2009 Aprilia Tuono R | Motorcycle Review

Naked Aggression

Aprilia’s concept of pulling the fairing off their vaunted 1000cc V-twin-powered Superbike, and replacing the clip-ons with a standard handlebar, took the motorcycle world by storm a few years back. The fact that they also maintained the Superbike’s power without de-tuning it for more midrange, put Aprilia at the vanguard of the naked movement.

It seduced a plethora of devoted speed junkies with an alternative to the cramped cockpits of existing sportbikes, backing up the formidable good looks with impressive performance. It was an instant hooligan hit. The machine has gone through only slight changes in the intervening years yet remains a favorite among the naked crowd.

Why mess with a good thing?

To start with you have the torque and muscle of the 60-degree V-twin powerplant between your legs. The Aprilia’s healthy motor is an aphrodisiac for any sport rider. The smooth delivery of the V-twin plant tames the 139 horsepower, and its torque makes it a happy camper when thumping around town or weaving in and out of traffic at lower revs.

Get the V-twin up and kicking at its sweet spot (9500rpm) and you’ll gain new respect for the internal combustion engine. The Tuono is fast. Scary fast. And I mean that in the best sense. The engine just seems to keep building and building the longer you hold the throttle. On a racetrack, where you can find redline, your eyes are going to go wide. On the street you’re going to run out of pavement long before the engine is used up.

The wide, upright handlebars give the rider unequaled maneuverability (as well as added comfort) in tight canyons and in typical day-to-day outings. The machine is a nimble canyon carver, with its 408 pounds feeling feathery and unimposing and the six-speed transmission is silky smooth.

Showa 43mm inverted forks handle the front end, while a Sachs single rear shock, mated to Aprilia’s rising rate linkage, keeps the back end tracking smooth and compliant. Naturally, Brembo brakes grace the front and back, with twin 320mm rotors up front for amazing stopping performance.

The Tuono cuts a distinct presence. Available in a variety of bold paint schemes, with aluminum alloy wheels, it still holds its own in a parking lot filled with the competition.