatile Engine

Since the Tuareg is near the bottom of the middleweight adventure class displacement, you might be curious about how well the 659 cc Parallel-Twin performs. Because the same basic engine powers both RS 660 and the Tuono 660, you shouldn’t be surprised that it likes to rev out to build power, and on winding roads the engine doesn’t disappoint, with seamless throttle response to all the rider’s inputs. However, the dirt half of the Tuareg’s job description favors different characteristics. Here, too, the mill with different length intake ducts, updated cams, and specifically-designed exhaust system from its siblings – all focused on assisting bottom-end torque – delivers power in a way that helps the bike scratch its way over obstacles. The 10% shorter gearing also lends a hand here. What you end up with is an engine that loves chugging along on rock ascents as much as it does ripping up the twisties.

3. Engine Heat

The Tuareg’s engine isn’t perfect, though. In hot weather – and even at highway speeds – a bubble of hot air surrounds the rider’s right boot. In cool weather like we recently experienced in South Dakota, this was a non-issue. In fact, nobody even mentioned the heat in their notes. However, last year when we were riding in 108° weather for a full day, you can bet we talked about this heat. A lot. While it’s not uncommon for engine bays to get hot when riding in stop-and-go traffic, the fact that this happened at speed was a bummer. If you live somewhere hot, be aware of this issue.

4. Weak Front Brake

Although less of a problem in the dirt, where finesse is more important than outright braking power, the front brake lacks initial bite, and while it can haul the Tuareg down from speed, the effort is higher than we would expect. This is particularly surprising since the calipers are emblazoned with Brembo’s logo. These are axial-mounted calipers, not the more aggressive radial-mount, squeezing 310 mm discs, and yet, the power they deliver is less than we would expect. Perhaps, a sportier pad compound would remedy the issue.

5. An Excellent Technology Package

The middleweight adventure-touring class has a wide displacement range from the 659 cc of the Tuareg to over 900 cc. Compared to the bikes at the lower end of the displacement range, the Aprilia surpasses the others with its electronics. From the full-color TFT display to the included cruise control, the premium feel is immediately noticeable. The rider aids allow adjustment of engine mapping, engine braking, traction control, and ABS in all four of its modes. The rear ABS can even be completely disabled in Off-Road mode. This allows for the Tuareg’s electronic intervention to be tuned from being able to support novice dirt riders or stay out of the way of experts. This capability contributes a tremendous amount to the bike’s balance as a good mount for newbies and pros, alike.

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Evans Brasfield
Evans Brasfield

Like most of the best happenings in his life, Evans stumbled into his motojournalism career. While on his way to a planned life in academia, he applied for a job at a motorcycle magazine, thinking he’d get the opportunity to write some freelance articles. Instead, he was offered a full-time job in which he discovered he could actually get paid to ride other people’s motorcycles – and he’s never looked back. Over the 25 years he’s been in the motorcycle industry, Evans has written two books, 101 Sportbike Performance Projects and How to Modify Your Metric Cruiser, and has ridden just about every production motorcycle manufactured. Evans has a deep love of motorcycles and believes they are a force for good in the world.

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