Indian Chief Vintage

2018 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory - Real World Thriller

 

Having recently tested the Aprilia superbike siblings at Hampton Downs, we decided to get a feel for what the two are like in the real world. Enter the relatively more docile of the two - the Tuono Factory (‘relatively’ being a key word).

Words: Nile Bijoux   |   Photos NB

A quick recap; the MY18 Tuono is largely the same as the ‘17. The only real difference is in the paintwork, and even then you’d be hard-pressed to spot the difference. Beneath the colours is the same rorty 11,000rpm V4, pushing 129kW and 120Nm. The APRC (Aprilia Performance Ride Control) suite is included as per, offering eight-stage traction control, wheelie and launch control, up and down quick shifting, a pit limiter and cruise control.

The ABS system now incorporates Bosch’s multi-map cornering technology, which can optimise braking and ABS intervention mid-corner. The system also prevents rear wheel lift under heavy braking.

The dash is the same as the on last year's model, with two different screens (Race and Road, both with night and day backlighting) and Aprilia’s V4-MP system to connect to your smartphone. There are also new parameters displayed, including gauges for how much brake or throttle input you’re delivering, and a lean-angle readout. That last one is a bit iffy; stacking either bike over in the corners and trying to snatch a glance at the angle is both thrilling and terrifying at the same time.

It takes a strong-willed person not to dial the wheelie control down to one and test the electronics after each corner.

We already know what this king of supernakeds is like in a place with no speed restrictions or traffic, but what about on public roads? On my honour, it’s pretty amazing. Older models were hot and uncomfortable at rush-hour speeds, but the ‘18 seems to be much less bothered. It still requires a decent amount of clutch slipping for city traffic, though.

The raised bars and slightly relaxed pegs mean comfort is within reach too. Set the Tuono to the least racey ‘Sport’ mode (other modes are ‘Race’ and ‘Track’, which all sound like synonyms to us) and throttle response is buttery smooth. The suspension might be trick Öhlins units but they are race-bred and aren’t semi-active, so the ride errs on the firm side. The footpegs are still fairly high up, to emphasize the inherent sporty nature of the bike but it also means taller folk might require a bit more folding to fit.


I know this has been flogged relentlessly since the Tuono was released, but it has to be said again. The best part about this machine is the engine. To meet Euro4 emissions standards, Aprilia has redesigned the exhaust system and while it isn’t as pretty as the old unit, it still sounds astoundingly good. A valve restricts noise levels below about five thousand revs, but over that and all hell breaks loose.

Combine that with a slick-shifting up-down quick shifter and you’ve got a perfect recipe for hooliganism - a bellowing V4 until a corner, then a rattle of backfires punctuated by autoblips as the gears drop. Just be careful - it takes a sneeze to hit legal limits. We saw 100km/h from a standstill in a smidge over three seconds while the 80-120 dash took only 1.22 seconds or 37.56 metres. Braking is brilliant, as you would expect, with an emergency stop requiring just 39 metres.

The ergos give the Tuono a playful nature, encouraging you to be a bit sillier every time you get on. It takes a strong-willed person not to dial the wheelie control down to one and test the electronics after each corner. The low- and midrange of the 1100cc motor help this too, as unlike the four-cylinder superbikes, which tend to be geared and tuned more for high-rpm, high-speed operation, the Tuono doesn’t need constant gearchanges to exploit the powerband. Simply twist and hold on.

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On that, the Italian stallion still doesn’t really feel totally at home on the public roads. While you can commute on it daily, its real home is the track.

All that power means doubling the open road limit is possible in second gear, and the sound of the engine plus a superb quickshifter means the dreaded flashing lights are a strong likelihood...Although some might argue this is a not a bad thing, sans the involvement of the constabulary.

Another stumble is the lack of a fuel gauge. There is a light that comes on when juice is running low but for a bike costing nearly thirty thousand, you should expect an indication of fuel use, especially as it’s a drinker.

So what should you do with your dollar?

That depends. If you aren’t one for the track, we’d suggest saving a few grand and getting something slightly smaller, better tuned for Kiwi conditions, like the remarkable Triumph Street Triple RS.

However, if you know plenty of track days are in your future, then the Tuono is a brilliant choice.

 

The Stats

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Model Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory  Price $27,990

Engine 1077cc, liquid-cooled, fuel injected, V4, 129kW / 121Nm

Transmission 6-speed, chain final drive Vitals 3.08s 0-100km/h

1.22s (37.56m) 80-120km/h, 39.82m 100-0km/h, 206kg