Aprilia’s Tuareg 660 was a much-teased motorcycle that had many of us somewhat confused as to what we should expect leading up to its launch.
Anyone coming from a dirtbike background had little to no reference points for the brand which had not played seriously offroad for decades.
When there’s hype but no real expectations, the mystery is somewhat refreshing. And to our surprise, the Tuareg 660 not only lived up to its hype but quite simply blew us away.
So how did Aprilia do it? Let’s take a look at the 5 most important design elements it got just right.
The KYB suspension is one of the best kits on an adventure bike today, particularly for the experienced rider who enjoys riding aggressively off-road.
The 43mm fork displays impeccable behaviour across various terrains from hard pack to sand and its 240mm of travel is complemented by responsive clicker adjustments that help you fine-tune the feel.
The fork is balanced by a great shock and the chassis itself plays a huge role in offering enough flex to be forgiving but stiff enough to provide sharp handling.
The interplay between the three elements can make or break a bike and Aprilia nailed it on the Tuareg 660.
The Tuareg is built to push hard in the dirt but Aprilia could have made the mistake of adding a step seat like so many other adventure bikes have to accommodate a pillion rider.
Instead, they fitted a dirtbike-style one-piece seat with a nice profile to facilitate movement so you can shift your body weight back and forward and not feel encumbered.
This is imperative on an adventure bike that feels smaller than its size and is built for riding hard and it’s a part of why dirtbike riders are drawn to the Tuareg 660.
Recognising the need for comfort, the seat foam is compliant and well-cut to provide a haven for your butt all day and across multiple days.
If they got this simple design facet wrong, the Tuareg would not be the bike it is.
The engine is probably the most understated element of the Tuareg. The 660’s parallel twin doesn’t garner Oprah Winfrey levels of screaming praise, but it’s quietly doing good work.
At 80HP and 70Nm it’s not a steroidal bolter but it’s no slouch either. It pulls nicely off the bottom and is responsive in that crucial mid-range and it holds its gears well across a range of conditions.
While there is a fair amount of smart electronics between your wrist to the rear wheel, the tactile feel is quite strong so you do feel a connection that allows for greater direct control which is more satisfying than a computer making decisions for you.
The range of colours in the adventure bike market is dismal and borders on bleak. Black is the new black and maybe one other splash of colour as a second choice. Or no choice at all which is in a way freeing but boring.
Aprilia offers the Tuareg in six different colourways with funky names like Atreides black and Indaco Tanglemust. Each looks unique and eye-catching without appearing like you just rode into a bunch of different coloured balloons.
Our gear is almost always black, our bikes are generally available in one or two colours. There’s no reason this can’t be fun with some bright colours and a bit more personality.
As a first effort, the Tuareg is astonishing. Aprilia has jumped onto the contemporary adventure motorcycle market with both feet and made a bold statement right from the start.
As a qualifier, Aprilia first produced a 125 two-stroke Tuareg in 1984. This grew to a 250, a 350 and finally a 600 by the early 1990s. That air-cooled, single-cylinder 600 had its time but the gap between the last of production to the 2024 Tuareg 660 would render any carry-through knowledge ancient and irrelevant.
The Tuareg 660 was a fresh start by engineers who most likely hadn’t finished school by the time Aprilia cut the original Tuareg line. And they nailed it.
The Tuareg 660 is unique and satisfying. It primarily serves the needs of the offroad rider but doesn’t stink on the blacktop. It offers excellent electronics but doesn’t mute the rider’s feel for the bike.
While the second generation is yet to be revealed, Aprilia won a lot of fans with the 660 and the formula does not need to be drastically changed.