Aprilia boasts a history of bringing hard-edged track performance to the road with its Tuono streetfighter. Its latest version, the V4R ABS looks to cement its legacy, offering a comprehensive electronics package mated to a screaming 999cc V-Four, and only slightly tweaked Superbike chassis.
Aesthetically the Tuono appears similar to its RSV4 sportbike brother. Looking at it from the side, it looks nearly identical except for its beaky nose and giant bug eye head lamps. While some of our testers appreciated its image, overall its styling was less inspiring than the graceful-aging MV or brawny Kawasaki and BMW. Still, not everyone was so critical of Tuono’s styling with Dunstan claiming it was his second favorite behind the Brutale.
Hop into the seat and the Aprilia’s ergonomics are most aligned with that of the German bike. It feels long and tall due to its highest-in-class seat height (32.8 inches). The handlebar is wide but the height is a good comprise between sport and relaxed cruising. It’s also certainly no featherweight, tipping the scales at 478 pounds with a full tank of gas. That’s 21 pounds more than the S1000 but 7 and 3 pounds lighter than the Kawi and MV, respectively.
(Top) The heart of the Tuono is provided by a 999cc water-cooled V-Four that is only slightly modified from the production RSV4 sportbike. It produced the most peak horsepower and the best overall sound and character. (Center) The Tuono’s ABS system is well calibrated for road and track use. Its braking hardware however wasn’t quite up to spec with the Brutale 1090 RR or S1000 R. (Bottom) Once you figure out the menu system, the Aprilia’s electronics are pretty easy to adjust. However, the instrument display is starting to look dated now.
Through turns, it doesn’t respond with the same vigor as the others. It’s certainly no slouch but it does take a little more muscle to get pointed in the right direction due in part to its relatively long 56.9 in. wheelbase. However once turned, we were in awe of the chassis, as it delivers the most amount of feedback through the controls. Yet its sport capability doesn’t come at the price of comfort, with it also scoring top points in that category, too.
“The riding position is super comfortable,” reveals Abbott. “But one of the big things is how well it corners and how it feels through the corners. It just feels connected to the road.”
“I wasn’t expecting it to handle as well as it did,” agrees Dunstan. “The bike responded well to aggressive riding. You could get on the brakes hard, it was very well mannered when the backend came out—the slipper clutch was very smooth and you felt a lot of confidence in the bike.”
Though the Aprilia lacks the high-end optional semi-active suspension of the BMW, the Aprilia’s more conventional set-up is superior in function whether railing around the racetrack or commuting on pot-hole laden streets. In fact, we barely had to touch the clickers with it performing well near the stock settings.
Like the MV, the Aprilia benefits from excellent ABS calibration that responds accurately to road conditions with minimal intrusion (least restrictive setting). Problem is, the front brake hardware felt soft and wasn’t nearly as sharp as the others (it felt like there was some air in the hydraulic system). Even still, the Aprilia boasts excellent stopping performance whether ABS was on or off. We were also very fond of its nearly perfectly set-up and authentic racing-style slipper clutch that helped maintain chassis composure while entering corners at speed.
From the moment you press the starter button, it’s obvious that the Tuono offers something special between the rider’s legs. Its V-Four engine is charismatic, playful, and most importantly, fast. Another plus is that it is relatively devoid of annoying engine vibration.
“It was really fun and exciting to get on a different engine configuration,” says Dunstan. “The V-Four platform is just a fun engine to ride. It has a great mid-range and when you really start to ride that mid-range the bike responds really well.”
Preload: 5 (Turns in)
Compression: 5 (Turns out)
Preload: Standard (145mm spring length)
Although engineers tweaked the transmission’s gear ratios, first gear remains very tall which works against the Tuono’s powerband making it feel slower than it actually is off the line. Thankfully, it comes outfitted from the factory with a quickshifter which helps keep the tach needle where it needs to be.
Get the engine spinning and it rewards with the second-highest peak torque (75.45 lb-ft at 9500 revs) and the most amount of top-end horsepower (150.9 @ 11,900 rpm). Despite its marginal power advantage the Aprilia played second fiddle to the mighty BMW at the drag strip, falling just behind it from 0-60 mph (3.58-seconds) and across the quarter mile (11.05 @134.6 mph).
“This bike by far was my favorite,” claims Verdugo. “I’ve ridden Tuono’s in the past
(Top) The Tuono V4R ABS brings true track-grade performance to the street. If you’re looking for the baddest Streetfighter the Tuono is it. (Center) The Aprilia Tuono V4R’s chassis blew us away. Not only does it work great at a sporting pace, it’s plenty comfortable at a more casual speed. (Bottom) The Tuono sports a longer wheelbase which necessitates a little added muscle to get it to change directions quickly.
but not since they changed the powerplant on it. Throttle delivery is a little soft of the bottom but once you get up mid-range it carries speed well through corners and was really confidence inspiring. It made me feel like a much better rider than I probably really am.”
Like the other three European machines, the Tuono offers three engine/throttle maps (‘R’ for rain, ‘S’ for sport and ‘T’ for track). Also available are eight traction control modes, three ABS modes and launch control. In application the Aprilia’s electronics are simply on a level above the competition. This allows the rider to flirt more closely with the performance of the motorcycle.
We loved the overall character, sound, and acceleration rush of the Aprilia’s engine. Hopefully your neighbors will too as the Tuono tied the BMW for loudest honors at idle (86 dB) and one-upped it at speed (103 dB). Maybe it’s because we loved hearing the roar of the Tuono’s engine, but at the pump the V4R tied the shorter-geared BMW recording a 34.4 mpg average. But with its more generous 4.9-gallon gas tank it nets pretty decent range, second to only the Brutale.
From the moment we twisted the throttle, the Aprilia shocked us, not only with its raw performance, but how adept the electronics are—allowing the rider to operate the motorcycle near its maximum potential. Pair that with the wailing rush of its engine and high level of road comfort, and it’s clear the Tuono is the bike to beat in this class.
- Outstanding engine performance, sound and character
- Comfortable sporty handling
- Highly advanced and capable electronics package
- Could offer a more unique look compared to RSV4
- Super tall first gear
- Instrument panel looks dated