The past 12 months proved that despite the world seeming to grind to a halt, design and engineering on motorcycles in Italy steadfastly plowed on. While there are not as many new and exciting models as there were to look forward to in January 2020, that is countered by the fact that one of the single most important new bikes has finally been released.
We’ll get to that bike in just a few moments. What we need to acknowledge is that the Italians, despite being one of the hardest hit countries at the start of the 2020 pandemic, never gave up. Their design and engineering spirit shone through, and it’s because of their refusal to let the situation get them down that we have some new bikes to showcase!
Of course, the one that everyone has been waiting for is…
2021 Aprilia RS 660
Finally! After years of teasing, the RS 660 has finally emerged. Slated to begin sales in Q1 or Q2 2021, the true Italian challenger to the 600cc segment has been one of the most hyped, most anticipated supersports in nearly a decade. And the reasons why are easy to see.
With a 659cc parallel-twin derived from Aprilia’s racing program, 100 HP and 49 lb-ft of torque howl out through the exhaust with a redline tickling at 11,500 RPM. By using an aluminum twin-spar frame that also comes from Aprilia’s racing geniuses, the whole bike, soaking wet with a cinder block strapped to the seat, is a scant 403 lbs.
And that’s just the start of it, so get those paper towels ready for the really drool worthy bits.
What gives the RS 660 its grunt is a technological masterpiece of an engine. Two cylinders, parallel, with a 270 degree crank. Twin dynamically controlled 48mm throttle bodies. Four valves per cylinder, with a dual overhead cam. And then there is the compression ratio of 13.5:1. No, that is not a typo.
You will absolutely need to run the highest octane gas you can in this bike, no ifs, ands, or buts. But what you get out of it with that compression ratio and high octane is a bike that will haul ass without needing to ask questions.
Yet, one of the biggest reasons that the hype train left the station in 2019 was that the RS 660 was promised to be a supersport on Sunday, but a commuter on Monday. According to a first ride review by our friends over at RevZilla, it looks like Aprilia has just about managed to achieve that perfect zen.
It will carve corners with the likes of a CBR600RR. It will happily flow with traffic like a MT-07. And when you crank that throttle wide open, it will howl and like a Yamaha YZF-R1R MotoGP bike screaming down Barcelona-Catalunya’s front straight.
So yes, we are also aboard the hype train, with our tickets punched and riding it into the 2021 motorcycle season station with anticipation! Read more about the 2021 Aprilia RS 660.
2021 Benelli TRK 502 & TRK 502 X
One of the kings of small displacement but fun as hell motorcycles, Benelli has been making bikes that, on paper, just don’t seem like they should work. Yet, with each and every model they make, they prove everyone. Their bikes are engaging, fun, and while not particularly fast, they get the job done in the city.
Now, however, Benelli has decided to go on a little adventure with their bikes. Literally.
The new TRK 502 and 502 X are here for 2021 and are designed to compete in the half-road, half-trail world that the likes of the Honda CB500X and the Versys-X 300 inhabit. With a peppy 499cc parallel-twin, rated output is 47 HP. What impresses, however, is the 34 lb-ft of torque, more than enough to get Benelli’s adventure bike debut over most obstacles on a dirt trail.
With a generous 7.5 inches on the 502, and 8.6 inches of ground clearance on the 502 X, it will also take on tarmac and gravel with equal abandon. However, it is apparent from the design that the 502 is meant much more to be a tarmac adventure bike, while the 502 X is the one you’d want to take scrambling over a minor rock field.
As is usual with adventure bikes, a decently tall windshield comes standard on both, and both models can also accept pannier lockers at the rear of the bike. As a few of us here at Bad Ass Helmet Store love adventure bikes, we can’t state how happy we are that a new, affordable challenger has entered the arena.
2021 Energica Ego RS Version
In the past year, one of the newest racing series for bikes started. FIM MotoE uses electric bikes designed and built specially by Energica for the series, and that experience has been translated back down to the customer.
The new Ego RS Version (RS standing for “Reparto Sportivo,” or Sports Department) is the regular Ego, but with every dial, switch, and meter turned up to 11. It has a completely remapped VCU (the ECU for electric bikes) that lets the bike leap from 0-62 MPH in a hair over 2.5 seconds. It has a lower-slung battery pack to match the MotoE’s weight distribution. It has a new, much stronger chain, with the final drive adjusted to 15/44.
What this basically boils down to in short is that you’re going to be able to buy a MotoE racing bike with wing mirrors. And, being Italian, Energica have also lopped off the front cowling and some fairings, making this quite possibly the first real attempt at an electric streetfighter bike. Only time will tell as bikes start to reach customers!
2021 Ducati Monster
You might notice that there is a number missing after the model name, which is quite odd for a Ducati. Yet, it’s intentional. Based on the original 1993 Monster, a bike that at the time was renowned for being light, fast, and aggressive. Over time, it grew a little slower, a little heavier, and things just kept getting bigger and bigger.
Ducati decided that for 2021, it was time to hit the reset button.
And my oh my, what a reset they did. The engine is back into the 900cc’s, familiar and powerful territory for the company from Bologna. A 937cc Desmodromic Testastretta V-twin is the new heart of the Monster, and it chucks out 111 HP and 69 lb-ft of torque.
Returning to the original formula that gave the original Monster its blistering speed, Ducati has put the bike on a severe diet. An entirely new frame assembly made entirely out of race grade aluminum, as well as narrowing the frame and fairing to centralize mass and use less material, has helped the Monster come in under 400 lbs wet.
And as Ducati puts it in their official brochure: “The essentials: an engine, a seat, the tank, the handlebars. Everything you need to have fun, nothing more.”
There are still the lower powered 821 and heavier, higher powered 1200 models, but the new Monster (and just Monster) have the ones that appreciate lightweight Italian power and ferocity have a new bike to whet their appetites. Read more about the 2021 Ducati Monster.