2019 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory Review: Everything You Want
I find that motorcycles, in general, tease out a twinge of a smirk or an acknowledging nod in me, regardless of their shape, size or codification. I enjoy them, as you might assume. There are a precious few two-wheeled contraptions that immediately stir up a level of childlike giddy that many of us haven’t felt since our youth.On the eve of holidays, we can all recall tossing and turning, anxiously awaiting what lay beneath the anointed tree, menorah, or whatever seasonal symbol temporarily housed gifts in your home, and the 2019 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory is one of those machines that does exactly that.
This review, then, is not a typical analysis of a product. Yes, there will be facts, figures, and indisputable opinions throughout this piece to help inform you of your purchase. You will not be driven astray. Understand, that this is a love letter to the brilliant Tuono V4 1100 Factory, one that was penned during rendezvous on the backroads of California and the Pirelli World Superbike Trackday at Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca.You may question my devotion to an inanimate object. You might even cite it as a tragic unrequited love, but might I remind you—fortune favors the bold, and some men might view the exhaust outlet as in inlet. And on that note, we’ll let our tale begin!The 2017 year marked the last time the Noale-based factory gave a deep tissue massage to the Tuono platform, arriving in the form of electronic, engine, and suspension tweaks. Prior to our testing, the changes seemed puzzling, as it raised the question: “How do you make one of the best upright sportbikes better?” Well, the answer then, as it is now, was to marginally, but quite perceptibly, improve on all those points, making the entire package that much more refined.In 2019, the RR remains untouched, while the illustrious Factory is sporting Öhlins semi-active electronic suspension featuring the Smart EC 2.0 System, the very same kit and interface found in the Yamaha YZF-R1M, and the Ducati Panigale V4 S. Oh, it also received the matching electronic steering damper—what a time to be alive.Outside of a thousand-dollar bump in price to compensate for fancy new suspenders and a graphics update, those are the only changes. Still, Aprilia did manage to make the Tuono Factory something of a perfectionist, as the addition of electronic suspension is a welcome one, indeed.The bleeding, thrashing, virile, heart of the Aprilia Tuono is none other than the famed 1077cc V4 powerplant. Its harrowing and ferocious howl must be the thing of nightmares to the competition—an inline-four ‘screamer’ may be known for stretching its vocal range, but it’ll be doing so in terror when confronted with the V4 1100.Heard from the nether regions of the paddock or echoing off canyon walls, the sound emanating from the Costco-sized and confusingly Euro 4 compliant exhaust can is unmistakable.Thanks to the ’17 update, the various DLC-treated internal components have made the brawny V4 1100 mightier than ever. An ECU update facilitated an additional 500 revs, bringing its redline to a lofty 13,000 rpm. All told, the Aprilia claim an astounding 173 horsepower at 11,000 rpm and 89 ft/lbs of peak torque come in at 9000 rpm.It doesn’t matter where you are in the rev range, all that power is available with immediacy. Impressive low-end grunt starts as low as 4k, feeding directly into inconceivable mid-range puff, before entering Superbike-esque realms of top-end power that won’t stop until the bitter end. Sure, the RSV4 1100 stretches its legs a bit farther, but the Tuono is ready to wring itself out while barreling down the front straights of any track in North America.For a machine that sounds like you’re conjuring a scornful storm at the first blip of the throttle, how that virility is applied is ultimately up to the rider. The Tuono V4 1100 doesn’t necessitate being ridden at 9/10ths perpetually, although it might encourage you to do so; it’s willing to do both.While plodding around the city, the Tuono is amicable, which may be at odds with what is essentially an RSV4 with a handlebar rather than clip-ons. Of course, there is the well-documented heat factor to contend with when lane-splitting through slow traffic, but let’s play fair—it’s knocking on the door of 200 hp and inspired by MotoGP firebreathers. We should expect some heat and lumpiness. Luckily, it’s quite silky, unless the engine is genuinely lugging. So, aim the beast at some clear tarmac, and give it nary a thought.Three engine maps are available in the form of Sport, Track, and Race, all of which can be adjusted on the fly by tapping the starter button while the bike is running. Each map does change the V4 1100’s personality, as engine braking is reduced as you move from Sport to Race. The logic there is that more engine braking is suited for street riding, while less engine braking is more suitable on track. Even then, engine braking can be altered manually with a quick dive into the menu.The throttle profile is also adjusted when moving through the triumvirate of engine maps. All maps are on the aggressive side; not choppy or abrupt, but quite ready for spirited action.Shifting is yet another highpoint of the Tuono, and something that was improved upon during its last major update two years ago. The quickshift and autoblipper functions are perfect; there isn’t another description for it. Coupled with the sound of the V4 1100 while wailing through the gearbox, the experience is only heightened, and it’s the closest I’ll ever get to riding Aprilia’s RS-GP machine.The electronics suite is one of the best in the business, complete with lean-angle detecting eight-level traction control, three-level cornering ABS with rear-wheel lift mitigation, and three-level wheelie control. That’s not all—a pit limiter, launch control, and cruise control are part of the package. If that seems familiar, that’s because it’s lifted right from the RSV4.You may have noticed that within the engine maps, a Rain or Urban mode isn’t available, mainly because the astounding power of the Tuono V4 1100 can be tamed easily with all the electronic aids. Raise every nanny to their maximum, and it’ll be like Mary Poppins herself is looking over your shoulder—nothing will get out of line. Turn them all off, and I suppose it’ll all be up to the age-old philosophical question of free will.Wheelie control level 1 will allow you to loft the front end, without looping it, while 2 will let it float over risers, and 3 restricts the fun completely.It’s the same progressive story for ABS, as well. ABS 1 is more than acceptable for track use and deep trail braking, while also disabling ABS in the rear entirely. Level 2 is a bit more conservative and can be felt a smidge when carrying decent lean while on the brakes. Meanwhile, level 3 is the most Victorian of the bunch and suitable for inclement conditions.The eight-level traction control keeps an ever-watchful eye on the whole operation. When bumping down the TC with the paddle-toggle, you can quickly feel each bit of chain cast off the V4 1100’s engine, freeing up more power at higher lean angles and larger throttle applications. I’d recommend saving levels 1-2 for sunny days, racetracks, and grippy tires.Once you’ve planted your haunches in the expertly carved seat, the Tuono V4 1100 reveals itself to be remarkably like the RSV4 1100. The five-gallon fuel tank with its poignant curves makes for a perfect anchoring point, and the riser handlebars leave the pangs of Superbike riding at home.This bike is having your cake and eating it, too. Still, the riding position is quite sporty, though not detrimental. At 5’ 10” with a 32-inch inseam, my legs might be in an attack posture, but I’m happy to do more than a day in the saddle of the Tuono V4 1100 on the street or track.The benefit of the riding position is that it is easily the most sporting upright naked bike in its class. No other motorcycle is as adept at letting the rider maneuver in the saddle, flipping the Tuono as you flog the canyon roads under you.This year, the fantastic 2019 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory did not have its frame of swingarm fiddled with, but changes to the chassis come in the form of semi-active electronic suspension doodads. The manually adjusted Öhlins suspension that is replaces wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, of course. The NIX fork returns while a TTX shock succeeds an Öhlins STX unit.Spring-preload is still manually fine-tuned and analog, while the damping is continually adjusted to give you the most optimized ride out there; at least, that is the goal, and I’d say it does just that. Also, the TTX shock ditches the typical lock-ring for spring-preload adjustment and now has a small nut that is accessed on the right side—much easier, indeed.The only new addition to the beautiful full-color TFT display is the suspension mode box, and there are six in total—three active and three manual. You flip through them with your handy-dandy joystick on the left control. Do note that you need to be stopped to switch suspension modes.The manual modes are broken down thusly: M1 is optimized for track riding; M2 is aimed at sport riding; M3 caters towards urban riding. Compression and rebound are represented stereotypically, with 31 clicks on either end. The steering damper has 21 clicks of adjustment. The crucial difference with any manual mode is that it renders the suspension inert—the semi-active capability is disabled, and the only benefit here is that you don’t have to take out a tool to adjust damping.Semi-active modes are represented by A1-3 on the dash, and they follow the same description as before: A1 is designed for the circuit; A2 for sporty riding; A3 is tuned for road use. The Objective Based Tuning interface (OBTi) uses terminology that isn’t familiar to everyone, yet makes sense when you sit down and think about what the adjustment categories mean.In the semi-active suspension menu, riders can alter the suspension settings to suit their every need, with the added benefit of active suspension adjustment. A1 or track accommodates an adjustment range of -5 to +5 within these six parameters: front firmness; rear firmness; brake support; acceleration support; mid-corner support; steering damping. A2 and A3 use the same -5 to +5 range, but only offers four adjustment categories, as they’re for road riding.Even when zeroed out and reset to factory settings, the difference in feel between each mode is stark—with fine-tuning, they’ll get even better. When put into A1, the much-lauded Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory chassis becomes Superbike stiff, allowing it to hit the track with precision, keeping the bike perfectly stable over the eye-widening turn one at Laguna Seca—a blind front straight that has you unloading the suspension at 145+ mph over a hill. Piling on the brakes and trailing into turn 2, the Factory scored perfect scores yet again, and it even gobbled up highspeed corners like Rainey Curve and kept the whole chassis in shape with the utmost trust in the front end.Its handling prowess is intensified in A1 and hustling the 460-pound beasty is done expertly. All the legendary front-end feel from the RSV4 is there, yet it seems more natural to muscle around. Hard-driving exits are where the Tuono Factory shines bright with all the chassis information being translated to the rider.Of course, that glowing opinion did take a little bit of finagling to achieve – but it’s something that is quickly sorted with a couple turns of a wrench here and a few button taps there, highlighting why I’m now a proponent of electronic suspension.A2 is terrific on the road and best used on your favorite canyon road. With lower paces in play, this setting makes the Tuono V4 1100 Factory sportingly-stiff, without overdoing it. Often, track suspension settings don’t mix the well-trodden tarmac of the street, and your perfectly poised sport machine feels like it shares the damping characteristics of a skateboard. That isn’t the case here.When cruising California State Route 1 through notable areas like Big Sur, I found myself taking in the sights and leaving the suspension mode in A3. Cabrillo Highway is a legendary stretch of pavement, with twisting bits and epic views. A3 allows the Factory to achieve levels of comfort that I never thought were possible on this beast.The suspension is as luxurious as an eccentric billionaire’s bathrobe; supportive, yet supple and still perky enough for when sections of Cabrillo Highway are too good not to attack.Early semi-active suspension systems tended to feel inconsistent. Since the Smart EC 2.0 update, those criticisms have grown quiet, mostly. At track paces, the 2019 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory performed in stellar fashion. The confidence I’ve always gotten from this chassis remained, if not improved, because I was able to tweak settings by just pulling into pit lane or on the shoulder.If you’re riding at race pace, your experience may vary. For someone of my ilk, I am more than happy. The few times I felt the suspension stiffen up or soften unexpectedly was when faced with absurdly abused sections of road and was either on the brake or throttle aggressively. So, throughout a track day and over a thousand miles, it only did it two or three times on the road, exclusively.I see the dual 330mm floating rotors, Brembo M50 calipers, and matching Brembo radial master cylinder as the current gold standard in this class. The feel is precise with a massive amount of stopping power on tap and no discernable fade when hitting the track in 80+ degree weather. In the rear, a single 220mm rotor is clamped on upon by a dual-piston Brembo caliper and provides excellent feel. Nothing is wanting about the brakes on this bike.Cast alloy wheels round out the fancy bits that the Factory gets above the RR, and sticky Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP tires with a fat 200/55 rear tire are part of the standard trim. In our case, we ran the impressive Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II, as we’d be putting on some serious street miles with our unit. When I hit the track, I opted for Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SC 2 DOT race tires.Now, in every healthy relationship, we often learn of one another’s quirks. Romantic or not, living together will reveal sides of a person’s personality that weren’t noticed before.First, the fuel tank—the Tuono V4 1100, as sultry as she may look, is something of a messy eater. The fuel inlet is small and creates back pressure, splashing gasoline everywhere if you’re not watchful when filling up.Second, she is quite ravenous when working out—that is to say, when you push the 1077cc engine, she’ll get thirsty. This observation has always felt on par with informing a standium full of marine biologists that water is, without a shadow of a doubt, wet. It’s powered by a massive, high-horsepower engine; of course it’ll consume a lot of fuel when ridden hard. When casually sauntering home from Laguna Seca back to Ventura County, I was able to get 120+ miles from the nearly five-gallon tank, though.Also, the gorgeous TFT display has yet to fit a fuel gauge, although there is a fuel light. Perhaps that doesn’t matter, as I am entirely too focused when riding the Tuono V4 1100 to care about trivialities such as gas, food, safety, or otherwise.Lastly, the narrow lock-to-lock steering capabilities make for a wide turning radius, and is surprising the first time it’s encountered at parking lot speeds. There’s a valid reason for it though, as a narrower turning radius is thought to reduce the volitility of tank slapper, should one occur. These things are just minor foibles in what is an otherwise flawless machine—not a single one would deter me from making this machine a permenant fixture in my stable.The naked bike class runs the gamut in terms of displacement and purpose, but when I think of a machine that is firmly planted in the sport category, there is only one for a rider such as myself and that is the latest Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory. Yes, this billet-doux has been light on the harsh criticisms, mainly because there is nothing to cite as a crucial problem. The ridiculous engine, balanced chassis, agreeable riding position, and top-shelf electronics make it the most potent sport machine in its class.The 2019 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory has been the champion of the class and received accolades not just because the engine sounds fantastic (and it does), but because there is no better upright sport machine that gives you everything you want from a superbike and nothing you don’t. If there is any ounce of sport in your blood, you owe it to yourself to see what we’ve been raving about all this time.Street and static photography by Don WilliamsTrack photography by Max MandellRiding Style
2023 Yamaha XSR700 plus Steve Rapp, Daytona 200 Winner
byMotos and Friends by Ultimate Motorcycle
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In this week’s first segment, Associate Editor Teejay Adams and I discuss the new Yamaha XSR700. That’s the retro-styled version of the MT-07 that comes in any color you like—as long as it’s black. Actually, it looks really good with the gold accents on the gas tank and the matching gold wheels. Teejay tells us whether there’s a decent bike lurking under all that flash.
In our second segment, I chat with Steve Rapp. An ex-factory Suzuki and Ducati rider in the Moto America race series, Steve, among many other accomplishments won the prestigious Daytona 200. He also competed with real credibility in a couple of MotoGP races for Richard Stanboli of Attack Performance.
After retiring from professional road racing Steve became a commercial pilot, flying A320s out of LAX for Alaska Airlines. I suspect he’s the only Airline Captain that’s also an ex-professional motorcycle racer. Steve’s calm, matter-of-fact delivery when talking about his high-speed escapades was interesting to say the least. Very impressive guy indeed.
So, from all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode.