Ask somebody to name a naked sport bike, and the chances are that the answer will be fairly predictable: BMW S 100 R, Suzuki GSX-S 1000, Kawasaki Z1000. One name that might not come up is that of the Aprilia Tuono, a relatively unknown bike but one that’s highly regarded by biking aficionados.
Fortunately, this practical, everyday exotic is available locally and thanks to Italian Motorcycle Importers, who are the local agents for Aprilia and Moto Guzzi bikes, we had the opportunity to test the latest iteration, the V4 1100 RR. The Tuono traces its heritage back to 2002, when it was developed from the Aprilia Mille. In 2012, Aprilia completely redesigned the motor to change the erstwhile V-twin into a V4, a la the RSV4, and in 2015 the Tuono’s engine capacity increased from 999 cm³ to 1 077 cm³.
The first thing that struck me when I saw the bike in real life, was that at a casual glance, it doesn’t look like a naked. "Naked", it seems, is a relative term, and with a faired headlight unit and a flyscreen, the Tuono is as naked as a girl in a bikini. On closer inspection, I noticed what appeared to be relaxed ergonomics – while the bike has a distinctly sporty appearance, the distance from foot pegs to seat to handlebars seem to be fairly generous.
A noticeable difference on the instrument panel is the absence of the previous model’s dominating analogue rev counted – the current Tuono sports a full-colour TFT display, that incorporates all the information you might need, and also serves as a control centre for the electronic management system, which includes an advanced dynamic control package with traction control, wheelie control, launch control, cornering ABS, pit limiter, cruise control and more.
At idling, the engine emits a satisfying growl that demands immediate attention from anybody within shouting distance of the bike – all the more so on the review bike, which was equipped with an Akrapovic pipe, custom-designed for the Tuono. Twist the throttle in anger, and the growl mutates into a manic scream which, while it does little for your neighbours’ Sunday morning serenity, serves as notice that the bike is ready to face whatever you care to throw at it.
It doesn’t take long into the first ride to realise that the Tuono is endowed with what must be the sweetest quickshifter ever. Although the V4 mill produces enough torque at open-road speeds that you don’t really need to shift, the quickshifter and auto-blipper work so well that you’ll find yourself running up and down the gearbox for the fun of it. Even at relatively low revs in town it shifts smoothly and without hesitation. Not a huge fan of quickshifters on road bikes, I tend to override them when not on a track, but with the Tuono I found myself using the quickshifter 90% of the time.
I have fond memories of riding an RSV4 through Long Tom Pass during Bike of the Year a couple of years ago – I would find excuses to retest it over and over, because it was remarkably easy to ride fast. I am happy to report that the Tuono has taken up that baton – no matter what you demand of it, how fast you go or what the road surface beneath you is, the bike just never feels out of sorts.
In the engine department, likewise, the Tuono leaves little to criticise. The build-up of torque is extremely linear – riders looking for a mid-to-upper rev range kick under the proverbial may be disappointed, but it makes for an extremely manageable bike. Despite its prodigious power output, the Tuono doesn’t want to throw you off at the slightest provocation – it wants you to go along for the ride and have the time of your life.
There is no one single aspect of the Tuono (the quickshifter apart) that stands out – it is the way the bike works a complete package that makes it what I refer to as an everyday sport bike a bike that is comfortable during commuting, fun on the open road and a total blast on a track. Add to that Aprilia’s complimentary service plan, which means you’ll probably only pay for fuel and tyres during the first three years of ownership, and the total package becomes a whole lot more attractive.
Aprilia calls the Tuono the fastest-ever naked, and they’re not far off the mark – the Aprilia is as quick as it is manageable. So if you are looking for a bike that offers the DNA of a racer in the body of a standard, this is likely the one for you.
Manufacturer: ApriliaModel: Tuono V4 1100 RR
Type: Four stroke, longitudinal 65° V4 cylinder, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinderDisplacement: 1 077 cm³
Maximum Power: 129 kW @ 11 000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 121 Nm @ 9 000 rpmFuel supply system:
Fuel type: Petrol, Premium unleaded
Type: 6 Speed, cassette type gearbox
Final drive: chain
Overall length x width x height (mm): 2 070 X 810 X 825 (seat)Kerb weight: 209 kg
Passengers: 1+1Fuel tank: 18.5 L
Front: 2x 330 mm floating stainless steel disc with lightweight stainless steel rotor with 6 pins. Brembo M50 monobloc radial callipers with 4 Q30mm opposing pistons. Sintered pads. Radial pump and metal braided brake lines.
Rear: Single 220 mm disc, Brembo floating calliper with two 932 mm separate pistons. Sintered pads. Master cylinder with a built-in reservoir and metal braided hose. Bosch 9.1 MP ABS with cornering function, adjustable on 3 maps, featuring RLM strategy and can be disengaged
Front: Upside-down "one by one" Sachs fork, Q43 mm stanchions. Forged aluminium radial calliper mounting bracket. Completely adjustable spring preload and hydraulic compression and rebound damping
Rear: Sachs monoshock absorber with piggy-back. fully adjustable in spring preload, hydraulic compression and rebound damping. APS progressive linkages.
WHEELS & TYRES
Wheel, front: 3.50 X 17"Wheel, rear: 6.00 X 17"Tyre, front: 120/70 ZR 17Tyre, rear: 200/55 ZR 17 (alternative: 190/50 ZR 17)
PRICE: R258 000