Unleash the beast
Of course, most of those gripes fade into the distance the instant you start twisting the Tuono V4 R’s throttle and the pace picks up. There’s something to be said about an engine cranking out 142 horsepower that packs the midrange punch of a V-twin with the quick-revving character of an inline-four. Add to that a superbly capable chassis that is both nimble and rock-solid stable, and you have the makings of a seriously fun motorcycle.
The aforementioned flexibility of the V-four engine is a joy to use in the turns, with plenty of steam available anywhere above 4000 rpm. The powerband is very linear (albeit very quick-revving and responsive), with no jumps or dips other than a slightly perceptible flat spot at 10,000 rpm that gives the impression of a bump in power at that point. You can choose to ride the midrange torque out of the turns like a V-twin, or power hard off the corner with Aprilia’s beefy top-end rush, making good use of the ATC as the rear tire scrabbles for grip.
The Tuono V4 R doesn’t quite have the rev range of the RSV4 however, with a soft rev-limiter signaling the end of the party at 12,250 rpm instead of the heady 13,250 rpm of the RSV4. As such, the Tuono V4 R eventually ends up about 10 horsepower shy of the RSV4, with a peak of 142.2 horsepower at 11,500 rpm. But you’ll never really notice that deficit, especially with the Tuono V4 R’s more upright ergos subjecting more of the rider’s torso to the acceleration forces and enhancing that “OMG” power rush.
While the Road riding mode is best reserved for riding in nasty pavement conditions due to its substantial neutering of the engine’s power, we had plenty of fun in both Sport and Track modes during our time with the Tuono V4 R. The Track mode’s aggressive throttle response helps in tighter sections that require a cut-and-thrust riding approach, and provided you can cope with the hair-trigger off-idle response, there’s a noticeable difference in acceleration off the corner. The Sport mode’s softer throttle response is well-suited for situations where you’re always at maximum lean angle (or for riders who don’t like the Track mode’s “right now” response), allowing you to more easily apply power without unduly upsetting the chassis. Unfortunately you cannot switch engine riding modes on the fly like you can with the ATC; as with the RSV4, the throttle must be closed, and you have to press the starter button with the engine running to switch between modes.
We have to admit that we didn’t play much with the on-the-fly-adjustable ATC or the AWC and ALC, mostly because we didn’t do much track riding with the Tuono V4 R. For most situations on the street, we simply left it in Level 1 or 2 and had a blast; we even rode in the rain on Level 3, and reveled in the ATC’s ability to keep the rear tire on the edge of traction while still driving forward.
The fully adjustable Sachs...
The fully adjustable Sachs rear shock works quite well, keeping the rear end of the powerful Aprilia planted and driving in all of the situations we rode the Tuono V4 R in.
Suspension action from the Sachs 43mm inverted fork and fully adjustable rear shock was very good, absorbing the big hits well and keeping the chassis under control in every riding situation we encountered. Working with the already nimble-steering chassis and added leverage from the wide handlebar, all this combines to provide the rider with numerous options in a corner. The Tuono V4 R’s steering habits are sharp, but by no means twitchy; there’s very little effort required to change lines, and overall handling and grip from the stock Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa rubber is excellent (although when pushed, we were wishing for a bit more tire feel at max lean).
Interestingly, the chassis does a good job of masking much of the Aprilia’s heft while cornering; at 472 pounds wet with all fluids topped off, the Tuono V4 R certainly isn’t the lightest of the naked bikes. But the only time you really feel that weight is when the pace has seriously ramped up and you’ve reached near-racetrack aggression levels.
The Brembo radial-mount/four-piston...
The Brembo radial-mount/four-piston calipers may not be the latest and greatest monobloc units, but they do an excellent job of slowing the Aprilia. New split-spoke design wheels are a combined 4.4 pounds lighter than the previous versions.
The Brembo brake calipers may not be the latest flashy monobloc units that you see parading on other sportbikes, but the Tuono V4 R’s front brakes are more than capable of providing excellent stopping power with good feel and progressiveness. The same can be said of the rear 220mm disc/two-piston caliper combination, which becomes even more important on a bike with different weight bias than a supersport machine like the RSV4. And the Aprilia’s slipper clutch (same as the RSV4 unit) is one of the best we tested so far.
The King of Naked Bikes
Needless to say, we were very impressed with the Tuono V4 R. Aprilia did well to take just enough of the sharp edges off the RSV4 engine/chassis combination to produce a rowdy but controllable (and fairly comfortable) naked-bike package. All too often, bikes in this category have numerous compromises that blunt the performance to the point that we’re always left wanting more, and while the Aprilia certainly isn’t perfect, its capabilities when the pace heats up make up for those gripes.
Granted, $14,999 is a price tag that’s a good bit higher than the Tuono V4 R’s Japanese competition, but it’s also a good bit lower than its European competition. And it’s got the performance goods over all of them to warrant it. SR