Just as on the RSV4, there’s also a choice of three engine maps, with the T (for “Track”) delivering the full 167.3 horsepower via an immediate throttle response which will have you clicking up the traction control to stop the rear 190-size dual-compound Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP (a 200-size rear is also available) spinning up on you exiting a second-gear turn at the racetrack. I ended up using level 3 out of 8 on the track, and level 4 on the highway. R (for “Road”) reduces power by 25 percent across the rev range, but since it didn’t rain and the roads were in good condition, I only tested it long enough to prove to myself that it’s pretty intrusive and thus presumably effective on a damp surface. Just as on the RSV4 APRC, I liked the intermediate S (for “Sport”) map the most for real world road riding, which gives you maximum power but with a smoother delivery and limited torque in all gears. I couldn’t really tell how much grunt had been removed, and it actually felt better using this map than T-mode on some sections of the Adria circuit, especially in the tighter turns and hairpins. But the bottom line is that the Aprilia’s electronic rider aids package is so versatile, accommodating and effective, that it’s nearly impossible to find yourself unable to dial up a combination of engine map and ATC settings to suit the riding conditions and your mood.
But of course, that doesn’t work unless you have the basic engine package right, and Fioravanzo and his colleagues have very definitely achieved this in adapting the RSV4 motor to use in the Tuono. The clutch is very light and progressive, and definitely won’t cramp up your hand in slow traffic or urban conditions. It’ll pull from as low as 2800 rpm in top gear without a hiccup, with the engine starting to deliver serious performance at the 5000 rpm mark. From 7000 rpm upwards, acceleration becomes vivid, and with peak torque delivered at 9500 rpm, that was where the front wheel started to pop up lazily off the tarmac exiting the last turn at Adria in second gear, and again when I hit third, making me glad I had the Sachs steering damper mounted as standard on this APRC bike (not on the base model). But at 10,000 rpm there’s another dose of top-end power that will send you rocketing forward as the engine screams toward the rev limiter. Among comparable naked bikes, even the 1098-engined Ducati Streetfighter doesn’t have this level of acceleration. “We adopted three different strategies in mapping the engine for power delivery,” admitted Fioravanzo. “We established the thresholds of each new strategy at 3000, 7000, and 10,000 rpm, and altered all the engine parameters — especially the ignition curve — to suit each strategy.”
Dash layout on the Tuono V4...
Dash layout on the Tuono V4 R is nice and simple, with an analog tach and LCD panel providing all the info you need. The wide handlebar provides plenty of leverage.
You can’t help appreciating the smoothness of the perfectly dialled-in powershifter, which allows you to just tap in one gear after another with the throttle wide open in a flawless manner worthy of a factory Superbike racer. The comparable stock system on the Triumph 675R I rode a couple of months earlier seemed crude and jerky in comparison, and on the Tuono the gearbox is so perfectly set up that I found I didn’t need to use the clutch shifting down from sixth to fifth, or fifth to fourth gear.
In spite of the subtly altered chassis geometry, I found the new Aprilia’s handling on a par with the RSV4’s, which is to say, excellent. The one-piece handlebar gives enough leverage that you can soon forget about the longer wheelbase in terms of compromising agility, but the big surprise was how rock-stable the Aprilia was at velocities up to 150 mph. No handlebar waving in the wind, no speed shimmy even when you hit a bump, just totally planted. “We were very aware this could become a problem with a naked bike that has such a high potential top speed,” said Fioravanzo. “So we made extensive wind tunnel testing in designing the cupolino (the ducted nose fairing with twin polyelliptical headlights and LED indicators that gives the Tuono a distinct personality), and we especially made sure it’s mounted to the frame, not the forks. The result is the stability you experienced.” The Sachs suspension was a little stiffly set up, but both the piggyback nitrogen rear shock with variable-rate linkage off the RSV4, and the 43mm inverted fork are fully adjustable, so with more time I expect I could have dialed them in better.
I equally appreciated the good braking from the 320mm front discs and Brembo radial calipers, even though for cost reasons these are not the monobloc numbers that have lately become increasingly commonplace. Nor is there a radial master cylinder that’s seemingly become equally de rigueur. The Aprilia stops hard and well, and even if there isn’t perhaps quite the same degree of bite as on a full-on superbike, I certainly couldn’t complain about the brakes. In fact, I found that with the taller handlebar, it’s best to ride the Tuono through turns without hanging off; you’re faster if you just use the leverage from the handlebar to steer it, with a bit of help from your knees. Less work, too; of course it was a warm sunny day in Italia bella on a streetfighter supreme.
And that’s what the new Aprilia Tuono V4 R very definitely is — the new benchmark in real world motorcycling. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself.
|Aprilia Tuono V4 R
||Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 65-degree V-four, 4 valves/cyl.
|Bore x stroke
||78 x 52.3mm
||EFI, 48mm throttle bodies, single injector/cyl.
||25.0 deg./ 4.2 in. (107.5mm)
||56.9 in. (1420mm)
||32.9 in. (840mm)
||4.5 gal. (17L)
|Claimed dry weight
||402.6 lb. (183kg)