In the 21st century, motorcycle manufacturers with significant histories love to resurrect their historic badges on new machines. There's both good reason and plenty of precedent for this, of course. Sometimes it works in how a new model with an old name is perceived, and sometimes it's more complicated.

Longtime fans of middleweight sportbikes have a special regard for the Yamaha R7 badge. That is, of course, because they're thinking back on one of the most desirable bikes of the 1990s, the racing homologation special OW02. So naturally, when Yamaha announced plans to resurrect the R7 badge on a solid but basic and affordable middleweight sportbike, it resulted in more than a few raised eyebrows among enthusiasts. 

There's a definite logic to Yamaha's naming choice, as it's meant to take on the mantle of the R6 in the current lineup. The progression from R3 to R7 and R1 is clear. However, because of the OW-02, the R7 badge comes with its own history and perception that's hard to shake.

In a way, newer manufacturers might almost have it a little bit easier because they don't have to consider all the ramifications of reusing historic model names. Instead, they can do what Aprilia did and take a bike like its popular RSV4, effectively chop the engine in half, and call it the RS 660. Was there an RS 660 before? No, and that's the beauty of it. As the first one of its line, it has the opportunity to set its own expectations.

In this Spec Showdown, we have two modern middleweight sportbike contenders. One bears the weight of history and lineage on its shoulders, while the other is comparatively unfettered.

Which bike reigns supreme? We can tell you on paper, though this is a battle that will doubtless be fought at many a track around the world, multiple times over. Note: All figures here have been provided by the manufacturers.

Engine, Power, and Torque

  Yamaha R7 Aprilia RS 660
Displacement 689cc 659cc
Engine Type Liquid-cooled, dual overhead cam inline parallel twin with four valves per cylinder Liquid-cooled, dual overhead cam transverse parallel twin with four valves per cylinder
Power 72.4 horsepower at 8,750 rpm 100 horsepower at 10,500 rpm
Torque 67 newton-meters (or 49 pound-feet) of torque at 6,500 rpm 49.4 pound-feet of torque at 8,500 rpm
Gearbox 6-speed gearbox with assist and slipper clutch as standard 6-speed with Aprilia Quick Shift up and down

On paper, the Yamaha R7 has slightly higher displacement than the Aprilia RS 660, but it's down on power, to the tune of slightly over 27 ponies.

Both bikes produce just about the same torque, although the R7 hits its peak lower in the rev range than the RS 660. 

There's a clear winner here, although the true context of these power figures won't be known until we get into comparative curb weights. Power is great, but it's even better with a machine that's lighter in weight.

Round 1 Winner: Aprilia RS 660


  Yamaha R7 Aprilia RS 660
Frame Diamond Aluminum dual beam design with removable subframe
Front Suspension Upside-down telescopic front fork with full adjustability and 5.1 inches of travel Upside-down 41mm Kayaba fork with adjustable rebound and preload and approximately 4.7 inches (120mm) of travel
Rear Suspension Link-type monocross shock with preload and rebound adjustability and 5.1 inches of travel Single shock and top out spring with preload and rebound adjustability and 5.1 inches (130mm) of travel
Wheels and Tires 17-inch aluminum alloys with Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22 rubber 17-inch aluminum alloys with Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II tires
Brakes Twin 298mm front brake disc setup and a single 245mm rear disc Dual Brembo radial four-piston caliper setup in front with a pair of 320mm brake discs; single Brembo two-piston caliper with a single 220mm brake disc in the rear. Both front and rear brakes have radial pumps and braided stainless steel brake lines from the factory.

The Aprilia RS660 has a removable rear subframe design, which the R7 doesn't have. Hopefully you won't need it, but in the event of a crash, that can be the difference between simply having to replace a broken rear subframe and having to total your bike.

Suspensions aren't terribly dissimilar, although the RS 660 has slightly less front suspension travel than the R7. How you feel about that will largely be a matter of personal preference. The same is true for the wheels and tires, as some people might prefer either the Bridgestone or the Pirelli compounds offered on each of these bikes.

The biggest difference here is in the brakes, where the Aprilia RS 660 setup clearly shines. 

Round 2 Winner: Aprilia RS 660


  Yamaha R7 Aprilia RS 660
Wheelbase 54.9 inches 53.9 inches
Rake and trail 23.7 degrees and 3.5 inches 24.1 inches and 4.1 inches
Seat Height 32.9 inches 32.3 inches
Curb Weight 414 pounds 403 pounds
Fuel tank capacity 3.4 gallons 3.96 gallons

With a slightly lower seat height, the Aprilia RS 660 is arguably slightly more accessible to a wider range of riders. The difference is very slight here, though, and seat height isn't everything.

A strong argument in favor of the Aprilia RS 660 is its claimed curb weight and fuel tank capacity, especially when taken together in comparison to the Yamaha R7. The RS 660 simultaneously has a larger fuel capacity and yet, it also weighs a full 11 pounds less than the R7 at the curb. 

The advantage here, as in our two previous categories, is clear.

Round 3 Winner: Aprilia RS 660

Electronics and Other Features

  Yamaha R7 Aprilia RS 660
Electronics suite N/A 6-axis inertial measurement unit with the APRC suite including traction control, wheelie control, engine braking, engine mapping, cruise control, and five ride modes including two user-customizable ones
Lighting LED LED with cornering lights and self-canceling turn signals
Display LCD TFT

There's no real contest here. The Aprilia RS 660 is packed full of features that the stock R7 simply can't match, let alone beat.

Round 4 Winner: Aprilia RS 660


  Yamaha R7 Aprilia RS 660
MSRP (US market; if you live outside the US, check with your local Yamaha and Aprilia dealers for the most accurate information) $9,199 $11,499

The Yamaha R7 is $2,300 less expensive than the Aprilia RS 660. If you're simply looking for the least expensive option between the two, then the R7 wins.

Round 5 Winner: Yamaha R7

Overall Winner: Aprilia RS 660

Overall Winner: Aprilia RS 660

You could arguably take the $2,300 that you've saved on the MSRP of the R7 and throw it right back into modifications and upgrades on that bike. Some riders might want to do this, and some might not. There's no correct answer; there's only figuring out what you specifically want to do with your bike.

Do you want a fully feature-packed bike in this category that you can enjoy on both street and track, right out of the box? Or do you want the experience of taking a less feature-packed machine and adding only the specific modifications that you want? Where do you get your joy, and what is your budget?

On paper, the Aprilia RS 660 costs a little bit more, but you get a whole lot of bang for your buck.

You Ride Bikes, Not Spec Sheets

As we always say at the end of a Spec Showdown, ultimately, the bike that wins is the bike that best meets your needs.

I'll let you in on a little secret. In the past few years, one conversation that frequently comes up among motorcycle journalists at press events is how hard it is to find a truly bad bike these days. Enthusiasts in all motorcycle categories are spoiled for choice in this era, and it's a genuine delight to see.

The real question here is what you're looking for in your potential middleweight sportbike experience. Once you've figured that out, you'll have a better idea of which bike is best suited to you and your needs.

Also, spec sheets can't tell you how a bike actually feels to ride. If you're truly interested in two (or more) bikes, such as the Yamaha R7 and the Aprilia RS 660, your best bet is to test ride both and see how they suit you. Maybe the ergonomics on one are better suited to your frame than the other, which can make a massive difference in your riding experience. 

Another thing to consider in this specific case is the dealer network. Aprilias in general can be great bikes for the right riders, but there's no arguing the fact that Yamaha has a much wider dealer network than Aprilia does. How much you like to wrench on a bike yourself (or what trustworthy shops are in your area) might also impact your decision.

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