Aprilia RS 660 Revealed

Evans Brasfield
by Evans Brasfield

Sporting parallel-Twin fans rejoice! Another new engine platform is soon to be available from Aprilia. While it is clearly heading to the RS 660 sportbike first, we expect it to become the basis for a family of motorcycles. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Aprilia has said that the new engine could be considered the front half of the powerful 1100cc engine used in the RSV4. While nothing is ever that simple, the claim is that the power is 100 hp and its “high torque value.” Not surprisingly the DOHC engine uses a 270° crankshaft that is all the rage. Aprilia says that the RSV4 design was chosen because of its narrowness and its limited heat transmission to the rider.

For power delivery and control, electronic aids abound. The major players are: Aprilia Traction Control, Aprilia Wheelie Control, Aprilia Quick Shift (up and down), Aprilia Engine Brake, Aprilia Engine Map, and Aprilia Cruise Control (to make John Burns happy). Cornering ABS plays an important role in keeping the rider safe, no matter what the riding environment.

Handling is carried out by the aluminum frame that uses the engine as a load-bearing element. The asymmetrically-shaped aluminum swingarm uses the engine as its pivot point for stability on road and track. An inverted 41mm Kayaba fork looks to be fully adjustable, while an adjustable shock of unknown origin handles the rear. Brembo four-piston radial-mounted calipers squeeze 320mm discs at the beckoning of a Brembo radial master cylinder.

Pricing and release dates were not available at press time. For more on the Aprilia RS 660, read the full press release below.

A hint of the future use for the 660 parallel-Twin: Aprilia Tuono 660!

Begin Press Release:





EICMA 2019 marks the start of a new era for Aprilia.

Created around a totally new technical base, defined by the 660 parallel-twin, comes a new generation of lightweight, high-performance bikes that are sophisticated in design. A return to the mid-sized engine, supported by the electronics and technology of the Aprilia Racing department, to rediscover the pleasure and joy of everyday riding.

The first born in this brand-new generation of Aprilia bikes is RS 660.

The history of Aprilia is inextricably linked to the RS initials, which have always characterised the sportiest of Noale bikes. A tradition of success, the result of bikes that are high-performance, innovative and superb to ride, the very image of an Italian sportbike.

Aprilia RS 660 is a response to the needs of new generations of motorcyclists, who seek fun, fulfilling, easy to ride bikes that can excite on the road just as they can during the occasional track outing. The bike gives new meaning to the sports concept, aiming for an excellent weight/power ratio able to generate excitement that is accessible to all.

For the first time in this category, a new bike offers a premium design and technical content deriving from Aprilia’s experience in top level competition at the service of enjoyment on the road combined with the brilliant performance of the 660 cc twin, capable of delivering 100 HP. The perfect formula for ultimate enjoyment is completed with a dry weight reduced to just 169 kg, numbers that well represent the character of this latest-generation Aprilia.

RS 660 is born to support young Aprilia customers on their individual motorcycle growth path: from the entry-level bikes, where Aprilia is a leader with the widest 125 range, right up to the V4 family comprising the Tuono and RSV4, considered definitive bikes, a point of arrival to which expert riders aspire. RS 660 rediscovers the pleasure and daily enjoyment of a bike with fairings, exploiting the dynamic qualities of a refined, fast and lightweight chassis, combined with the optimum performance of the engine and complete package of APRC active electronic controls, derived from RSV4 racing technology. This is the new concept of Aprilia sports versatility: a stand-out bike whatever the occasion, whether it is daily riding or something sportier, always with the same enthusiasm and enjoyment.

Design: Aprilia pride and passion

Just one look is enough to realise that the Aprilia RS 660 also stands out for its style, dictating the shapes of future Aprilia sportbikes. The design is innovative, sophisticated, authentically sporty. It immediately transmits that Aprilia passion and skill for creating bikes that leave a mark, like the inimitable RSV4 that, right from its birth in 2009, rewrote the rules in the superbike segment. The Aprilia Centro Stile set itself the goal of creating dynamic, modern shapes with a contained surface area so as not to hide the fabulous frame, all without taking the concept to an extreme, in order to offer both rider and passenger significant comfort on board.

The main physical traits of the fairing speak the language typical of Aprilia V4 bikes and include a triple front LED light assembly, complete with perimeter DRL lights positioned on the profile of the two main headlamps, to ensure the RS 660 is highly visible even in the dark. The indicators are integrated into the two DRL profiles, making for an even more compact front section. The lighting system also incorporates details designed to make riding even safer: thanks to the presence of a twilight sensor, the low beam lights are activated automatically, while the self-cancelling indicators flash in case of emergency braking. Lastly, thanks to the “cornering lights” function, a pair of additional lights in the setting illuminate the entire turn when riding.

The idea to create a double fairing with integrated aerodynamic appendage function is particularly innovative, a choice that confirms the Aprilia commitment to seeking increasingly effective aerodynamic solutions, a window onto the future of sportbike shapes and one that was first opened with the RSV4. Inspiration clearly comes from the racing world: one of its functions is to optimise stability at high speeds, but it has also been designed to increase rider comfort, adequately protecting against air pressure and deviating hot air flow extracted by the engine. In line with the philosophy of day to day sportiness, the riding position is comfortable, comprising a spacious seat located on the tapered tail fairing (accessories also include a single-seat tail fairing) which incorporates the passenger seat portion, with correctly raised footpegs and a pair of semi-handlebars mounted above the upper steering plate. This results in a seat-handlebar-footpeg triangulation that is not overly front-loaded, increasing road riding enjoyment.

The Aprilia chassis, a benchmark for efficiency

Aprilia is so renowned for its ability to develop exceptional chassis that “it’s an Aprilia” has become a well-used phrase among motorcyclists, taken to mean a guarantee of construction quality, feeling and dynamic riding efficiency. Remaining faithful to this happy tradition, the RS 660 flaunts a wonderful new lightweight structure comprising the frame and swingarm, both in aluminium, with characteristics that are truly unique for the category. Aprilia does not just construct excellent frames, but also has a clear understanding of the ideal percentages and weight distribution required to maximise the qualities of the chassis and, hence, the riding experience.

The frame exploits the engine as a load-bearing element, which contributes to a structure that is compact, lightweight and rigid. For the same reason, the asymmetrically-shaped swingarm is pivoted on the engine, a technical choice typical of Aprilia RS bikes. The particular mounting of the adjustable shock allows for excellent progression even without linkage, for an important weight saving. In designing the frame, Aprilia engineers paid particular attention to the steering headstock area, in order to guarantee the necessary stability on the road, as well as during track usage, while keeping the turning circle to a minimum to facilitate daily riding. The exceptional chassis is completed with an adjustable upside-down Kayaba fork with 41 mm stanchions and a braking system comprising, at the front end, a pair of 320 mm steel discs, a pair of radial callipers and a radial cylinder, all by Brembo. One of the main aims of the project is lightness that, combined with engine performance, allows for new levels of riding enjoyment and style.

The significant performance of the new Aprilia 100 HP twin

A new era begins for Aprilia with the introduction of a new engine type, christened by the RS 660 and that will equip a complete range of new bikes. The 660cc forward-facing parallel twin is a latest-generation unit that is Euro5 homologated and very compact. It derives from the front bank of the 1100 cc V4, from which it takes its concepts and measurements. This configuration is chosen due to its compactness and efficiency, its very limited transmission of heat to the rider, and the freedom it gives engineers to exploit the spaces and create a slim, lightweight chassis.

The mechanics are also very versatile, adapting well to different types of bike. The 100 HP delivered by this twin with DOHC and 270-degree crankpins (record power for a forward-facing twin of this size) promises great enjoyment, creating an exciting weight/power ratio, among the very best. Equally important when it comes to road-riding enjoyment is a high torque value, and the new Aprilia engine excels here too, ensuring a rapid, lively response at any speed. The exhaust system includes a single tailpipe with asymmetric double exit positioned below the engine and contributes to the centralisation of masses, to the benefit of handling.

The full delivery, combined with a swift, lightweight chassis, gives RS 660 a dynamic character that is appreciated during daily use and invaluable during dynamic riding. Optimum engine function is guaranteed by full electronics, directly adapted from those of the Aprilia V4 and which include multimap Ride-by-Wire electronic acceleration for precise throttle management without low speed stuttering, while also optimising fuel consumption.

Top class electronics: performance and safety

Another unique Aprilia RS 660 characteristic lies in its electronic systems, designed to ensure performance and safety, the most complete range of equipment currently available in the category, exceeding even that of certain top-of-line superbikes. Aprilia is a pioneer in the electronics field (the first to introduce Ride-by-Wire throttle control in 2007) and currently boasts the complete package of APRC electronic controls, developed in top level competition, and considered by customers and critics to be among the most precise and sensitive available on the market. RS 660 is equipped with an advanced six-axis inertial platform that, thanks to the accelerometers and gyroscopes it contains, is able to recognise the condition of the bike with respect to the road; it records and processes the inputs that result from riding and sends the data to a control unit that intervenes to optimise the control parameters. The APRC of RS 660 is developed to support performance on track as well as ensure safe, engaging riding on the road.

Aprilia RS 660 APRC includes:

  • ATC: Aprilia Traction Control – adjustable traction control with precise, high-performance intervention logic.
  • AWC: Aprilia Wheelie Control – the adjustable wheelie control system.
  • ACC: Aprilia Cruise Control – this is very convenient on longer trips because it lets you maintain a set speed without touching the throttle.
  • AQS: Aprilia Quick Shift – the electronic gearbox that allows for very rapid shifting without closing the throttle or using the clutch. It is also equipped with the downshift function, to allow for clutchless downshifting.
  • AEB: Aprilia Engine Brake – the system to control engine braking when closing the throttle.
  • AEM: Aprilia Engine Map – the various mappings change the character and method of engine power delivery.

Aprilia RS 660 adopts advanced multimap Cornering ABS, to guarantee maximum safety on the road, without sacrificing its sports performance. With its remarkably contained weight and dimensions, the system is able to optimise braking and ABS intervention through the corners, thanks to a specific algorithm that constantly monitors various parameters such as lateral acceleration, the pressure applied to the front brake lever, and the lean, pitch and yaw angle, modulating the braking action in order to better guarantee the ratio between deceleration and stability.

Aprilia has developed five Riding Modes that aim to not only maximise the riding experience across a range of very different conditions, but also simplify life on board. The rider need only select the Riding Mode that best interprets their riding needs to obtain the best possible setting in terms of traction control, wheelie control, engine brake, ABS and other parameters.

There are three Riding Modes for road use: Commute, the most suitable for daily riding, Dynamic, ideal for sports riding on the road, and Individual, which allows for full personalisation of the electronic controls. Two additional Riding Modes are designed for track use: Challenge, suitable for track sessions where a rider exploits the full potential of RS 660 and Time Attack, a logic that allows more expert riders to fully personalise electronic set-up.

Management of the electronic settings is facilitated with the introduction of new electric handlebar controls, which make for quicker navigation and excellent ergonomics.

The colour TFT digital instrument cluster boasts exceptional display options. The two screens available for selection, Road or Track (both with automatic night or day backlighting, thanks to the presence of a twilight sensor), correspond with two represented indices. Aprilia MIA, the new Aprilia multimedia platform that allows a smartphone to be connected to the bike, further extending instrument cluster functions, is available as an option. The Aprilia MIA system offers a connection protocol that reduces smartphone battery consumption to a minimum, and includes the infotainment system, introduced for the first time by Aprilia on the Tuono V4, for the management of voice commands and ingoing/outgoing calls. It also introduces a navigation function, which allows the rider to view directions directly on the instrument cluster having set a journey destination on the smartphone.

Versions and colours

Aprilia RS 660 is presented in two graphic versions, the first clearly dominated by colours that represent the history and sports heritage of Aprilia. The pairing of purple and red is a tribute to the RS 250 in its 1994 Reggiani Replica version, the last real sportbike of the two-stroke era, still beloved by motorcyclists and highly sought after by collectors. The second graphic version stands out for its total black look, also very much a part of Aprilia sports history, and on which the numerous bright red details make a real impact.

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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8 of 13 comments
  • Stuki Moi Stuki Moi on Nov 06, 2019

    When I first heard of this, I thought: Great! Previous Gen Ninja 650 in a more colorful wrapping (650 ptwin, linkage less rear.....)

    But, just to teach me not to be so quick to dismiss... Now I find it the most exiting new bike of the past several years! Base specs (100hp, 410+- lbs wet) like a CBR600, just with almost every modern sportbike rider aid on tap (and cruise control to keep out of jail...), and what is likely to be a less "Hey Ponch! Look at me! I'm street racing against my imaginary GixxerBro" power band and sound.

    Only downside is, deep down I know I'm setting myself up to be disappointed as soon as I sit on it, and painfully realize my knees will refuse to have anything to do with it whatsoever.... The RSV is already a step too far, and this is Aprilia's sport bike targeted at "Younger Riders..."

    • See 1 previous
    • Mad4TheCrest Mad4TheCrest on Nov 09, 2019

      "and painfully realize my knees will refuse to have anything to do with it whatsoever.... "

      Right. But. How long do you need to ride between stops on this? I have found that I can go about an hour on my Street Triple before my right knee calls a halt. A bit of a walk about and I'm good to go for another hour. Needing ibuprofen after more than 3 of those stints though.

      And oddly enough - I had no knee problems at all on my previous Ducati 1198 sportbike. The knee angle was better, or something (maybe it was the adrenalin). This is a sportbike, so, maybe not so bad when you try it?

  • Mad4TheCrest Mad4TheCrest on Nov 07, 2019

    I've been driving my friends crazy telling them that big superbikes have gone too far for the road, and what was needed was a middleweight sportbike that still brings all the bells and whistles but with appropriate power (that you can enjoy more of without going directly to jail).

    Well, here it seemingly is. I guess we won't know how well it all really works until the first reviews come in, but - red seat aside, I'm liking this. I'm also liking Ducati's revision of the 959 Panigale into the 'V2', also with all the goodies with street-useable power. Maybe this is a tend toward focus on right-sizing sportbikes across all manufacturers. I hope so.

    • See 3 previous
    • Born to Ride Born to Ride on Nov 09, 2019

      It needs the VVT head and a new fairing, then a naked model with no compromises other than ergonomics.