Drive Free: Aprilia Tuareg Review – Fraser Addecott

Named for the nomads who roam the unforgiving Sahara, this desert racer-style adventure bike feels at home on dirt or tarmac

big air
big air

The Tuareg are a nomadic people living in the vast and unforgiving Sahara Desert of North Africa.

In ancient times, they controlled the trade routes across the Sahara from the Atlantic on the east to the Red Sea on the east and the Mediterranean on the north.

They are known as the “blue people” because of the indigo colored clothing they like to wear and stain their skin with.

But the Tuareg refer to themselves as “imohag”, which means “free people”.

‘Indaco Tagelmust’ livery

No wonder Aprilia chose the Tuareg name for a desert racer-style model that was originally launched in 1986 and remained in production in various guises until 1994.

These bikes were raced in legendary events such as Paris-Dakar and the Pharaohs Rally.

Now the name has been revived by the Italian company in the form of this 660cc parallel twin model.

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It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that the engine would be a peach, as derived from the 1100cc RSV4 and used in the excellent RS 660 and Tuono 660.

In this form, however, it has been modified to provide more low-end and mid-range torque, with 75% of the maximum 52 ft lb available from around 3,000 rpm.

All-rounder: Fraser drives the Tuareg 660


Megan Rudd)

The motor sits in a bike that definitely sees the desert part.

It has a muscular front end, large tank, tapered rear end, long swingarm, handguards, belly pan, wire wheels and knobbly rubber.

Fraser admires the Aprilia


Megan Rudd)

Note that the top of this “tank” is actually an airbox, so the fuel weight is actually lower than you might think.

On board the seat is quite high off the ground and long, straight and fairly narrow – enduro style.

Slim Enduro style seat


Megan Rudd)

There’s an easy-to-read 5-inch color TFT instrument panel and an array of electronic wizardry including traction control, cruise control, adjustable engine braking and four driving modes.

These can be easily selected on the go with a single button on the right.

Easy to read: 5-inch color TFT instrument panel

Power is delivered in a perfectly smooth and linear pattern via the excellent ride-by-wire accelerator pedal, and acceleration is pleasantly quick and sporty.

A mechanically assisted clutch ensures super-smooth gear changes via the super-smooth handlebar lever.

There’s also an optional quick-shift lever for clutchless gear changes.

More than capable on the dirt

The tubular steel frame with welded-on subframe pairs superbly with 43mm USD Kayaba forks and a fully adjustable rear Kayaba monoshock for precise, crisp handling on the tarmac.

Excellent handling


Megan Rudd)

Off-road, the long swing arm and the 240 mm suspension travel of the forks absorb all bumps and keep everything under control.

So overall, this Aprilia is a true all-round adventure bike, suitable for touring, commuting and green trails, and more than lives up to the associations with the iconic Tuareg name.

Aprilia Tuareg 660

Engine: 659cc parallel twin

Maximum power: 79 hp

Maximum Torque: 52 ftlb

colors: gold; Red; indigo

Price: From £11,100

Search more than 19,000 new and used bikes for sale at Drive Free: Aprilia Tuareg Review - Fraser Addecott

Fry Electronics Team

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