Aprilia’s original Tuono in 2002 was the first undiluted upright superbike, and when the V4 version came along nine years later, it achieved universal acclaim. The Tuono V4 was absolutely brilliant; however, if there was a flaw, it was the somewhat anemic mid-range power, even though the bike was fabulous once it got on the pipe.With the new 2016 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR, the folks from Noale could have simply slotted the exceptional new RSV4 superbike motor into the redesigned chassis and basked in the accolades that would surely have come. Yet, the engineers decided there was even more work to be done, and bored out the latest RSV4 motor to displace an extra 78cc and enhance the mid-range.
The engine is a 1077cc, 65-degree V-4 that shares many of the RSV4 motor’s impressive specs. Larger 33mm valves are now titanium, the head is CNC polished and ported, the crankcases are vacuum forged, and the Pankl con-rods are titanium. The end result is a claimed output of 175 peak horsepower — an eight-horse increase — and, more importantly, at 8000 rpm, the 1100 outputs a whopping 16 horsepower more than its predecessor. Now that’s what I call an increase in mid-range!In torque terms, the Tuono 1100 produces a more than respectable 89 ft/lbs at just 9000 rpm—some 5,000 revs short of the redline. Thanks to a multitude of tweaks, including the new straight-flow airbox and variable length intake trumpets, these increases also help that crucial mid-range.I’m fortunate to live near fast, open roads, so the 2016 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR always sang its heart out for me. So, although I was personally never bothered by the mild mid-range, the two things I have said I would immediately change were the too-wide handlebars and the ridiculously tall gearing.Clearly both of those are owner-changeable niggles, however, the bars did make the bike feel a little nervous unless you focused on keeping the weight off your wrists; and the gearing was so weird that I had to slip the clutch like crazy just to move off the line. Riding my favorite triple-digit high-speed mountain road never saw me leave second gear.Both issues have been addressed for 2016; the gearing is sensible, and the handlebars are now a comfortable shoulder-width. To compensate for the reduced leverage at the bars, the trail has also been tightened slightly to help the Aprilia turn.The bike is noticeably tall, and my somewhat lanky 33-inch inseam was maxed out when my feet were down. Both the RSV4 and Tuono now carry their center of gravity a little lower, mainly due to dropping the motor to the lowest of the three settings in the motor mounts.Riding the 2016 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR on the twisting roads through the hills around Rimini on the Adriatic coast of Italy — including through Valentino Rossi’s picturesque hometown of Tavullia — I immediately felt the Tuono’s improved agility. The 6mm longer swing arm (unlike the RSV4 which is 14mm longer than previously) helps stability, and the Sachs 43mm inverted fork and linkage-assisted rear shock soaked up the truly abysmal (in places) road surface.That’s not to say the suspension is soft—far from it—this is most definitely a sportbike after all, so the chassis is firmly damped and makes this enormously powerful machine handle well.The seat has softer foam and a more comfortable cover material, especially for passengers. The other change is that the fairing and headlights have been redesigned, and the fairing offers quite a bit more wind protection.Although the Tuono has a less committed riding position than the RSV4 due to its traditional handlebars, the footpegs are the same as the RSV4, so they are high and rearset. I am used to this kind of foot positioning, and found it comfortable with my knees happily engaged on the well- shaped gas tank.The motor of course, is spectacular. It is a crazy-powerful torque monster, with a ton of power anywhere you need it, no matter what gear you are in. It is seamlessly reined in by a second-generation package of Aprilia’s WSBK-spec electronics (identical to the RSV4) that includes three Ride-by-Wire modes controlled by a new and more powerful ECO that allows the three maps to be more easily managed, each one of which corresponds to a different engine power output and is now also to a dedicated engine brake management map. The two classic engine management maps, Track and Sport, are now joined by a Road map which is full power instead of the previous generation Tuono V4’s limited power map. All three maps are more manageable and less aggressive than the previous version, allowing a better relationship between the opening of the throttle and the torque sent to the wheels. This is a solution that provides further advantages, such as reducing rear tire wear and better management of the significant power that the new Aprilia V4 is capable of developing.All three maps of the 2016 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR produce maximum horsepower, with the level of aggression changed with each mode. Strangely, I found Race to be the smoothest overall, although it was noticeably more aggressive than the others. I tried riding in all three versions, but ultimately settled on the smoothness of Race mode simply because it felt the most exciting without being abrupt or nervous. Rain mode is gone; such is Aprilia’s confidence in its traction control that it was deemed unnecessary.The new gearbox with revised ratios is lighter and more compact than before, and gears can be clutchlessly changed on the throttle using the aQS (Aprilia Quick Shift). Eight levels of aTC (Aprilia Traction Control) are available, and can be switched on the fly. For the street, I preferred level 5 and, despite the slippery surface, the rear wheel never broke away; the TC was clearly doing its thing, as the dash light flickered a fair bit on some corner exits.For a motorcycle with such excellent throttle connection and easy modulation, aWC (Aprilia Wheelie Control) is, for me, an anachronism. Unlike the superlative aTC that can be adjusted without stopping, the three levels of anti-wheelie are not easy to adjust. Although the engine can be running, the bike has to be at a standstill, and then you can dig around the menus and change the Wheelie Control. The same applies to changing the Launch Control and ABS settings as well.With minimal intrusion (or even off), the 2016 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR is a beautifully balanced machine that can float the front wheel in the first three gears with ease. Yes, it is as fun as you might imagine. That’s not to say you want to ride around everywhere in lurid arrest-me-please wheelies, but if there is a spot of open road and a quick bit of aggressive acceleration is in order, then it’s nice to feel the front lift a little and float elegantly while you’re on the gas. It is grin inducing, to be sure, and the power delivery so beautifully polished that controllable power wheelies can be achieved on demand, and in total safety (though explaining this to law enforcement may be a challenge).Unsurprisingly, Brembo supplies the radially mounted M432 Monoblock calipers (the master cylinder is axial), and the feel and power is, as expected, superb. Of the three ABS levels, Level 1 is optimized for the track, yet approved for street use. Level 2 is more suited to sport riding on the street; it also works on both wheels and is combined with an advanced anti forward-flip system (aRLM – Aprilia Rear Lift-up Mitigation) which gets progressively more intrusive based on speed. Level 3 is dedicated to riding on surfaces with poor grip. Each of the three levels can be combined with any one of the three engine maps, allowing riders to find the best possible combination.In addition to the 2016 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR in this test (sorry, the blue version shown here is Euro-spec only — the US gets the Tuono in gray), there will be a Tuono V4 1100 Factory. The upgraded version comes with Öhlins suspension and steering damper, aluminum front brake disc carriers, a 200mm section rear tire (instead of the RR’s 190), the tail fairing/seat cover from the RSV4, the Super- pole graphics package, and red wheel rims. Although the Sachs suspension and steering damper on the base model RR are not lacking at all, for just $1700 more than the $14,599 RR, the Factory version is difficult to pass up.Overall, the 1100 RR is an unbelievably impressive ride. It is sophisticated, sanitized, and user-friendly. You can leave your kids alone in the same room and they will be just fine. But, never forget the Tuono V4 is also a snarling, savage beast; it is the most committed upright superbike out there, and ready to go into attack mode on-demand.The world-class electronics package manages the astonishing motor perfectly, and takes the 2016 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR to the top of any serious rider’s shopping list. The riding position is ideal for the street, and the handling and Brembo brakes with revised pad compound are exemplary.The only thing I disliked about this bike was an electronic function that I was able to turn off and, once I’d done that, I was left with a spectacular machine that I fell in love with and would buy in a heartbeat.Photography by Roberto Graziani, et al2016 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR Riding Style:
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This week, in the first segment Editor Don Williams talks to us about the new Kawasaki Versys 650 LT. It’s the middleweight ADV style machine that uses the same 650 parallel twin motor as the Ninja 650, so it’s an excellent performer in a user-friendly, good looking package.
In the second segment, I chat with one of my dearest industry friends—now retired Honda PR executive, Jon Seidel. Jon’s fascinating career spans some 30 years with Big Red, and gave him some great experiences with some incredible machines. I was fortunate enough to be invited on many of the press launches that he organized. His new project is documenting and saving many of the old archives from years gone by—and incidentally, if you have anything that may be of value to the project, please contact us by email at email@example.com and we’ll pass it all on to Jon.
So on that note, from all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!