Next step: Driving and brakes
Retro rallying has seen a huge revival recently, with models such as the Africa Twin, DR Big and BMW R nine T Urban GS returning in the last decade.
And just like you thought the ’80s were short on icons, Aprilia joined the party with the reincarnated Touareg. Named after indigenous Saharan nomads, the original Touareg was launched in 1985 and spewed out a family of five models that remained in production until 1994.
And now the desert racer is back, with the 659cc parallel twin of the manufacturer’s recently released RS and Tuono, albeit with modified internals for better low- and mid-range torque – the peak of 51. , 63 lb-ft is achieved at 2,000 rpm earlier than the RS 660, at 6,500 rpm.
The latest Touareg has the most in common with the 600 Wind four-stroke single (produced between 1988 and 1990) and the £ 11,100 Indaco Tagelmust version we tested with graphics that pay homage to the original color scheme. iconic. In case you were wondering, a Tagelmust is an indigo-dyed cotton turban-veil, traditionally worn by Tuareg Berber men.
It was designed by a team at the Advanced Design Center in Piaggio, Calif., Led by Miguel Galluzzi, who was also responsible for Moto Guzzi’s incredibly stylish V85TT. But in terms of design, the Touareg is the opposite, with a very function-oriented form and seemingly no superfluous parts.
Aprilia has neglected to follow fashion with a beak, and instead, the Touareg features a muscular forward silhouette, which tapers to a narrow waist and low rear.
The 860mm high saddle is deliberately long and narrow and the panels on each side are flat, allowing for ultimate maneuverability around the bike when standing on the footrests, while still allowing the rider to lay as much foot as possible on the ground.
Ride quality and brakes
Next step: engine
During the pre-departure press conference, Aprilia positioned the Touareg as a little more on the travel side of the adventure / enduro mix. And that’s reflected in the design, with the high-strength tubular steel structure featuring a welded rather than bolted subframe (a KTM-style adventure lineup), suggesting it isn’t. not intended to be driven too hard off-road.
However, all of the other elements of the bike lend themselves to off-road capability – the long swingarm, Kayaba suspension with 240mm of travel, with rebound-adjustable hydraulic damping and compression, and rear spring preload (via a manual button).
The 43mm diameter inverted forks don’t dip as much as other bikes in this segment, so you can brake harder when pushing down the road. The standard Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires (on 21 “and 18” spoke wheels) however let the bike down in this regard and struggled to find grip on the slippery roads of Sardinia.
On brutal application of the Brembo brakes – twin-piston calipers on twin 300mm discs up front, and a single 260mm disc and single-piston floating caliper at the rear – they tended to skid. Dual channel ABS is normally there to intervene, however be careful to block both wheels at the same time.
Off-road, the tires are more pleasant in the dry and quickly clog in the mud. However, they were ideal for the flat, fast gravel tracks we took on launch, and the Touareg’s concentrated mass design was designed for balanced, compound handling. Peg steering is easy on the 204 kg machine and the suspension is always well cushioned on rough terrain.
The engine, a stressed element of the chassis mounted via six anchor points (compared to three on RS 660 and two on Tuono), has been rotated about 10 ° backwards, making the cylinder bank more vertical, thus reducing the yaw movement of the bike and increase agility in tight turns.
And on the road, it’s incredibly dynamic and agile, lending itself well to the twists and turns of Sardinia’s coastal road and rolling around the bends with aplomb. Steering is immediate and assured, and the lockout is wide.
Usually, off-road capability comes at the expense of on-road comfort, but that’s not the case with the Touareg – it’s as capable on-road as it is off-road.
Next step: reliability
The 660 powertrain was originally derived from the front half of the 1100cc RSV4 powertrain and has the same 81mm bore, with an extended stroke of 63.93mm.
It’s already proven its prowess in the RS and Tuono, but this latest iteration has been internally modified for more low- and mid-range torque, receiving an optimized valve lift, revised exhaust layout, and engine system. Newly designed intake with longer ducts and a crankcase filter placed between the headstock and the fuel tank to allow easy maintenance.
A unique spark advance management algorithm manages combustion under different engine heating conditions, optimizing powertrain performance and fuel consumption.
These modifications certainly measure up, with a peak of 51.63 lb-ft reached at 2,000 rpm earlier than the RS 660, at 6,500 rpm, with 75% available from 3,000 rpm. min and 90% from 5500 rpm.
Naturally, this comes at the expense of top-end horsepower – the Touareg puts out 79hp at 9250rpm, compared to 99hp for the RS at 10,500rpm (however, it still makes 6.5hp more. than the Tenere. A 270 degree firing command gives a V -Twin sound to match the feel – a deep gargle amounting to a throaty roar.
However, he still feels incredibly sporty and his provenance is unmistakable. Despite a slightly brisk electric throttle, propulsion is immediate and impressive, thanks in part to a shorter first gear ratio and final drive.
Power rises linearly all the way to the top, while the torque has several soft spots, the abundance of low-low particularly noticeable and useful when off-roading.
A power assist clutch gives a light leverage feel, but the bite point felt quite far away, which was noticeable when riding off-road with just two fingers on the lever – the other two bothered me when I pulled it off. pulled the lever back. the bar.
Aprilia’s optional up-down quickshifter was installed across the test fleet, but was found to be inconsistent – smoother on some and more choppy on others. On one of the bikes, neutral was virtually impossible to find with the engine running.
A new shallower oil pan allows the ground clearance to adapt perfectly to the travel of the suspension. Internal walls keep the amount of oil optimized, while a new channel in the crankcase half routes lubricant to the crankcase, preventing stagnation in the gearbox.
Reliability and build quality
Next step: value
This frame is said to withstand loads of up to 210 kg, making it a mid-weight two-seater passenger vehicle. It remains to be seen if it is comfortable, but at first glance, the one-piece saddle is more comfortable than that of the Yamaha Ténéré 700. There also seems to be a little more room for a passenger.
The large plexiglass screen expanse looks a bit odd from the cockpit but provides excellent wind protection. The design leaves a natural space behind the center of the screen that could allow the installation of auxiliary rally lights or a navigation tower.
In order to keep the weight as low as possible, each component performs several tasks – the structure of the instrument made of technopolymer enriched with fiberglass, for example, also supports the screen. The plastic tank cap reduces weight by 200g compared to a metal cap, while there are no passenger handles.
The build quality certainly looks impressive, and nothing came out so poor in our 160km test. When another rider dropped the off-road bike nothing broke and the only damage was a bent lever and scuffed adjustment panel (easily replaceable). The full metal bash plate is certainly worth its weight in gold.
Value vs rivals
Next step: equipment
Starting at £ 10,600 for the Acid Gold and Martian Red color schemes (£ 11,100 for the Indaco Tagelmust), the Touareg costs £ 1,000 more than the Yamaha Ténéré 700, which weighs in at £ 9,502 (2021 price).
However, the Ténéré 700 eschews electronic aids (with the exception of switchable ABS), in favor of stripped-down rally styling. In terms of physical specifications, the two are very similar, with corresponding suspension and braking capabilities.
Other competitors include the Triumph Tiger 900 (from £ 11,500) or the KTM 890 Adventure (from £ 10,999).
While the Ténéré 700 is hailed for its simple and clean nature, the Touaregs improve with a host of electronics, packaged under the name APRC (Aprilia Performance Ride Control).
Switchable traction control offers four levels of sensitivity; the engine brake is adjustable on three levels and three different engine maps are available to modify the character of the engine and the power delivered.
All are optimized in the predefined Urban and Explore driving modes, while Individual and Off-road are user adjustable. As standard, off-roading deactivates ABS at the rear, with the possibility of deactivating the front as well.
It also offers the most maneuverable power and the electric throttle is significantly slower than in other modes. All of them can be selected via the left switch controls and the five-inch TFT instrument panel.
Behind the large screen expanse is a complete LED lighting system including daytime running lights.