Aprilia trio star on road and track

Albany Extra - - Motoring - Stu­art Wood­bury

I re­cently had the op­por­tu­nity, cour­tesy of Aprilia, to ride three of their po­tent weapons at Syd­ney Mo­tor­sport Park — the Tuono 1100 RF, the RSV4 RF (im­i­ta­tion W) and the bike I had been rid­ing for a cou­ple of weeks on the road, the base model RSV4 RR.

The Tuono RF is the up­spec ver­sion with Oh­lins sus­pen­sion; oth­er­wise it is ba­si­cally (other from a few tun­ing dif­fer­ences) the same as the RSV4 sports bike, just with an up­right han­dle­bar and a tiny half fair­ing.

The last time I rode the Tuono at the track it was a bar­rel of fun; it loves to wheel­stand out of ev­ery cor­ner. No dif­fer­ence on the RF. I had been warned that I could get sent home for do­ing too long a wheel­stand but that didn’t stop me launch­ing the RF out of turn five up the back hill and on to the front straight with the front wheel head­ing sky­ward.

I did fid­dle with the sus­pen­sion slightly for sharper turn-in by ad­just­ing the rear preload and re­bound, and only ad­just­ing the re­bound on the front. This is eas­ily done with the fully ad­justable Oh­lins front and rear. The oth­ers who rode the same bike on the day loved the changes I’d made.

Then it was time to give the RSV4 RF W a whirl. The W is the fac­tory race bike kit, al­though this one was the RF ver­sion made to look like the W ver­sion. From the RF road ver­sion this bike has a race fair­ing and full Akrapovic ex­haust sys­tem (with an ECU change to suit).

I in­stantly loved this bike on the track. Much stiffer sus­pen­sion and even more power had this thing pow­er­ing down the front straight so that not even the new Du­cati V4, rid­den by a cur­rent racer, was able to mo­tor past.

Now it was time to give the base model RSV4 RR a few laps. As I had been rid­ing this bike for a cou­ple of weeks I spent some time set­ting up the sus­pen­sion to what I thought would be a good pack­age on the track. The rid­ers who’d been on it be­fore me felt it han­dled bet­ter than the RFW but it lacked the bet­ter con­trol of the RFW when pushed hard as you tipped in on the brakes.

On the road, the RSV4 RR is one of the most com­fort­able sports bikes I’ve rid­den. The stan­dard sus­pen­sion set­tings soak up rough bi­tu­men and the rider can get into po­si­tion and not feel cramped.

My only gripe on the road is its gear­ing — way too high for day-to­day rid­ing. It was a bit high for the track as well, but is eas­ily fixed.

How­ever, if you have to have a litre sports bike for the road — and want to be as com­fort­able as you can a race bike with lights — then the RR is the pick of the bunch.

Back to the track ac­tion! Han­dling on all three bikes af­ter my ad­just­ments was great. I could push into turn one on the Tuono us­ing no brakes and just chang­ing down one gear at the 100m mark.

On both the RFW and RR, it took a light bit of front brake, down one gear and tip it in.

The tyres weren’t as sticky as I’d nor­mally use but mak­ing them last all day was what Aprilia wanted, so rather than be­ing able to nail the throt­tle on the exit of cor­ners I had to pro­gres­sively roll it on, which was fine for what I wanted to achieve.

Af­ter a cou­ple of ses­sions on each bike, the wind started to come up strongly. The Tuono was ob­vi­ously the hard­est to ride in these con­di­tions as it of­fered lit­tle or no wind pro­tec­tion, so I stuck to rid­ing the RFW for a cou­ple more ses­sions un­til the wind be­came out of con­trol, so I packed up.

All three bikes are fit­ted with the lat­est elec­tron­ics. I pre­ferred the trac­tion con­trol, wheelie con­trol and anti-lock brak­ing all turned off, which made the bike faster for me. The oth­ers rid­ing the bikes had them turned on and felt much safer that way.

For any of these bikes the V4-MP app al­lows you to punch in the track you’re rid­ing and record your lap times, throt­tle open­ings, brak­ing and all sorts of other data.

My pick of the three as far as an “all-rounder’ goes is the Tuono 1100 RF. It’s the best road bike and while it won’t pull as hard as the other two, the smile on your face will be no dif­fer­ent.

Aprilia’s Tuono RSV4 RR is a com­fort­able sports bike on the road.

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