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2021 Aprilia Tuono 660 first ride review: Less power, same fun

The Tuono 660 is meant to be a more accessible way for buyers to get the Tuono experience and on that, it delivers.

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- 03:53
lc1-2022

The Tuono 660 offers a big Tuono riding experience in a more manageable package.

Aprilia

The Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 is an incredible motorcycle. It's hugely powerful, aggressively styled and wildly competent -- but pretty expensive, and ultimately, not for beginners. For everyone else, there's the new Aprilia Tuono 660, which takes the same formula and pairs it with a much more approachable powerplant. The result is something pretty special.

The heart of the Tuono 660 is its 660-cc parallel twin-cylinder engine, putting out 100 horsepower. The high-revving twin gives up a lot of the all-around torque that the V4 Tuono has in spades (49 pound-feet versus 89 lb-ft), but it maintains that bike's thrilling top-end rush. This is not a bike that wants to chug around in the lower registers of its rev range, but offers smooth throttle response, even in its Dynamic throttle mode. 

That excellent twin is paired with a six-speed gearbox. The gears are spaced well, making it easy to keep the bike in its powerband, and the addition of the optional quickshifter ($199) makes the Tuono feel a lot racier. The Tuono's clutch offers smooth modulation and requires minimal effort at the lever.

Once above 6,000 rpm or so, the powertrain becomes highly responsive and offers a surprising amount of forward thrust for an engine its size. The throttle is buttery-smooth and allows you to easily trim your line midcorner with no fear of upsetting the bike. It's not a motorcycle that you want to lug around, but it is much happier at sane, in-town speeds than the Tuono V4, in my experience.

Even though the engine gets all the attention, as with the larger Tuono, the chassis is what makes the 660 really special. Like the more track-oriented RS 660, the Tuono uses the engine as a stressed member of the chassis, with the swingarm bolting directly to the engine. This makes for a fairly lightweight bike -- Aprilia names a curb weight of 403 pounds, making the Tuono the lightest in its class.

The 660's suspension is less sophisticated than that of the big Tuono, but it still offers reasonable adjustability and does an excellent job of controlling the bike in most situations. There is some room for improvement, particularly over very bumpy pavement, but it's likely that Aprilia will offer more sophisticated suspension bits in its accessory catalog for those who want them.

The braking system comes from Brembo and is made up of a radial-mount master cylinder and a pair of 320-millimeter discs gripped by radial-mount calipers. The rear brake rotor is 220mm. Antilock brakes are standard, and there's an optional plug-and-play inertial measurement unit that adds lean sensitivity to all of the bike's rider aids.

Interestingly, the 660 bikes -- Tuono and RS -- use a newer and more powerful onboard computer than the 1100 bikes, though that tech is likely to trickle up soon. The motorcycle features multiple ride modes, including Commute, Dynamic and a user-configurable mode for the road. There's also a separate pair of race modes that are accessed through the bike's menus. Cruise control is standard.

The baby Tuono is a bike that wants to be ridden hard -- the smaller displacement engine doesn't love being lugged around.

Aprilia

The Tuono's dash is a color TFT unit that's easily legible in all lighting conditions. The menu system is well-thought-out and navigable with four buttons on the left grip. Ride modes are selectable on the fly via a button on the right grip -- this differs from other models that use the engine start button to select modes.

When it comes to how the Tuono 660 rides, the specs really tell the tale. The bike feels light and very nimble, with excellent grip thanks to a decent suspension setup and some sticky Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa 2 tires. This motorcycle is hugely confidence-inspiring, easily doing what you ask of it with no histrionics.

The Tuono 660 is due in US dealers mid-April, but preorders are open now. It offers the kind of premium feel and tech that people expect of a European bike, with a reasonable price tag: $10,499 for black or silver, $10,699 for Acid Green. There is also a bonus for those who preorder the bike: a $250 accessory credit that can be applied to things like the IMU and the quickshifter, which should be considered mandatory upgrades by buyers. 

The Tuono 660 is a motorcycle that Aprilia hopes will open the brand up to more riders of more skill levels than its previous bikes could. Based on my experience, the Tuono is capable of doing just that.