The 2007 Aprilia Tuono Factory came in as the favorite for the win in this year’s comparo, the non-Factory version of the Tuono streetfighter having taken top honors in our ’06 comparo.
Aprilia Tuono Factory
The Aprilia Tuono Factory emerging as the victor of this year’s Streetfighter Comparo is not really a surprise. Arriving at the ’07 test bolstered with top-shelf suspension upgrades and choice bits of carbon fiber additions, the return of an even more refined defending champ was bad news for this year’s class of competitors. Hey no fair, you’re saying, and, you’re right, it sort of isn’t fair. But as my old man used to say, “life’s hard, then you die.” So, now that we know the Aprilia is the hardest bike of this bunch, let’s examine what makes this Priller different.
Lining up our ’06 and ’07 Tuono test bikes, superficial tweaks to the graphics and colors stand out as the obvious differences. For some, the graphics on the Factory Tuono take some getting used to, but once you see that lion head pop out of the fuel tank like one of those magic eye posters, how can you not be hooked? The major cosmetic variations between the Factory and R are the gold-anodized fork and gaudy gold-painted Factory frame. Most of us felt the gilded Italian beauty looked good, although Ken got in a Joan Rivers-esque dis in as he quipped, “I thought gold paint went out in the 70s.” Hutch’s quibble notwithstanding, the Factory dominated the Appearance section on our scorecard – with its 9.0 rating far ahead of the second-place Triumph at 7.5.
With different graphics and gold accents, the Factory Tuono differentiates itself further from its non-Factory sibling by the use of Ohlins suspension.
The use of carbon-fiber on the Factory is part of the aesthetic appeal with the coveted material adorning the belly pan, side panels, mudguard and spoilers. As far as the CF’s contribution on the performance end of things, when we rolled our Factory model on the scales and subtracted the 28.5 lbs of gas in its 4.75-gallon fuel tank, we tallied a tank-empty weight of 443 lbs, 2 pounds heavier than last year’s Tuono. Go figure.
The headlining components for the Factory are the much-hyped fully-adjustable Ohlins 43mm inverted fork and monoshock. Whether the pricey Ohlins upgrade deserves much credit for the Factory Tuono’s spectacular handling is debatable, as last year’s regular Showa/Sachs-equipped Tuono was a superb handler too. The bonus feature offered up by the Ohlins is the improved response to adjustments and the all important bling-factor when comparing it to other bikes during bench racing summits.
“Suspension is probably the toughest category to judge in a test like this,” says Chamberlain, who is one of two testers to participate in last year’s comparo. “The road conditions change by the hour; freeway, canyon road, track, city streets, and test riders of varying weight are swapping back and forth at every stop. Dialing in the clickers for your weight, riding style and environment is damn near impossible. That being said, I was very impressed with the Tuono. Right out of the box the suspension seemed to work well in most conditions. It soaked up the rough canyon roads and felt very planted at the track as well.”
The Ohlins upgrade on the Factory Tuono correlate to those on the Factory Mille, which former AMA Superbike competitor Alex Gobert tested for us last year. The Aussie rider felt the posh Swedish suspenders began paying for themselves once he was pushing his limits on the racetrack. As none of us MCUSA regulars can boast of qualifying for an AMA Superbike main event on their resumes, we’ll rely on the true racer in our ’07 testing cadre to vouch for the Aprilia’s potential. Jimmy Filice said it all when after his first session on the Factory Tuono, he hopped off and said, with a gigantic grin, “now that’s a race bike!”
Its looks were sharp, but the Tuono Factory’s handling was even sharper. When the scores were all tallied, it was clear that none of the competition were anywhere near it in this regard.
The highlight of the Tuono is undoubtedly its handling prowess where it got another sweep on the scorecard with a 9.0 rating (the next closest being the Ducati at 7.5). The front end inspires mountains of confidence and the Tuono’s turn-in ability is without equal in this test. The 25-degree rake, 4.1-inch trail and 55.5-inch wheelbase, the shortest of the streetfighter group by 0.7 inches, aspire to earn it top honors among our group of discerning dicers. Even though it was third heaviest on the scales, the bike feels light, nimble and easy to transition through technical turns on either the street or track. Our experience with the Tuono and its RSV Mille sibling support the belief that this is one of the better handling bikes on the market today. Combine its excellent chassis with a comfortable riding position and wide bars and it’s no wonder it flicks side-to-side with little effort and ranks so high among our group when the dust finally settled on our track test.
The Tuono is hands down the most track-ready of all our mounts. Attacking corners on the Aprilia is intuitive, with the machine almost setting you up before you have time to think about it. Whether it’s the superbike geometry, Ohlins suspension or some strange incantation performed by Aprilia’s factory workers on every Tuono that rolls off the assembly line – the bike exhibits splendid handling across the board.
Don’t get the wrong idea though. We don’t really have a man-crush on this bike. The Tuono’s engine shines, but not as bright as its out-of-this-world handling. The 60-degree V-Twin provides a steady, ample stream of power from start to finish, with a terrific top end delivering an hp peak just shy of 112 ponies at 9700 rpm – good enough for third best behind the FZ1 and Triumph while only slightly better than the S4R. On the flip side the Tuono mill musters a last-place in peak torque production, 62.3 lb-ft @ 8600 rpm, but as this test proves, it’s not just quantity but quality that counts.
The 2007 Tuono is still powered by the V60 Magnesium V-Twin that adorned last year’s comparo winner.
The Factory’s Twin is the same engine that impressed us on the regular Tuono last year – the oversquare 97 x 67.5 mm motor having been revamped for ’06 with new mapping and alterations to the cylinder heads and cams. Unless the rider is trying to put in some fast qualifying laps, it isn’t necessary to think too much about the motor while at the helm since there always seems to be a steady stream of torque available in the middle of the rev range. This allows the rider to focus on the pavement ahead, scan for obstacles and size up the approaching twisties.
Compared to the Ducati, the Aprilia’s high-revving Twin is of a different character altogether. While the S4R rumbles and rattles like a race bike, the Tuono feels and sounds both polished and a bit subdued. Performance at the strip is not one of the Tuono’s strong points, where the tall gears take a while to get rolling and equate to a respectable quarter mile effort of 10.78 at 133 mph, two-tenths of a second slower but 3 mph faster versus its Italian rival. The good news is that throttle response is quite crisp, without being too abrupt, so overall this is a refined engine that places 3rd in our tester’s judgments, behind the Kawasaki and Triumph.
“Overall power seems pretty similar between all these bikes with the biggest difference being how they make it,” explains Chamberlain. “I like the way the Tuono makes power. While it doesn’t feel like it has the torque of the Ducati, it still manages to really get the power to the ground.”
The Tuono’s transmission doesn’t receive as favorable a rating as the motor. Although the 6-speed gearbox is precise, with no complaints about missed shifts or false neutrals, it is less smooth than those on the Japanese entries. Some riders also expressed nagging doubts about the engagement feel at the lever. One very positive trait was the Tuono’s Pneumatic Power Clutch (PPC), or slipper-type clutch, which reduces rear wheel hop on downshifts. The design went unnoticed by most test riders, whose lack of complaints about rear wheel chatter serves as evidence that Aprilia’s proprietary design is doing its job.
The Factory Tuono’s riding position manages to be both comfortable and aggressive, good for both street and track.
Braking is another high point for the Aprilia on the final scorecard. Dual 320mm rotors paired with four-pot Brembo Gold radial calipers are deemed the best of the bunch by our crew, who complimented the strong, progressive feel at the lever and an untouchable pool of power on demand at all times. The rear brake, a 220mm disc pinched down by Brembo’s two-piston calipers, was way, way less impressive. Over the years the rear brake on all Aprilia sportbikes we’ve tested have been miserable but it never really came back to bite us, because a rear brake is almost a formality these days. Unfortunately, after a full day of track riding, the rear binder failed, which wouldn’t have been too terrible if our hired-gun hadn’t been perpendicular to the ground performing a standup wheelie at the time. All we wanted was a nasty lead photo for the Tuono as the light improved at the end of the day. What we got were some loud, nasty scraping sounds and a beautiful Tuono wasn’t quite as pretty anymore. That’s right folks, 5 minutes from concluding the test we binned the most expensive bike of the bunch trying to get one last wheelie shot for the photo gallery. Sorry, Aprilia…
No other bike in our comparo matches the Tuono in fit and finish, which is why it earns an 8.7 in the category, way ahead of the second-place Kawi’s 7.3. The tidy instrument cluster provides plenty of useful information, with a left-side analog tach teamed with a digital speedometer. The large MPH figure shares the right-side LCD space with a clock, trip meters and engine temperature gauge. The Aprilia’s controls are unconventional though, with the odd kill switch, horn and turn signal arrangement leading to inadvertent beeps of the horn during bike changes, but once you got used to them they contribute to the foreign flavor of the glamorous Tuono.
Another area where the Aprilia could not be matched was in the braking department, with the dual 320mm rotors with four-piston Brembo calipers deemed the best by our testing crew.
“Italians are known for there flashy high priced extravagance,” elucidates Mr. Steeves.” You need to look no further than the Tuono Factory to see that this bike is in the same vein as that $300 dollar Louis Vuitton wallet you’ve been eye-balling. Not to say I wouldn’t mind flopping out the LV leather at the bar to impress the chicks, but it all boils down to the affordability factor.”
So, how do you put a price on a smile? That is the question with the Factory Tuono. There’s no doubt it plasters smiles all over our faces, placing a miniscule 0.1 of a point behind the Triumph for top honors in Grin Factor. In the Value question on our scorecard, however, the Tuono earns its lone whammy, where it scores a 6.0 – tied with the Ducati for last. Even with its impressive four-year warranty, at $16,999 the question of whether or not the Factory version is worth the near doubled asking price of the second-place Z1000 is a big question. To some of our testers, like Jimmy Filice, it wasn’t even an issue – he says for his purposes he would save his money until he could afford the Aprilia.
“This bike was the most enjoyable bike and this would be my choice,” exclaims Filice with his patented evil grin, “even if it will take a couple years to save up that much.”
For others, like our ramen-eating, twenty-something coupon-cutters Steeves and Waheed, the Z is a better choice for their fictitious money. Maybe the more pertinent question is whether the Ohlins components and carbon fiber extras are worth the extra 4K over the $12,999 non-Factory Tuono.
“It’s only worth it if you want the loaded version of the sickest streetfighter on the planet,” says Hutch, one of two riders in our posse to test both versions. “Otherwise, the two Tuonos are pretty dang close.”
One question that is not up for debate is who deserves this year’s Streetfighter crown. Despite the inauspicious conclusion to one of our most hard-luck comparison tests in recent history, the Tuono Factory with its stellar handling, flashy looks and capable engine comes out on top – earning a first-place 79.5% rating and giving Aprilia the right to claim back-to-back in MotorcycleUSA.com’s annual Streetfighter Comparo.
Now, if we can just sweet talk Aprilia into lending us another one for 2008…
Engine: User Friendliness 7.8
Engine: Open-Road Performance 7.8
Ergonomics/Riding Position 7.8
Fit & Finish/ Instruments/Cockpit 8.7
Grin Factor 8.2
Find out what our testers would pick as their own personal choice if it was there cash on the line in our For My Money page, also see where each bike shined or fell short on the Streetfighter Comparo II scoresheet.
Let us know what you think about this comparo in the MCUSA Forum.