Every year the war intensifies between European open-class upright sport motorcycles. The major battle currently includes some gorgeous nakeds, including the KTM 1290 Super Duke R, the BMW S 1000 R, the Ducati Monster 1200 S, Triumph Speed Triple R, and the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100. To remain competitive in this space, the OEMs are forced to continually update their upright sportbikes.I headed to Austin’s mammoth Formula One track, Circuit of the Americas (COTA), which was just coming off a MotoGP weekend, to test the new Tuonos from Aprilia. Here are the essential Fast Facts from my ride aboard the 2017 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory ABS and RR ABS.
1. For 2017, the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 is available in the standard RR ABS and the Factory ABS edition. The Factory gets upgraded suspension, tires and graphics. Both were updated with cornering ABS, a quick shifter with clutchless downshifting, cruise control, and a TFT display.2. The main difference between the 2017 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory and RR models is the Factory’s Öhlins suspension, and you can tell the difference immediately. The Factory, which also arrives with the stylish Superpole graphics, provided more chassis feedback while lapping COTA, especially during the quick transitions at turns 3-6, and also the tight corners heading onto the track’s two long straights. The RR’s Sachs suspension still provides a planted feeling, but it can’t compare to the Factory’s Öhlins setup.3. Besides suspension and graphics, the other major difference is the tires. The Factory arrives with the super-sticky Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa tires—the same that arrive on the RSV4 models—with a 200/55 out back. The RR gets Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tires with a smaller, but still massive, 190/55 out back. The Supercorsa tires were obviously the preferred choice due to traction at COTA, and provided endless traction at serious lean. As expected, the RR’s Diablo Rossi III were super greasy after a day of thrashing them, which assisted in testing the traction control settings.4. Just like the RSV4, the 2017 Aprilia Tuonos arrive with an eight-level traction control system that is adjustable while riding via easy-to-reach toggle switches (one for thumb, other for index finger) on the left control. While piloting the RR on worn and slippery tires, I was able to easily turn up the TC to reduce tire slippage, even at full lean angle on COTA’s longer turns. There’s no need to close the throttle; just click it through until you find the desired setting, including off. Due to the difference in tires, my preferred setting while at pace was level 4 on the RR, and the less-intrusive level 1 on the Factory.5. Traction control was always shut off before COTA’s two straights because the Tuonos are too much fun on one wheel. Tuono translates to thunder from Italian to English, but in my head it means wheelie machine. For those who don’t like to wheelie, the Tuono also arrives with a three-level wheelie control rider aid, which is also switchable on the fly (including off).6. The 1077cc 65-degree V4’s 173 horsepower and 89 ft/lbs of torque is more than enough for the Tuono on the racetrack, even a longer one like the 3.4-mile COTA. The engine was mildly massaged with DLC surface treatments on the piston pins and honing treatment on the connecting rod surfaces, helping to ease revving. It also receives a new ECU that allows the engine to rev 500 rpm higher that before, for a new redline of 13,000. This engine feels as strong as the RSV4 throughout the mid range, and only lacks the top-end pull of the superbike.7. The Tuono nakeds arrive with a EURO 4 exhaust that somehow retains the aggressive throaty nature of the V4. They only reason to change this exhaust would be for lighter weight; the noise from the stock can is pure enjoyment, and helps produce more than enough power for any type of spirited riding situation.8. The Tuono’s Cornering ABS is magical. I experimented with heavy braking while at serious lean angle at COTA’s turn one, and the bike never felt like it was slip out from under me. The three-level ABS system was happiest in level 1 at the track, which provided no feel of integration.9. The new Tuono gets a quickshifter that provides for smooth and flawless clutchless downshifts. Even when cranking it down to first gear at Turn 11 before COTA’s three-quarter mile straight—the longest in MotoGP—the quick shifter was super responsive and never hiccuped. I only used the clutch to get the bike in motion, and of course second- and third-gear wheelies.
10. The 2017 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100s were upgraded with Brembo M50 calipers that squeeze 330mm discs up front—the same binders used on the RSV4 superbikes. These are the best brakes on the market, and provide serious stopping power. The feel at lever is light, and provides a sensitive feeling of power when trail braking.11. The ergonomics provided pure comfort and a feel of commanding control for my nearly six-foot frame. While riding as aggressively as possible at COTA, not once did I tire or become uncomfortable. The upright bars put me in position that would be optimal for the longest day rides, but they were not so high that they affected me while dragging knees.12. The new TFT dash is not only easy to read—even in direct sunlight—it also provides some cooler data, such as top speed. Tucked in behind the Tuono’s little fairing, which provides surprisingly good wind protection, I registered a top speed of 168 mph on the Factory model. While riding the RR and Factory back-to-back during my four sessions at COTA, hooligan mode quickly set in and the fun was seriously endless.13. For track-day riders, the Tuono has two fun value adds—a pit limiter and launch control. I used the pit limiter every time I went onto the track because it made me feel like a factory rider. I experimented with the launch control, but would likely never use it.14. The 2017 Aprilia Tuonos have an option for a multimedia platform (V4-MP) that connects with your smartphone via Bluetooth. This system allows you to make rider aid changes via voice command—I didn’t test it at COTA, but will be sure to once I get a Tuono for some longer-term street testing.15. The 2017 Aprilia Tuono Factory has an MSRP of $17,499, and the RR $14,999. If it’s in the budget, and you are going to frequent the track, the $2,500 premium for the Factory is well worth it. But if you’ll only be riding street and B roads, the RR is the better deal.16. Though it’s a light revision, the 2017 Aprilia Tuono has only gotten better—much better. Photos by Andrew Wheeler and Michael Brock
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