What a day! An absolute blast. Aprilia Australia invited MCNews.com.au along to their Racers Day where they let Aprilia owners explore the limits of their own bikes while also checking out the brand’s current line-up. Our focus was the new RS660 Extrema and as such we spent most of the day getting intimate with it. I did throw a leg over another beastie to finish the day, but I’ll touch on that later.
Not being able to attend the Aussie launch of the RS660 last year due to conflicting commitments, this was my first taste of the delightful twin in its sportiest form. And what a place to try it out. Australia’s Mecca of Motorsport and my happy place – Phillip Island. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times you’ve been there, or how recently, those first few laps in the first session are always just… ‘holy crap this place is epic’.
The weather looked sketchy with plenty of rain during the days leading up and I admit to being a little nervous about getting out on track on a saucy Italian bit of kit in the wet. But the riding gods smiled upon us and other than the first session we had a dry, albeit windy track.
So the RS660 ‘Extrema’ – what is it?
Well – Take one standard RS660 and throw the stock exhaust in the bin, to be replaced with a very trick, homologated SC Project Exhaust that sounds as good as you’d imagine. Probably better than you imagine actually. It’s very tasty.
Throw on some tasty carbon bits in the form of the lower fairing and front guard. Grab the IMU and quick-shifter that are options on the standard bike, and throw in some upside-down gearbox software in case you really want to get serious on the track.
Grab the pillion seat and toss that, replacing it with a stylish single-seat cover ( you can order it with the standard pillion seat if you prefer – though I have no idea why you would).
All of that shaves 3 kg off the standard RS660 and while officially the power and torque figures stay the same – I’d love to see a back to back dyno between the two models with that exhaust fitted… because it couldn’t do nothing surely… I’d expect a midrange bump even if only a little.
In terms of important numbers:
100 hp and 67 Nm of torque from that very healthy 659 cc parallel twin that is shared with the outstanding Tuareg that have in my shed (I will point out that the Tuareg gets a retune and subsequent drop in peak power for offroad usability)
180 kg (wet – with 15L of fuel – that’s pretty impressive actually considering all the modern day fruit on it)
820 mm seat height
Fully adjustable suspension on both the front (41mm USD Kayaba) and rear (Sachs)
The first and overarching impression struck me as soon as I was exiting the pits for my very first session. That ride position is perfection. Absolute perfection. It doesn’t feel like a little bike even for ‘almost six-foot’ me. Plenty comfortable enough without being a torture rack, but specifically it’s the tank shape and peg relationship that wins me over. It makes for a leg ‘lock’ into and through corners that is better than any other bike I’ve ever ridden. Seriously brilliant. As I became more comfortable on a drying track throughout the day it was that lock-in that gave me the feedback and feel to continue to push and knock off my ‘track day rust’.
That and the utter usability of the punchy little twin. Nice and torquey midrange and man does it love a rev. Begs to be kept above 9000 rpm (with peak power arriving at 10,500 rpm), and with a quick-shifter and slipper clutch setup as good as they come. Sailing into Honda and banging it down three cogs in quick succession was another joy. Yes it did start to run out of puff at around the 220 mark running into a headwind down the circuit’s long straight, but that was the only place I was dialling up Scotty looking for a little more power.
The power is surprisingly strong – in fact, it’ll loft the front more than willingly in second with a bit of provocation – and felt very happy waving at the clouds and snicking up gears from there… so much so that I’m wondering if I should put a full system and tune on my Tuareg now (dammit!)
I left the shifter in road pattern which you can pretty much get away with at Phillip Island. I only noticed it exiting turn 11 and wanting to shift up into fourth while still fairly cranked over to the left – other than it was fine. But I could have switched it over to race pattern in a matter of minutes. That’s cool.
Electronic-wise, it has the usual gamut of goodies. I should call out the traction control in particular. I had it set at 5 or 6 for the first session where the track was still damp and could tell it was holding back power on the exit of some of the slower corners. Gotta say, it was seamless. As good TC is these days. I couldn’t even tell I was spinning up.. But it could. First time I’ve ever really felt confident enough to fully trust it on the track.
As the day went on and the track dried out I dialled it back to 1 which still left me with a ‘safety net’. And meant I could just focus on riding. Refining my lines. Re-learning things I’d since forgotten about during my time away from the track, and just enjoying myself without feeling overawed by the bike..
And that’s the thing about bikes like the RS660. The rider has to get the speed out of them. Not by point and shoot riding that relies on being last on the brakes and having the most grunt, but by holding momentum and flowing around the circuit. I’ve no doubt that if I was to get back into track days, that spending a year on something like the Extrema would make me a far more confident, more competent rider than jumping straight back on a big bore rocket ship.
We had a fair bit of wind on the day, most noticeable on the fast turns (1, 3 and 12) and so I was consciously a little more cautious through those, but I didn’t once feel like we needed to touch the clickers. We just reset the tyre pressures after the first proper dry session and left it at that. Both ends felt super stable, gave great feedback and yet the bike turned like a dream.
No doubt that with more time, as my confidence grew and lap-times dropped there would be more than enough adjustment in there to firm things up a lot further without resorting to respringing anything.
It’s been a while since I was doing regular days at the track but I have to say that the RS has rekindled the joy. At the risk of sounding like I’m gushing – it was nothing short of an absolute pleasure to get out there and punt around – and it’s not exactly my first rodeo. That’s got to say something. What a lovely package.
I should also talk about the other aspects of the day that impressed me greatly. Firstly that Aprilia had two Aussie racing legends on deck coaching a select group of riders who’d shelled out another couple of hundred bucks for it. Troy Corser and Cam Donald should need no introduction and I had the privilege of listening in to some of the wisdom bombs they were dropping to the group. And I picked up more than a few helpful reminders and tips myself.. I’m not sure if everyone in the group realised what a great experience they’d been able to be part of but I do know that everyone was a better rider for it. Outstanding coaches – if you get the chance to ride with either I’d grab it with both hands.
And then secondly, at the very end of the day after I’d finished Extrema duties, I threw the leg over the RSV4 that I’d been lusting over all day. Regular readers of my reviews will know I’m a sucker for a V4. And that big RSV had me wobbling at the knees everytime anyone jumped on it and fired it up. Seeing Troy and Cam pull minger stand-up wheelies the length of the straight at lunch only amped it up further…
So I had to have a crack at it..
It was everything I had hoped for and more. That big V4 is just.. Sweet mother of God. It’s apocalyptic..I belted out 5 or 6 laps on it at the end of the day and had the biggest shit-eating grin when I rode back into the pits. I’m quite sure I was slower on it than I was on the RS660 as my teeny brain struggled to cope with the jump up to 220ish horsepower that it was laying down. Obviously, it’s bigger and heavier and has a more aggressive riding position to suit. But dialling in that grunt coming out of turn 12 with the guttural, snarling soundtrack… snicking through one of the best quick-shifters I’ve ever sampled and swearing out loud in disbelief as the world seemed to warp around me is something I’ll not forget anytime soon. Just magic. What an experience.
It’d be something to work towards.. In truth I reckon I’d be fastest on something in between the two models ultimately. And I think 95% of punters probably would too. But I’d definitely be better off starting with the Extrema and honing my skills again on that first. I could easily see myself finding another 10 seconds a lap on it again and getting back to some of my old lap-times…
I’ve never been so tempted.
I love the RS660 Extrema because:
That ride position and tank shape is sheer perfection
The engine is a ripper too – and oh so usable (best power to weight in class btw)
Lovely nimble handling without being twitchy
Homologated full system sounds wicked and keeps your warranty happy…
I’d love it even more if:
There’s no denying that the entry ticket of 24 big ones for this version seems a lot for a ‘little bike’, but it is a premium thing with some serious goodies – and you get what you pay for…
The electronics menu took a little getting used to, but once where I needed it to be it was fine
I think I’d need to spend a year on one doing track-days to find other things that need improving.. Because there’s nothing else major that I could find in one day.
Aprilia RS660 Extrema Specifications
Aprilia RS660 Extrema Specifications
659 cc four-stroke, parallel-twin, 270-degree
Bore x Stroke
81 x 63.93 mm
100 hp (73.5 kW) at 10,500 rpm
67 Nm at 8500 rpm
2 x 48 mm EFI throttle bodies. RbW
Six, AQS Aprilia Quick Shift
Wet, multi-plate, slipper
Aluminium dual beam chassis with removable seat support subframe
Kayaba 41-mm forks, aluminium radial calliper mounting bracket. Adjustable spring preload and rebound damping. 120 mm wheel travel.
Aluminium asymmetric swingarm. Adjustable monoshock in spring reload, rebound. 130 mm wheel travel.
120/70-17 (F), 180/55-17 (R)
Front ABS: double disc, diameter 320 mm, Brembo radial callipers with four Ø32-mm opposing pistons. Radial pump and metal braided brake hose.
Ø220-mm disc; Brembo calliper with two Ø34-mm separate pistons. Pump with integrated tank and metal braided hose
Wayne loves all things motorsport, but lives for two wheels. Mountain bikes, dirt bikes, adventure bikes, road bikes, race bikes, the lot.
An ex riding coach and road racer wannabe who simultaneously ran out of talent and money.
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