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Motorbike review Aprilia Tuareg 660 – the middleweight maestro that’s equally happy on the tarmac or the rough stuff

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The Aprilia Tuareg 660's engine is a reworked version of that of its siblings, the RS 660 and Tuono 660

The Aprilia Tuareg 660's engine is a reworked version of that of its siblings, the RS 660 and Tuono 660

The Aprilia Tuareg 660 - 75pc of 70Nm of torque is available from 3,000rpm

The Aprilia Tuareg 660 - 75pc of 70Nm of torque is available from 3,000rpm

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The Aprilia Tuareg 660's engine is a reworked version of that of its siblings, the RS 660 and Tuono 660

Welcome to my favourite pastime – busting those myths about bigger being better and turning the world of two wheels on its, er, head.

Aprilia’s Tuareg 660 is the company’s latest foray into the middeweight market, powered by a detuned version of the incredible 660cc forward-facing twin cylinder engine derived from the company’s blisteringly fast 1100cc V4 unit.

It’s the same power plant we’ve already seen on the RS 660 and Tuono 660, complete with a 270-degree firing interval that mimics the sound of its bigger V4 brother with a guttural growl when ridden hard.

The original Tuareg cut its cloth in the Dakar during the 1980s and gained cult-like status with the motorcycling public. And this new generation of the bike is likely to have a similar following in time.

That engine, producing 80hp weighing in at just 204kg is undoubtedly the star of the show – but there’s so much more on offer besides.

The bike has true enduro aspirations, with a 21” front wheel with long suspension travel and a sublimely balanced and compact chassis. But for this week’s test it was all about the road – and the Tuareg wasn’t found wanting on the tarmac.

For the €13,899 asking price, you get a fair bit of bang for your buck.

Four riding modes come as standard – two for street, one for off-road and one that is fully customisable.

A ride-by-wire throttle is linked to an impressive APRC electronics package, including Aprilia Traction Control (ATC), Aprilia Cruise Control (ACC), Aprilia Engine Brake (AEB) and Aprilia Engine Map (AEM).

The 5-inch colour digital TFT instrument cluster helps you control all this magic, as well as phone/device connectivity via the Aprilia multimedia platform.

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The Aprilia Tuareg 660 - 75pc of 70Nm of torque is available from 3,000rpm

The Aprilia Tuareg 660 - 75pc of 70Nm of torque is available from 3,000rpm

The Aprilia Tuareg 660 - 75pc of 70Nm of torque is available from 3,000rpm

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I really like the look of this bike, and its off-road credentials dictate that the single seat, big front wheel and decent bash plate all add to the ruggedly handsome good looks. Some won’t be wild about the face-on look, but it works for me.

The 18-litre tank is good for 450km, according to Aprilia. I wouldn’t want to put this claim to the test, especially with spirited riding, but it’s undoubtedly a frugal engine and should be good for more than most care to leave between stops.

What’s undeniable, however, is the sheer ear-to-ear-smiling, whooping-as-you-come-out-of-a-corner rideability of the Tuareg 660. It’s a beautifully tuned engine - 70Nm of torque is provided at significantly lower revs than it is on the RS 660 (6,500rpm compared with 8,500 on the RS 660), with 75pc of it available from 3,000rpm, turning into 85pc when you hit 4,500rpm.

Brembo brakes feature 300mm discs and double-piston callipers at the front and a single 260mm disc and floating, single-piston calliper at the rear.

The first gear ratio is shorter than that of the RS 660 and Tuono 660, as is the final drive, with two fewer sprockets on the pinion (15, compared with the 17 on RS 660 and Tuono 660), to maximise throttle response time.

After years of big-displacement trailes being the only show in town, there are now a few decent offerings in the middleweight trailie sector.

And in my mind, the Tuareg is certainly worth a look for those who are in them market for something capable, fun and arguably easier to live with than some of the bigger – and more expensive – adventure bikes out there.

For more information, and to organise a ride on a demo machine (subject to the usual Ts and Cs), give the team at Megabikes a call on 01-478 4200 or see megabikes.ie

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