“What is Euro5 and why should I care?”
Euro5 is the closest thing to a global standard for the latest vehicle emissions rules, and it kicks in full force for manufacturers this year. This means that even if you’re buying a brand new motorcycle in Singapore, chances are it’s been designed to be quieter and less noxious than its predecessors.
That’s great for the planet, and for our lungs, and our grandmother’s ears, but is it bad news for those who revel in the sound and fury of motorcycling? Sadly so, since Euro 5 will sound the death knell for some of the most beloved fire-breathing screamers of the last century, including the Honda VFR series, Yamaha R6 and FJR1300A, Suzuki Katana and Harley-Davidson Sportsters. It’ll also see many new motorcycles burdened with bloated exhaust systems and complicated engine architecture that costs more to produce and maintain.
The upside is that manufacturers have been spurred to innovate furiously in order to meet these stringent emissions standards without compromising performance. Variable Valve Timing technology (VVT) is one such wizardry that has shown up in the stables of Ducati, BMW, Honda and Suzuki. Besides making the engine as efficient as possible, all that clever science should allow us to look forward to two things: better fuel economy and bikes that are more fun to ride. More fun, because of optimised performance and usable power across a broader rev range.
Emission standards or no, the premium middle-weight segment shows no signs of pausing for breath, and with good reason. For most urban riders, the 400 to 985cc range offers the best balance of thrills and practicality – even better if future-proofed for the next 5 years at least.
Right now we’ve trained lustful eyes on two new-for-2021 motorcycles that deliver race-track potency, tuned for the real world. These are bikes that make sense; bikes that promise comfort, control and neck-bulging fun for the everyday rider. Lean in for a Euro 5-ready adrenaline rush!
Aprilia RS 660
The RS 660 arrives at the startline with a spec sheet poised to blow the dust clean off the stagnant sub-900cc sportbike class. Aprilia’s 659cc fully-faired racer comes with a modern facelift and the sort of top-line electronics that you’d expect from 1000cc supersport bikes. It sets the stage for a whole new family of versatile middleweights from Aprilia designed to challenge the belief that high performance naturally comes with discomfort.
That’s precisely the reason why the RS 660 is such a game changer. Its advancements make it more track-ready than Kawasaki Ninja 650 and Honda CBR650R, yet more road-usable than a Ducati Panigale V4 or a MV Augusta Superveloce 800. In fact, 80% of its max torque kicks in at a low, city-friendly 4,000 rpm. If you’re mostly going to be accelerating from one traffic light to another in the city heat, do you really need that much Super in your sportbike?
We had the chance to throw a leg over the RS 660 during its launch at Mah Pte Ltd. Its sporty yet comfortable ergonomics drives a clear point home: this is one bike that won’t kill you to ride it all day.
So, the key specs: In looks and sound, the RS 660 is a pleasing echo of its legendary stablemate, the RSV4. Its 659cc parallel twin kicks out 100hp from a 183kg kerb weight – that’s 25kg lighter and 13 horses more than a Honda CBR650R. It floats on fully adjustable Kayaba forks, stops with Brembo and burns tarmac with Pirelli Rosso Corsa II rubber.
Electronics and rider aids include lean sensitive traction, wheelie control, engine braking control, cruise control, cornering ABS and five ride modes for an incredibly customisable riding experience on both street and track. Clutch-less shifting also comes standard.
The RS 660 stares down the horizon with triple LED headlights, daytime running lights and self-cancelling indicators.
The Aprilia RS 660 is available from Mah Pte Ltd at 27,142 SGD before COE and insurance.
KTM 890 Duke & 890 Duke R
Condolences to 790 Duke owners, KTM’s new “Scalpel” and “Super Scalpel” are faster, better and aren’t a kilogram heavier. In comparison to their well-received predecessor, which will be phased out this year, the 890 Dukes boast even more impressive credentials from an improved parallel twin powerplant.
Not a fan of full-fairings? The 890 Duke R is probably the most ridiculously fun, street-friendly naked middleweight that you can throw money at. Its non-R variant offers a slightly more comfortable ride at base specs. Either is guaranteed to dominate the curves with predatory agility and cornering precision.
For riders hungry for the charge into tilted horizons, here are the 890 Duke R features that count: a chassis tuned for deftness, fully adjustable WP Apex suspension, Brembo-backed stopping power, and a more extreme power-to-weight ratio – 119 hp, 166kg dry weight. The non-R comes in at 115hp and 169kg dry, with non-adjustable WP forks and a preload-adjustable rear suspension.
The 890 Duke siblings are armed to the teeth with sophisticated electronics. Goodies include a TFT display, 6D lean angle sensor and 3 standard riding modes plus one optional Track mode, adjustable levels of traction control, cornering ABS, anti-wheelie system and adjustable throttle response.
All that beefed up ability is adaptable to both casual city riding and competitive aggression, making the weakest link you, the monkey in the saddle.
The KTM 890 Duke R is available at Dirt Wheel from 31,900 SGD before COE and insurance.
Cherie went to school with overachievers. She grew up to fully embrace her wicked, underachieving ways and made art, rode motorcycles, wore dinosaur costumes to inappropriate places, and was generally awesome. She has recently discovered that the optimal number of underpants to pack for world domination on your motorcycle is 2.5.