Aprilia Tuono 1100 Review & Ratings
- 17 February 2018
- Author: Nikolas Perseputto
More cubes, more power – and much more fun. The great Tuono V4 just got better.
IN A WAY Aprilia have done themselves an injustice. The Tuono V4 1100 is the most powerful naked road bike around, with a new engine, enough electronic sophistication to embarrass Apple and more attitude than a gang of teenagers on heat. The Tuono is also the Italian firm’s biggest-selling bike, yet they see fit to tag the unveiling of this updated model onto the launch of the updated RSV4 – and they always lead all their marketing with the sportsbike, not the Tuono.
Which in my opinion is a mistake as, from my limited time on it, it’s clear the Tuono is a corker. Aprilia is not a large company, nor is it very old, and the research and development budget is smaller than at their larger competitors. As a consequence Matteo Zonta, project leader for the V4, admits that after building the new engine for the RSV4 they had toyed with the idea slotting the outgoing RSV4 motor into the Tuono – that should have provided enough fun: “But it didn’t work as a road bike. It was not so smooth and we wanted more torque.” So the plan became to go for more cubes – the traditional route to more torque. The Tuono does use the new crank from this year’s RSV4, but the pistons are now 81mm, up from 79mm. The engine uses high-performance conrods from tuners Pankl, in new cases with better crank ventilation to help reliability.
Aprilia claim the Tuono now has 175bhp at 11,000rpm with a Pisa-straightening 85lb.ft of torque at 9000rpm. The same team worked on both the RSV4 and the Tuono V4, so it’s no surprise that they share a longer swingarm, new engine position for lower centre of gravity to aid stability (and reduce wheelies) and suspension geometry changes. There’s a new, 1.5kg lighter headlight (also shared with the RSV4) in the reshaped bikini fairing. This doesn’t move with the bars, keeping the weight off the steering. The Tuono’s seat has been improved for both rider and pillion and is 15mm lower, which along with the handlebars makes for a perfect position for sporty road riding. This gives much more comfort in town than a sportsbike yet a commanding stance when hustling around the countryside. And the Tuono can hustle. The bark from starting up the 1077cc V4 should have warned me about what was to come: it’s rude, obnoxious and chomping at the bit. In contrast the clutch is light and the throttle relaxed – pull away on the Tuono and my mind wandered to thinking more about the seat height and what’s for tea rather than the scary amount of power underneath me. Into second, round the roundabout and still all is smooth. Then I open it up. That’s when I remember… I feel the rear in dilemma, the power spinning the tyre and the electronics intervening. Despite this I’m being propelled forward with alarming urgency. So I pick a higher gear to calm it down, but the forward motion keeps coming – just at a higher speed now.
Any rational person would ease off but the exhaust note is intoxicating, the forward thrust – with more torque than the RSV4 –is eye watering.
Every corner becomes a thrill – using the ABS as a cushion on the way in and the wide handlebars to force the bike onto its side, trusting the fully adjustable traction control to again cushion me on the way out – and all to the soundtrack of an angry wasp. An angry wasp with 175 horsepower. With a claimed dry weight claimed of 194kg – which would be just over 212kg with the 18.5-litre tank brimmed with unleaded – the Tuono isn’t dramatically lighter than any of the other bikes in its class, but it carries its mass low, making it feel supremely light and agile. Low-speed manners are up to Harrow School standards of refinement. Despite that World Superbike refugee of an engine, you can ride the Aprilia past a copper talking to the clerk of the parish council without them batting an eyelid. Cruising on the nearly naked Aprilia is better than you might imagine. With that decent-size bikini fairing and a position that brings your body forward, you counter the windblast well. At 70mph the engine is ticking over at around 4250rpm in top gear, nice and relaxed.
The electronics are lifted directly from the RSV4, albeit recalibrated for this more road-orientated bike. That means three different engine modes, eight traction control settings, ABS, wheelie control and even launch control. It all works with the ride-by-wire system that controls the throttle and on our launch ride I couldn’t fault it at all. The more traditional mechanical bits are up to the job too, with Sachs suspension front and rear on the base RR model and the same Öhlins package on the Tuono Factory as is found on the top-spec RSV4 RF. Neither version is cheap: the Tuono 1100RR costs £13,135; the Factory £14,635. These prices compare with £11,000 for Triumph’s Speed Triple R; £10,950 for Ducati’s Monster 1200; and £9600 for Kawasaki’s Z1000. That makes the Tuono look expensive – until you see what you’re getting. That engine will eat the others for breakfast, while pleasuring you with a soundtrack like a racing V4 at Le Mans (but to be fair, all these bikes sound great). You’re also likely to be the only person at a bike meet with a Tuono – which is cool, but also the problem for Aprilia.
The bikes are brilliant – fantastic engines, spot-on suspension and clever electronics. But a Triumph, a Ducati or a Kawasaki will feel like less of a gamble as Aprilia are dogged by an image of unreliability and of a lack of back-up – which is completely undeserved these days. You even get two years’ European breakdown cover (more than any of the others) to reassure you. If you like a hugely powerful naked bike with a bit of X factor, you really must try a Tuono.