While the litre-class superbikes lead with headline-worthy numbers (200 horsepower! 300kph top speed!), it’s the smaller, lighter and less intimidating middleweight sports bikes that often make the best sense for the vast majority of riders. And that’s especially true for India, where chaotic road and traffic conditions make litre-class machines a risky proposition.

Italian two-wheeler manufacturer, Aprilia (part of the Piaggio Group) has had a smallish presence in India for the last few years, selling a few units of the RSV4 superbike and the Tuono 1100 supernaked. Those machines haven’t really been a big hit here due to their stratospheric price tags and also, perhaps, due to Aprilia’s rather minuscule presence in the Indian market. Now, however, the company has unveiled a new middleweight sports bike – the all-new Tuono 660 – which could possibly work wonders for Aprilia in India.

Powered by a 660cc parallel-twin that produces 95bhp and 67Nm of torque, the Tuono 660 weighs in at 183 kilos and is meant to provide more than adequate performance in the real world; a performance that’s usable without being intimidating. In keeping with the Italians’ penchant for exuberant design, the Tuono 660 has been styled beautifully and looks remarkably good with compact, muscular bodywork, rakish lines, colour TFT instrument panel and three-piece LED headlight unit, which activates automatically in low light conditions.

Particular attention has been paid to the Tuono 660’s ergonomics, which have been optimised for street use. Sure, the bike can be used to do track days and can easily be ridden on racetracks, but its primary intended usage is the street, hence the wide handlebars, more upright seating position (as compared to all-out race-replica superbikes), comfortably padded seat and vibration-damping rubber inserts in the footpegs.

The bike’s die-cast aluminium chassis is light and stiff, while the swingarm, which pivots directly from the engine, is optimised for maximum grip. The 41mm USD fork at the front and mono-shock at the back are both fully adjustable, the front end gets twin 320mm brake discs for immense stopping power (ABS is standard, of course) and the bike’s 17-inch alloy wheels are shod with Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II tyres, which provide high levels of grip in a wide range of weather conditions.

The Tuono 660 also gets a full suite of electronics; in addition to anti-lock braking, there’s ride-by-wire throttle management, riding modes and adjustable traction control, all of which come together to offer a great combination of high performance, with equally high levels of safety. There’s even smartphone connectivity via Aprilia’s MIA multimedia platform, though why anyone would want to mess around with a phone (and listen to music or take phone calls) while riding a sports bike is beyond us. Optional extras include an Akrapovic exhaust, a quickshifter, billet aluminium clutch and brake levers, a comfort saddle with gel inserts, and tank bag and side panniers for those who want to go touring.

In the US, the Tuono 660 has been priced at the equivalent of around Rs 7.65 lakh. While the bike is expected to make its way to India by mid-2021, it’s difficult to predict how much it might cost here, given the import duties levied on CBU imports. Still, if priced sensibly, the Tuono 660 should be able to provide a bit of competition to bikes like the Triumph Street Triple, KTM 890 Duke and Kawasaki Z650 / Z900. This is the right time for Aprilia to spread its wings in India and the Tuono 660 may well be the perfect motorcycle with which to make a fresh start in the growing sports bike segment in this country.