Tuono Afternoon – Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR Test
Much has been written here on Ultimate MotorCycling’s website, and elsewhere, about the 2016 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR. A spate of moderately warm afternoons has enticed me to take a ride on this improved model. But rather than a review, let’s call this an existential report.
We have waited a entire year for this new model knowing our brethren in Europe have been riding it since model year 2015. Aprilia seems to like to release its new bikes there a year early and sell the old model in the U.S. during that time.
I approach the Tuono in the garage and it appears slim, angular and spare. Much of its look is racebike-like – from the graphics to the exhaust and the skinny-spoke wheels, high tail and massive brake system. Every angle and viewable detail of this bike says it means business.
This RR isn’t even the top-of-the-line which is the Tuono V4 1100 Factory model. Beside the paint scheme and the Ohlins suspension bestowed upon the Factory model, this Sachs-suspended RR is a thing of beauty and a magic carpet ride on the road. An RSV4 with handlebars, if you will, and even better on the street.
The RR, rated at the same claimed 175 horsepower (88.6 ft/ lbs of torque) as the Factory, leaves no chips on the table. You may argue that Ohlins are best, but on the road the adjustability, feel and properties of the Sachs units, to me, are as good as one needs. This isn’t a racetrack, and buyers on a budget can save about $2,200 with the RR.
Turn the key, press the starter and the 1,077 cc V4 turns over a couple of times quickly then truly explodes to life. Its high idle and deep staccato rhythm affirm the power and refinement therein. Once things warm up quick twists of the throttle produce a thrilling sawing, ripping, barking sound you would more than likely associate with a race bike. And if you think that sound in the garage is sweet then few words can describe that same engine under load between 6,000 and redline at 12,000 rpm, which happens to be user adjustable. Further, it’s hard to believe that this exhaust system passed the DOT sound tests.
As I wheel away from the garage I notice the slightly lower gearing this year and commensurate ease starting from a stop. The motor pulls easily but has its own unique discordant sound until it finds its syncopation around 6,000 rpm. That’s when the angels begin to sing. So smooth, so refined, such elegant harmonies it makes me want to tear up – but I can’t because the grin on my face is too wide.
I set the wheelie control of the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR to two (of three) in order to keep any accidental front wheel lift to knee high and the traction control to three (of eight) to help keep the wheels in line. I like T(rack) fuel mode on a dry, warm day like this and want all the horsepower I paid for. S(port) and R(ace) modes are also available. Throttle response is linear and progressive, exhibits no flat or sharp responses and gives the rider precisely what he dials in.
I set off for nearby Decker Canyon Road which connects Westlake Village to Malibu, Calif., over 13 miles of the most technical tarmac found anywhere. It is a favorite of many riders and within that span and back a sportbike will give a full report of itself to the rider if he is listening.
The Tuono laughed.
Within the first two miles I knew I had to tighten up the rear shock adjuster as I immediately felt a bit of bouncing when finishing turns. The nickel I had in my pocket fit perfectly and I gave the compression adjustment about 1/8th of turn. There are no clicks. Within the next few miles I realized that this small adjustment was correct and all I needed. Incidentally, the characteristics of the way this bike turns are so sublime that it told me I needed a suspension adjustment sooner than any other bike I’ve ever ridden. Once the suspenders were set the Tuono simply ripped through the curves and switchbacks like a homing pigeon heading for its coop. It displays a single-minded ability to read the slightest pilot input and translate it into elegant, smooth and fast motion over the road.
In what seemed to be the blink of an eye I caught sight of the deep blue sea and reached Pacific Coast Highway where I turned around for the uphill attack. This is the more technical direction as there are two 270-degree switchbacks that rise about 25-30 feet in the transition. There are a few more further on that can be taken a bit faster but these are deep-lean 1st gear turns that resolve into very fast, only slightly curvy, uphill sections.
The Aprilia Tuono rips through these section singing with joy in first and second gear. Feedback from the bike was firm and subtle. Never did I get the feeling that the bike was too close to the edge of its envelop even though I pushed it pretty hard, but always with the awareness that I was on a public road that can and does have some sand and rocks along the way. I’ve said it before of the 2013 and 2014 models, a rider would have to do something really dumb to get this bike out of shape.
Braking duties on the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR are handled by Brembo M432 Mono-Block radial calipers, the same as on the Factory model. They are fearfully powerful yet masterfully controllable. Superior initial bite is followed by almost intuitive response to rider input.
As the 45 mph sign approaches quickly on Westlake Boulevard, I’m forced to return to reality and head toward the barn. Like Mr. Hyde, I can’t help myself and pull a few side street maneuvers and quick shifter attacks on short stretches of road. The sound of this V4 is so enticing that it’s like a drug that might take more than 12 steps to cure.
This massive braking potential has been combined with a chassis that does no wrong. The suspension is responsive yet compliant and it’s all orchestrated by one of the finest power plants ever to grace a motorcycle. This yields a bike at the pinnacle of world class performance and quality in a league only graced by less than a handful of members.