Getting a new bike is always fun and exciting. Just over a month ago I got a 2023 Aprilia Tuareg 660. We at Perun moto plan to make some parts for it, but first need to get a proper feel for the bike. As of now, the bike has 1100km on the clock and has come back from the first service. This seems like a good time to share some impressions.
Before getting the bike, I only saw it once in person. Something in design of headlight and windshield is, let’s say, different. It definitely took some time getting used to it, but it’s growing on me. Always a matter of taste.
Build quality seems good. No rattling sounds, no uneven gaps between the panels, no loose screws. All handlebar switches feel solid and are in good positions, easy to reach while riding. The brake lever is adjustable and that’s a welcome feature. Unfortunately, the clutch lever is not adjustable. Both will be replaced by short, two finger levers. That’s what I’m used to from riding MTB and previous bikes.
Handlebar itself is wide and I like that. Plastic handguards offer wind protection but they will be replaced by Barkbusters as soon as possible. The mirrors are good and have a great viewing angle. Let’s see how they survive tip-overs.
Windshield offers good protection. There is a lot of wind noise (YMMV due to different helmets and rider heights) but buffeting is not an issue. The only time buffeting becomes apparent is when riding behind other vehicles at highway speeds.
The layout of the instrument cluster is great. I prefer landscape orientation. All info is clearly visible and easy to read. The screen is bright enough, even in sunny conditions. Menu system is intuitive and easy to navigate.
All lighting is LED. The headlight is very bright and has a good pattern for road riding. High beam was adjusted way to high from the factory. I could use more light to the sides of the bike, mainly for sharper corners when bike leans a lot.
Suspension feels great out of the box. It’s fully adjustable both front and back. I haven’t played with preload or clickers yet, want to get a feel for the bike first. 24cm of travel is plenty for the type of riding I do. Ground clearance also measures 24cm.
Brembo brakes bite as expected. They are easy to modulate. ABS is unobtrusive (I have it set up on lowest possible level, didn’t even try other settings). I’ll keep the front ABS active probably 99% of the time. Only might turn it off in really muddy or sandy conditions. Rear ABS stays turned off after turning the bike off and back on. Front ABS reverts to ON after restarting the bike. It can easily be turned off at any time.
Traction control does an OK job. I find it a bit too “harsh” for off-road use. On lowest setting it will allow for some wheel spin, but it will cut off suddenly. Questionable how it would cope with loose uphill sections. So, I keep it turned off while riding off-road, and on the lowest level for road riding. Never had it activated on pavement but I'm sure glad it's there. TC can be easily adjusted on the fly, in all four riding modes.
The seat is firm but shaped well. I don’t have any issues with comfort. Taller seat and lower foot pegs would suite me better (186cm, 6’-1” tall). Hips and knees feel a bit cramped. Not a problem when riding off-road as I stop and get off the bike a lot. I’m yet to use the bike for pavement touring.
Complete lack of underseat storage space is a bummer. No place to fit even the most basic toolkit anywhere on the bike. The reason for this lies in the fact that fuel tank extends all the way behind the engine. I guess lowering the center of mass and better handling is a decent trade-off for absence of storage space but still...
Tuareg is very fun bike to ride. Handling is excellent in all situations. Once leaned into the corner, the bike feels very neutral and stable. Low speed maneuverability is easy and confidence inspiring. After just a few corners on pavement, and literally 500 meters off-road, bike felt natural to me. Like I’ve been riding it for years. 100km ride home from the dealership quickly turned into 200km of fun and joy. Some city riding, highway, farming dirt roads, easy single trails and twisty backroads.
Gearbox is hard while engine is cold. To the point of it being difficult to find neutral. This got a lot better as miles rolled on and after I adjusted/tensioned the clutch cable. Once the engine warms up the gearbox becomes smooth.
Engine has plenty of power for its displacement. I obeyed 6000-7000 RPM limit during the break-in period and never felt the need to actually go past that. Note that “need” is not the same as “wanted to.” Maximum power is high in the RPM range, beyond 9000 RPMs. Even while cruising at 130km/h (80mph) there’s enough grunt to quickly accelerate if needed. Vibrations are minimal.
There’s a glitch in fueling or in TPS: when riding at constant speed, around 4000RPM, bike can become jerky. It doesn’t behave that way all the time. More annoyingly, when I partially close the throttle after acceleration bike will sometimes act as the throttle was briefly fully shut. This causes very noticeable jerk. These issues are supposedly solved with new engine maps. I still have to go to the workshop so they can hook the bike to diagnostics.
What really surprised me, in a positive way, is the engine’s ability to chug away at idle throttle. It will happily push the bike up the muddy or technical hill in first gear with throttle fully closed. And it does so very smoothly.
I’m waiting for Barkbusters, crash bars and a skid plate before venturing into more demanding terrain. And that’s about it. Judging by the first thousand kilometers this is going to be one enjoyable bike to ride.