Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory vs.
Yamaha FZ-10 Comparison  |
Thanksgiving Day Motorcycle Ride Review

Aprilia V4 Tuono 1100 Factory vs. Yamaha FZ-10 Comparison
Aprilia Tuono vs. Yamaha FZ-10

Two bikes of similar size and motive were at my disposal this Thanksgiving Day and the weather couldn’t have been more inviting. The 2016 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory and 2017 Yamaha FZ-10. Both look like a throttle twisting good time in the canyons, but I usually reserve my Turkey Day ride for something around town.

There are only a handful of days when the Los Angeles urban roads are so lightly traveled during daylight hours, thanks to football and feasting, that I can really enjoy spinning through some of the older parts of town.

The Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory grabs my attention first, with the bold graphics stretched across the fairing and tank. The bike is a compact and aggressive-looking machine. With a 32.5-inch seat, it’s not too tall for my 30.5-inch inseam, though I’m definitely not flat-footed at a stop. It does help to be a dirt bike rider.

2016 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory
2016 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory

The ergonomics have me leaned forward and with legs tucked up and back—nothing extreme, as it has up-bars, but obviously this is built for going fast. Start the engine up and the bark from the 1077cc DOHC V-4 turns heads—it is a satisfying sound that tempts me to twist the right grip just to hear it growl.

Yet, power from the 1100 Factory is not at all unmanageable, even in Track mode, due to useable torque in the low and mid-range. The throttle can be modulated easily enough to keep the Tuono at a neighborhood friendly pace when necessary. Of course, as I roll on through to the larger boulevards and click up another gear, the bike feels even more comfortable.

[2016 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Review]

Up on famed Mulholland Drive, I was able to take advantage of the postcard views of the San Gabriel and Verdugo mountain ranges, but only in short glimpses as I was keeping an eye on the winding asphalt. Much of the road has less than perfect pavement, some of it bumpy or cracked, and there’s always a chance of stray rocks that have tumbled onto the road, or patches of sand.

I found myself riding the Tuono a bit slower than expected, as the wide rear tire was more of an effort to turn in the forward leaning position and didn’t engender a lot of confidence in the tighter conditions. While I was lagging behind my riding partner slightly, the bike was getting lots of interested looks from tourists in the nine (!) mini-vans that were poking along the top of the famous road. They were checking out some of the Santa Monica Mountains’ best views, as well as movie stars’ homes, and a female streaking by on a racetrack-ready looking Tuono V4 1100 Factory just added to the glitz.

When I came upon the freshly paved Mulholland Drive sections, I did find myself allowing the bike a bit more rein. In some fast sweeping turns I was able to enjoy the Tuono’s stability. The firm suspension makes clear where the bike will excel.

Dropping down into the flats of Hollywood, I moved right up to the tank to sit a little taller for boulevard cruising. There’s enough room in the saddle of the compact bike to adjust my seating position. Taking weight off my wrists makes the bike more enjoyable at moderate speeds.

Traffic on the streets was nicely light, and I picked up the pace as I hit the proto-freeway of La Brea Avenue that bisects the Baldwin Hills. Acceleration from the Aprilia V4 is satisfyingly fast, allowing me to rocket up to inappropriate speeds very quickly.

Under normal conditions I would refrain from such hooligan behavior in town. However, the streets in many stretches of the Southland were near empty, so quick blistering bursts of acceleration—solely as a means to test the Brembos, of course—were enjoyed.

The twin 320mm discs, coupled with Brembo’s Monoblock M432 radial calipers, create a beautifully smooth braking package. There’s just enough free play at the lever before the brakes kick in. No unexpected bite, just powerful deceleration at the ready. The 220mm rear brake has nicely tempered action at the lever for slower conditions.

A run on the Century Freeway let the Tuono stretch its legs. Getting up to double the speed limit takes the expected minimal effort for the 1100.

2017 Yamaha FZ-10
2017 Yamaha FZ-10

Switching over to the 2017 Yamaha FZ-10 after a short lunch break at the friendly and delicious Spartan Burgers in Huntington Park the difference between the Italian and Japanese ergonomics was immediate. The FZ-10 is roomier and more upright—though has the same 32.5-inch seat height—and is easier to maneuver right from the start in the parking lot. I also note the welcome and secure, seated-in feeling of the FZ-10. On the Tuono I felt more perched atop a racehorse, not that that’s a bad thing.

Continuing eastward, the two bike’s differing personas revealed themselves. Where the Tuono’s V-4 purrs (when it’s not growling), the FZ-10’s inline-4 is always silky smooth. Credit the trickle down Crossplane crankshaft technology from the R1.

Even when twisting the throttle a bit harder to pull away from a stop briskly—having split lanes to the front of an unexpectedly busy intersection—the 998cc engine glides with fluid grace. Acceleration is fast, but deceptive. In its smoothness, you won’t realize how far behind you’ve left the cars until you glance into the effective rearview mirrors.

[2017 Yamaha FZ-10 Review]

Breaking tradition because I had two such willing bikes at my disposal, and beautiful weather in the low 70s, I hopped on the freeways and headed north to the San Gabriel Mountains. A quick run up Angeles Crest Highway was in order, and the FZ-10 was an absolute blast. The bars are slightly wider than the Tuono’s, yet it still steers more easily.

The FZ-10’s suspension is softer than the Tuono’s, enabling me to confidently push the pace. Even on the cracked and deteriorating asphalt of Big Tujunga Canyon Road, the FZ-10 felt secure. The dual 320mm discs up front require a stronger squeeze at the lever than on the Tuono, but the FZ-10 never felt under-braked.

Both bikes made quick work of the 12-mile run down the canyon, so there was time for a run up Little Tujunga Canyon Road and down Sand Canyon Road. Having not been out that way since the devastating Sand Fire in July, it was sad to find the road dirty with sand and debris. I was thankful for the FZ-10’s ABS and traction control.

I swapped back over to the Tuono for the swooping and fast-paced Placerita Canyon Road on the way home. On the big sweepers, I enjoyed the Tuono’s tighter seating position and athletic handling. This is a bike that handles better the faster, and more aggressively, you ride it.

With its highly aggressive suspension and attitude—not to mention the addictive quickshifter—the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 is more fun on fast canyons or on a track, yet it’s docile enough for slower tempo rides. The Yamaha FZ-10 is a more relaxed real-world ride for the average rider, while retaining the capability to be pushed hard at high speeds, as well as easily handling the tightest mountain roads.

As much as I love the Italian sound, styling, and charisma of the 2016 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory, for my riding, the 2017 Yamaha FZ-10 is the versatile winner of this Thanksgiving Day comparison ride.

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