At last – a bike to test! A combo of semi-conductor shortage, hideous weather and deadlines at work meant that I had to put off the pleasure of testing this bike until a sunny but freezing cold window in January. The roads were dry, the salt had gone as I cocked my leg over the slightly high seat at 860mm – 33.9 inches in old money – (‘comfort seat’) on this latest offering from Aprilia at MoTech in Newcastle.
Andy had shown me around the controls. First impressions – the large TFT display was excellent; the aggressive stance of the bike with a narrow rear and a long, this seat looked promising, with a Perspex screen for road use, and the Aprilia attention to detail. It was a good looker.
On the technical side, this is one-half of the V4 RSV4 engine, which is at 659cc but operates as a parallel twin but is configured to sound like a V twin. Clever. It puts out 79 BHP and is meant for equal amounts of on-road and off-road use. The power characteristics have been altered from the engine that it shares with the Aprilia Tuono and the and the RS660 (which I tested in the September 2021 issue). It’s 20 BHP down on the power output than the RS660, which was a smooth flyer.
Obviously, the power has been altered to give the discerning rider time off-road and there are serrated metal foot pegs rather than rubberised pedals, giving the intentions away, together with the sculpted, thin seat. The end can, which was pretty big, gave off a pleasant sound – even more when I realised that it was standard without spending too much on a go-faster can. As soon as the bike got underway, it carried its height very well. Urban traffic is no problem, and that commanding high position allows you to see over all the cars, which is a great safety bloom.
I elected to keep it in Explore mode (standard) as opposed to Urban or Off-road, or Individual ‘set-it-yourself, faff-about’ mode.
After I got out of the Tyneside traffic, I decided to go where my nose took me, and I ended up going up the Spine Road and then cutting across and going via Blagdon, Ponteland, and off up to Otterburn.
On a whim, before I turned back, I saw the signposts for Ogle on the backroads and decided that this was the place to really test the bike without going off-road. The A roads however, especially those with sweeping bends, we’re great. The power is much lower in this bike than in the RS660 and I delivered much further down the rev range.
As soon as I turned off the A696, I was on unmarked roads with no marked junctions, with potholes, farmers’ winter slurry on the roads and the like. This bike punched through all those difficulties. Potholes weren’t a problem and I wasn’t having to try to avoid them, but they were covered anyway in puddles, so I didn’t always know that it was a pothole. The semi-knobbly type Pirelli Scorpion Rally tyres still had the new blobs on them at 391 miles on this demo bike, so I decided that some caution was required on the bends in the muck and the middle. I had a seminal moment then – looking to my right over the hedges – there was a beautiful Stratocumulus cloud with a deep blue background sky.
The bike has the standard Brembos brakes – two up front and one on the back – and you can disable the ABS front and back if you are serious about off-roading.
This bike is a nimble, highly-manoeuvrable, punchy and good-looking bike. It’s a reincarnation of the previous Tuaregs that Apirilia did from 1985 to 1994. It launched at the back end of 2021. I was riding the Martian-red colour, but if you pay another £500, you get the lovely blue, white and red colours (not Paris Dakar), but Indaco Tagelmust. Of course, you will all know that this is the indigo dye on the headgear worn by nomadic Tuareg tribesman. It’s a fetching colour. I told my friend, Peter, which bike I was taking out. I stopped for a cuppa at Di Meo’s ice-cream parlour on the Ouseburn in Newcastle, for a cappuccino and focaccia sandwich. He had sent me a link to that hoot of an ad for Barclaycard in the 1980s, starring Rowan Atkinson. Have a look at this – it’ll make you smile: www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=g-oCckHaGdM&feature=youtu.be
Get on down to MoTech and desert (sorry!) the UK, for an adventure in North Africa on this appealing and very capable bike “Ah! Smell those Tuareg campfires! Unmistakeable!”
Mark Hipkin is a Partner/ Head of the Personal Injury and Civil Litigation department. He welcomes your e-mails or calls on the law (or your biking experiences) at email@example.com or call 0191 2533509.