Judging by recently-leaked spy shots, it looks like Italy’s niche brand Aprilia, owned by Piaggio since 2004, is primed to sweeten the middleweight adventure bike pot with its previously teased Tuareg 660. 

The new Tuareg will be the third motorcycle to emerge using Aprilia’s all-new 660cc powerplant, a liquid-cooled parallel-twin engine that is fundamentally the forward tilting half of the company’s revered RSV4 1100 V-four mill. 

All three new models are currently in various states of inception, with the RS660 sportbike leading the way with a world launch scheduled for early October. The bike next in line, a semi-faired, detuned version of the RS is an all-new Tuono that offers a pillion seat, passenger pegs and more livable ergos than its sport-slanted sibling is scheduled for production in 2021. 

Aprilia Tuareg 660 adventure motorcycle
Aprilia teased the Tuareg 660 last year at EICMA, displaying it in a glass box shrouded in leaves. (Photo by Asphalt & Rubber)

Both of these street-minded bikes debuted in the flesh during the 2019 EICMA show in Milan, the RS as a prototype and the Tuono as a concept. An adventure-intended option wasn’t even mentioned at the time. However, keen eyes at the show eventually noticed a large plexiglass cube in the Aprilia area that at first glance appeared only to house a jungle of tropical plants, but was actually concealing about 90% of a mysterious motorcycle.

And suddenly the buzz was all about an adventure-intended 660. At that point we could only discern the mystery bike had knobby tires, spoked wheels and upswept exhaust. All presumed it would be dubbed a “Tuareg” (a nomad of the Northern and Western Sahara) after an ambitious line of rally-raid style bikes Aprilia built during the 80s and 90s. 

Now we have these spy shots out of Italy that tell us more about the freshest player in Aprilia’s expanding lineup. Though obviously in rough form, the adventure model features a low front fender,a steel trellis frame similar to the company’s Dorsoduro 900 naked bike, and what looks like a 21/18-inch tubeless wire spoke wheel combo. 

Renderings published in Europe have imagined the Tuareg’s front wheel and fairing would look very similar to Yamaha’s Tenere 700, and the side view of this test mule does not contradict the notion.   

Aprilia Tuareg 660 adventure motorcycle
Rendering of the Tuareg 660 featured in the Italian publication Insella

We can also tell by the right-side engine case this is certain to be the same powerplant in the RS660 and Tuono 660, and thanks to Cycle World‘s exclusive test of the RS ahead of the world launch, we know a bit more about this all-new engine’s nature. 

The review called the parallel twin “generous, with torque over a wide range of revs, responding smartly from 4,000 all the way past 10,500, though never in an overly aggressive way.” When tuned for the sporty RS, the engine drums out a claimed 100 hp with the rhythm similar to that of a V-twin thanks to a 270-degree crankshaft angle. We expect the Tuareg, like the Tuono, to be detuned, but dialed to optimize torque. 

The RS660 is also very light at 373 pounds and comes with top-shelf components and an advanced electronics suite. The list of gizmos is long: adjustable traction control, wheelie control, quickshifter for both up and downshifts, and something you won’t find on other bikes in its class, cruise control. It’s also fitted with an inertial measurement unit to factor lean angle into the ABS intervention and has a large full-color TFT dash with Bluetooth connectivity. 

Hopefully, we’ll see the attention to light weight and much of the same technology on the Tuareg. Also on the wish list is a more distinct and stylish silhouette than the blacked out mule in the photos conjures. Perhaps it will sport its own split LED headlamp scenario to echo the RS and Tuono’s most striking, familial trait. 

Aprilia Tuareg 660 adventure motorcycle

Knowing Aprilia, the Tuareg is expected to be a premium offering, likely to be more advanced, more powerful and more expensive than the crowd-pleasing Tenere 700. Something that competes more readily against KTM’s 790 Adventure R in power, torque and componentry, yet pleases the eye and ear with its Italian dazzle. 

Another thing we noticed in the recent spy shots are the data capture devices mounted on the back of the bike to provide telemetry information. This suggests the Tuareg won’t be coming in 2021, but rather as a 2022 model. Sounds like a long wait, but for fans of Italian hardware, one worth enduring.

Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

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