2 Wheels

The 2021 Aprilia RS 660 Is Ready To Spar With the Kawasaki Ninja

When it comes to affordable sportbikes, the Kawasaki Ninja lineup tends to be a common choice. And if you want to ride on the racetrack more than the street, you go for the ZX models. But just like the higher-capacity models have competition, such as the Ducati Panigale V2, so do the medium-capacity ones. In fact, that’s arguably one of the most in-demand segments. And now, there’s one more Kawasaki Ninja rival joining the fray: the 2021 Aprilia RS 660.

What does the 2021 Aprilia RS 660 offer?

A carbon-fiber black 2020 Aprilia RSV4 1100 Factory
2020 Aprilia RSV4 1100 Factory | Aprilia

Aprilia is an Italian marque, just like Ducati and MV Agusta. And while it offers some high-end models, like the Streetfighter rival Tuono V4 1100, it really needed an affordable sportbike, Cycle World reports. To quote the Aprilia RS 660’s designer, Miguel Galluzzi, “lightweight, more affordable sportbike that can do a lot of things…[n]ot just…a big-dollar motorcycle in your garage with tire warmers on it, only to look at.”

The side view of a bright-yellow 2021 Aprilia RS 660 in front of a garage door
2021 Aprilia RS 660 side | Aprilia

The 2021 Aprilia RS 660 does share some parts with the marque’s RSV4 superbike—sort of. Its 659cc parallel-twin engine is basically a tweaked version of the front half of the RSV4’s 1100cc V4, MCN and Revzilla explain. It makes a claimed 100 hp and 49 lb-ft, Bennetts reports, and it redlines at 11,500 RPM. It’s also a stressed member of the RS 660’s frame. Speaking of the frame, it only weighs 18 pounds, RideApart reports. Without fluids, the whole bike weighs 372 pounds; with fluids, it weighs 404 pounds.

A bright-yellow 2021 Aprilia RS 660 at sunset
2021 Aprilia RS 660 front 3/4 | Aprilia

Besides the engine, the 2021 Aprilia RS 660 has a selection of handling and performance-related safety features. It doesn’t have winglets like the Panigale or the RSV4, but it does have aerodynamic aides built into the fairing, Motorcyclist reports. The 6-speed transmission features a quick-shifter and a slipper clutch. The forks and rear shock are fully adjustable.

The sportbike also has adjustable traction control, wheelie control, and engine-braking control. Plus, it has LED lights, cruise control, Brembo brakes with ABS, and multiple riding modes. All these settings are linked to the TFT dash. The front DRLs flash during heavy braking and also act as extended turn signal indicators. The Aprilia RS 660 also has automatic high beams.

What is it like to ride?

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The 2021 Aprilia RS 660 is meant to be something in-between a track bike and a commutable sportbike, Motorcyclist reports. In other words, a balance between a Kawasaki Ninja and a Kawasaki Ninja ZX. And based on initial reviews, it seems the Italian motorcycle company has hit the mark.

A black-and-red 2021 Aprilia RS 660
2021 Aprilia RS 660 rear 3/4 | Aprilia

The RS 660’s 32.5”-tall seat height makes putting a foot down easy, even for shorter riders, Cycle World reports. The footpegs are set rearward, but not so far as to be uncomfortable. The clip-on bars are also well-positioned for both handling and comfort. It’s sporty, but not obscenely so.

Aprilia designed the RS 660’s engine to provide decent power and torque throughout the rev range, and not just at high RPMs. As a result, the bike pulls well even at low speeds, RideApart reports. And in the sportier modes, it’s even more responsive, to the point where you may think it has more than 100 hp.

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However, the RS 660 isn’t really intimidating to ride, Bennetts and Cycle World report. True, a 100-hp sportbike isn’t exactly a beginner motorcycle. But the Aprilia has excellent handling, with light and communicative steering, good grip, and great stability at speed. Combine that with the ergonomics, and it’s a sportbike you never want to stop riding, Cycle World reports.

The 2021 Aprilia RS 660 is scheduled to go on sale in the first quarter of 2021, Cycle News reports. The starting price will be $11,300.

How do the Kawasaki Ninja and the rest of the competition compare?

A rider takes a turquoise 2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R around a track
2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R | Kawasaki

That’s about $1100 more than the 2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R. It has some of the same features as the RS 660, Motorcyclist reports. That includes adjustable traction control, ABS, fully-adjustable suspension, a slipper clutch, and a quick-shifter, Cycle World reports. But it doesn’t offer as many riding modes as the Aprilia, or all of its other safety aids, Motorcyclist reports.

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The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R is more powerful than the Aprilia RS 660, Bennetts reports. It has a 636cc four-cylinder with 128 hp and 52 lb-ft. However, it also weighs about 29 pounds more, Bennetts reports. Yet it’s still nimble, with an excellent ride, Cycle World reports.

The side view of a matte-black 2020 Honda CBR600RR
2020 Honda CBR600RR side | Honda

The 2021 Aprilia RS 660 undercuts the 2020 Honda CBR600RR by $499—and that’s without ABS. With it, the CBR600RR starts at $12,799. The non-ABS CBR600RR is slightly heavier than the Aprilia, and the ABS adds 24 more pounds, Cycle World reports. Plus, its 599cc four-cylinder engine is roughly as powerful as the RS 660’s engine, Motorcyclist reports.

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The Honda CBR600RR has a few interesting features, such as an electronic steering damper and fully-adjustable suspension. However, it lacks other electronic safety aids. It arguably doesn’t need them, Motorcyclist reports, as the CBR600RR is still an excellent sportbike. But they’re almost expected at this price.

A rider takes a blue 2020 Yamaha YZF-R6 around a track
2020 Yamaha YZF-R6 | Yamaha

Finally, there’s the 2020 Yamaha YZF-R6. With a $12,199 starting price, it’s more expensive than the Aprilia. It’s also about 15 pounds heavier, Cycle World reports. But its 599cc four-cylinder makes 112 hp and 46 lb-ft, RideApart reports, and revs to 16,500 RPM.

The YZF-R6 is similarly-equipped as the RS 660, Motorcyclist reports. It offers adjustable traction control, multiple riding modes, adjustable suspension, ABS, LED lighting, and a slipper clutch. However, it doesn’t have a TFT dash, nor does it offer cruise control, engine-braking control, wheelie control, or a standard quick-shifter.

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