APRILIA has today pulled the wraps off its new lightweight weapon, the RS 660 – but where exactly can these potential Supertwin slayers compete?
At this weeks’s EICMA show in Milan, Piaggio bosses drew the curtains back on this two-cylinder beauty with a design not unlike its big brother, the World Superbike championship-winning RSV4, and a strong showing in the power-to-weight ranks.
Looking like it could well stack up against Norton’s 650 Superlight, which debuted just 12 months ago, the 660cc Aprilia reportedly boasts a 100hp parallel twin powerplant and a weight of just 169kg. That’s about 5hp down and about 10kg up on its British counterpart’s claimed numbers.
The Ape and the Norton also both use the 270 degree Big Bang firing order in a bid to aid traction, among other things, and the two share fancy electronics packages including six-axis IMUs for stability control as well as different riding modes and fly-by-wire.
But as the Lighweight TT proved, numbers don’t mean everything and gobs of power can still spell disaster for the untested – as the Superlight proved at the TT with few laps and a top finish of just eighth at the hands of former 650 podium finisher and 2018 Senior winner Peter Hickman.
So where exactly are club racers expected to line up with this new Aprilia?
Unfortunately for fans of the Italian firm, most bike racing clubs have followed the trending Supertwin/Lightweight regulations which stipulate a maximum of 650cc for two-cylinder machines – as is the case for almost every road race on the calendar, national and international.
But that doesn’t put the 660 completely out of the running.
Thundersport GB changed its GP2 Supertwin rules for the 2019 season to allow 700cc twins, welcoming the likes of the MT07 Yamaha and – effectively – the Aprilia, but bosses have yet to confirm whether regs will remain unchanged for 2020 after dwindling Supertwin grids made way for bigger Stocktwin numbers.
Bemsee’s Thunderbike Sport class could also be a good fit, with the Aprilia looking to make about 1hp per 1.69kg, enough to put it comfortably up against the likes of the Pre-Injection R6 5EBs that flood the class with similar power-to-weight ratios.
Classes like the NEMCRC’s Mini Thunderbikes is also an option, with the North East championships allowing up to 750cc water-cooled twins.
Short of those clubs, it’s up to the 600cc ranks you go or at least into a bigger Sound of Thunder class. But as with everything, rules can be changed. If there’s a factory entry to be gained, chances are they will be.